I, Developer

The tale of three text editors - Atom, Sublime & Textmate

Written by John Moses on April 10, 2014

Github has released a new text editor this past month called Atom. I finally received an invite and it is time to put it to the test against Sublime and Textmate.

As of the date of this post I am using TextMate. But in the past I have used Sublime Text and have recently started trying out Github’s Atom.

Overall look and feel

All three editors have a very similar look. Can you guess which one is which? All three editors tie based on my qualifications for overall look and feel.

  Atom Sublime Textmate
folder pane Yes Yes Yes
customizable color formatting Yes Yes Yes
tabs Yes Yes Yes
themes Yes Yes Yes

Git integration

Github’s Atom has the best Git integration. I really like the coloring indications, number of line changes, and branch identification.

  Atom Sublime Textmate
default git integration Yes No Yes
display current branch Yes N/A Yes
display file modifications Yes N/A Yes
display # of line changes Yes N/A No

Package management

All three have a package management system. And oddly enough, they all kinda look the exact same too. The shortcut is the same for both Atom and Sublime. I give this one a tie to both Atom and Sublime. Where is a Textmate bundle search site?

  Atom Sublime Textmate
package management Yes Yes Yes
manager shortcut key cmd+shft+p cmd+shft+p none
centralized listing Yes Yes No

Markdown support

I am going to give this to Textmate, because I like that you can see updates on a few tags as you type (see above screenshot). Atom does has a Markdown preview tab, which provides more of an accurate preview. But it does not take into account templates, which honestly would be very difficult.

  Atom Sublime Textmate
color coding No No Kinda
live preview No No Kinda
preview panel Yes No No

HTML, CSS, javascript support

They are all so similar that I could not make a good argument for using one over the other in this category.

Wicked cool stuff




Installation and updates

Textmate can be downloaded at http://macromates.com/download and has a simple installation process. It does have automatic updates.

Sublime can be downloaded for evaluation at http://www.sublimetext.com. The installation process is also simple, and also has an automatic update process.

Atom is currently invite only, but you can sign up at https://atom.io/. The installation was also simple. I have not received an update yet, so I can not comment on it. Once you get an invite, you have three invites to give out. I still have my three, leave a comment or tweet if you would like one.