A month long Atom test drive from an Emacs fanatic – day 0

It’s no secret I am an Emacs fanatic. I previously talked about my emacs setup on this blog, and I try to convert my coworkers to Emacs everytime I can, as Emanuel wrote in his Emacs love/hate piece.

Nonetheless I am writing this article in Atom, the newest kid on the block, an open-source editor by Github that recenty reached the 1.0 milestone.

Why Atom you ask? The reason why I eventually ended up in the Emacs world is that as a programmer I think the editor is the most intimate piece of software you work with. The editor is your tool. The editor is to the programmer what the brush is to the painter, the scalpel to the sculptor, the sword to the swordsman, … you get it.

This strong relationship with the text editor is what makes me want to find the best possible one. I tried many editors, most of them probably, and eventually mustered the strength to learn Emacs, and haven’t looked away from it since then.

Atom though shares a lot of principles with Emacs, so many that I decided to give it a test drive. This is my inaugural piece. In a month from now I’ll tell you how the experience was.

I use Emacs to write posts, work with git, write code in several languages and organize my work. In the past I used to use it for IRC and email too, but I don’t do it anymore.

The first thing I noticed when firing up Atom to write this article is that Atom is visibly slower than Emacs. I don’t know if I’ll be able to survive one whole month with a slower editor, so beware, my concluding article might come out sooner.

I am also undecided whether I like it visually more than I do like Emacs. I know people say Emacs sucks visually, but whoever says that never configured it to their own taste.

There are several things going for Atom though. Coffeescript is a more popular language than Lisp (and its hackers are for sure friendlier than the Lisp ones), also, I know it better, so writing my own Atom extensions won’t be as hard as writing my Emacs extensions.

Everything is integrated with Github. That is a good thing for me. I know Richard Stallman won’t approve (god bless him!), but I am more pragmatic than he is about open-source at all costs.

Just a note: while writing I already changed my themes 3 times. I really can’t find a way to make it look exactely the way it should, that is, to my liking 🙂

I already installed several community packages I read about somewhere, I like minimap and hope to try linter very soon.

I am waiting to discover how and if I can integrate it with rspec and docker and see my projects building in background in a tab. I gotta say, once you get used to navigating among files and buffers with helm, the project navigation with the tree on the left seems a bit antiquated. I guess I can hide it, I’ll have to see how.

This is basically it. I hope to like Atom. Emacs has a lot of legacy, that’s its power and also its curse. Atom on the other hand is a clean slate, and sometimes everyone needs a reboot.

Talk to you in a month!

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