Switching Over to NeoVim

I’ve been using vim for coming up on four years now. It’s been an amazing ride so far and it’s impossible for me to imagine not using it anymore. This fear is what has kept me from exploring NeoVim until recently, and now I wish I would have looked into it perhaps a little sooner! In this post I’ll explain how I moved over to NeoVim and highlight some of the “gotchas” I’ve found so far.

Taking the Journey

Some simple Google’ing and you’ll find a quick little strategy to move from Vim over to NeoVim via creating the new standard config directory and copying your vimrc file over to the new init.vim format. While that may work I took this opportunity to take a hard look at the tools I was using and instead elected to start with a blank slate.

Every plugin I had been using went through a simple checklist to determine if and how it was ported over.

  1. Am I still using this? Surprisingly quite a few fell in the no camp with this and I flat out just didn’t bring them over.
  2. Is there a NeoVim specific version? With all of the improvements that have been baked into it, plugins that are written explicitly for it will probably get some greater mileage.
  3. Does it work the same as before? For almost all of these the answer is yes; however, I did run into one that had to get the boot: Powerline.

Notable Changes


I was using the popular YouCompleteMe; however, with NeoVim there is a better option which takes advantage of it’s asynchronous architecture: deoplete. I was bit taken back at first when the TAB key didn’t cycle through the complete options; however, with a bit of help from a member in the community I was back on track pretty quickly. Here is the solution to get your tab key to select auto-complete options:

In your init.vim

inoremap <silent> <expr> <Tab> utils#tabComplete()


function! g:utils#tabComplete() abort
let l:col = col('.') -1
if pumvisible()
return "\<C-n>"
if !l:col || getline('.')[l:col - 1] !~# '\k'
return "\<TAB>"
return "\<C-n>"


Powerline just wasn’t working. I switched over to vim-airline and was pretty pleased with how much it looked and functions – so no complaints there.


Switched away from Vundle for Plug. Like deoplete, it takes advantage of the asynchronous capabilities of NeoVim and can install a full range of plugins pretty quickly.