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Top Clojure Frameworks to Accelerate Your Development in 2024

The Clojure Web Developer's Toolkit: A Framework Face-off

July 4, 2024
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5 min read
Clojure
By
Oleksandr Druk
Clojure Developer
Sofiia Yurkevska
Content Writer

Choosing the right programming language can significantly impact a project's success and scalability in web development. Clojure's unique combination of simplicity, robustness, and the power of functional programming makes it an exceptional language for web development.

Clojure excels in handling concurrency, which is crucial for scalable web applications. It offers a REPL-driven development experience for rapid prototyping. Clojure's expressive syntax, powerful macro system, and seamless interoperability with JavaScript through ClojureScript make it a compelling choice for modern web development projects. These advantages, coupled with an active community and rich ecosystem of web-specific tools, make Clojure a compelling choice.

Clojure empowers developers to build efficient, maintainable, and full-stack web applications. Whether you're looking to build scalable web services, manage application states effectively, or create rich interactive user interfaces, Clojure has everything to suit your project requirements.

What is a framework?

A web framework is a collection of libraries and tools bound together to provide a structured, templated approach to building web applications. It serves as a foundation that simplifies and streamlines the development process by offering pre-built components and a standardized project structure.

Key aspects of web frameworks include:

Architecture
Frameworks often enforse or suggest a particular architectural pattern (e.g. MVC, MVVM) to organize code and separate concerns.
Abstraction
They abstract away common low-level details, allowing developers to focus on application-specific logic.
Conventions
Many frameworks follow the "convention over configuration" principle, providing sensible defaults that can be customized.
Tooling
Frameworks typically come with CLI tools, build systems, and development servers to enhance productivity.
Security
Built-in security features and best practices help developers create more secure applications.
Scalability
Frameworks often include mechanisms for handling increased load and growing codebases.

Web frameworks provide several benefits and potential drawbacks:

👍Pre-built components and structures reduce development time.
👎Developers must learn the framework's specific conventions and APIs
👍Enforced patterns lead to more consistent, maintainable code.
👎Frameworks can introduce unnecessary complexity and overhead for simple projects.
👍Popular frameworks have large communities, offering support and shared knowledge.
👎The framework's design decisions might limit flexibility in some scenarios.
👍Frameworks often incorporate industry best practices in their design.

In the Clojure ecosystem, web frameworks range from full-featured solutions to more minimalist, composable tools. They leverage Clojure's functional programming paradigm and Java interoperability to provide robust, scalable foundations for web development.

Let's explore some popular web frameworks in Clojure's ecosystem, examining their features, strengths, and use cases.

01. Luminus

Luminus is a full-featured micro-framework designed for web applications. It aims to provide a robust foundation for developing web services and applications by integrating libraries and tools that work well together. Luminus focuses on ease of use and modularity. When it creates your project, you will have a complete web stack to build on or modify as you see fit.

Luminus has comprehensive documentation, so you wouldn't be overwhelmed by the number of libraries included. There are guides and example projects for beginners. There is even a book that documents the recommended approach to building a web application using Luminus.

Pros
Cons
Comprehensive documentation and community resources
Can be overwhelming for beginners due to its extensive features
Modular and flexible architecture
May introduce overhead for small projects
Built-in support for popular libraries
Strong security features
Easy integration with development tools

Luminus is best suited for:

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Medium to large-scale web applications
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Projects requiring a full-featured, batteries-included approach
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Teams that value extensive documentation and community support
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Applications needing robust security features out of the box
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Developers looking for a well-structured starting point for complex web services

02. Kit

From the same author as Luminus, Kit is a lightweight, modular framework for scalable web development in Clojure. Kit is a relatively new framework that builds on the lessons learned from Luminus and should be considered a modern alternative. It emphasizes a highly modular approach and provides comprehensive documentation and examples for building on it.

Like Luminus, you can add a wide variety of different libraries to your web application projects. However, Kit is more modular than Luminus and lets you add new libraries to your project more easily after creating it instead of having to choose all the libraries up front. Kit is easily extendable to incorporate additional features and custom logic and provides flexibility to use only the necessary components.

Kit is ideal for developers who want a lightweight, flexible framework for building modern web applications and microservices without being tied down by unnecessary complexity.

Pros
Cons
Highly modular and flexible architecture
A newer framework with a smaller community
Simplifies common development tasks
May lack some advanced features found in more mature frameworks
Works well with other popular Clojure libraries
Easily extendable for additional features and custom logic

Kit is best suited for:

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Developers who prefer a modular, composable approach
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Startups and projects that may need to pivot or change requirements frequently
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Microservices architecture where lightweight, flexible components are crucial
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Teams that want to gradually add complexity as the project grows
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Projects that require easy integration with various Clojure libraries

03. Pedestal

Pedestal is a set of libraries designed to build web applications and services in Clojure. It emphasizes immutability, simplicity, and composability, following Clojure's core principles. Pedestal offers built-in support for asynchronous request handling and flexible routing capabilities that allow for fine control over request handling. Its interceptor mechanism, similar to middleware, modularizes logic around request processing. Pedestal also includes out-of-the-box support for WebSockets, enabling real-time communication, and is optimized for efficiently handling large traffic volumes.

Pedestal has an active community. However, the documentation is not great, and there aren't many project examples to start with.

Pros
Cons
Strong focus on immutability and functional programming
Steeper learning curve compared to some other frameworks
High performance with support for asynchronous processing
Lacking documentation and examples
Built-in WebSocket support
Modular interceptor mechanism

Pedestalis best suited for:

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High-performance, scalable web services
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Applications requiring fine-grained control over request handling
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Projects with complex routing needs
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Real-time applications leveraging WebSockets
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Teams with strong functional programming experience
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Services that need to handle high volumes of concurrent requests efficiently

Creating a custom framework

Frameworks enforce a particular model of the world and an accompanying set of restrictions and libraries on you. You can start from scratch and choose your stack if you feel overwhelmed. Composing libraries together is usually not that hard, but it requires you to leave the comfort zone of the framework's abstractions to try to understand what is happening. But you have much more freedom this way.

For example, you can take Ring as a server (which all of the above-mentioned frameworks use), reitit for routing, reagent for your React components, re-frame for reactive programming and state management, malli for data validation, etc. You can find more library options here.

It could be hard to make such decisions, but switching libraries is relatively easy if one doesn't work for you. In most cases, libraries that fill the same role are compatible.

You'll probably end up with something similar to what you would if you chose a framework anyway, but this way, you'll have much more control and understanding of your project.

Conclusion

The Clojure ecosystem offers a range of powerful frameworks and libraries that cater to various development needs, from web applications to state management, front-end development, and microservices. However, every solution has its caveats. Clojure's ecosystem is rich and modular, so you'll always find the best solution to your problem.

Author
linkedin
Oleksandr Druk
Clojure Developer

Self-taught developer. Programming languages design enthusiast. 3 years of experience with Clojure.

linkedin
Sofiia Yurkevska
Content Writer

Infodumper, storyteller and linguist in love with programming - what a mixture for your guide to the technology landscape!

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