The GitHub team started working on Atom six years ago, with active development taking place for more than 2.5 years. The goal was to make a text editor that they would use for the rest of their lives.
Atom is currently available for OS X, but the company is also working on Linux and Windows versions. The app is built on top of the Chromium browser so it takes advantage of Web technologies while functioning as a native desktop app.
GitHub had already open-sourced many of the libraries and packages for Atom, but now it is releasing the code for the core application, its package manager and its application framework under the MIT license.
It’s only natural that GitHub would open source its own projects in order to participate in the community it has helped foster.
“As a programmer individually, and all of us at GitHub, we want to use tools that are open source,” Atom developer Nathan Sobo told TNW. “That means we have control, transparency, we can be confident that the tool is going to be around as long as we need it to be around…It’s better for the product to have a big, vibrant community around it.”
Atom will operate as a standalone product from GitHub’s main service, though you can expect to see packages from GitHub in the future that will integrate closely with it.
As for what’s in it for GitHub, Sobo noted that, as a huge player in the software development process in general, it benefits from helping out the entire ecosystem.
“We’re focused on building something awesome, and the money will come later. We’ll worry about that later,” he said.