Writing like a pro with vale & neovim

📅️ Published: May 26, 2022  • 🕣 3 min read

Writing like a pro with vale & neovim

Vale is a syntax-aware prose linter built for all you writers out there. With more than 100 releases so far vale is 5 year old project and is used by writing folks in companies like Google, Microsoft, IBM, RedHat to name a few. I have recently started to use vale in my everyday writing workflow and it has a significant impact on what words I choose to convey ideas. I mostly use neovim for writing, so we will be covering how to setup vale and use it with neovim.

Just like when writing software we use static analysis tools to find common problems, vale aims to help writers configure what words/prose to choose while writing technical documentation.

Installing vale

Download a latest version of vale from their github releases page.

Writing styles & the vale config

Vale requires to have a .vale.ini config file located either in your $HOME directory or a relative project directory. Below is a sample configuration that I use personally

# This goes in a file named either `.vale.ini` or `_vale.ini`.
StylesPath = styles
MinAlertLevel = suggestion

# External packages
Packages = Google, Readability, alex, proselint
# Only Markdown and .txt files; change to whatever you're using.
[*.{md,txt}]
# List of styles to load.
BasedOnStyles = alex, proselint

Once you create this file, run vale sync to download/update any External packages you have mentioned in the config.

A vale style is a repository of “rules” that define what words need to be reported by vale. The rules are defined in a yml file.

If you prefer to customize the config yourself, I recommend using the config generator

The vale project has come up with 7 style packages. Some of the popular styles are based on writing rules from organisations like Google & Microsoft, some of which are listed below:

  1. Microsoft Writing Style Guide
  2. Google Developer Documentation Style Guide
  3. IBM’s Developer Editorial Style Guide

You can find more vale styles on github by vale-style topic.

Choosing what styles suits best for your writing needs depends on your writing style, If you are working with a team of writers in a organisation I would suggest using styles from Google & Microsoft which are more strict but good for teams. If you have a personal blog or you write solo, use styles like alex or proselint whose rules are more lenient, I recommend give all the rules a try by switching the BasedOnStyles property in vale config.

Setting up Neovim

The null-ls.nvim neovim plugin let’s you use vale as a prose linter.

Install null-ls.nvim using Plug

Plug 'jose-elias-alvarez/null-ls.nvim'

Require the lua plugin,

require("null-ls").setup({
    sources = {
        require("null-ls").builtins.diagnostics.vale,
    },
})

If you are using a native vim config use lua HERE doc.

lua << EOF
require("null-ls").setup({
    sources = {
        require("null-ls").builtins.diagnostics.vale,
    },
})
EOF

Make sure you have a .vale.ini or _vale.ini somewhere in $HOME or at the current working directory.

Here is how the in-editor suggestions look like

vale-with-null-ls

As you can see, some of the suggestions are not being rendered by NeoVim correctly. To fix this, you can use the trouble.nvim plugin to get a nice VSCode like interface for diagnostics.

vale-vim-demo

And that’s it, enjoy writing!

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