Atom Goes Public
Written by Alex Denham   
Monday, 12 May 2014

Just ten weeks after the project was first announced as a private beta, Github has released Atom, its programming text editor, as open source and free for anyone to use.




The thinking behind Atom is that of a powerful editor that can be fully customized using JavaScript, and that builds on the best parts of other editors.

Atom has been created using JavaScript, HTML, CSS, and Node.js, and from the basic configuration can be extended using add-on packages so you can use it for many types of development. The app is built on top of Chromium, the open source project behind the Google Chrome browser, hence its ability to take advantage of Web technologies while also being a native desktop app.



Writing on the Github blog, the developers said:

“Because we spend most of our day in a text editor, the single most important feature we wanted in an editor was extensibility.” The post continues “extending Atom is as simple as writing JavaScript and CSS, two languages used by millions of developers each day.”

After ten weeks in public beta, the community has already published 800 packages that extend its capabilities.

The importance of Atom being desktop rather than a browser-hosted web app is that browser based web apps are so tightly controlled from a security point of view that simple things like accessing the file system aren’t allowed.

As the Atom blog put it when the beta was announced,

"...More importantly, the browser severely restricts access to the local system for security reasons, and for us, a text editor that couldn't write files or run local subprocesses was a non-starter."

Although Atom is now out of beta, it is still considered a pre-1.0 release according to the blog post, which added that Github would welcome development help and input from the community on project goals including improving the editor's performance and stabilizing its APIs.

The current version of the editor is only for OS X, but the developers are working on support for other platforms, with Linux and Windows versions expected in a few months. It can be downloaded from the project's homepage.

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