Categories
Applications Coding Useful stuff

Unfashionably still an Atom editor fan

I’ve loved the idea of the Atom editor since I saw the initial announcement video three years ago:

I used it on and off as a text editor since it was released. Sure, it was sluggish, but I didn’t think too much of it. I used Atom for a text-based productivity system a couple years ago, when I couldn’t find a cross-platform task management system I liked. At some point, I decided to try something a little more responsive, and lightweight.

All the cool kids seem to be using Visual Studio Code, and they love it. There’s certainly a lot to like about Microsoft’s (mostly) open source code editor. It’s lightweight, extensible through a range of really good extensions, it’s cross-platform, and free.

I used it for a while, and enjoyed it. As a newbie coder, it gives me a lot of feedback as I poke around at my coding projects. This can be really helpful, for sure. That’s probably one of the reasons I used VS Code for as long as I did (and why I still have it installed on my laptop). Of course, another reason why I used it is that a number of developers I follow have raved about it.

I initially moved off VS Code, and returned to Atom earlier this year when I started using a more powerful MacBook Pro, and felt drawn back to Atom for some reason. Part of the reason was that a Markdown extension I relied on in VS Code stopped working for me (at least when I used it in conjunction with Alfred.app that I use heavily for my work).

When I came back to Atom, I noticed how well some of the packages I installed seemed to fit into how I worked. The Markdown Writer package, for one, has become one of my favourite packages, just because it makes it easier for me to write in Markdown.

There was certainly a point where I was concerned about Atom’s ongoing development, and how seemingly simple issues didn’t appear to be addressed. I received some good feedback on this, and moved on.

One of my colleagues recommended Sublime Text, so I spent some time testing it out. I love how quickly it starts up, how similar it is to Atom (well, more the other way round). At the same time, I’m not sure I can justify paying the cost for Sublime Text because Atom does want I want to do, with less of the fiddling I need to do to Sublime Text to configure it for how I like to work (mostly keybindings, and Markdown support).

It’s not that Sublime Text isn’t worth the $80 license fee, it really is (and I agree with paying for good quality software). Even though it took me a few weeks to configure it to work pretty well for me, there are little features that I absolutely love. One little one that I discovered is how it automatically closes HTML tags when I start typing closing tags. These little things are awesome, and bring a little more joy to my day.

In the meantime, Atom has been improving with each release. Sure, it doesn’t have all the tips and feedback that VS Code, and it loads a little slower (although not as much as it used to). I don’t mind that as much actually. I stick with Atom because it works for me.

It fits into how I write Markdown, works well enough for me when I switch over to CSS, HTML, Python, shell scripts, JavaScript, and so on. On those occasions when I need extra help, I may dip back into VS Code, or give Sublime Text another go.

I’m also just figuring out how to “hack” this “hackable text editor for the 21st Century”, and I really enjoy this sort of freedom with my text editor. There’s still so much I can learn about how to use my editor more effectively. Another colleague pointed out a really cool Emmet feature that just blew my mind.

So, in a time when everyone seems to be flocking to VS Code, I thought I’d add my vote for Atom. I’m still a fan, thanks GitHub!

unsplash-logoFeatured image by Luca Bravo
Categories
Coding Policy issues Useful stuff

Creating good through open source

I really like videos like this:

Open source as a way of doing things has such amazing potential to make our world so much better.

Watching videos like this tend to prompt me to revisit my calendar and try find regular blocks of time I can dedicate to my dusty coding projects.

Categories
Applications Education Politics and government

An alternative to Israel’s expensive Microsoft licensing dilemma

Interesting article on OnMSFT: Israel, scared off by Microsoft subscription deals, won’t renew Office licensing agreements:

Under the current deal with Microsoft, Israel pays about $27 million a year for Office on the desktop, Windows, and server software being used across the government. The ministry issued a bold statement, saying “This will also encourage government ministries to re-examine their needs of using Microsoft technology or switch to other technology alternatives.”

Open source solutions are worth exploring. I’d love to see Israel adopt something like
LibreOffice, especially for schools where PowerPoint slides have become the default choice for notices.

I think Linux also makes a lot of sense for most people who just default to Windows because their computers come with it (albeit at a cost).

