GitHub Killing Atom Code Editor for Cloud Tools — Visual Studio Magazine


GitHub Killing Atom code editor for cloud tools

Microsoft-owned GitHub has announced that it will discontinue its popular “hackable text editor” Atom at the end of this year, as it focuses on cloud-based development tools.

As a desktop application, Atom simply didn’t have a viable future in today’s cloud-focused computing world, with GitHub yesterday (June 8) stating “we have decided to retire Atom in order to continue our commitment to bring fast and reliable software development to the cloud through Microsoft Visual Studio Code and GitHub Codespaces.”

It’s ironic that cloud-hosted VS Code is part of the future while Atom isn’t, because Atom technology was closely tied to Project Electron (formerly named Atom Shell), whose bits were used as base for many popular programs – including VS Code itself. Additionally, Electron has served as the basis for programs such as Slack, WordPress Desktop, Discord, Skype, Facebook Messenger, and many more, including – ironically – GitHub Desktop.

[Click on image for larger view.] Atom (source: GitHub).

“Atom has not had any significant feature development over the past few years, although we have performed maintenance and security updates during this time to ensure we are good stewards of the project and the product,” GitHub said. “As new cloud-based tools have emerged and evolved over the years, the involvement of the Atom community has declined significantly. As a result, we have decided to retire Atom so that we can focus on improving the cloud developer experience with GitHub Codespaces.”

As part of the future of cloud development, GitHub Codespaces debuted a few years ago as a cloud-hosted development environment, offering “the full Visual Studio Code experience” – right in GitHub, a software development platform and code repository with an open source focus. GitHub describes Codespaces as “Visual Studio Code backed by high-performance virtual machines that boot up in seconds.”

GitHub codespaces
[Click on image for larger view.] GitHub codespaces (source: GitHub).

And Codespaces isn’t the only VS Code-based online development tool, as Microsoft Visual Studio Code for the Web announced last year, that’s supposed to provide “a fully-running free, installation-free Microsoft Visual Studio Code experience in your browser, allowing you to quickly and safely browse source code repositories and make light code changes.”

VS Code for Web
[Click on image for larger view.] VS Code for Web (source: Microsoft).

GitHub has even made it ridiculously easy to launch VS Code in the browser with this trick: From any repository or pull request, developers can simply press the period (.) key to bring up the VS environment Browser-based code with source code file. ready for editing.

All of the above served to sound the death knell for Atom, whose site’s FAQ clearly states: “The Atom team has no intention of creating a cloud-based or desktop-based version of Atom. waiter.”

Going forward, GitHub has announced sunsetting and migration plans:

  • Today we announce the sunset date in six months.
  • Over the next six months, we will continue to inform Atom users about sunset in-product and on
  • On December 15, 2022, we will archive the atom/atom repository and all other remaining repositories in the Atom organization.

“GitHub and our community have benefited tremendously from those who reported issues, created extensions, fixed bugs, and created new features on Atom,” the company said. “Atom has played a vital role in the journey of many developers, and we look forward to building and shaping the next chapter of software development together.”

About the Author

David Ramel is an editor and writer for Converge360.

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