The Atom Editor

A short description of the post.


Center for Environmental Studies


June 20, 2018

Being new to the Windows platform, I’m on the look for a good text editor that can do the myriad of tasks that we do each day. Notepad is not an option, let’s be real. I’m looking for something that can be extended and has been designed from the bottom up for wrangling text and writing code. Ultimately, I would like something that is amenable to teaching both R and Python using a single interface. RStudio is great for R but sucks for Python. Juypter notebooks are clunky and toy-like.

Atom is created by the Github folks and is integrated into ‘the mothership’ repository. Here is what I did to get it up and running and having Python running correctly.


Packages are extensions to the main editor that accomplish some function to make you life a bit easier. Here are some of the ones I find helpful. You can find packages and install them using Settings -> Install. Then search for the packages and hit the install button.


If you have scripts and/or code that is longer than a single page (and who doesn’t) minimap provides a graphical depiction of your code on the right-hand side of the window to allow you to easily jump up and down the file. Here is an example on an R script.


Script is a package that runs code in the editor directly. This means you can run individual lines as you develop and look at the output. Very helpful.


There are a ton of themes, both overall for the editor as well as syntax highlighting, available. To install one, select Install -> Theme and type a name from Settings. Here is the atom-material-syntax being installed.

Once installed, you can change both the UI and the syntax colors.

As I expand more into using Atom, I’ll add additional posts showing how I have configured it for use in my daily coding activities.