GitHub’s Atom editor gets a speed boost

Architectural updates and a full rewrite of the rendering layer improve responsiveness, with better Git and PHP support coming soon

GitHub’s Atom editor gets a speed boost
Thinkstock

GitHub has just released an upgrade to its “hackable” Atom text editor, adding a native C++ buffer and rewriting the DOM interaction layer. The company also has offered a glimpse of the next version, which will improve Git integration and PHP support.

With this week’s Atom 1.19 release, a native C++ text buffer boosts responsiveness and memory usage. “Saving a file now happens asynchronously without blocking the UI, so that you can move smoothly from one task to the next,” GitHub’s Ian Olsen said. Also, large files now consume less memory.

The DOM interaction layer was rewritten to improve performance and simplify code. The rewritten layer leverages new browser features and virtual DOM capabilities. The rewrite also was intended to accommodate APIs including CSS containment boundaries, for limiting the scope of the browser’s styles and layout, and resize observers, which notify when an element’s content rectangle has changed size.

Available for Windows, MacOS, and Linux, Atom was built with HTML, JavaScript, and Node.js. It runs on GitHub’s Electron cross-platform framework for building desktop apps. Upcoming for Atom is version 1.20, now in a beta stage. To improve Git integration in version 1.20, diff views have been reworked to provide pending pane support and multiple simultaneous views. In addition, users are now able to compose commit messages in the main editor—“for those not into the whole brevity thing.”

Atom 1.20 also features fixes for PHP grammar. To improve find and replace capabilities, context lines in the 1.20 release are optionally displayed with “Find in Project” results. Users can set the number of available lines before and after matches in the package settings and can modify the display inline when viewing results.