How to Setup Lua Autocmds for Neovim

March 23, 2022

The latest nightly builds of Neovim now have Lua-based autocmd support. Previously autocmd and augroup commands needed to be wrapped inside a vim.cmd block so that the Vimscript-based statements would work.

The nightly builds now include nvim_create_augroup and nvim_create_autocmd commands that allow you to create auto command groups and auto commands without resorting to nesting Vimscript in your Lua-based configuration.


I created two helper functions: one for creating auto groups, and one for creating auto commands.

    local agrp = vim.api.nvim_create_augroup
    local acmd = vim.api.nvim_create_autocmd

Auto groups

For each set of related auto commands I wanted, I created a group. So that the group names will sort to the top of the output when running :au <event>, I preceded each name with an underscore. For example, this group is where I keep any command that is aimed at all file types.

    local _general = agrp("_general", { clear = true })

The clear = true isn’t strictly required, as it is the default. But I like it as a reminder that the group will clear previously set commands.


The format of the the nvim_create_autocmd statement took me a little bit of experimenting to figure out. Here is an example of what I ended up with.

    acmd({ "FocusLost" },
         { pattern = "*",
           command = ":wa",
           group = _general })

The first dictionary defines the event (or events) this autocommand is triggered by. The second dictionary defines the pattern to match, the command to run, and identifies the group the command belongs to. In the example above, the event is FocusLost, the pattern is *, the command is :wa, and the group is _general.

I have a number of groups and commands for various file types. Even for relatively short, simple commands I followed the same multi-line format. This way all the autocmd groups in the file look the same. The file itself can be viewed here.

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Mark H. Nichols

I am a husband, cellist, code prole, nerd, technologist, and all around good guy living and working in fly-over country. You should follow me on Twitter.