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#Code, #Tools

I've been spending some time with Atom recently, a couple months after the beta launched. At the time, the editor felt like it had potential, but wasn't quite ready for me to use day to day. I wanted to revisit Atom and see how things were progressing, and compare it to my current editor of choice (Sublime Text 3).

Overall, I've noticed improvement and I remain convinced it has amazing potential due to the combination of dev tools, open source, and Coffeescript / LESS environment. It's the editor I want to love and use, but some things are still holding me back.


Atom has gotten better since launch, but it's still slow compared to Sublime Text 3 -- and it uses a lot of memory.

Atom Memory

Atom Memory Usage

Sublime Text Memory

Sublime Text 3 Memory Usage

On the topic of speed, I've been using Atom's new React editor, but it still leaves a bit to be desired. The developer team seems to be really dedicated to working on this issue however, and I'm optimistic going forward Atom will get more responsive.

Beyond that, there are some minor quality of life fixes and improvements I'd love to see. Saving the width of the resized sidebar (treeview) would be nice -- while I can set it manually in my custom stylesheet, I'd like to just be able to click and drag to have it stay that way the next time I open Atom.

Remembering my open files and folders across application sessions would also be nice (similar to Sublime Text 3). Having to reopen the same folder on each launch is a minor annoyance, but an annoyance all the same.

This is perhaps a bigger feature, but I'd like autocomplete to appear automatically instead of on a ctrl+space keypress. There are plugins that do this for you, but none have done it as well as Sublime's.

Finally, Atom's Fuzzy Finder needs some serious work. Typing user.rb into the fuzzy finder doesn't return user.rb first, but rather user_test.rb.

Atom Fuzzy Finder

Fuzzy Finder Results

Plugins and Settings

For the most part, because Atom is still a little slow and memory intensive, I've tried to use a minimal amount of packages in order to keep the editor fast. I run the Monokai theme with Atom Light UI, using Menlo as the font.

I use the File Icons package, and switched Git Diff to use icons. I added the following style to make the colors play a bit better with Monokai (taken from the GitGutter plugin for Sublime):

.editor {
.gutter {
.git-diff-icon {
.line-number {
&.git-line-added:before {
color: #a6e22e;
&.git-line-removed {
color: #f92672;
&.git-line-modified:before {
color: #967efb;

I also reduced the color of the indent guides, which I felt were too intrusive:

.editor {
.indent-guide {
color: rgba(255, 255, 255, 0.05);

I really, really want to be able to use Atom full time, but at the moment it just bogs down my machine too much. My laptop is an aging Mid-2010 Macbook Pro, and when I open Atom the slowdown is noticeable. For now, I'll probably be sticking with Sublime Text 3.