Switching from Sublime Text to Atom

June 28, 2015

The Atom text editor has just released its 1.0 version. There are plenty of reasons to switch from Sublime Text. Maybe you love the concept of open source, or perhaps you're a member of the GitHub community. While Atom does have a different look and feel, installing the following packages can quickly bring your productivity back up to speed.

1. Install the Monokai Syntax Theme

There are many cool-looking themes, but I'm accustomed to Sublime's default color scheme. Install the Monokai syntax theme by visiting:


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2. Convert Tabs to Spaces

Install the "tabs-to-spaces" package by going to:


Then add this line to your config.cson:

'tabs-to-spaces': 'onSave': 'untabify'

3. Soft Tabs

By default, hard tabs are 4 characters long, which can result in code that is hard to read due to excessive indentation. I recommend enabling the "Soft Tabs" option in the user settings, which replaces tabs with spaces.

4. Show White Space

In Settings, check the box labeled "Show Invisibles." This will add little dots to indicate indentation spaces.

5. Trim Trailing White Space on Save

This feature strips trailing whitespace and adds a trailing newline when the editor is saved.


6. Bracket Highlighter

"Bracket-matcher" is a must-have package for highlighting all sorts of brackets: () [] {} "" '' <>.


7. Emmet

Emmet is an essential toolkit for web developers. It saves a lot of time with shortcuts. For instance, type the following and then hit tab:


This will output the appropriate HTML tags.

Another example: start typing lorem and it will automatically output the entire "Lorem Ipsum" text.


8. Git Plus

This package allows you to perform Git operations without needing to open the terminal, right from the Atom Editor. Save a few seconds off your workflow by using this package:


9. Git Diff

This feature marks lines in the editor gutter that have been added, edited, or deleted since the last commit:


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10. Linter and JSHint

To lint your code, visit:


For JSHint, go to:


11. Alignment

This package offers a simple key-binding for aligning multi-line, multi-cursor, and multiple selections. For example, before and after using the shortcut ctrl+cmd+a:


var a = b;
var ab = c;
var abcd = d;
var ddddd = d;


var a     = b;
var ab    = c;
var abcd  = d;
var ddddd = d;


12. Set Atom as Git's Default Editor

If you're not comfortable using Vim for writing Git commits, you can set Atom as the default editor by executing the following command:

git config --global core.editor "atom --wait"

Packages offer developers tools to enhance productivity and workflow. What packages have you installed? Let me know what your favorites are.

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Victor Leung, who blog about business, technology and personal development. Happy to connect on LinkedIn