Configure common Tasks

Clojure CLI tools can be used for a number of tasks, especially when combined with community tools.

  • Run a REPL (Clojure, Rebel, Reveal, REBL)
  • Create a new project from a template
  • Run a specific function - taking hash-map as argument (simple function, scripts, applications)
  • Run a Clojure application, optionally providing arguments
  • Download project dependencies (support CI servers)
  • Run tests locally and via CI server (using community tools)
  • Package an application for deployment
  • Run project scripts - database migrations, reports, etc.
  • Run a range community tools (~/.clojure/deps.edn)

Task: Run a simple terminal REPL

clojure and clj (requires rlwrap) will run a REPL if given no other arguments.

Running either command from the root directory of a project will merge the deps.edn configuration with ~/.clojure/deps.edn.

Task: Run a REPL with additional dependencies and paths

clojure -M:alias will run a repl if the alias does not contain a main namespace defined in :main-opts, e.g. :main-opts ["-m" "namespace.main"]. The deps and path values are included from the alias.

If the following alias is defined in the project deps.edn file

{:extra-paths ["resources"]
 :extra-deps {com.h2database/h2 {:mvn/version "1.4.200"}}}

clojure -M:env/dev will add resources directory to the path and the h2 database library to the dependencies, then runs a REPL.

Including the -r option in the command line forces a REPL to run, even if a main namespace is provided via :main-opts or the command line.

clojure -r -M:alias1:alias2

The dependencies and paths will be merged from the alias from left to right, with each successive alias over-riding the value of any matching keys in the dependencies.

Task: Create a new project from template

The clj-new community tool can be used to create a Clojure / ClojureScript project, using a template to provide a project structure and example source code and tests.

Using the -main-opts approach, an alias for clj-new would be defined as follows

  {:extra-deps {seancorfield/clj-new {:mvn/version "1.0.215"}}
   :main-opts  ["-m" "clj-new.create"]}

The clj-new tool can be run using the -M flag, passing the template and project names as arguments.

clojure -M:project/new template-name project-domain/application-name

To create a project as an application (to be run via the command line) for the practicalli domain with the application called banking-on-clojure

clojure -M:new app practicalli/banking-on-clojure

The latest version of the clj-new project also supports using the -X flag and default arguments.

Adding the :exec-fn to the clj-new alias, the -X flag can be used instead of the -M. Arguments are supplied as key/value pairs

  {:extra-deps {seancorfield/clj-new {:mvn/version "1.1.215"}}
   :exec-fn clj-new/create}

Use this alias with the -X flag

clojure -X:project/new :template template-name :name practicalli/banking-on-clojure

Default values can be added using the :exec-args key to the alias

{:extra-deps {seancorfield/clj-new {:mvn/version "1.1.215"}}
 :exec-fn clj-new.create
 :exec-args {:template lib :name practicalli/playground}}

clojure -M:project/new :name practicalli/awesome-webapp will create a new project using the {:template lib :name practicalli/awesome-webapp} argument.

Task: Executing a specific function

Clojure can run a specific function, useful for one off tasks or timed batch processing (via cron or similar tool) as well as complete applications.

Arguments to the function are passed as a hash-map, defined in either an aliases :exec-args key or as key value pairs on the command line. Command line key value pairs are merged with the :exec-arg hash-map, replacing the values from the command line if there are matching keys.


clojure -X namespace/fn runs the function specified on the command line, passing an empty hash-map as an argument

clojure -X:alias fn runs the function if the :ns-default is set to the namespace that contains the function, otherwise "Unqualified function can't be resolved: fn-name" error is returned.

clojure -X:alias runs the function specified by :exec-fn in the alias. The function must include its namespace or have that namespace defined in :ns-default. If :exec-args is defined in the alias, its value is passed to the function, otherwise an empty hash-map is passed to the function as an argument.

clojure -X:alias namesapace/fn will run the function specified on the command line, over-riding :exec-fn if it is defined in the alias. :exec-args will be passed to the command line function if defined in the alias. Dependencies and paths will be used from the alias. Assumption: the command line namespace also overrides the `:ns-default** value if set.

clojure -X:alias :key1 val1 :key2 val2 will execute the function defined in :exec-fn and pass it the key value pairs from the command line as a hash map. If the alias has :exec-args defined, command line args are merged into the :exec-fn hash-map, replacing the default values in :exec-args where keys match.

Assuming there is an alias called database/migrate defined in the project deps.edn

{:exec-fn practicalli.banking-on-clojure.database/migrate
 :exec-args {:db-type "h2" :database "banking-on-clojure"}}

clojure -X:database/migrate :database "specs-repository" would merge the command line args with :exec-args to create the hash-map {:db-type "h2" :database "specs-repository"} which is passed to the practicalli.banking-on-clojure.database/migrate function as an argument.

Task: Executing a range of functions

:ns-default in an alias defines the namespace that contains the functions that could be executed.

    {:ns-default practicalli/banking-on-clojure}}}

Specific functions from the namespace can be called via the command line

clojure -X:project/run migrate-db :db-type h2 :database banking-on-clojure
clojure -X:project/run server-start :port 8080

Task: Dry Run or Prepare for CI / Containers

clojure -P will download the libraries defined in :deps in the project deps.edn and do nothing else. Standard out shows downloading of dependencies not already cached locally, including name and versions and repository downloaded from.

