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Meet your new favourite text editor

Launched in 2008, GitHub has become the code storage and development site of choice worldwide, and so any new tool it releases is going to cause a big stir.

That's certainly been the case with Atom. Dubbed "a hackable text editor for the 21st Century", it's designed to be simple to use out of the box, but also easily expandable using any of 800 packages. 

Since launching in invite-only private beta earlier this year, it's been downloaded over 250,000 times, and is already one of the best code editors around. And now GitHub has made it fully open source and available to the public to download for free.



There are lots of great features out of the box

Like other desktop apps, Atom has its own icon in the dock, native menus and dialogs, and full access to the file system. Out of the box it includes:

  • A file system browser
  • A fuzzy finder for quickly opening files
  • Fast project-wide search and replace
  • Multiple cursors and selections
  • Multiple panes
  • Snippets
  • Code folding
  • A clean preferences UI
  • Import TextMate grammars and themes



The web-based core makes it easy to extend and customise

But what web designers and developers will love most about Atom is the way its web-based core means it's easy to customise using HTML5, CSS or JavaScript.

It's composed of over 50 open-source packages that integrate around a minimal core, so if you don't like some part of it you can replace it with your own package, then upload it to the central repository at so everyone else can use it too..

Atom is currently only available for Mac users (OS 10.8 or later), although Windows and Linux versions are promised soon. We'd love to hear how you get on with it - let us know in the comments below!

Tom May
Tom May is a freelance writer and editor specialising in art, design and travel. He has been editor of Professional Photography magazine, associate editor at Creative Bloq, and deputy editor at net magazine. He has also worked for a wide range of mainstream titles including The Sun, Radio Times, NME, Heat, Company and Bella.