Schools, in particular, shouldn’t be sitting with PCs running Windows 2000. They can probably revitalise their old PCs with a lightweight Linux distro, and give kids an opportunity to use them for more than just gaming.

Certainly a switch like this is only possible with an investment, but the longer term benefits must outweigh the initial costs.

Categories
Applications Blogs and blogging Mindsets

Open source WordPress app on all platforms is good news for the open Web

I like the desktop WordPress app. It has improved quite a lot since it was first released and the only real difference between the desktop app and posting in the Web interface is that the app doesn’t include additional plugin functionality like Yoast SEO which I use on this site.

Anyway, I noticed that WordPress has now released versions of its app for all 3 major platforms: Mac, Windows and, last month, Linux. Automattic has also open sourced the WordPress desktop app. This is good news for the open Web in a time when there seem to be more high walls around platforms.

Source: WordPress Tavern

Categories
Legal Mindsets Useful stuff

A very common Markdown spat

I came across Hilton Lipshitz’s post titled “Standard Markdown” in my feeds that interested me. As you probably know, I use MultiMarkdown routinely and it has changed how I work. MultiMarkdown, of course, owes its origins to John Gruber’s original Markdown project and expands on the original syntax. I followed the link to the Standard Markdown link in Lipshitz’s post and found this:

Standard Markdown

I followed the link to Jeff Atwood’s very apologetic post titled “Standard Markdown is now Common Markdown” in which he explains the following:

We’ve been working on the Standard Markdown project for about two years now. As we got closer to being ready for public feedback, we emailed John Gruber, the original creator of Markdown, two weeks ago (On August 19th, to be precise) with a link to the Standard Markdown spec, asking him for his feedback. Since John MacFarlane was the primary author of most of the work, we suggested that he be the one to reach out.

We then waited two weeks for a response.

There was no response, so we assumed that John Gruber was either OK with the project (and its name), or didn’t care. So we proceeded.

Atwood’s original announcement post is “Standard Flavored Markdown“. He then goes on to outline how Gruber took issue with Standard Markdown’s name.

It was a bit of a surprise to get an email last night, addressed to both me and John MacFarlane, from John Gruber indicating that the name Standard Markdown was “infuriating”.

Gruber also seemed to have concerns about the syntax used, based on this tweet:

Atwood and his co-developers were asked to rename their project, shut down the “Standard Markdown” page, not redirect it and apologise to Gruber. They complied, apologised again, and explained how they arrived at the new project name, CommonMark.

Gruber has a number of supporters who have commented variations of this comment

I think the Gruber has reason to be upset. Name it something other then ‘Standard Markdown’, make it clear that it is not affiliated with, or endorsed by Gruber.

and this tweet:

Gruber’s Markdown license is a variation of a BSD software license although it is somewhat contradictory.

After describing it as “a BSD-style open source licence”, he prefaces the license text with the following:

Copyright © 2004, John Gruber
http://daringfireball.net/
All rights reserved.

The contradiction is caused by his rights reservation. You can’t reserve all your rights and then, at the same time, grant permissions in a license (which is what a license is). In any event it was probably an oversight on Gruber’s part.

The license permissions are the following:

Redistribution and use in source and binary forms, with or without modification, are permitted provided that the following conditions are met:

  • Redistributions of source code must retain the above copyright notice, this list of conditions and the following disclaimer.

  • Redistributions in binary form must reproduce the above copyright notice, this list of conditions and the following disclaimer in the documentation and/or other materials provided with the distribution

  • Neither the name “Markdown” nor the names of its contributors may be used to endorse or promote products derived from this software without specific prior written permission.

Clearly the last part imposes a restriction on uses of the word “Markdown” “without specific prior written permission” which, based on Atwood’s post, he and his team never received so they should not have used the word “Markdown” in their project’s name. Gruber’s restriction is analogous to trademark protection and since it forms part of the Markdown license terms, anyone who wants to use the Markdown software in some way has to comply.

That said, from what little we know about Gruber’s response, it seems somewhat curmudgeonly and is one of those things that leaves a bad taste. Part of the reason for this spat is probably that Markdown was described in “open-source” terms and, to many that sounds a lot like “free to use with no restrictions”. That is certainly not the case here. If anything, this is a cautionary tale for developers who need to pay careful attention to the fine print in the fine print, even when it comes to seemingly “open-source” licensed code.