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Why I Switched from Atom to VS Code

shahednasser profile image Shahed Nasser Originally published at blog.shahednasser.com ・3 min read

This article was originally posted on my personal blog.

A few years ago, I discovered Atom, an open source text and source code editor developed by GitHub. I was so amazed by it as it was lightweight and fully customizable. It quickly became my favorite code editor.

Fast forward to now, and I am using Visual Studio Code, a free source code editor developed by Microsoft. This might seem like a normal change, however, I remember that while I was using Atom my colleague and I were having a discussion and I strictly stated "I'm not a fan of Microsoft products."

So what made me switch from Atom to VS Code?


Performance

When I first started using Atom, it was fast and as I mentioned lightweight. However, when you compare it to VS Code, it's load time can be pretty slow. Especially if you're opening somewhat large or long files. Atom can get pretty laggy and the wait becomes annoying.

It should be noted that both editors are built on Electron, a framework that helps you built cross-platform desktop app using HTML, Javascript, and CSS. There's a lot of dispute when it comes to Electron's speed, so you'd think that both editors would be inherently slow. However, it seems that VS Code sets an example of how to use Electron without the lag.


Out of the Box Features

Atom's main charm is that it's customizable. You can add whatever extensions and linters and anything you want. However, especially if you're a beginner in a language and not sure what kind of extensions or linters you might want, it can be a hassle using it. Even if you do find the extensions you need, there's no guarantee that these extensions will do the job well (I'll talk about extensions next).

Not only does VS Code come ready with support, debuggers and linters for most popular languages, but when you use a new or not so popular language, it recommends the extension you need right away. It saves you time and makes sure you are using what you need in your development.


Extension

Extensions in Atom are tricky. You'll find really good extensions that will be helpful in your development process, but you'll also find extensions that will create more bugs in your editor and makes your life a living hell. This is understandable, as most extensions are made by the open source community, so some extensions might be outdated or get discontinued, or just have a lot of bugs.

The more extensions you add to Atom, the more you'll face bugs while using it and hassles. And you can't really use Atom without loads of extensions, since using Atom as it is is like walking in the dark.

As for VS Code, I have been using it for a while now and I have yet to face any problems with its extensions. Every extension that I have added was helpful and very much needed. Nothing affected the quality of the editor.


Debugging

Debugging in Atom is, again, dependent on what extensions you add. There's nothing built in the editor itself. However, in VS Code, your access to debugging is easier. There's the debugging tab ready for you on the left and it provides what you need based on the environment of the project you're working on. This is another part of the out of the box features in VS Code that Atom lacks in.


Conclusion

With time, Atom became an annoyance to me. Every time I needed to add an extension, the entire editor seemed to be crumbling. The load time was slow and the performance got worse. However, VS Code is proving to be a stable editor that can handle your main development need, while still keeping the performance optimal.

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jonrandy profile image
Jon Randy

VS Code compared to Sublime Text is slow

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