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Atom vs Sublime: Most Significant Differences You Should Know

Source code editors are crucial when it comes to real-time programming jobs. They allow users to code with their desired features and build the editor as they go on working. Atom and Sublime Text are two such editors we know of, so if you are looking to compare Atom vs Sublime Text, you’re in just the right place.

You must take note of important features and consider user experience and reviews before settling on either, as choosing the wrong one would make it harder for you to program efficiently. It would also keep you from boosting your workflow.

Atom vs Sublime: Getting To Know Them

That said, no worries if you are a complete beginner or a tech enthusiast – we’ll be diving deep into the Atom vs Sublime comparison and start our discussion from the very beginning. So, in this section, you’ll understand how they work and what they are best known for. Keep reading!

How Does Atom Work?

Atom text editorAtom is GitHub’s take on a “hackable” text editor and Linux-friendly source code editor. It was launched in 2004, and the concept was to give users the complete freedom to customize the editor in any way they may need. Being an open-source product, Atom has many plugins and extensions that may allow users to make it into an IDE.


  • Atom’s modular design lets users weak it any way they want, with excellent documentation teaching users how to do so.
  • It is highly scalable with HiDPI support – so you can get the best performance out of it.
  • One can use Platformio to create the best embedded system using Arduino via Atom.
  • The editor is well-praised for its built-in package manager and wide range of packages.


  • Atom has a prolonged startup time and uses a lot of memory resources.
  • It does not handle indentation well and may cause errors if a different one is used.
  • The editor fails to recognize some keyboards, has difficulty handling large text files, and is unsuitable for older devices.

How Does Sublime Work?

Sublime text source code editorSublime text is also a high-in-demand source code/ text editor, considered one of the best Atom or VS Code alternatives. It has some awesome built-in features, such as auto-indentation and file type recognition, and it is super beginner-friendly. That said, the Atom vs Sublime comparison awaits us in later sections – so let’s keep going!


  • It is a very lightweight and easy-to-use application.
  • Sublime Text is full of IDE features even though it is a text editor and gives users the flexibility to customize or extend it in any way they want.
  • One can easily perform Fuzzy searches, use snippets, and much more with Sublime.
  • There are also modular settings that one can share with other users within the community.


  • Many Sublime users have complained about indentation errors and poor whitespace management.
  • Although multi-lingual, the applications offer weak support to some languages in Linux platforms.
  • It relies more on keyboards than toolbars, which aren’t intuitive, according to many.

Atom vs Sublime: 3 Common Grounds

Atom vs SublimeNow that we have covered all that let’s compare Atom vs Sublime. However, no comparison is complete without taking a look at the similarities first. In fact, these similarities are the reason why we are making this comparison in the first place.

1. Cross-platform and Multi-lingual Support

In many real-time situations, the programmer has to use devices with different operating systems, such as testing or prototyping. Hence, having a code editor that comes with cross-platform support makes it easier by letting the user be comfortable with it, even in different operating systems. It is even better if your editor can be customized for different languages (both programming and human languages). And both Atom and Sublime have it.

2. Similar Keyboard Shortcuts and Syntax Highlights

Even though Atom and Sublime Text uses different approaches when it comes to their features, the two applications come with similar keyboard shortcuts and syntax highlighting. Also, you can customize your keyboard shortcuts in both Atom and Sublime, while you can change themes or color schemes to assign different colors to different code elements. Both these features come extremely in handy when it comes to boosting your programming workflow.

3. File Editing and Switching Protocols

File management is another essential feature when it comes to programming. It may hamper your project if you cannot manage your files correctly. That said, file editing and switching are just as important.

However, both Atom and Sublime support file management in the same manner. They allow users to use FTP and SSH plugins remotely and switch between files or perform fuzzy searches within projects instantly with keyboard shortcuts.

Atom vs Sublime: 7 Key Differences

Hopefully, you will have a better concept of Atom and Sublime work by now. So, we can finally get to comparing Atom vs Sublime by discussing seven of the biggest differences between them below. Let’s start without further delay!

1. Performance

If you have prior experience with anything that uses the Electron framework, you can easily guess how their performance will be. Such products often end up getting exponentially slow as users add plugins or extensions, and the same is true for Atom since it uses the Electron.

That said, Sublime Text uses a custom GUI framework that overcomes this flaw and gives you a far better user experience if we compare Sublime vs Atom. Sublime Text is also much quicker in every aspect, whereas Atom users have difficulty in handling text files that require over ten megabytes in storage. Hence Sublime is better in performance.

2. Costs and Licensing

Open source softwares are applications that are free of cost and make its source codes available for users to modify as per their needs. Shareware, on the other hand, are applications that are free up to a certain extent and keep their source code unmodifiable and unavailable.

That said, Atom is an open source software, meaning users can modify it from its core to create their most optimum programming tool. Sublime users can only add plugins and extensions but not modify the tool itself. Atom is also completely free, whereas, Sublime is freemium, i.e., it has both a free and a premium version with added features.

3. Collaborative Editing

Collaborative EditingHave you ever edited a doc file in Google Docs while someone you shared the file with edits it at the same time? Well, some might find this feature annoying, but for the most part, it’s really useful. This feature is known as collaborative editing.

