Atom & Markdown


Learning Goals

  • Open a specific project in Atom from thse Terminal
  • Navigate the Atom interface, using some keyboard shortcuts
  • Write valid Markdown files in Atom


  • Atom
  • Code Editor
  • Markdown
  • Keyboard shortcuts

Markdown Files

Markdown is a lightweight markup language that converts to HTML and can be displayed on the web. It is used widely in the tech industry for documentation. You’ll use it in various ways at Turing. Most frequently, you’ll use it to document and showcase your projects.

Markdown Practice - Mod 0 Game Plan

Create a new Gist on GitHub

Using this markdown cheatsheet as a resource, your task is to create a "Plan for Mod 0" documenting your game plan for success in Mod 0, using Markdown. Use the tips and guidance that follows to ensure your complete it successfully.

  • In the filename box, follow this format:
  • You can create your Gist, see how it looks, and then continue editing it.
  • Note that a .md file extension is required at the end of your Gist’s filename. Otherwise it will not register as markdown.
  • Images can be a little tricky in gists and GitHub - be sure to check out the drag-n-drop shortcut from this Stack Overflow answer!

In addition to documenting your game plan for success in Mod 0, incorporate each of the following Markdown features into your Gist:

  • at least two headings of different sizes
  • at least one numbered list
  • at least one bullet point list
  • at least one bold word/phrase
  • at least one italic word/phrase
  • at least one Ruby or JavaScript code block (the code doesn’t need to be anything fancy!)
  • at least one inline code block (greyed text)
  • at least one image
  • at least one link to a resource (technical or not) that you’ve used or plan to use

Pro Tip

It can sometimes be hard to tell if you are writing valid Markdown. Use a Markdown Preview Tool such as Markdown Live Preview to ensure your Markdown renders as expected. If you are writing Markdown in Atom, you can use the Markdown Previewer which can be opened with the shortcut ctrl + shft + m.


Atom is a code editor. It is a desktop application where we write the code that powers our applications. It offers features like syntax highlighting and line numbers (and many more!) that make it easier for developers to write code efficiently. There are many other code editors - some similar to Atom and some with even more built-in tools. We ask all incoming students to start with Atom so the whole class is using the same set of tools while we focus on learning goals for foundational coding concepts. After Mod 1, students can choose to learn and use other editors.

Atom is the application we will write code in programming languages, such as Ruby and JavaScript. In the Terminal, we run commands to communicate with various programs on the computer.

We will open the Atom application from the Terminal. Since you’ll have so many files and directories on your machine, you’ll want to get into the habit of only opening the project you are currently working on.

To open Atom from the Terminal, navigate to your Mod 0 directory, then run:

mkdir atom_practice
cd atom_practice
atom .

Practice this right now. If Atom does not open, make sure Atom is in the Applications folder, not the Downloads folder. If it is still not working, share this in a message to your small group on Slack.

Inside the file you just made, type some Markdown into Atom using what you used in the previous section.

Install Auto-Save

Either through exploring the options in the menu or Googling, figure out to install auto-save in Atom. Having this installed will save you a ton of headaches in the future!

Atom Keyboard Shortcuts

To maximize your time as a developer, use of keyboard shortcuts will be essential. If you are new to a Mac and/or a development environment, it can feel overwhelming at first. Don’t try to learn them all at once. A list of commonly used shortcuts that we recommend starting with follows:

  • cmd + , - opens the Preferences Pane
  • cmd + \ - toggles the File Tree
  • cmd + a - highlights the entire file
  • cmd + right arrow - takes your cursor to end of the current line
  • cmd + left arrow - takes your cursor to start of the current line

Atom Keyboard Shortcuts

Practice each of the shortcuts above a few times to start building muscle memory.

If you are feeling confident with those and want more, use this guide to learn how to: duplicate a line, move a line up/down, toggle a comment, and select the same word. (Note - the guide provided is just a resource we link to so you don't spend too much time on this; there are likely many other great resources out there!)

Terminal & Atom Practice

Complete the challenges below to continue to build fluency with using your Terminal and Atom:

Challenge #1

  1. Run cd to get to your home directory (you’ll probably already be here, but do it just to be sure)
  2. Make a new directory called my_first_projects
  3. Make another new directory called my_other_projects
  4. List the contents of your directory (you should see these two directories you just made in the list)
  5. Remove the my_other_projects directory
  6. Navigate into the my_first_projects directory
  7. Make a file called
  8. Make a file called
  9. Open the project in Atom
  10. Add a list of things you already know about the language that is taught in the program you are enrolled in, in the appropriate file
  11. List the contents of your directory (you should see the files you just created)
  12. Demonstrate how to expand and collapse the file tree with a keyboard shortcut
  13. Close Atom with a keyboard shortcut
  14. Delete the file
  15. Get back out of the my_first_projects directory
  16. List the contents of your current directory (you should see my_first_projects)
  17. Remove the my_first_projects directory

Challenge #2

  1. Run cd to get to your home directory (you’ll probably already be here, but do it just to be sure)
  2. Make a new directory called practice
  3. Move into the practice directory
  4. Print the path to your current directory
  5. Make a file called
  6. Open the project in Atom
  7. List the contents of your directory (you should see the file you just created)
  8. In the file, write 1-3 sentences explaining what the Terminal is and does, in your own words. Add an appropriate title/header
  9. Demonstrate how to highlight the entire file with a keyboard shortcut
  10. Close Atom with a keyboard shortcut
  11. Get back out of the practice directory
  12. Remove the practice directory

Check For Understanding

Follow the directions in this Gist. Submit the URL to your Gist in the submission form you created in the Kickoff Session.