GitHub is converting its Atom text editor into an IDE

Atom, GitHub’s text editor built on the Electron framework, is being fitted with IDE-like capabilities as a precursor to making the editor a full-fledged IDE.

The first step in Atom’s transition from text editor to IDE is an optional package of features developed with Facebook called Atom-IDE.

The package includes:

  • smarter context-aware auto-completion
  • an outline view
  • go to definition
  • ability to find all references
  • hover-to-reveal information
  • warnings (diagnostics)
  • document formatting

The initial release has packages for TypeScript, Flow, JavaScript, C#, and PHP. These packages use language servers to analyze code and projects. GitHub thus joins other companies such as Microsoft and Red Hat that have supported the language server protocol. Support is likely later for Rust, Go, and Python.

GitHub says that, if a language server exists for a language, it is easy for developers to create their own Atom-IDE package that takes advantage of it by using the Atom language client NPM library. This provides common automatic wire-up to major features as well as helper tools such as downloading support files and conversions.

To get started with Atom-IDE, developers have to bring up Atom’s Install package dialog, then search for and install the atom-ide-ui package to activate the IDE user interface and install needed language support, such as ide-typescript , ide-flowtype,  ide-csharp,  ide-java, and ide-php.