Functional programming without feeling stupid, part 5: Project

In the last four installments of Functional programming without feeling stupid I’ve slowly built up a small utility called ucdump with Clojure. Experimentiing and developing with the Clojure REPL is fun, but now it’s time to give some structure to the utility. I’ll package it up as a Leiningen project and create a standalone JAR for executing with the Java runtime.

Creating a new project with Leiningen

You can use Leiningen to create a skeleton project quickly. In my project’s root directory, I’ll say:

lein new app ucdump

Leiningen will respond with:

Generating a project called ucdump based on the 'app' template.

The result is a directory called ucdump, which contains:

.gitignore    project.clj  src/
LICENSE      doc/         resources/   test/

For now I’m are most interested in the project file, project.clj, which is actually a Clojure source file, and the src directory, which is intended for the app’s actual source files.

Leiningen creates a directory called src/ucdump and seeds it with a core.clj file, but that’s not what actually what I want, for two reasons:

  • I want ucdump to be a good Clojure citizen, so I’m going to put it in a namespace
    called com.coniferproductions.ucdump.
  • My Git repository for ucdump also contains the original Python version of the application, which is in <project-root>/python, and I want the Clojure version to live in <project-root>/clojure.

So first I’ll rename the ucdump directory created by Leiningen to clojure:

mv ucdump clojure

Then I’ll make the namespace directories and rename core.clj to udump.clj:

mkdir -p clojure/src/com/coniferproductions
mv clojure/src/ucdump/core.clj clojure/src/com/coniferproductions/ucdump.clj
rmdir clojure/src/ucdump
mkdir -p clojure/test/com/coniferproductions
mv clojure/test/ucdump/core_test.clj clojure/test/com/coniferproductions/ucdump_test.clj
rmdir clojure/test/ucdump

This method of having each namespace in a separate file was suggested in the book Clojure Programming*. The result looks like this:

├── doc
│   └──
├── project.clj
├── resources
├── src
│   └── com
│       └── coniferproductions
│           └── ucdump.clj
└── test
    └── com
        └── coniferproductions
            └── ucdump_test.clj

There are some namespace references in the source files created by Leiningen which are now obsolete, so I’ll fix them eventually, but I’ll focus first on the project file. At this point it looks like this:

(defproject ucdump "0.1.0-SNAPSHOT"
  :description "FIXME: write description"
  :url ""
  :license {:name "Eclipse Public License"
            :url ""}
  :dependencies [[org.clojure/clojure "1.6.0"]]
  :main ^:skip-aot ucdump.core
  :target-path "target/%s"
  :profiles {:uberjar {:aot :all}})

You can read up on the settings in the Leiningen tutorial. These are suitable for a standalone application, but the actual values still need to be fixed. When I’m done with the project file, it looks like this:

(defproject ucdump "0.1.0-SNAPSHOT"
  :description "Unicode character dump for UTF-8 encoded files"
  :url ""
  :license {:name "MIT License"
            :url ""}
  :dependencies [[org.clojure/clojure "1.6.0"]]
  :main ^:skip-aot com.coniferproductions.ucdump
  :target-path "target/%s"
  :profiles {:uberjar {:aot :all}})

Putting the source code in its place

The source file created by Leiningen, which we moved to src/com/coniferproductions/ucdump.clj, initially looks like this:

(ns ucdump.core

(defn -main
  "I don't do a whole lot ... yet."
  [& args]
  (println "Hello, World!"))

I won’t bother running that now (but I’ve done that with other projects before — it’s a useful smoke test). Instead it’s time to pour all the code we wrote in the earlier parts of this series into the ucdump.clj source file. I’ll also fix the namespace definition at the top of the file, and add some comments to the functions:

(ns com.coniferproductions.ucdump

(def test-str "Na\u00EFve r\u00E9sum\u00E9s... for 0 \u20AC? Not bad!")
(def test-ch { :offset 0 :character \u20ac })
(def short-test-str "Na\u00EFve")
(defn character-name [x]
  (java.lang.Character/getName (int x)))
(defn character-line [pair]
  (let [ch (:character pair)]
    (format "%08d: U+%06X %s" (:offset pair) (int ch) (character-name ch))))
(defn octet-count [cp]
  "Determines the length of a Unicode codepoint when encoded in UTF-8.
  See RFC 3629 for the details."
    (and (>= cp 0x000000) (<= cp 0x00007F)) 1
    (and (>= cp 0x000080) (<= cp 0x0007FF)) 2
    (and (>= cp 0x000800) (<= cp 0x00FFFF)) 3
    (and (>= cp 0x010000) (<= cp 0x10FFFF)) 4
    :else 0))
(defn octet-counts [s]
  (map octet-count (map int s)))

(defn character-lines [s]
  (let [offsets (reductions + (octet-counts s))
        pairs (map #(into {} {:offset (dec %1) :character %2}) offsets s)]
    (map character-line pairs)))
(defn -main
  [& args]
  (doseq [line (character-lines test-str)] (println line)))

The main program creates a line for each character in test-str, and prints them to the standard output.

Leiningen knows from the project file’s :main setting that the function to call when starting the program is in the com.coniferproductions.ucdump namespace, so the -main function from there is the one to use.

Time for a test run!

