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InfoQ Homepage News GitHub and Facebook Team up with Atom-IDE

GitHub and Facebook Team up with Atom-IDE

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GitHub and Facebook have joined together to release Atom-IDE, repackaging some of the work Facebook has done to create a more functional Atom text editor.

The Atom text editor is billed as a "hackable text editor for the 21st century", and is built on the Electron framework. Facebook built Nuclide on top of Atom to provide a more traditional development environment including debugging and language autocomplete. However, Nuclide isn't open source.

While the source for Nuclide is available on GitHub, the README plainly says that:

The Nuclide license has certain limitations around distribution and should not be considered an open source license.

Atom-IDE moves some of that proprietary work from Nuclide into a more open source friendly environment. For now, the focus is on language-level functionality. Packages such as ide-typescript and ide-csharp can be enabled to provide functionality such as autocomplete and find all references. Of course, these features are dependent on what each language server exposes.

Facebook says that more features are on the roadmap:

The list of features in Atom IDE UI doesn’t yet encompass all the features available in the language service protocol, and over time we’ll be working to fill in the gaps. Our hope is that other Nuclide features will eventually also become part of the Atom IDE effort, including key components like the Nuclide debugger.

This move is likely a shot in the direction of Microsoft's Visual Studio Code, which is also built on top of Electron. Microsoft puts out monthly releases of VS Code and each results in plenty of accolades from the developer community. Of course, there are plenty of other developer tools, each with their own offering.

For some, however, the license will make Atom-IDE a nonstarter. All of the code contributed by Facebook is licensed with the same BSD license with patent grant that Facebook came under fire for using with their popular tools such as React. VS Code carries an MIT License.

Despite its popularity, some developers don't need all the bells and whistles provided by VS Code or IntelliJ. Atom is a slimmed down project and Atom-IDE lets developers add additional functionality little by little as they need it.

Facebook says that they're "still committed to supporting the open-source Nuclide package for the foreseeable future".

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Community comments

  • This is a GOOD news

    by Timothy Liu,

    Your message is awaiting moderation. Thank you for participating in the discussion.

    This is really a good news for entry-level code editor/IDE.

  • the difference between Atom and React

    by Mac Noodle,

    Your message is awaiting moderation. Thank you for participating in the discussion.

    is one is a tool and one is something you integrate with you app. So unless you are building on Atom using the IDE functionality to build a desktop app ... no big deal

  • Normally I use IDEA, but I tried Atom...

    by Richard Richter,

    Your message is awaiting moderation. Thank you for participating in the discussion.

    Very recently I tried Atom for some slow notebook with limited 32GB eMMC - just to write some HTML/CSS there. It would be OK, but it lagged a lot (stucks for many seconds before going on again without any indication). After some comparisons I tried Microsoft's VS Code (otherwise not a fan of MS that much) and it delivered what I expected from Atom. Shame a bit. I loved the retro "nuclear" commercial. :-) So make it less laggy I guess. I noticed many users complain about it online. Otherwise it's great to have some more lightweight editors/semi-IDE out there in addition to the beasts like IDEA or Eclipse. And VS Code is definitely not in that category, it's really closer to Atom.

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