Newsletter #8 - Open up the Windows

December 2017

What is Neovim?

Neovim is a fork of the venerable text-editor vim, focused on extensibility and usability. It is not a rewrite but a continuation and extension of Vim. Many clones and derivatives exist, some very clever—but none are Vim. Neovim is built for users who want the good parts of Vim, and more. See a list of differences at :help vim-differences.


If you are interested in contributing to Neovim, read to get started. We have a great test suite and automated CI, so you can just jump in and have a go. Don’t be afraid to open a PR to get comments or just take advantage of the infrastructure!

To get in touch with the team, join the gitter channel (also accessible via IRC), or visit the Neovim subreddit, which many of the developers read. Taking part in conversations is a contribution, too!

New contributor shoutout: @ckelsel has been responsible for porting a large number of vim patches, as has @lonerover. Thank you!

Old contributor shoutout: @oni-link isn’t a name you read a lot in the commit logs, but he’s been very helpful in reviewing changes and improving complicated PR’s for quite some time. Thank you!

What’s new

The last newsletter has gathered some dust, so we want to bring you up-to-date in the Neovim world.

Neovim has had 3(!) releases since back then, so let us recap those first and foremost:

Release 0.2

This release brings a host of fixes and improvements. We’ll look at some of them closer below, but be sure to also check out the release page for all the gory details.

0.2 for Users

  • Microsoft Windows is now fully supported
    • :terminal mode is available in 0.2.1, see below!
  • Starting this release, Neovim offers pre-built packages for macOS and Windows (32-bit and 64-bit). The Windows package contains a GUI and some additional tools like curl.exe.
  • :terminal has seen various improvements (@justinmk, #6185)
    • findfile(), :find and gf now work in :terminal buffers (@tweekmonster, #6009)
    • Shell output is now throttled to maintain terminal responsiveness (@justinmk, #5396)
    • Arguments for shell commands now work properly with :term (@friedsock, #4504)
  • Numerous improvements to man.vim have been made (@m-wynn, @raichoo, @renstrom, @justinmk, #6693, #6766, #6815, #3104, #7405)
  • Man and help pages now contain a TOC (@tweekmonster, #5169)
  • The message Reading from stdin was removed (@msva, #6298)
  • guicursor now works in the TUI (@teto, #6423)
  • There’s a new highlight group Whitespace for whitespace-related listchars (@zhou13, #6367)
  • Commandline completion has been implemented (@justinmk, #6376)
  • The event DirChanged is now available for autocommands (@mhinz, #5928)
  • cpoptions: Use the _ flag to toggle cw behaviour (@raichoo, @chrisbra, #6235)
  • CTRL-R now omits trailing ^M when pasting to the commandline (@justinmk, #6137)
  • You can now :edit filenames without escaping whitespaces (@Kurt-Bonatz, #6119)
  • Changes to defaults:
    • mouse=a is no longer the default (@justinmk, #6022)
    • NVIM_TUI_ENABLE_CURSOR_SHAPE was removed, you can use guicursor instead (see
    • showcmd, belloff=all, ruler are now default (@justinmk, #6087)

0.2 for Developers

  • Full API documentation at :help api
  • API changes:
  • writefile now obeys the fsync option (@ZyX-I, #6427)
  • In addition to the effort from the vim guys (7.4.{2055,2057,2058}), eval.c has been refactored and error messages were improved (@ZyX-I, #5119)
  • The id function is now available, and printf(%p) is finally useful (@ZyX-I, #6095)
  • All providers will be disabled if g:loaded_* exists (@justinmk, commit)
  • setpos can now set lowercase marks in other buffers (@hardenedapple, #5753)
  • You can check v:exiting to see if Neovim is exiting (@mhinz, #5651)

Release 0.2.1

Next let’s see what happened in 0.2.1. As before, check out the release notes for details.

0.2.1 for Users

  • Nvim now supports window-local highlighting (@bfredl, #6700)
  • Even more terminal improvements:
    • TUI cursor motion, SGR, and scrolling optimizations, cursor shape and terminal type recognition improvements have been merged (@jdebp, #6816)
    • Terminal buffers are adjusted when using the number column (@tecywiz121, #7440)
    • A newly created :terminal will now stay in normal mode (@nelstrom, #6808)
  • The command line can now be colored (@ZyX-l, #6364)
  • Custom clipboard providers can now be configured (@nhooyr, #6030)
  • The clipboard provider can now fall back to tmux support (@xu-cheng, #6894)
  • Further improvements for :Tutor have been made (@fmoralesc, #7028)
  • inccommand now works with leading modifiers like keeppattern (@jamessan, #6967)
  • The ruby host can be configured (@alexgenco, #6841)
  • The unnamed register is kept on restart (@AdnoC, #4700)
  • For Windows users:
  • For Linux users:

