The 8 best packages for GitHub's Atom Editor

Every once in a while, you find yourself itching to try some new fancy text editor, even though you know and love the comfortable, thoroughly customised and carefully configured editor you use day-in, day-out.

For me, that trusty editor was Sublimetext 3 (still in beta after 2 years). Before that I used Espresso (which I loved for its asthetic), tried Coda for a little while, and before that, I started my career as a web developer on the venerable TextWrangler, nearly 10 years ago.

Every one of those transitions was difficult — it was like learning how to develop all over again. All the habits and muscle memory built up while using an editor took a lot of re-learning. Thats why moving from Sublimetext 3 to GitHub's awesome open source text editor, 'Atom' was so easy! It's got nearly all the goodness of Sublime, and improves on many of the things that it was lacking — good, extensible Package UI, chief among them.

Still, there are a few things that I miss about Sublime, many of which are fixed by the following packages. I still love Sublime — it was the first truly great editor I used, and made me so much more productive, with multi-line editing, fuzzy searching, and goto anything.

The best packages:


This plugin saves so much time, it's just got to come first on the list. We use PHP, SCSS and JavaScript linters predominantly — the major difference between this and Sublimes linter plugin is that the UI for displaying lint results is much nicer and easier to use.

apm install linter


If you run Xdebug on your development server (which you should) you'll love PHP Debug. It provides pause-able debugging with introspection directly in your editor. Once you try this, you'll never go back to debugging the old way.

This is another plugin which is similar to one available for Sublimetext 3, though with significantly better UI. The Sublime plugin always seemed like it had to hack its way around the editors plugin UI limitations.

apm install php-debug


The one thing I couldn't do without when moving from Sublime: the code scrolling minimap which shows you where you are. The nice thing about this one, is that there are several add-on packages which can do things like highlighting your git diff's and highlight any un-committed changes.

apm install minimap


This plugin collates an epic list of code beautifiers, and gives you a single command to beautify whatever format you're viewing. I used to use a collection of plugins in Sublime to beautify all the syntaxes that this plugin does on it's own.

apm install atom-beautify


Show who was the last person to change lines in your file. Right in your editors gutter, including commit hash, and timestamp.

apm install git-blame


This plugin makes the list because it saves so much time in writing code documentation — it automates writing "docblock's" including automatically documenting your parameters, and specified types. With a little configuration, you can set it up to insert author tags, version info, etc. It's basically identical in functionality to the plugin of the same name available in Sublime.

apm install docblokr


This one is great because it gives you sequential numbering at each of your cursor/input points, starting at your choice of 0, or 1. This lets you easily number lists, or array entries using a multi-line selection, for example. Again, this is basically the same as it's Sublime version.

apm install text-pastry


A plugin which helps you resolve merge conflicts inside your document. Unlike traditional tools, which give you a side-by-side diff (useful in some situations) this tool gives you a much nicer UI which tells you where each merge option comes from, and allows you to merge and edit the changes directly.

apm install merge-conflicts

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