When comparing Neovim vs GNU Emacs, the Slant community recommends GNU Emacs for most people. In the question“What are the best IDEs for C++ on Linux?” GNU Emacs is ranked 4th while Neovim is ranked 12th. The most important reason people chose GNU Emacs is:
Emacs can be controlled entirely with the keyboard.
Ranked in these QuestionsQuestion Ranking
Pro Still Vim but with upgraded features and some issues fixed
NeoVim was a complete rewrite of Vim, with new features added and underlying issues resolved thanks to the Vim code base. The keybindings and configuration are the same as Vim, so the switch can be pretty simple.
Pro Better integration with external tools
The core text editor is "headless", meaning it's detached from the user-interface so other programs can hook into it. This enables better integration with IDEs and browsers, where "Vim mode" has typically been a poor substitute because it was a partial rewrite or a partial port at best. One of the advantages of Vim has always been ubiquity and Neovim makes it even more ubiquitous.
Pro Powerful plugin model
Vim plugins have always been useful, but tied to specific languages. Neovim's architecture provides better separation between plugins and the core product, so that plugins are completely flexible and can be written in any language.
Pro Modern code base
As a refactor over Vim, Neovim has greatly improved its code base. For example, some functionality is handled by libuv, the same code base that powers Node.js.
Pro UI Agnostic
The core functionality is handled apart from the UI, meaning that Neovim can be embedded into any other GUI system, such as Atom.
Pro Built-in terminal emulator
This avoids the user having to make any installations.
Pro Async plugin execution
Pro Active development community
Pro Opens a 3Gig Text File in a few seconds
Not many editors can open such a large text file so quickly.
Pro Comes with some good configurations out of the box
Some typical configurations most of VIM users make are default in Neovim.
Pro Terminal mode is very convenient for testing code in a split window.
Pro Keyboard-focused, mouse-free editing
Emacs can be controlled entirely with the keyboard.
Pro Infinitely customisable
Customizations can be made to a wide range of Emacs' functions through a Lisp dialect. A robust list of existing Lisp extensions include the practical (git integration, syntax highlighting, etc) to the utilitarian (calculators, calendars) to the sublime (chess, Eliza).
Pro Completely free
Licensed under GNU GPL.
Pro Works in terminal
You can use Emacs' command line interface or graphical user interface.
Pro Self documenting
Emacs has extensive help support built-in as well as a tutorial accessed with C-h t.
Pro Has turn-key packages for IDE work
Packs like spacemacs make it easy to get started and bring the learning curve down from an infinitely regressing spiral to something more manageable.
Pro Has Vim emulation
Evil-mode makes Emacs actually usable as an editor.
Con Limited cross platform support
Neovim is not available for many legacy platforms.
The Windows version is currently considered experimental.
Con Ambiguity in extensive documentation
Con No stable release yet
As of yet, Neovim is in an unstable point in it's development. There is no stable release and using it for the moment should be done with caution as many features may change in the future.
Con No graphical editor yet
At the time of writing this, no equivalents to gVim exist.
Con Why clone Vim
You can use Vim and plugins.
Con Learning curve is steep
While it's better than it used to be, with most functions being possible through the menu, Emacs is still quite a bit different from your standard editor. You'll need to learn new keyboard shortcuts.
Con Not set up as an IDE by default
Requires customization to get IDE-like features. Luckily a few features such as compilation, debugging, and syntax highlighting are included.
Con Non-standard keyboard commands
I'm editing this in Chrome, but I could be using Firefox, Edge, or any other browser, or Notepad, or even Libreoffice or Microsoft Word, and in ALL of those cases, keys would work exactly the same way, including how to jump around by word, select words, cut/copy/paste, etc.
Pretty much all modern editors share the same basic key combinations, from Visual Studio to Sublime to Atom to VS Code to Xcode. Becoming an Emacs expert means you need to mode-shift between code editing and editing in your browser; adding Emacs modes to SOME apps means you need to remember which key bindings to use where. The cognitive load added by switching between Emacs and other text editors is not worth it, especially since all the advantages of Emacs are now available in free editors elsewhere.
Con Chorded keyboard combinations can be baffling
For example, for navigation it uses the b, n, p, l keys. Which for some people may seem strange.
Con A UI designed before anyone had a clue about UI design
I've used Emacs extensively, and it positively is NOT a well-designed user interface. Its design dates back to the time when all microwaves still needed instructions and VCRs universally displayed a flashing 12:00 because no one could figure out how to operate them. Many modern editors have 100% of the power of Emacs with none of the hassle.