In that regard, collaborative editing also has a term of its own in the programming industry, called peer programming. It’s great for improving your work efficiency and makes problem-solving easier. It also boosts your workflow and lets you share ideas with your peers more efficiently. However, Sublime Text does not offer this feature, but Atom does. So Atom’s better.

4. Debugger and Plugin Support

Debugging is a crucial feature in real-time programming. It’s basically the process of finding the errors in your program and fixing them. Plugins, however, add extra functions to your application, much like extensions do. So they are pretty important as well.

With that in mind, not all integrated development environments (IDEs) or text/code editors come with integrated debuggers or efficient plugin support. Atom is such a tool that has integrated debuggers, whereas Sublime does not. Atom also has built-in plugin support due to its modular design, while Sublime uses third-party plugins which may or may not be safe to use.

5. Source Control Integration and Security

Since we were talking about safety just now, it’s only fair for us to discuss how Atom vs Sublime compares regarding safety. Source control integration is positively correlated to the security of your application. The easier your application’s source code is to access, the riskier it is.

So, as we mentioned before, Atom is a “hackable” source code editor that relies on users to modify and build it from its core. It is open source as well, which means anyone can use the source code. It uses GitHub for source control integration, but even so, the security protocol is weak compared to Sublime, which is shareware and far more secure in its raw state.

6. Auto-complete and User Experience

User experience is a top factor you should note while choosing an application to use. It may help determine if the software is easy to understand and use or if it will hinder the workflow of the programmer as they try to find features.

For instance, auto-complete is a great feature that enhances an editor’s user experience. It helps boost workflow and efficiency. Atom and Sublime text both have auto-complete, which is great, but Atom requires plugins, whereas Sublime has built-in. That said, the overall user experience is better in Sublime text if we make a comparison between Sublime vs Atom.

7. Prototyping and Unit Testing

Both prototyping and unit testing are crucial steps in software development. Prototyping lets you see a rough version of your project idea, whereas unit testing lets you see if the complete version of your software has any faults or room for improvement.

No project is perfect on the first try. The whole development process is based on trial and error. However, having an easy-to-prototype and test editor makes a huge difference in the long run. That said, Atom’s modular concept makes it lag behind Sublime in prototyping, but Atom allows users to perform unit testing with plugins, whereas Sublime doesn’t support it at all.

Atom vs Sublime: Which to Use?

Atom vs Sublime - Which to useNow that we have walked you through the basic comparison between Atom vs Sublime, you must be wondering which to use – they both have their own flaws and advantages. So, if you ask us, we suggest you consider what you’ll be using the editor for first and whether you are more comfortable with built-in features or better at molding the software based on your needs. For instance –

  • If you are great with setting up plugins, changing themes, etc – you should be fine with Atom.
  • Or, perhaps you are a beginner trying to build your first project – you should go for Sublime, but if you like challenges, Atom is the way to go.
  • Suppose you need unit testing – Atom will be better, as Sublime does not support it at all.

However, if you are looking for an overall conclusion that answers which one is better to use out of the two, Sublime wins. This is because Sublime is ranked 8 among the best text editors in recent surveys. In comparison, Atom was ranked 11.

Atom vs Sublime: Frequently Asked Questions

FAQsHopefully, by now, you have developed a rough idea about which to use as we compared Atom vs Sublime. But, no worries if you haven’t, as we’ll also discuss some frequently asked questions below to help you further. So, let’s get into it right away, shall we? 

Q: Is Atom the same as Sublime?

A: Atom is licensed under MIT, which makes it open source, whereas Sublime has a proprietary license making it shareware instead. They are by no means the same, but there are similarities for sure. 

Q: Is Atom or Sublime more lightweight?

A: Atom is much more lightweight compared to Sublime Text. It is because Atom lets its users build it into completion. Whereas Sublime comes with a fixed set of features that one can extend with the help of plugins.

Q: Is Atom the best text editor?

A: No, far more text editors overtake Atom, such as VS Code or Sublime. In fact, the decreasing community enthusiasm drives Github’s decision to shut down Atom by December 2022. So, if you’ll be using it, now’s your chance.

Q: Is Sublime Text outdated?

A: No, although Sublime has been around for quite a while, and it is a well-developed software by now, it’s nowhere near backdated. Rather, it ranks eighth among the best text editors worldwide, even in recent surveys.

Atom vs Sublime: Final Thoughts

That was all the significant differences we had to talk about regarding the Atom vs Sublime comparison. We have covered the fundamental concepts of how Atom and Sublime work, their pros and cons, and their similarities. And most importantly, how they differ and what makes either one better than the other. That said, tell us which text editor you are using!

We have reached the end of our discussion today, so tell us if you found it to be helpful and interesting or if you’d like more such comparisons in the comments. Whichever you do, we wish you the best of luck for your next programming project. Thanks for reading!

Mehedi Hasan
Mehedi Hasan
Mehedi Hasan is a passionate enthusiast for technology. He admires all things tech and loves to help others understand the fundamentals of Linux, servers, networking, and computer security in an understandable way without overwhelming beginners. His articles are carefully crafted with this goal in mind - making complex topics more accessible.


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