Github's Atom Changed My Life

Fri Mar 10, 2017

Coming from my email developer background of yesteryear, I was always a huge advocate of Dreamweaver and the tools it afforded me to quickly insert tables, update links, and get quick mobile/tablet responsive testing with the “multiscreen preview” tool.  In recent months, however, I started to realized that I needed a tool that was better suited for the types of projects I work on now.

After reading up some of the popular code editors, I decided on Atom, the open source code editor maintained by the folks at Github.  Atom offers wide variety of optional packages you can install to made it look and function the way that works best for you.  There are a ton of great packages for UI/syntax color palettes, Git integration, syntax recognition, and more.

As some of you may already know, a lot of our widgets at Percussion rely heavily on Apache Velocity for creating logic and dynamic content inside of HTML content.  Luckily, there is a Velocity language package that can be installed to allow Atom to understand and appropriately highly Velocity syntax.  This is huge for me, as I spend a lot of time creating or updating Velocity code.

Atom is also cross-platform, so you can use it on whatever OS you call home.

Below is a list of packages I have installed to help streamline my work and make me more productive while working on projects in Percussion.

1.    atom-beautify

This package allows for code formatting across a wide list of languages.  This is extremely helpful if you are coding inside of a file that includes multiple languages.

2.    minimap

I don’t think I could live without this one.  It gives a window on the side of your screen that makes it extremely easy to locate the section of code you are trying to find, especially if you use the next package on the list.

3.    Minimap-highlight-selected package

If you are looking to easily find references to a particular variable or function name across your entire file, this is the way to go.  Highlighting a section of text in your code window will also highlight every instance of that text in your minimap.  This package requires the highlight-selected package

4.    language-velocity

Like I mentioned before, if you work in Velocity at all, this plugin in a must-have.  If you are creating widgets in Percussion, you need to get this now.

5.    an-old-hope-syntax

This one is a theme package that is based on the color pallette of Star Wars.  Nerds unite!  The yellow of the Star Wars logo, the blue of Anakin Skywalker’s lighstaber, the red of Darth Vader’s lightstaber, it’s all here in this amazing theme that makes it hard to not say “I have a bad feeling about this…” every time I write some code.

6.    git-control

Need a GUI interface to manage your Git repositories?  Git control gives you the capability to create and switch branches, commit, merge and more - all from within Atom.  This package has built in diff functionality as well.

Do you have any Atom packages that make you a better developer?  Do you have a different tool that you prefer? Share your development tricks below!

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Michael Reidy
Web Consultant