Atom 1.0

Today we’re proud to announce Atom 1.0. It’s amazing to think Atom has only been out and available to the public for a little over a year. A lot has happened since then. Atom has been downloaded 1.3 million times, and serves 350,000 monthly active users. The community has created 660 themes, and 2,090 packages including can’t-live-without packages that have their own mini communities like the linter, autocomplete-plus, and minimap.

In the 155 releases since launch, the editor has improved immensely in performance, stability, feature-set, and modularity. The editor is faster in scrolling, typing, and start-up time. Atom now has a Windows installer, Linux packages, and several heavily requested features have been added like pane resizing and multi-folder projects.

Atom has become more modular through stabilizing the API, built-in ES6 support using babel, services for inter-package communication, decorations for extending the core editor, and new themes that automatically adapt the UI to the syntax colors. We’ve even removed some of our core packages in favor of community-built packages like autocomplete-plus.

To make using Atom easier, we now have extensive API docs, a flight manual, and a tutorial video on setting up Atom.

Humble Beginnings

Atomicity initial build

Atom started as a side project of GitHub founder @defunkt (Chris Wanstrath) way back in mid 2008, almost exactly seven years ago. He called it Atomicity. His dream was to use web technologies to build something as customizable as Emacs and give a new generation of developers total control over their editor.

But as is the fate of many side projects, it was put on hold to focus on his main gig— It was the beginning of 2009, had just launched eight months earlier, and it was looking like it might be successful. As he set Atomicity aside, @defunkt figured someone else would release a desktop editor based on web-technologies.

Then no one did.

In-browser editors like Cloud9 started popping up, and with them came open source JavaScript editors. In August 2011, GitHub included Ace into the website for editing files. This re-ignited @defunkt’s interest in Atomicity, and three days later he had an OS X app with Ace running in a native WebView control. That was the beginning of the Atom you know today.

Atomicity with Ace running in a WebView control

Between August and November 2011, @defunkt and @probablycorey worked on Atomicity in their free time. By November, Atomicity became Atom, and Atom was upgraded to be an official GitHub project. Then in December @nathansobo, author of treetop, a Ruby parsing DSL, and generally excited about text editors, joined GitHub to work on Atom full time.

The rest is history woven into a narrative by the atom/atom git history and contributor graphs.

Atom's beginnings


We’re happy to say that Atom 1.0 today reflects @defunkt’s original vision—to give today’s developers total control over their editor with familiar technologies.

The realization of this vision as Atom 1.0 is the foundation that will take us into the future. It is the technology stack, with the power and familiarity of the web platform combined with node and all it has to offer; it’s the stable API and atom core, which have been shaped by hundreds of contributors; and most of all, it’s you, the community.

Thanks to you, we have hurdled significant technical challenges. Because of your packages, Atom has feature breadth that we couldn’t have come close to achieving on our own. You’ve taken on major features like the linter, grown thriving sub-communities with autocomplete-plus, and taken on entire language niches with go-plus, atom-typescript, and omnisharp-atom.

Until now, work has largely gone into defining the 1.0 foundation. Now that the foundation is stable, we can shift our efforts to reaching the full potential of the platform.

Of course, we’ll continue to polish the core user-experience, improve performance and stability, and add international support, but realizing the full potential of Atom is about more than polish. We’re considering questions such as: What does super deep git integration look like? What does “social coding” mean in a text editor? How do we enable package authors to build IDE-level features for their favorite language?

We can’t wait to show you what’s next. Atom 1.0 is only the beginning.

Atom 1.0 screenshot

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