My Neovim setup in 2023
My Neovim setup in 2023


I've used Vim and then Neovim since I started programming ~5 years ago1. It's interesting and fun to use a completely open-source tool chain.

I like seeing what new plugins are created and the new utility they bring. Neovim has some buzz around it at the moment, and its fun to be around people who enjoy improving a tool-chain I use everyday.

I use Neovim within Tmux. I have multiple sessions running - one session for each project or thing I'm working on. Speed is never a problem, and I never need to close anything. I can have ten or twenty instances of Neovim open, and its still instantaneous to open others or run language servers or other expensive operations.

It's also convenient being able to run a code-editor right next to the shell that is running the code. You can also run shells from within Neovim (or vim) to execute tests or build code.

Why personalization matters

In the past I've tried to use (Neo)vim distributions such as LunarVim, and have always found them too restrictive. I like my setup and I don't want to learn a new way of doing a thing if I can help it. Ideally editing, navigating and exploring code would be intuitive and the only thing to think about would be the code itself, not the tooling that lets me access it. I think that my Neovim setup is good at this, and will continue to get better as time passes.

To me, programming is a craft motivated by the satisfaction and fun found in being creative. My editor setup is like a workshop where I practice my craft. Its personal, and an environment that I'm familiar with. This is different to, for example, a simple tool like a hammer that serves a single purpose and should be interchangeable with other hammers if the need arises. I might have a favourite hammer, but a generic hammer will do.

My setup

You can see my current Neovim config here.

  • At the end of 2021 I began to convert my previous vim setup to Neovim and was using Neovim from January 2022. This was mainly a migration from vimscript to Lua.
  • By the end of 2022, I had a setup I was comfortable and familiar with. I'd smoothed out a few rough edges and there were no black boxes, magical things, or unknowable parts.

The 'complicated' or 'magical' features have now been tamed:

  • Adding 'sources' to the nvim-cmp completion engine, including snippets, GitHub copilot, and LSP.

  • The LSP tool-chain, using mason , null-ls, toggle-lsp-diagnostics , and LSP-Saga .

  • I've been using GitHub copilot, which is usually helpful and occasionally jaw-dropping.

  • Overall the change from Vim to Neovim is a big improvement - I can't imagine going back.

    • The setup seems more flexible, performant, feature rich and easier to maintain.
    • The tooling seems faster and more capable.
    • Innovation and new features seem to be being added regularly and quickly.
    • Learning Lua feels useful and pleasant, compared to Vimscript which seemed like something to avoid as much as possible.
  • I still have a hacky workaround for my occasional flaky colorscheme problems

Favourite plugins

  • LSP-Saga makes LSP stuff seem more usable and less delicate
    • lsp-finder is great
    • lsp-outline could be great, if it was more reliable
  • toggle-lsp-diagnostics is useful because it provides an easy way to toggle diagnostics, (not all my projects play nicely with LSP.)
  • mason and null-ls, cover every linting, formatting, or LSP-server I could want. Their interfaces make sense to me, so now I have lovely code almost all the time.
  • auto-session makes session management easy without having Session.vim files as clutter

Things I would miss

  • The collection of plugins that let me format, lint and explore code - mason, LSP-Saga, null-ls.
  • auto-pairs and matchtag-always - automatically close tags, quotations, brackets, and jump to the other one easily.
  • nvim-tree - its a file explorer that does what it does well - navigate, create, move, rename, hide/unhide git-ignored or hidden files. Its not that different to nerd-tree, but I much prefer this approach to a file explorer than the alternatives.
  • whichkey - makes learning and finding new features much easier.
  • close-buffer and smartq make quitting and closing buffers a little more intuitive for me.

Still to do

The following features are quirky and I don't find them intuitive, but getting familiar with them would be increase speed and decrease cognitive load:

  • paste and yank behaviour:
    • Don't yank what I just pasted over.
    • Use the yank registers (numbers 0 - 9 I think) to paste the thing I yanked before the last yank
  • navigation t, f and s (from the sneak plugin) to get the cursor to somewhere fast - no more holding down the hjkl keys.
  • Make better use of find and replace. If I have to do the same thing 5 or 10 times, I'll probably just do it manually. If I need to do it 100 times I'll write a macro. Ideally, I'll use find and replace, and make better use of registers.


  1. Now that I've written that, it seems really odd - how and why did I go from nothing to vim.. How did I even know that vim was an option, and not choose something obvious like VS Code. I cannot remember. I didn't go straight from excel to python-edited-vim though, I spent some time using jupyter (or iPython) notebooks learning data-analytics first.