Atom: Everything You Need to Know about the Sunsetted IDE

Everything You Need To Know About ATOM

Today’s software development environment thrives on powerful tools that assist in coding and project management. Among these tools, text editors stand out for their simplicity and effectiveness. One such editor, Atom, developed by GitHub, has been a popular choice for developers seeking a flexible and feature-rich editing experience.

This article explores Atom, detailing its functionality, transition into an IDE, and the reasons behind its gradual decline in popularity.

Recommended Read : Top five IDEs for Python

Introduction to Atom: The Hackable Text Editor

Atom, developed by GitHub, is an open-source text editor turned IDE, known for features like smart autocompletion and syntax highlighting. As of 2022, development has ceased, pushing users towards alternatives like Visual Studio Code and Sublime Text

In 2016, this text editor became an Integrated Development Environment and has been every developer’s favourite until 2022.

It offers many desirable features, including cross-platform editing, a package manager, smart autocompletion, and a great UI.

The latest version of Atom can be downloaded from the official GitHub repository linked in the references.

Syntax Highlighting in Atom

Syntax highlighting is an excellent feature of text editors that represent different script components with various colours for better understanding and visual appeal. This allows us to identify errors and syntaxes correctly. This feature is automatically enabled in most text editors and IDEs, especially for mark-up languages like HTML.

It is also included in languages like Python. Let us see if Syntax Highlighting is enabled in Atom for Python.

After successfully downloading the text editor, follow these steps:

  • From the menu bar, navigate to File->Open Folder
  • Once you are in the desired folder, right-click and select New File
  • Name the file as shown in the image
Creating Python file in Atom
Creating Python file in Atom

In the py file, type any message and observe the highlighting. I have chosen this message

# Syntax highlighting is enabled by default in Atom.
print("Hey, this is Atom")
Syntax Highlighting in Atom
Syntax Highlighting in Atom

We can understand that the syntax highlighting feature is enabled by default in Atom for Python. This is because of a core package of atom called language-python.

To access the packages, go to File->Settings

Python package installed in Atom
Python package installed in Atom

If this package is disabled, the syntax highlighter gets disabled automatically.

To run Python scripts in Atom, we need to install a few packages from the Atom Package Manager(APM). Unfortunately, Atom’s updates and development were stopped in 2022. If you visit the Atom official site, you will see this message right at the top.

Sunsetting Atom
Sunsetting Atom

Following this decision, the package management of the atom has stopped working since.

Package Management Stopped Working
Package Management Stopped Working

Let us explore the reasons for sunsetting the atom.

The Decline of Atom: Reasons Behind Its Sunset

One of the main reasons is GitHub being acquired by Microsoft and Microsoft’s inkling towards Visual Studio Code, which became Atom’s competition.

Visual Studio Code emerged as a direct competitor and alternative to Atom, which reduced its popularity by 2022.

The latest version of Atom is 1.60.0, released in 2022 and has not been updated until now.

What Are the Alternatives to Atom in 2024?

Visual Studio Code is hands-down the best text editor and IDE in 2024. It supports debugging, syntax highlighting, and other Atom features, like auto-completion and cross-platform compatibility.

Sublime Text is another text editor available for Windows,macOS, and Linux. It supports many languages and is customizable through themes and plugins. Sublime Text also supports syntax highlighting.

Vim is also a text editor designed specifically for Unix and MacOS operating systems. It is a small application that can be run through a terminal and is known to be fast and efficient.


As we reflect on the legacy of Atom, it’s clear that the evolution of development tools continues to shape how we build software. The cessation of Atom’s development in 2022 marked the end of an era, but also the beginning of new opportunities with other advanced editors.

As developers adopt new tools that build on and exceed the capabilities once offered by Atom, one question remains: what do these modern text editors need to offer to become as influential as Atom once was?


Atom official website

Atom GitHub

Sunsetting Atom