Casual Clojure Programming - Beginner's Notes [BETA]

Clojure as a language has a very simple syntax; its "operational" side, however, is somehow cryptic. This page is mostly a series of aide memoires - a list of all those "tokens" which I found hard to memorize.

The Quick and Dirty Method

If you are writing a "program" with a very short lifetime, then you can just save it in a .clj file and tell Clojure itself to execute it.

Here is an expendable program (scratch.clj) to calculate one quadratic equation:

;; scratch.clj
(defn quad
  "solve a quadratic equation of the form ax^2 + bx + c"
  [a b c]
  (let [r (- (* b b) (* 4 a c))
        w (Math/sqrt r)
        d (* 2 a)]
    (list (/ (+ (- b) w) d) (/ (- (- b) w) d))))

(println (quad 6 7 -3))

... and here is how to run it on the command-line using the Clojure 1.8.0 "interpreter":

java -cp /full/path/to/clojure-1.8.0.jar clojure.main scratch.clj

As Simple As Possible with Leiningen

Let's say you want to write a quick & dirty Clojure program (actually, just a function) to solve some little task. Even in this case, we will create a Leiningen project - after all, it can be used to host in the future all kinds of throwaway functions.

Creating a new project is easy ("$" is the Linux command-line prompt) (we'll call it goodies)

$ lein new goodies

Navigate into the new directory (cd goodies), start your favorite editor and change the file ./goodies/src/goodies/core.clj so that it looks like this:

(ns goodies.core)

;; something trivial, no need for fancy semantic
(defn plus [a b]
  (+ a b))

Go back to your command line and start the project's REPL (lein repl) and execute

user=> (use :reload-all '[goodies.core])
user=> (plus 2 3)