Microsoft can’t go too long without unplugging a project, can it, but this one has at least arrived. The popular code editor, Atom, built by GitHub, now owned by Microsoft, is being retired. Why? Because Visual Studio Code exists, of course.
OK, that’s a bit harsh, but it’s the truth. In a blog which snuck in on a busy week for developers everywhere, GitHub explained the what and why.
“When we officially introduced Atom in 2014, we set out to provide developers with a deeply customizable yet easy-to-use text editor that empowered more people to create software. While this goal of growing the community of software creators remains, we have decided to retire Atom in order to continue our commitment to bringing fast and reliable software development to the cloud through Microsoft Visual Studio Code and GitHub Codespaces.”
Atom was once one of the most popular code editors. It also served as the basis for the Electron framework, for better or for worse, which in turn helped give birth to its eventual successor. Visual Studio Code is now top dog and you could probably see the end of Atom as soon as Microsoft acquired GitHub.
What shall we do now? GitHub gives six months notice of Atom’s shutdown to give its users enough time to build their workflows elsewhere. On December 15, 2022, all Atom repositories will be archived. So it’s not the end yet, but it’s near. In the lead up to that date, GitHub will remind you of its impending text editor disaster so you won’t forget.
So what’s the next step? The logical move (and expected by Microsoft) is that people will simply switch to Visual Studio Code. As with Atom, it’s completely cross-platform and open source, and there are versions without Microsoft Telemetry if that’s the part that puts you off. Atom can of course be bifurcated before it disappears, but whether anyone can keep it alive long term is a mystery. Alternatively, Jetbrains Fleet looks quite interesting, although it is not yet publicly available.