0.2.1 for Developers

  • Changes:
    • External UIs now should use the FocusGained event instead of sending the <FocusGained> pseudokey (@justinmk, #7221)
  • Neovim sources are now analyzed with PVS (@ZyX-l, #6493)
  • External UIs can now draw
  • Lua is gaining momentum:
  • Programmatically get information about mappings via get_keymap (@tjdevries, #6236)
  • You can now retrieve highlights using nvim_get_hl_by_name/by_id (@teto, #7082)
  • bufhl can now be used to create new highlighting groups (@bfredl, #7414)
  • External UIs can get menus from menu_get (@teto, #6322)
    • menu_get pretty-prints special chars, making it possible to feed its results back into e.g. nvim_input (@teto, @KillTheMule, #7340)
  • RPC clients can connect to a socket using sockconnect (@bfredl, #6594)
  • serverstart now uses uv_getaddrinfo(), bringing IPv6 support (@mhinz, #6680)
  • You can now define several functions in one :execute call (@ZyX-I, #6914)
  • Logging has been enabled per default (@justinmk, #6827)

Release 0.2.2

This is a fast-and-furious containing mostly bug-fixes. See the release-notes for details. Some new features are in, too:

  • curdir has been added as a viewoption (@EricR86, #7447)
  • A node host is available (@billyvg, #7458)
  • :checkhealth now also validates the runtimepath (@justinmk, #7526)
  • scrollback now defaults to 10000 (@justinmk, #7556)
  • A bugfix of note is the reversal of the netrw update, we’ve been seeing quite some reports about that! (@justinmk, #7557)


Want to know what to expect from the next release? Here’s a list to whet your appetite:

The near future: Upcoming

For an overview of planned features, goals and ideas for Neovim head to the road map. Some noteworthy upcoming PRs are:

PSA: If you build Neovim from the latest master, always check Following HEAD for any changes.

Around Neovim

The wiki page of related projects has seen quite some additions, check out the full changes here.

API clients

API clients are at the heart of Neovim’s architecture, and significantly improve developer experience. Write a plugin in any language you want! Since the last newsletter, we’ve seen the addition of another C++ client, one for Elixir, and a Racket client. The node client got an overhaul and a new maintainer. Thanks @billyvg for taking over! While not totally new, a special shoutout goes to the ruby client for being very well-maintained. Thanks, @alexgenco!

If you happen to prefer a language not yet listed, a good starting point are the docs, and be sure to come talk about it on the gitter channel.


Too much activity has happened on the GUI front to list all new clients, so let’s just have a look at some that stand out. VSCode is using Neovim to properly integrate ex-mode commands, and Sublime Text 3 gained full Neovim integration. The latter also makes use of another cool Neovim-specific feature, the externalized popupmenu, and it only took them 50 LOC. Last but not least, eovim is an enlightenment client for Neovim.

The Architecture of Neovim.

Some students have studied the Architecture of Neovim and published an “analytical essay” about their findings. Be sure to have a look if you are interested in the bigger picture.

Vimcasts and Modern Vim

Drew Neil of vimcasts fame has started recording casts about Neovim, and began work on a successor to his praised book Practical Vim called Modern Vim. Most of the book will be suitable for Vim 8 and Neovim users, but about 1/3rd of the book will cover Neovim-specific functionality.


One of the founding stones of Neovim has been porting I/O to libuv. So you will be happy to hear that libuv has set out to support more platforms. Neovim, soon coming to a platform near you!

Test suite

Neovim offers easy testing via the wonderfully simple Lua language. Why aren’t others doing it, you ask? Turns out, they do, or at least, the neomutt project is preparing for it. Very nice to see ideas from Neovim taken up.


Changes lines since the last newsletter:

git log  --since="2016-11-01" --numstat --pretty=tformat: --numstat|gawk '{ add += $1; subs += $2; loc += $1 - $2 } END { printf "added lines: %s removed lines: %s total lines: %s\n", add, subs, loc }'
added lines: 255393 removed lines: 221106 total lines: 34287

Merged commits:

git log  --since="2016-11-01"|wc -l

Different commit authors:

git shortlog -e -s -n --since="2016-11-01"|wc -l

Documentation changes:

git log  --since="2016-11-01" --numstat --pretty=tformat: --numstat runtime/doc|gawk '{ add += $1; subs += $2; loc += $1 - $2 } END { printf "added lines: %s removed lines: %s total lines: %s\n", add, subs, loc }'
added lines: 8579 removed lines: 6577 total lines: 2002


Thank you contributors, sponsors, bug-reporters, supporters. Thank you @justinmk for the awesome project and thank you @brammool for your foundational work.

@brammool and @chrisbra from the vim team have left a few comments on our issue tracker, it’s nice to be working together!


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What is Neovim?

Neovim is a Vim-based text editor engineered for extensibility and usability, to encourage new applications and contributions.


Visit or #neovim on to chat with the team.