Thoughts on the Atom Editor

I installed the Atom text editor quite a while ago and didn’t have much time to play around with it. Last week a friend of mine brought it up in conversation. She was extolling its virtues. I decided now would be a good time to try it out. I was moving a site to Hugo and it has a plugin for Hugo syntax.

So I fired it up and, my word, a decade later an editor window opened. What took it so long to open? I poked around a bit and noticed that I had installed a bunch of packages when I first downloaded it. So I disabled the vast majority of them, then restarted. A minor improvement. Disabled the rest. Restarted. Another minor improvement. Then I disabled some core packages for languages I wouldn’t use. No help for the incredibly slow start time.

Off to DuckDuckGo and did a search and found that slow starting was a fairly common complaint. I decided I’d live with it while I tested it out on my Hugo site.

I’m a long-time user of BBEdit as well as Komodo’s IDE, both the free and paid versions. I could never get comfortable enough with Komodo to make it my go-to editor though I absolutely loved the perlcritic integration. But you can seriously tell it’s not native to Mac OS X. It’s a Windows app trying to find its place in a Mac world.

I used BBEdit for coding pretty much everything except perl, then it’s Komodo. BBEdit is polished, has powerful find/replace functions with regular expressions, has a great diff window, is easy on resources, and in general, is a fine piece of software. One major dislike is the FTP/SFTP browser. I hadn’t realised exactly how much I disliked it until I used Atom and was able to have remote projects with the file tree sitting right next to what I’m coding. And a terminal. And a git pane showing staged and unstaged changes, commits, etc. And a find pane. And, well, you get the idea. I found out I’m a big fan of panes. It really shouldn’t have surprised me so much as I love using tmux.

If only Atom weren’t so damn slow! I was in love and didn’t want to let go. So I decided to delete Atom and reinstall. I did a complete purge of Atom and all of its files. And there are a lot of places to look.

On a Mac, a complete uninstall removes the following files and directories:

/usr/local/bin/atom (if command line tools are installed)
/usr/local/bin/apm  (if command line tools are installed)
~/Library/Application Support/
~/Library/Application Support/com.github.atom.ShipIt
~/Library/Application Support/Atom
~/Library/Saved Application State/com.github.atom.savedState
~/Library/Saved Application State/com.github.atom.savedState

I suspect some of these files/directories were specific to the old installation because some of them aren’t on my system with the new install. The fantastic news is that Atom is now significantly faster, with all of the same packages I had installed in the old one. My love affair continues and I’ve been working in it for the past three days straight. It’s really upped my productivity.