Clojure CLI tools - using -P flag to download project dependencies

Qualified namespaces required

If an unqualified library name is used, eg. compojure, then a warning is sent to the standard out. Change the name of the library to be fully qualified eg. weavejester/compojure

In a future version of the Clojure CLI tools unqualified namespaces will not be downloaded.

The -P flag can be used to modify an existing command to ensure no execution takes place, ensuring a prepare only (dry run) action.

clojure -P -M:alias-name downloads the dependencies for the specific aliases and multiple aliases can be chained together, e.g. clojure -P -M:env/dev:test-runner/kaocha

The -P flag uses everything from an alias not related to execution.

The classic way to download deps was to run clojure -A:aliases -Spath, where -Spath prevented execution of repl or main.

Run a Clojure application

clojure -m calls the -main function from the given namespace. Arguments to the function are simply added to the end of the command line and passed to the -main function in the given namespace.

The -m flag in the CLI tools pre-release returns a warning that -M should be used.

Using -M and -m works, but seems redundant. Using -M by itself runs the REPL.

clojure -M -m

-M seems useful when including an alias with extra configuration (eg. :extra-deps, :extra-paths, :main-opts). As :main-opts is no different to the -m option, creating an alias just to avoid the warning seems excessive.

Task: Executing a project - using Edn style args

Clojure CLI tools is encouraging a move to functions that take a hash-map for their arguments. Passing arguments in as an edn data structure has more rigure than options and strings on the command line.

The simplest form is to define an alias to run the project, specifying just the function to execute using :exec-fn

   {:exec-fn practicalli.banking-on-clojure/server-start}
 } ;; End of Aliases

Then the project can be run using this alias.

clojure -X:project/run

Arguments can be passed to the function as key/value pairs on the command line.

clojure -X:project/run  :port 8080 :host "localhost"

:exec-args provides a way to define default arguments for the function, regardless of if it is defined in ;:exec-fn or passed via the command line.

:exec-args defines a hash-map of arguments so the function must support taking a hash-map as an argument.

A function may take variable args, especially if it is supporting both hash-maps and strings as options.

   {:exec-fn fully.qualified/namespace
    :exec-args {:default "arguments" :can-be-over-ridden-by "command-line-args"} }
 } ;; End of Aliases

Adding :exec-args to the :run-project

   {:exec-fn practicalli.banking-on-clojure/server-start
    :exec-args {:port 8888 :host "localhost"}}
 } ;; End of Aliases

Example of running a Clojure project - hello-world

In this example I use the hello-world example from A project deps.edn file was created containing the dependency for and the source code from that page copied into src/hello.clj

clojure -m hello runs the project and returns the time from running the -main function. However this gives a warning:

WARNING: When invoking clojure.main, use -M

clojure -M runs a REPL

clojure -M -m hello runs the project and returns the time. But then I ask myself what is the purpose of -M

Creating an alias to run the project seems an interesting idea, as I could also set default arguments.

Adding an :project-run alias to the project deps.edn works when calling with clojure -M:project-run

 {:project-run {:main-opts ["-m" "hello"]}}

Changing the :project-run alias to use :exec-fn and a fully qualified function (-main by default) should work when calling with clojure -X:project-run. :aliases {:run-project {:exec-fn hello]}}

However, the hello-world project has an unqualified function and cannot be resolved.

Moving the source code to src/practicalli/hello.clj and calling clojure -X:run-project gives an execution error, (ArityException) as the -main function does not take any arguments, (defn -main [] ,,,).

Changing the -main function to (defn -main [& args] ,,,) fixes the arity exception and calling clojure -X:run-project works.

Local Maven install

Install a jar into the local Maven cache, typically ~/.m2/repository/ directory, organised by groupId

clojure -M:deps mvn-install :jar '"/path/to.jar"'

edn strings must be in double quotes, and then single-quoted for the shell

mvn-install uses the .pom file contained in the jar (if it exists) to determine the groupId, artifactId, and version coordinates to use when the jar is installed.

The .pom file can also be specifice using the :pom argument.

The install argmap takes the following options:

key Required Description
:jar required path to the jar file to install
:pom optional path to .pom file (if .jar file does not contain .pom)
:lib optional qualified symbol e.g
:version optional Version number of library (string type)
:classifier optional (string type)
:local-repo optional path to local repo (default = ~/.m2/repository)

mvn-install - define default configuration - using in templates for example Rather than pass details via the command line, use an alias to pass in default arguments. This is especially useful when the project deps.edn is generated from a template.

TODO: Is it possible to define :exec-args with the built-in -X:deps mvn-install command?

An alias can be defined in the project deps.edn file including default arguments via :exec-args

  :exec-args {:jar "./project-name.jar" :pom "./project-name.pom"}

Install the jar using the default arguments using the command:

clojure -X:deploy/local-install

How it works is a function to install a jar into the local Maven cache, i.e. ~/.m2/repository. An alias called :deps is built into Clojure CLI tools and includes the tools.deps.alpha library on the classpath,

:exec-args optionally includes a hash-map of key/values options that can also be passed on command line

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