When comparing Atom vs MacVim, the Slant community recommends Atom for most people. In the question“What are the best programming text editors?” Atom is ranked 8th while MacVim is ranked 14th. The most important reason people chose Atom is:
Atom has a built-in package manager and an extensive [list of packages](https://atom.io/packages).
Ranked in these QuestionsQuestion Ranking
Pro Extensive list of packages
Atom has a built-in package manager and an extensive list of packages.
Pro Built-in package management
Atom was built from the ground up with the community in mind. Package management is therefore a first class feature.
Atom can run on Mac, Windows, and Linux.
Due to its modular design, almost any aspect of the editor can be changed. Even seemingly core packages, like those taking care of search and replace functionality, can be forked on GitHub, and changed and replaced in the editor.
The documentation for creating new plugins is also great, making it easier for developers to jump in and create plugins for Atom.
Pro Free and open source
Atom is free, open source, and written in C++, LESS, and CoffeeScript.
Pro Beginner friendly
One of the goals of Atom is to be a text editor for both experienced and beginner programmers. You can add keyboard shortcuts, change themes, install plugins, and change core settings by clicking through a GUI, or by manually editing config files the old-fashioned way. It has the added advantage of being built using the same engine that powers Google Chrome, so actions like opening and closing tabs feel familiar, even to new or non-programmers.
Pro Embedded Git control
Atom will highlight folders, files, and lines that have any uncommitted edits made. It also integrates really well with GitHub.
Pro Multi-line select and edit
Multiple cursors and column selection allow for versatile ways of editing.
ctrl + d will select the current word and each time the command is repeated, it adds the next occurrence of the word to the selection.
ctrl + click or
middle-mouse click will place another cursor in the place that's clicked. Cursors can then be controlled together. This also allows for selecting vertically.
Pro Command Palette support
The Command Palette permits fuzzy searching all available functions, settings, snippets, etc.
You can theme and customize Atom to your liking.
Pro Allows for instant file switching
By pressing Ctrl or Command + T and using fuzzy search, you can look for a file in your project.
Pro Command line integration out of the box
Installing Atom adds two command line commands -
apm. The first one runs the application itself while the second is the Atom Package Manager that's used to add and remove various components from the package listing. While these features can be set up with other editors as well, Atom takes care of them out of the box.
Pro HiDPI support
Atom has built-in HiDPI support with zero scaling issues.
Pro Modern feel and very customizable and extendable
Pro Vim plugin turns Atom into a modernized vim
Pro Best support for Arduino with Platformio
Arduino is the most important platform for developing embedded systems.
Pro Could also used as an IDE
Atom qualifies to be a good IDE because of the packages like linters, atom browser and hydrogen
Pro Lots of plugins
Every plugin available for Vim is available for MacVim too.
Pro Extremely customizable
MacVim is Vim, meaning it has all of Vim's customizability and power.
Pro OS X input methods
MacVim supports OSX's native shortcuts making the adoption of Vim easier.
Pro Extensive community support
MacVim, like Vim itself has a large community backing it.
Pro Automatic font substitution
In cases of a selected font missing certain characters, MacVim will find a font that has that character.
Pro Vimtutor teaches the basics of Vim in 30 minutes
Vimtutor is an excellent interactive tutorial for people with no prior experience of Vim. It's bundled with Vim and takes about 30 minutes to complete.
Pro Everything is a mnemonic
Vim associates keys with words. For example,
d is for "delete" and
w is for "word". To perform an action you string together letters. Thus, to delete a word, press dw.
This way it's possible to abstract a large amount of functionality that Vim provides in an intuitive way.
Pro Enables effective keyboard-driven editing due to its modal nature
Interaction with Vim is centered around several modes. Each mode has a different purpose and switching between them changes behaviour and keybindings. There are 12 modes in total (six basic modes and six variations on basic modes) and four of them are used commonly.
Insert mode is for entering text. This mode most resembles traditional text entry in most editors.
Normal mode (the default) is entered by hitting ESC and converts all keybindings to center around movement within the file, search, pane selection, etc.
Command mode is entered by hitting ":" in Normal mode and allows you to execute Vim commands and scripts similar in fashion to a shell.
Visual mode is for selecting lines, blocks, and characters of code.
Modes allow separating concerns between various tasks and reusing keys for different kinds of functionality. As a result, the workflow becomes more efficient.
Pro Multi-byte support
Permits writing characters that don't fit in one byte, most notably logograms (for writing in languages such as Japanese, Chinese, and Korean) and Unicode characters.
Con Very slow startup time
Atom is very slow to startup, which is a big disadvantage if you are accustomed to using it to make quick changes on your files.
Con High memory usage
Atom has a relatively high memory usage, especially when compared to some other text editors not based on Electron. For those who develop on the go, this also tends to mean shorter battery life.
Con Has difficulty with large text files
Tends to crash or hang with large >(10MB) text files, making it less useful as a general text editor.
Con Slows down exponentially with plugins
Extending it needs sacrificing responsiveness
Con Doesn't handle RTL (right-to-left text) well
Text can't be highlighted and manipulated properly, cursor isn't displayed visually according to where it is logically (you have to type to find out), and similar issues.
Con Not known when a new window will open
It's not really clear why and when a new window is opened when you open a file out of the tree view.
Con No text UI
Con Not suitable for older computers
Atom requires a lot of system resources to run, so it will most probably be painfully slow on an older machine.
Con Bloated. Too many packages, too little productivity.
Unable to use package to even convert a C file to PDF.
Atom is not a native application. As such performance is subpar and the lag is especially noticeable on larger projects. It also opens a surprising amount of sub-processes and leaks a considerable amount of memory.
Con Missing additional touches
As Atom is still relatively new, it's missing nice little touches that other text editors have implemented over the years. From simple ease-of-use items like middle-mouse button multi-cursor select, to the ways pasted information from a spreadsheet is interpreted in multi-select situations.
Con Crash and data loss
I lost unsaved changes 2 times when the app crashes.
A bugreport about that was closed automatically after some time, nobody cares.
Con Doesn't recognize some keyboards
Con Slow when opening files with very long lines
A lot of very long lines can make MacVim take up to a minute to open, where a few other editors take only a few seconds to load the same file.
Con Only available on macOS
A decent text editor is available on all major platforms (macOS, Linux, Windows).
Con Difficult learning curve
MacVim after all is still Vim, and with that comes the complexity that Vim brings and the difficult learning curve that needs to be overcome.