Using Atom as a distraction free Outliner


For years now, I have been looking for the perfect plain text editor that will allow me to do two things:

  1. I want distraction free editing within the editor window, and a chromeless experience when the editor is “fullscreen.” (Especially, on Mac, it needs to provide a fullscreen experience that does NOT implement the OS native fullscreen api. I like having things on my secondary monitor, but the OS X Mountain Lion native fullscreen api blanks out all monitors.
  2. I want plain text “outline” editing with intelligence like folding for outline levels, moving items around with their children, and smart indentation on wrapped long lines.

Toward that end, I have been using TextWrangler, and it offers most of what I want, but it can’t print the outlines with proper indentation, it can’t fold or manipulate outline items, and it doesn’t have a true distraction free mode or non-native fullscreen.

However, it does have two settings regarding wrapped lines that have been just enough for me as I write.

The one that is most important to me is the setting allowing me to customize the indentation of soft-wrapped lines.

Specifically, when a line is soft-wrapped, I want to be able to specify the left margin for the wrapped line.

These are the three options for line wrapping:

    This is the first method for soft-
wrapping lines. You can tell that the
first line is indented, but the other
lines are flush to the left.

    This is the second method for soft-
    wrapping lines. You can tell that the
    lines all honor the indenting of the
    first line.

This is the third method for soft-
    wrapping lines. You can tell
    that the wrapped lines have
    one more level of indenting
    than the first line.

Is it possible to configure these kinds of indentations in Atom?

Also, has any work been done on implementing outlining features in Atom?

If it’s possible to write a plugin to do it, I’d be willing to work on it, if I knew it was doable with the current api.


Hello @jeffmikels, I think your second point is related to this post:

I doubt it can be implemented as a plugin. I tried to look into this as it’s a growing demand (and I’m interested in that feature as well) but the soft wrapping affect a bunch of classes in the Atom core so it’ll have to be implemented here. However I’m sure it’ll be available at some point (whether from the Atom team or from a contributor).

As for your first point, I’m not sure the current full-screen mode is what you’re looking since it looks like the native full-screen. But you can have a distraction free mode with the zen package.


Thanks @abe. The Zen package was one of the first packages I installed, and it does work quite nicely. However, it doesn’t completely remove the window chrome, and it doesn’t fully cover the Mac Menu bar at the top. I’m looking for a true fullscreen that simply takes over the whole desktop.

Secondly, regarding the indented soft wrap, you are right that my request would be answered by its implementation. I will add my comment on that thread.


I know it’s been over a year @jeffmikels, but zen package does have a fullscreen mode (ctrl-cmd-z on the Mac).


Hi, I am also looking forward to the first line indentation function. So I just reply to show my supports :slight_smile: