Atom vs Visual Studio Code (VS Code) - Choosing The Best Code Editor

Atom vs Visual Studio Code (VS Code) - Choosing The Best Code Editor

Andrei Tiburca's photo
Andrei Tiburca
·Mar 11, 2022·

14 min read

Table of contents

Just as Grammarly, Google Docs, and Hemmingway are a writer's best friends, software developers and programmers also rely on tools that help them write their codes efficiently; and code or text editors are one of those.

As a developer or programmer, you understand the importance of writing clean, efficient, and error-free codes and code editors' role in achieving these goals.

Thankfully, writing codes no longer has to be as complex as in the past, especially with the rise in useful tools to make the coding process more manageable.

Today, more developers embrace these tools to write their codes faster and accurately. A survey by Statista revealed that in 2021, 71% of software developers used desktop code editors regularly to write, edit and/or save their code documents. This shows us how useful these tools are to developers.

In this article, we will compare two editors—Atom vs Vscode—and tell you all you need to know about them and guide you through what you need to watch out for when choosing the best code or text editor for your work.

If you are looking for options other than Atom or Vscode we've written an in-depth guide of the best 35 code editors that you can check out here.

Without wasting much time, let's dive right into it!

What is Atom?

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Commonly referred to as "the hackable text editor for the 21st century", Atom editor is one of the leading code/text editors of our time. It is a free, open-source code editor developed by GitHub. It is completely customizable with several plug-ins that can allow it to function as an Integrated Development Environment (IDE).

Atom is a desktop software compatible with Windows, Linux, and Mac OS, and it is built with HTML, CSS, Node.js, and JavaScript integrations.

You can find more JavScript code editors in this article.

It runs on a framework called Electron, making it easy for you to use web technologies—like CSS and JavaScript—to build apps that can function across different platforms. It is ideal for beginners who already code with Python.

Atom is highly customizable, and you can choose from thousands of open source packages that enhance the features and functionality of the software. It also has a variety of themes and extensions at your disposal.

Atom provides:

  • Cross-platform editing allows you to use it across different operating systems.
  • Built-in package manager allows you to install or create new packages on Atom.
  • Smart auto-completion helps you write your codes faster.
  • The file system browser allows you to open files and projects in one window.
  • Multiple panes split the app's interface and allow you to compare and edit codes across different files.
  • Find and replace helps you find and replace text as you type.

We'll share more details about the app much later in this article, so hang in there.

What is Visual studio code?

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Visual Studio Code, popularly known as VS Code (or Vscode), is also a free, open-source code editor. Developed by Microsoft in 2015 using Electron, the tool is unarguably one of the renowned code editors out there. The tool is often confused with Visual Code which is a different tool. We actually compared the two in this article.

The cross-platform tool, which runs on Windows, Linux, and Mac OS, has built-in support for Node.js, JavaScript, and TypeScript. This means that it is ideal for developers with JavaScript and TypeScript as their primary languages. It doesn't just end here; VS Code also allows you to use other programming languages like Python, Java, C/C++, HTML, CSS, and more.

Vscode can also function like an IDE with various customizable plug-ins and extensions. This is because of its debugging capabilities and other features like syntax highlighting, code refactoring, and code completion.

Overall, Visual Studio Code provides:

  • Syntax highlighting
  • Auto-completion
  • Cross-platform editing
  • Code debugging
  • Built-in Git commands
  • Easy site deployment

You can tell that Visual Studio Code promises to be a great tool. Not to worry, we are just getting started, so read on!

Comparison methodology

Choosing the best code editor can be dicey as a developer or programmer because a wrong choice might sabotage your efforts and all your hard work. We're sure you understand how frustrating that can be :(.

When choosing the best code editor for your work, it is important to look beyond the "buzz" online and make your choice based on what the tool offers and what you hope to achieve with it. The right code editor can positively enhance your workflow and boost your productivity.

In this section, we will compare both Atom vs Visual Studio Code objectively, using different parameters. We aim to give our expert opinion and guide you through making the right choice by providing you with all the necessary details you need.

We will compare both code editors based on the under-listed parameters:

  • Ease of use: We will compare Atom and Visual Studio Code based on how easy it is to install and set them up. We will also talk about their user interface while stating how easy it is to write codes on them efficiently.
  • Features: We'll state their core features and how useful they are to you as a developer or programmer.
  • Integrations: In this case, we'll focus more on if they have GitHub-related extensions and integrations or support.
  • Speed: We understand the vital role the speed of your code editor plays in increasing your efficiency, so we'll rate the speed of both Atom and Visual Studio Code.
  • Extensibility: We'll compare the number of extensions and plug-ins they offer you.
  • Price: We'll compare both based on price and let you know if you need to make any payments to access extra features.
  • Community support: We know how important it is to have a supportive community of fellow developers who can provide technical support and help you jump through certain hurdles. We'll compare both tools based on how supportive their communities are with that in mind.
  • User reviews: We'll share thoughts from other developers who have used both tools.
  • Pros and cons: We'll summarize this section by highlighting the pros and cons of Atom and Visual Studio Code so that you can make an informed decision.

Atom vs Vscode: Ease of use

Atom vs Vscode: Ease of use

What is the use of a source code editor if you can't navigate it seamlessly? Having nice features, plugins and extensions won't be enough if you (the user) can't write your code efficiently.

Ultimately, a great source code editor should be easy to install, set up, and navigate. In addition to this, it should also make it easier for you to write your codes efficiently.

We compared Atom vs Visual Studio Code based on how easy it is to download, set up, and navigate. We are glad to let you know both editors are easy to install and set up, and they are compatible with Windows, Linux, and macOS desktop devices.

You can install or download Atom and Visual Studio Code desktop software from their respective websites. They both have welcome guides upon installation to help you easily set up and customize your editor.

VS Code takes the lead regarding the installation size, as it is faster to install based on its smaller installation size of about 74MB, as opposed to Atom, which has a download size of about 190MB. If the installation size is a problem for you, you might want to stick with VS Code.

Overall, they both have a simple user interface that makes navigating and writing your codes easy. However, most developers seem to prefer the Graphical User Interface (GUI) that Atom offers instead of the simple JSON file that VS Code used in the past.

Atom vs Vscode: Features

It is very common to see most developers choose a particular tool over others simply because of the features it provides, and you can't really blame them, can you? At the end of the day, who doesn't want outstanding features?

In comparison, both tools offer almost similar core features like syntax highlighting, find and replace, cross-platform editing, and more.

Visual Studio Code offers more out-of-the-box features, like

  • Debugging
  • Built-in Git support
  • Markdown support.

Visual Studio Code also has an in-built feature called IntelliSense that enables efficient syntax highlighting and auto-completion and provides smart completions.

Being a hackable editor, Atom gives you the power to customize your editor to your taste from scratch, with several plug-ins and extensions, hence why it has fewer in-built core features. The idea is to give you the power to customize your editor based on your needs completely.

Atom vs Vscode: Integrations

We can't emphasize the usefulness of integrations enough. Integrations can turn an otherwise regular application into a fully functional appealing one.

Atom takes the lead for integrations, as it has in-built Git and GitHub integration. This is no surprise, seeing as it is a product of GitHub. On the other hand, Visual Studio Code does not have the complete GitHub integration. However, it has GitHub-related extensions that offer similar functions. Visual Studio Code also has the Microsoft Azure integration that helps it easily deploy and host sites.

Atom vs Vscode: Speed

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In terms of speed or general performance, most developers often associate electron apps with their sluggish performance, probably because of their size. It is important to note that this is usually not the case for all electron-based apps.

Regarding performance, VS Code performs faster and better than Atom, mainly because of its size and the fact that most of its features are inbuilt. On the other hand, Atom requires you to download multiple plug-ins and extensions, which sometimes slow down the performance of the software.

One way to tackle this issue would be to remove plug-ins and extensions that are not in use.

Atom vs Vscode: Extensibility

Both editors have several customizable packages, themes, plugins, and extensions that enhance their functions, to give you a fully optimized editor.

In terms of plug-ins, Atom takes the lead because it gives more functionality and power to plug-ins and allows you to customize and design your tool according to your taste and needs.

The list below shows a few notable extensions and packages offered by Atom text editor:

  • Emmet
  • Teletype
  • Ask Stack
  • Turbo JavaScript
  • Kite
  • Linter
  • Minimap
  • Autocomplete
  • Git Blame
  • Atom-clock
  • Pigments
  • Atom Beautify
  • Git Plus
  • Color Picker
  • Auto-close HTML
  • File Icons
  • Project Manager
  • Build

The plug-ins in Visual Studio Code are mainly used to give additional features like language support, Git integration, themes, commands, and more. VS code does not have an inbuilt Git integration; however, it has many extensions that give similar functions.

Some Visual Studio Code extensions and packages include:

  • Python
  • C/C++
  • ESLint
  • Vetur
  • Swift
  • Trunk
  • GitLens
  • Project Manager
  • Peacock
  • Colorize
  • JavaScript Code Snippets
  • Prettier
  • CSS Peek
  • Vscode Icons
  • React Snippets
  • HTML Snippets
  • Chrome Debugger
  • Language Support
  • Turbo Console Log

Atom vs Vscode: Community support

As a developer, often, you may come across issues that frustrate you when coding, whether as a beginner or pro. At these times, having someone or something to help you resolve your problems can be the gush of fresh air you need.

Thankfully, both platforms boast extensive and reliable support. They both provide helpful, detailed documentation, as well as blog posts, FAQs, and videos guiding you through all you need to know.

In addition, Atom has an open-source GitHub community and Slack group for issues and discussions, while Visual Studio Code leverages Microsoft's huge community. The best part about having a huge user base is that other developers often provide answers to potential challenges that you might encounter based on their own experience while using the tool.

Atom vs Vscode: Price

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We understand that price plays a crucial role in our choice of tools or applications, and sometimes it might be a barrier, especially when it's beyond your budget.

Thankfully, both Visual Studio Code and Atom are free, open-source code editors, so you do not have to pay to install or download them. Their plugins, extensions, themes, and other packages are also free for personal and commercial use.

