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I’ve used everything from Nano to Visual Studio to everything in between to edit code over the past 20 years.   As I have gotten more serious about coding Python, I realized that I needed a new approach to a development environment.  I write this post from a Laptop running Fedora 27 and I am now coding in Atom – A hackable text editor for the 21st Century.

My first download and trial of an editor specifically to write Python in was PyCharm.  PyCharm is a Python specific IDE developed by the Czech company JetBrains.  There is a paid, professional version of PyCharm, and to be fair I did not try it.  However I did run PyCharm Free Community edition quite a bit and it is a very good choice, but to me it feels a bit heavy.  I have committed to giving PyCharm another chance at some point to try and take advantage of some of its advanced, integrated features.  But for now, It comes in as a second choice.

Before we get to Atom and why I chose it, let me say that no matter how weird this seems, Microsoft’s Visual Studio Code, running on Linux, is not a bad solution.   It is very responsive and the IntelliSense is really very cool indeed.  Much like PyCharm I could see actually using this to write code in if I ever get to do nothing but Python coding.  Microsoft is doing some neat things with Python, and even though I have moved my Laptop to Linux, Python on Windows is dead simple these days.

And that is actually another reason why I chose to use Atom.  It behaves exactly the same on my Linux laptop as it does on my Windows 10 desktop.  Atom is also Open Source and that is a distinct advantage compared with the previously mentioned IDE’s.  Atom is a desktop application built with HTML, JavaScript, CSS, and Node.js integration. It runs on Electron, a framework for building cross platform apps using web technologies.

atom screenshot

It’s easy to customize Atom, but it recognizes Python right out of the box.  You can literally download and start editing your code in 5 minutes.   There are thousands of open source packages you can install.  I would recommend adding platformio-ide-terminal  to get a terminal at the bottom of the editor at the very least.

Another big point in Atom’s favor is that it was built by the GitHub guys and supports embedded Git Control. A very interesting (beta) feature in Atom is called Teletype. It lets developers collaborate and share workspace in real time. I can’t wait to try it.

Overall Atom just feels good to me. I could say it’s fast, easy to use, visually pleasing and it’s all that, for sure. But the ease of use I have with it, plus GitHub’s pledged continued support going forward, that has me sold. For now LOL.