Setting up Neovim

Note: You can find an updated version of this article here

Vim is an excellent text editor. It’s fast and has a light footprint, and tends to be installed in most Unix systems you’ll come across. You can use it across SSH, and once you get the hang of the keybindings, you’ll find that it’s actually very fast to use.

Neovim tries to strip some of the cruft of Vim. It’s completely asynchronous (though Vim also introduced async in Vim 8), so plugins shouldn’t block normal operations. It includes nice features like everything that’s found in the vim-sensible plugin and true 24-bit color support.

Of course, you might be missing some goodies from goodies that you had in your IDE, I won’t deny that Visual Studio and CLion have some convenient goodies like autocompletion and formatting.

There are some very powerful autocompletion plugins available for Neovim and Vim (I will specifically be discussing my Neovim setup).


Installing Neovim is relatively simple. If you’re on a mac, you can install it with Hombrew, or you can use apt. Instructions are provided on the website.

The autocompletion plugins we will be using utilize LLVM/Clang. You can download the latest LLVM source from their website. You can also get the compiler from Homebrew and other package managers.

If you want Python 2/3 support, you will want to install the Neovim pip package:

pip install neovim
pip3 install neovim

For the rest of this tutorial, you may want to check out my dotfiles for some inspiration on how to customize your Vim/Neovim setup.

dein: a neovim package manager

Installing packages in both Vim and Neovim is best done with a package manager. A package manager that was specifically made for Neovim is dein a “dark” package manager for Neovim. The instructions for installation are available on the dein Github page, which has been linked above.

The dein instructions want you to specify an installation directory when you run the installer script. I ended up using

./ ~/.config/nvim/bundle/repos

So I could easily manage dein as with any other plugin.

Your plugin base directory will probably be: ~/.config/nvim/bundle.

You will probably also want to use an absolute path rather than a relative path like I posted above

Installing plugins

Installing plugins with dein is extremely easy, you simply add a line in your init.vim file. After the dein.begin line, add another line with the format

call dein#add('github_username'/'project_name')

This will prompt dein to clone the repo into your bundle/repos directory. Dein will automatically pull from Github to keep your plugins updated. If you want to remove a plugin, simply delete the line that specifies that plugin and Dein will remove it for you.

These are the plugins I use for autocompletion:


Verify that Neovim is working properly by running :CheckHealth to ensure that your Python and Ruby plugins are working properly (if you wanted a Python or Ruby plugin). This will also check to see if Dein is reporting any issues.

Using Neovim with these plugins is relatively easy - you just type and autocomplete suggestions will pop up if deoplete finds a potential match. Using your arrow keys to navigate these suggestions can bring up function previews. The repos for these plugins contain instructions for customizing the plugins.