Using Atom for academic writing


I have other software for writing in Markdown (I use MacDown), but I turned to Atom when I started using AsciiDoc, which is a more powerful language.

I had a very bad experience with GitBook which was supposed to support AsciiDoc, but all I did was waste my money and time on the effort. I then found that Atom has an Asciidoc preview package, and that made things much better.


I’m a bit late, but Atom has “activation-hooks”, which delay loading of packages until they are actually used, or their declared language is used. It’s totally up to the package developer to add these, but it means that the issue isn’t quite as important as you might first believe.

For example, if you have a bunch of Haskell IDE packages (for whatever reason), they’ll only load if you open a Haskell file. If you never open that kind of file, those packages will never load. Similarly, the latex package will only load when you first open a .tex file, or run one of it’s commands.

I don’t know exactly what impact this has on load times, but it’s probably relatively minor.


For on-the-fly checking of professional and scholarly writing there is also an atom linter, linter-retextjs that uses the retext natural language processor and many of its plugins

This package provides these checkers:

This package is like a super-set that includes linter-alex, write-good, linter-just-say-no, and others

I’ve found it easy to propose additions to the retext checkers because they are all developed in the open on GitHub and have detailed instructions for contributors.