It is important to note that Visual Studio has subscriptions for professionals and enterprises:

  • Visual Studio Professional ($45/month)
  • Visual Studio Enterprise ($250/month)

But you do not need to worry about this, especially if you intend to use the tool for personal purposes.

Atom vs Vscode: User reviews

This article will not be complete without telling you what other developers currently using these tools have to say. As you may have guessed, there are several online reviews of both tools online, including the good, bad and ugly. There is always an opportunity to do more when it comes to customer satisfaction.

Atom has a rating of 8.8 out of 10 on TrustRadius, and this is based on 80 verified reviews from developers that have used the app. On Capterra, it has a 4.3-star rating out of 5, based on 6 reviews. While there were praises of its ease of use, plugins, extensions, community support, and overall value, other users complained about its speed, fewer updates, and difficulty in reaching out to their support team or customer service.

Most users consoled themselves with the fact that they have never had to reach out to customer support because of how helpful Atom's user base community has been to them.

"I haven't needed to use customer support for Atom. I've found either trial and error or the use of forums to be more than sufficient," - a user wrote.

Visual Studio Code seems to take the lead in this section, as it had higher ratings and more reviews from verified users. TrustRadius rated Visual Studio Code 9.2 out of 10 based on 508 reviews. Similarly, it has an excellent 4.8-star rating out of 5 on Capterra based on 1046 reviews.

What won the hearts of most users is the performance difference, compared to other Electron-based apps, as well as its reliable customer support, frequent updates, vibrant community, ease of use, features, and extensions.

A satisfied user even went as far as referring to it as "The best thing to come out of Microsoft in years."

A few users complained about how difficult it can be to configure, especially for beginners.

"It can be difficult to set up certain advanced configurations, particularly around multiple shells (Linux, PowerShell, etc.) and multiple languages. You need an understanding of JSON notation to do it properly," - a user complained.

Most unsatisfied users recommended other editors like Sublime Text and Notepad++.

Atom vs Vscode: Pros and cons

Atom pros

  • The editor is free and open-sourced
  • Highly customizable (hackable)
  • Can function as an IDE with plugins and open-source extensions
  • Has remarkable community support
  • Easy to navigate
  • Integrated with Git and GitHub
  • Functions across different platforms (Windows, Linux, and macOS)
  • Supports different programming languages

Atom cons

  • Performance can be slow
  • Has fewer core features
  • Consumes memory
  • Start-up can be slow
  • Updates are not as frequent
  • Customer support is not always reliable

VS Code pros

  • Robust editor with plugins and extensions
  • Performs faster than other Electron apps
  • Easily debugs codes
  • Reliable customer and community support
  • Supports different programming languages
  • In-built GitHub support
  • Frequent updates
  • Checks for errors while writing codes
  • Integrated command prompts
  • Can function as an IDE with plugins and extensions
  • Supports different OS

VS Code cons

  • It can be a bit slow to start up
  • Configuration can be difficult for beginners
  • Consumes high memory

Conclusion: Which source code editor is worth it?

From our review, you can see that both tools offer unique benefits, and they have high recommendations from developers around the world.

We can't insist that you pick one tool over the other, as preferences may differ, but we can give our expert opinion by telling you all you need to know before settling for the one that best suits your needs.

Visual Studio Code had better reviews and ratings from users compared to Atom text editor, although most people preferred the user interface of Atom, and they loved its extensibility. While some loved both tools, others recommended other editors like Sublime Text, Notepad++, Eclipse IDE, Apache NetBeans, PyCharm, and Vim.

Both tools are free, so you can carefully go through what they offer and make your choice based on what you hope to achieve. Better still, you could try out both Atom and Visual Studio Code master their features and shortcut keys before making your decisions. They are both worth a trial!

For more expert reviews, latest trends, and updates in the tech world, visit the Hashnode Townhall Blog. If you enjoyed this review and would like to write yours, visit Hashnode to create your free blog now!

You can also check out our articles on the best 35 code editors or our in-depth breakdown of visual studio vs visual studio code.

FAQs

What are the alternatives for VS Code and Atom?

Several other code editors vigorously compete with Visual Studio Code and Atom. Some notable ones are Sublime Text, Notepad++, Eclipse, and PyCharm.

Some may offer better features than Visual Studio Code and Atom; however, they may not be free. We advise you to do your research before choosing the best code editor.

Is Atom lighter than VS Code?

No. On the contrary, Visual Studio Code is more lightweight compared to Atom. VS Code has an installation size of about 74MB, and it performs faster, unlike Atom, which has an installation size of about 190MB.

Is VS Code good for coding?

Yes, it is. Visual Studio Code is a free, open-source code editor developed by Microsoft. The tool is excellent for writing and editing codes, and it is available across different platforms like Windows, Linux, and Mac OS. With great reviews from developers, it is one of the best source code or text editors we have today.

Is Atom good for HTML?

Yes, Atom is built with HTML, CSS, Node.js, and JavaScript integrations, and it is highly customizable. This means that with the right plugins and extensions, it can support other languages as well. It is a great tool developed by GitHub, and it has excellent reviews from other developers.

 
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