Last Updated:

Atom Editor


Atom is a comprehensive environment that can perform tasks from basic to complex, both for novice users and for experienced programmers.

Beautiful open source text editors are quite common these days, between the brackets of Adobe, VSCodeMicrosoft, and AtomGitHub. Each of them offers similar functionality, a modern interface, easily installed plugins. And they're all actually very good. So how is Atom different from other modern text editors? Or from a classic old editor like Vim or Emacs?

When evaluating the effectiveness of the editor, 80% of the requirements are satisfied if he does one thing: edits the text. The other 20% is bonus amenities, extra gizmos, and fancy features. They are good, but hardly necessary.

Advantages of the Atom editor

  • Easy for novice programmers (no new keyboard shortcuts to learn, no major deviations from the conventions of the user interface);
  • The ability to install on any computer and instant operation without freezes and interruptions;
  • There is the possibility of installing new plugins, as well as many useful functions.

The editor is distinguished by its uniqueness and security, forcing an increasing number of people to use Atom.

Great extensions


When most of the requirements were met immediately after the launch of the application, the main factor in the "sale" of an open source text editor is its extensions. The usual editor is GNU Emacs, which has a mind-blowing set of extensions so versatile that they can provide everything from an email client to a video game.

Before Atoma, there was no editor who was capable of such a thing. This shows how important extensions can be, and Atom has a good set of plugins.

There are extensions for adding syntax highlighting for languages and formats, for adding dynamic linking, and for integrating debuggers, runtimes, video and music player controls, and more.

You can theoretically make Atom the control center for your desktop.

Language and syntax support


Docbook — standard description of the document. It is quite old, but reliable, and it is worth paying attention to its simplified version. The Docbook schema and Asciidoc support are my two main metrics. While XML support is relatively common, integrating with a specific schema can be challenging, and Asciidoc is still relatively unclear. The Atom community provides great support for these formats.

Of course, Atom has great extensions overall, but syntax highlighting is an important feature no matter what language you're typing in. Once again, thanks to the lively community, the variety of syntax highlighting options in the Atom package repository is one of the best.

Easy themes


Atom allows you to create your own style as easily as styling a website, so if you're good at CSS, you can create your own Atom theme. To create your own theme, go to the Package menu. If you don't see the package menu, first press the Alt key to open the top menu bar.

On the Package menu, hover over Package Generator and select Create Atom Syntax Theme. This opens a new project called my-theme-syntax by default. You can call it whatever you want, but it must end in-syntax according to the Atom convention.


In the new theme project, locate the following files: base.less, colors.less, and syntax-variables.less. They define how special keywords and even background and foreground colors are themed when your syntax is active. Since they all inherit values from a common pattern, it's pretty easy to crack it.


For example:

Syntax—comment syntax styles {
color: @light gray

.syntax-keyword {
color: @purple;

&.syntax-control {
color: @purple;

&.syntax-operator {
color: @syntax-text-color;

&.syntax-other.syntax-special-method {
color: @blue;

&.syntax-other.syntax-unit {
color: @orange;

Values that end in two dashes, such as .syntax—keyword, are objects recognized by the syntax highlighting engine. If you want to develop your customizations further, of course, you can even create your own syntax definitions. Read all about how to hack an atom into

Flexible workflow


Atom has many functions, and only a few of them are activated by default. This means you can decide how you prefer to work, whether you activate new extensions and use them to modify Atom on a fundamental level, or whether you simply open up Atom preferences and make small adjustments. You can use Atom to write an art book or to write Python code, technical documentation, or whatever.

Even its integration with Git doesn't insist on what you might imagine as an obvious repository (Github sponsors Atom). It has no agenda, and it is equally useful to everyone, regardless of the audience.



On Linux, Windows, and macOS, you can install Atom from its website

Also, on Linux, you can install Atom as Flatpak

If you want to build Atom yourself, you can also compile it from the source code on Github.



Atom can be your next text editor, notepad, and IDE. It's easy to use, easy to set up, easy to expand, and offers a great user experience. Download Atom and try it!