Atelier Clockwork

It's Not Done, but It Has Potential

No this isn’t in reference to one of my projects

I got an invitation to the Atom Beta a while ago, and I’ve been using it rather than BBEdit for a little over a month now.

First off, I’m a novice with BBEdit, I’ve primarily used it for my, perhaps ill-advised, forays into very complicated Regular Expressions, and the occasional long session of plaintext editing with HTML, JSON, XML or some other not quite programming language level markup. Ive never quite settled into using it as my primary editor as I’m used to working with a full fledged IDE.

As luck would have it, very shortly after I got into doing real work with Ruby, I got the invite to try out Atom, so it’s become my go-to text editor for Ruby work for the time being. I’d really prefer something closer to an IDE, and I’ll probably write a full blog post later as to why I’m not using any of the Ruby IDEs I’ve managed to find.

At first glance, Atom is oriented on web developers, and more interestingly it’s built on web technologies, the editor renders using node.js, HTML, and CSS. I have a feeling that on a lower end computer this might be a pain point, but I can’t say it feels slow to me.

There’s already a growing plugin library, and the Github team is using that as a channel to allow users who really want bleeding edge features that are still in heavy development like vim mode and the embedded terminal window a chance to opt in to very early testing, which is a nice touch. I’m more impressed that the editor is modular enough that adding and removing plugins and changing themes all can be done without having to relaunch the application.

In general, getting to the configuration details feels more fictionless than other editors I’ve used, the configuration options are more in the style of a mozilla’s about:config or the chrome chrome://settings panels rather than a standard OS level preferences dialog.

Given the planned cross-platform nature of the app, it doesn’t use standard OSX controls for everything, but the it doesn’t give me the uncanny valley feeling that older OSX ports of Mozilla did, and some of the non standard windows are improvements for the task at hand, like the file create pop up window in the file tree view that will parse file paths so you can type in folder names along with file names without having to make new folder, rename new folder, then make new file.

All in all, it’s a great start and I’m looking forward to see how many more features they pack in before it ships as a finished app.