GitHub Axes Atom Text Editor to Focus on VSCode Instead

Does anyone out there still use GitHub’s Atom text editor?

If so I’ve some bad news to impact: it’s being discontinued! Oh, I know: precisely no-one reading this is shocked at the news – though I suspect more than a few will be saddened by it.

GitHub was acquired by Microsoft a few years back. Since Microsoft has its own Electron-based text-editor in VSCode it was probable, if not inevitable, than one would be chosen and one would be canned.

Not to diminish Atom in any way, but of the two editor’s VSCode is by far and away the more popular and widely used. Heck, even I use VSCode from time to time (though I prefer GNOME’s new text editor myself).

Why is GitHub ‘Sunsetting’ Atom?

a screenshot of the atom text editor on ubuntu 22.04 desktop
Atom 1.60 on Ubuntu 22.04 LTS

“Today, we’re announcing that we are sunsetting Atom and will archive all projects under the organization on December 15, 2022,” GitHub has announced. Atom has continued to receive maintenance and security updates over the past few years but, as GitHub notes, ‘significant feature development’ has stalled.

Alas, and just as importantly, so too has community involvement in the project — the lifeblood of any open source.

As a result GitHub says it has decided to “…retire Atom in order to further our commitment to bringing fast and reliable software development to the cloud via Microsoft Visual Studio Code and GitHub Codespaces”.

Atom won’t live on as a text editor but it still leaves a pretty big legacy, namely Electron. Yes, the cross-platform app-enabling framework many loathe for its resource-addling nature is in use across hundreds of millions of computer users every day — but its roots are in Atom. Indeed, Electron was originally called ‘Atom Shell’.

So what now?

Well, if you or someone you know is using Atom you don’t need to panic — not yet.

Atom will continue to work just fine for the foreseeable. But during the next six months users will see in-app notifications that the app is on the way out. On December 15, 2022 the (many) Atom-related repositories on Github will be archived, and the official website (presumably) mothballed.

Will you miss Atom? Maybe you’ve already migrated to a different text editor? Let me know your take on this news down in the comments.

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