CloudFormation Templates in Atom

I’ve posted before about my absolute love of Atom.  I recently was doing a lot of CloudFormation work and just started using atom-cform, a CloudFormation syntax completion plugin for Atom written by Diego Magalhães. It works great and is a port of the popular CForm package in Sublime Text, which I have missed since jumping ship from Sublime to Atom a little over a year ago. It provides real-time context-sensitive CF template scaffolding for everything from parameters to resources:


Another super-helpful CloudFormation plugin for Atom that does both CloudFormation stack validation and launching is Cory Forsythe’s atom-cfn. You have to have a working AWS configuration (the author recommends a working awscli install which is what I have) in place for both validation and launching as it hits the API in AWS. Simply bring up the command palette in Atom (Shift-Cmd-P on macOS) and select either “Cloudformation: Validate” or “Cloudformation:Launch Stack”. Key-bind those commands for added efficiency.

Atom (is) Smashing

Ask a developer or sysadmin about their favorite code editor and you’re likely to get a passionate reply, one that might involve several minutes of frank words and trash talk about any editor besides THE ONE. Up until recently, I was a diehard CLI coder, with vi being my editor of choice. With over twenty years of experience as a sysadmin, I grew up on vi-style text editing, to the point that as I would enter brief dalliances with GUI editors, I would make sure to get my vi-compatible key mapping in place. The  motor memory savings alone was worth the effort.

A few years ago, I switched to Sublime Text, which never felt right to me, despite it being quite usable, feature-rich,  and popular. The proprietary nature of the software always got under my craw given my FOSS roots. Then, one day about a year ago, I discovered GitHub’s Atom and I haven’t looked back since.

Atom is a near-clone of Sublime in terms of look, feel, and functionality and yet it’s open-source.  It has a vast and rich community of plugin development that is over 5,000 packages strong and growing. Package installation and management is done easily within the Atom UI but also customizable via configuration files. Here is a list of some of the installed packages in my current Atom installation:

  • atom-beautify
  • atom-json-color
  • autocomplete-json
  • autocomplete-modules
  • autocomplete-python
  • editor-stats
  • ex-mode
  • file-icons
  • git-plus
  • highlight-line
  • highlight-selected
  • linter
  • linter-jsonlint
  • merge-conflicts
  • minimap
  • monokai-json
  • pretty-json
  • project-manager
  • rulerz
  • Sublime-Style-Column-Selection
  • vim-mode
  • vim-surround

You’ll notice I have my vi keymapping support in there via ex-mode, vim-mode, and vim-surround. 😉

My favorite package in terms of productivity boost is git-plus. Git-plus allows you to execute git commands within the Atom UI as you edit files. I highly recommend it. So much so that I made this screencast to demonstrate how easily I was able to push changes to a GitHub repo of mine after making a quick edit to a README file.