The application can be tested by changing to the project root directory and saying:

lein run

The result should be:

00000001: U+000061 LATIN SMALL LETTER A
00000004: U+000076 LATIN SMALL LETTER V
00000005: U+000065 LATIN SMALL LETTER E
00000006: U+000020 SPACE
00000007: U+000072 LATIN SMALL LETTER R
00000010: U+000073 LATIN SMALL LETTER S
00000011: U+000075 LATIN SMALL LETTER U
00000012: U+00006D LATIN SMALL LETTER M
00000015: U+000073 LATIN SMALL LETTER S
00000016: U+00002E FULL STOP
00000017: U+00002E FULL STOP
00000018: U+00002E FULL STOP
00000019: U+000020 SPACE
00000020: U+000066 LATIN SMALL LETTER F
00000021: U+00006F LATIN SMALL LETTER O
00000022: U+000072 LATIN SMALL LETTER R
00000023: U+000020 SPACE
00000024: U+000030 DIGIT ZERO
00000025: U+000020 SPACE
00000028: U+0020AC EURO SIGN
00000029: U+00003F QUESTION MARK
00000030: U+000020 SPACE
00000032: U+00006F LATIN SMALL LETTER O
00000033: U+000074 LATIN SMALL LETTER T
00000034: U+000020 SPACE
00000035: U+000062 LATIN SMALL LETTER B
00000036: U+000061 LATIN SMALL LETTER A
00000037: U+000064 LATIN SMALL LETTER D
00000038: U+000021 EXCLAMATION MARK

However, I want to read the text from a UTF-8 encoded file, so let’s make the -main function do just that:

(defn -main
  [& args]
  (let [characters (slurp (nth args 0) :encoding "UTF-8")]
    (doseq [line (character-lines characters)] (println line))))

The slurp function reads the contents of the file, and here I specify the encoding of the file as “UTF-8”. (See the documentation for details.)

The args vector contains the command-line arguments supplied to the application, so I take the first argument with (nth args 0) (the index of the first argument is zero) and use it as the filename.

For a very detailed look at running Clojure applications with Leiningen, see How Clojure Babies Are Made: Understanding lein run by Flying Machine Studios.

If I now specify the filename:

lein run ~/tmp/testfile-utf8.txt

then the application will produce same output as above, because my testfile-utf8.txt contains the same text as test-str in the code.

Put in in a JAR

Leiningen has already equipped the project file with the means to make a standalone application. That is done by creating an “uberjar”, which packages up the application and all its dependencies so that it can be run using the Java VM. So if, in the project directory, I say:

lein uberjar

Leiningen responds with:

Compiling com.coniferproductions.ucdump
Created /Users/Jere/Projects/ucdump/clojure/target/uberjar/ucdump-0.1.0-SNAPSHOT.jar
Created /Users/Jere/Projects/ucdump/clojure/target/uberjar/ucdump-0.1.0-SNAPSHOT-standalone.jar

Now I can take this JAR and run it as a normal Java application:

cp target/uberjar/ucdump-0.1.0-SNAPSHOT-standalone.jar ~/tmp
java -jar ~/tmp/ucdump-0.1.0-SNAPSHOT-standalone.jar ~/tmp/testfile-utf8.txt

The output is the same as above. However, if you neglect to provide the filename when you run the application, you will get an ugly error message:

Exception in thread "main" java.lang.IllegalArgumentException: No implementation of method: :make-reader of protocol: #' found for class: nil

and a stack trace, which might make no sense at all. There is no need to add extensive command-line argument handling to the application (if you need that, take a look at the tools.cli library), but it’s good to do a quick check for the missing argument. This requires one little change in the -main function:

(defn -main
  [& args]
  (when (not= (count args) 0) 
    (let [characters (slurp (nth args 0) :encoding "UTF-8")]
      (doseq [line (character-lines characters)] (println line)))))

If the argument count is not zero, read from the file specified in the first argument; otherwise do nothing.

To make ucdump a proper UNIX-style tool, it should read from standard input if there is no filename. Maybe I’ll update it to do so when I find out how. For the latest version of the source, see the ucdump GitHub repository.


This concludes the series. I realise I have perhaps irrevocably managed to combine the words “functional”, “programming” and “stupid”, but the real intent is in the “without feeling” part. I’ve sometimes felt that I would need to be some sort of genius programmer to understand Clojure, and certainly some proponents make Clojure sound so obvious that you can’t help thinking if there’s really something wrong with me. There must be something in the air (and not just Clojure/conj coinciding, which I honestly didn’t know about), since I just found out that Adam Bard had published Clojure is not for geniuses on 18 November 2014, a day after I started this series. That’s parallel evolution at work!

I wanted to tease out some practical aspects of Clojure without theory or condescension, and hope that this series helps you learn a little more about Clojure programming.

Affiliate links from here on down

Clojure Programming* by Chas Emerick, Brian Carper and Christophe Grand:

Clojure Programming

Clojure Cookbook
* by Luke VanderHart and Ryan Neufeld:

Clojure Cookbook

* = O’Reilly web store link - Your tech ebook super store

UPDATE 2014-12-14: After nearly a month, I’m closing the comments on all parts of this series, because nothing but SPAM appeared.