I recently found some interesting work going on in terms of using Clojure code to represent policy, or perhaps intent, of infrastructure (ie. tiered web apps and the like), and I wanted to try it out. That meant getting a Clojure environment up and running, so that is what is in this post: getting a basic Clojure environment on OSX, compiling a jar, and running the Clojure shell (REPL).

There is a big list of books, articles, tutorials and other documentation on the clojure website.

Also--Clojure Koans might be an even easier way to get started with Clojure.


Most of the time I just refuse to install Java. However, if I want to checkout Clojure there's not much choice. So here we go.

I installed Java for OSX. I'm just using the Java that Apple provides. Please note that I didn't do any research on the best Java SDK to use or anything, essentially just used the first link that came up, which was Apple's package.

curtis$ java -version
java version "1.6.0_65"
Java(TM) SE Runtime Environment (build 1.6.0_65-b14-466.1-11M4716)
Java HotSpot(TM) 64-Bit Server VM (build 20.65-b04-466.1, mixed mode)

Install and use lein

At this point I'm mostly following the getting started section of "Clojure for the Brave and True" and some from "Clojure from the ground up", a series of posts by a very smart man.

After getting a Java SDK, I installed lein.

curtis$ pwd
curtis$ curl > lein
curtis$ sudo chmod a+x /usr/local/bin/lein

The first time running lein is going to download a few requirements.

curtis$ lein version
Downloading Leiningen to /Users/curtis/.lein/self-installs/leiningen-2.5.0-standalone.jar now...
  % Total    % Received % Xferd  Average Speed   Time    Time     Time  Current
                                 Dload  Upload   Total   Spent    Left  Speed
100   406    0   406    0     0    746      0 --:--:-- --:--:-- --:--:--   746
100 14.2M  100 14.2M    0     0  1128k      0  0:00:12  0:00:12 --:--:-- 1425k
Leiningen 2.5.0 on Java 1.6.0_65 Java HotSpot(TM) 64-Bit Server VM
curtis$ lein version
Leiningen 2.5.0 on Java 1.6.0_65 Java HotSpot(TM) 64-Bit Server VM

After that first run we can now use lein to create an application skeleton.

curtis$ lein new app clojure-noob
Generating a project called clojure-noob based on the 'app' template.
curtis$ ls
curtis$ cd clojure-noob/
curtis$ tree
├── doc
│   └──
├── project.clj
├── resources
├── src
│   └── clojure_noob
│       └── core.clj
└── test
    └── clojure_noob
        └── core_test.clj

6 directories, 6 files

I changed src/clojure_noob/core.clj to be:

(ns clojure-noob.core

(defn -main
  "I don't do a whole lot ... yet."
  [& args]
  (println "I'm a little tea pot"))

Run some code

Next I ran the small Clojure program with lein run.

curtis$ pwd
curtis$ lein run
Retrieving org/clojure/clojure/1.6.0/clojure-1.6.0.pom from central
Retrieving org/sonatype/oss/oss-parent/7/oss-parent-7.pom from central
Retrieving org/clojure/tools.nrepl/0.2.6/tools.nrepl-0.2.6.pom from central
Retrieving org/clojure/pom.contrib/0.1.2/pom.contrib-0.1.2.pom from central
Retrieving clojure-complete/clojure-complete/0.2.3/clojure-complete-0.2.3.pom from clojars
Retrieving org/clojure/tools.nrepl/0.2.6/tools.nrepl-0.2.6.jar from central
Retrieving org/clojure/clojure/1.6.0/clojure-1.6.0.jar from central
Retrieving clojure-complete/clojure-complete/0.2.3/clojure-complete-0.2.3.jar from clojars
I'm a little tea pot
curtis$ lein run #second run
I'm a little tea pot

Next we can compile it into a jar.

curtis$ lein uberjar
Compiling clojure-noob.core
Created /Users/curtis/working/clojure/clojure-noob/target/uberjar/clojure-noob-0.1.0-SNAPSHOT.jar
Created /Users/curtis/working/clojure/clojure-noob/target/uberjar/clojure-noob-0.1.0-SNAPSHOT-standalone.jar

And that jar can be run:

curtis$ time java -jar target/uberjar/clojure-noob-0.1.0-SNAPSHOT-standalone.jar
I'm a little tea pot

real    0m0.893s
user    0m1.264s
sys 0m0.076s
curtis$ lein run
I'm a little tea pot
curtis$ time lein run
I'm a little tea pot

real    0m2.288s
user    0m2.421s
sys 0m0.246s


Clojure also has a kind of shell: a "read-eval-print-loop" (REPL). I love languages that have a shell of sorts, like python (and even better, ipython) irb in ruby, and others. It's great to be able to quickly try things out and explore in a language shell.

curtis$ lein repl
nREPL server started on port 52089 on host - nrepl://
REPL-y 0.3.5, nREPL 0.2.6
Clojure 1.6.0
Java HotSpot(TM) 64-Bit Server VM 1.6.0_65-b14-466.1-11M4716
    Docs: (doc function-name-here)
          (find-doc "part-of-name-here")
  Source: (source function-name-here)
 Javadoc: (javadoc java-object-or-class-here)
    Exit: Control+D or (exit) or (quit)
 Results: Stored in vars *1, *2, *3, an exception in *e


The most simple command we can run is...

clojure-noob.core=> nil

Just for fun, there is a verb, inc, that will increment things.

clojure-noob.core=> inc
#<core$inc [email protected]>
clojure-noob.core=> 'inc
clojure-noob.core=> (inc 1)
clojure-noob.core=> (inc (inc 2))


At this point we have a basic Clojure environment up and running, one that can be used to explore all the cool Clojure code out there. I'm not a big fan of Java, but the JVM obviously allows some interesting applications.