Homoiconic JS with clojure syntax, s-expressions & macros
wisp JavaScript
Pull request Compare This branch is 9 commits ahead, 113 commits behind Gozala:master.
Fetching latest commit…
Cannot retrieve the latest commit at this time.
Failed to load latest commit information.



Wisp is a homoiconic JavaScript dialect with clojure syntax, s-expressions and macros. Unlike clojurescript, wisp does not depends on JVM and is completely self-hosted. It compromises clojure's awesome data structures and embraces native JS data structures to be a better at cooperation with JS. Goal of wisp is to present a subset of clojure(script) language such that packages written in wisp can be consumed natively by wisp, clojure(script) and JS when compiled, without data marshalling or any code changes.

Wisp also does it's best to compile to a JS code that you would have written by hand. Think of wisp as markdown for JS programing!

Homoiconic syntax and macros are the primary features it can offer to a breader JS community.



You can try online tool that live compiles entered code to JS: http://jeditoolkit.com/try-wisp/

You can also try interactive wisp editor that live evalutes entered wisp codes: http://jeditoolkit.com/interactivate-wisp


npm install -g wisp

Build Status


Wisp is homoiconic JS dialect with a clojure syntax, s-expressions and macros. Key difference from clojure(script) is that wisp embraces JS data structures but without sacrificing functional merits.

Data structures


nil is just like JS undefined with a difference that it cannot be redefined. It's just a shortcut for void(0) in JS.

nil ;; => void(0)


Wisp booleans true / false are plain JS booleans.

true ;; => true


Wisp numbers are JS numbers

1  ;; => 1


Wisp strings are JS Strings

"Hello world"

Wisp strings can be multiline

My name is wisp!"


Characters are syntatic sugar for strings of single character

\a  ;; => "a"
\b  ;; => "b"


Keywords are symbolic identifiers that evaluate to themselves.

:keyword  ;; => "keyword"

Since in JS string constants fulfill the purpose of symbolic identifiers, keywords compile to an equivalent strings in JS. This allows using keywords in both clojure(script) & JS idiomatic ways:

(window.addEventListener :load handler false)

Keywords can also be invoked as functions, although it's just a syntax sugar that compiles to property access in JS:

(:bar foo) ;; => (foo || 0)["bar"]

Note that keywords in wisp are not real functions so they can't be composed or passed to a high order functions.


Wisp vectors are plain JS arrays, but never the less all standard library functions are non-destructive and pure functional as it's in Clojure.

[ 1 2 3 4 ]

Note: Commas are whitespace & can be used if desired

[ 1, 2, 3, 4]


Wisp does not has clojure like value to value maps by default, instead it has dictionairies, or rather plain JS objects, there for unlike in clojure, keys can not be of an arbitary types.

{ "foo" bar :beep-bop "bop" 1 2 }

Commas are optional but can come handy for separating key value pairs.

{ :a 1, :b 2 }

Support for real Clojure like maps can be later made available via libraries. Idea of adding support of standard JSONs syntax is also being considered.


What would be a lisp without lists right ?! Wisp is homoiconic and its code is made up of lists representing expressions. As in other lisps first item of the expression is an operator / function, that is passed rest of the list items.

(foo bar baz) ; => foo(bar, baz);

In compiled JS it's quite unlikely to end up with lists as it's primarily serves it's purpose at compile time. Never the less lists are exposed by standard library and can be used, but we'll get back to this later.


Wisp makes it's best effort to compile to JS that one would write by hand, but it also trys to embrace idiomatic naming conventios of lisp. To make this possible wisp translates lisp name conventions to related JS conventions:

(dash-delimited)   ;; => dashDelimited
(predicate?)       ;; => isPredicate
(**privates**)     ;; => __privates__
(list->vector)     ;; => listToVector

Side effect of this is that same thing may be expressed in a few differnt ways, although it's unlikely to cause problems instead it should lead to very natural APIs from both JS and lisp perspective.

(parse-int x)
(parseInt x)

(array? x)
(isArray x)

Special forms

There are some special operators in wisp, in a sense that they compile to JS expressions rather then function calls, although same named functions are also available in standard library to allow function composition.

Arithmetic operations

Wisp comes with special form for arithmetic operations.

(+ a b)        ; => a + b
(+ a b c)      ; => a + b + c
(- a b)        ; => a - b
(* a b c)      ; => a * b * c
(/ a b)        ; => a / b
(mod a b)      ; => a % 2

Comparison operations

Wisp comes with special forms for comparisons

(identical? a b)     ;; => a === b
(identical? a b c)   ;; => a === b && b === c
(= a b)              ;; => a == b
(= a b c)            ;; => a == b && b == c
(> a b)              ;; => a > b
(>= a b)             ;; => a >= b
(< a b c)            ;; => a < b && b < c
(<= a b c)           ;; => a <= b && b <= c

Logical operations

Wisp comes with special forms for logical operations

(and a b)            ;; => a && b
(and a b c)          ;; => a && b && c
(or a b)             ;; => a || b
(and (or a b)
     (and c d))      ;; (a || b) && (c && d)


Variable definitions also happen through special forms.

(def a)     ; => var a = void(0);
(def b 2)   ; => var b = 2;


In wisp new values can be set to a variables via set! special form. Note that in functional programing binding changes are a bad practice, avoiding those would make your programs only better! Still if you need it you have it.

(set! a 1)

Note that ! suffic serves as an alert of causing side-effects.


Conditional code branching in wisp is expressed via if special form. First expression following if is a condition, if it evaluates to true result of the if expression is the second expression, otherwise it's the third expression.

(if (< number 10)

Else expression is optional, if missing and conditional evaluates to true result will be nil.

(if (monday? today) "How was your weekend")

Combining expressions

In wisp is everything is an expression, but sometimes one might want to combine multiple expressions into one, usually for the purpose of evaluating expressions that have side-effects

  (console.log "Computing sum of a & b")
  (+ a b))

do can take any number of expressions, even 0. If 0, the result of evaluation will be nil.

(do) ;; => nil


Let special form evaluates containing expressions in a lexical context of in which symbols in the bindings-forms (first item) are bound to their respective expression results.

(let [a 1
      b (+ a c)]
  (+ a b))


Wisp functions are JS functions

(fn [x] (+ x 1))

Wisp functions can have names, just as in JS

(fn increment [x] (+ x 1))

Wisp functions can also contain documentation and some metadata. Note: Docstrings and metadata are not presented in compiled JS yet, but in the future they will compile to comments associated with function.

(fn incerement
  "Returns a number one greater than given."
  {:added "1.0"}
  [x] (+ x 1))

Wisp makes capturing of rest arguments a lot easier than JS. argument that follows special & symbol will capture rest args in standar vector (array).

(fn [x & rest]
  (rest.reduce (fn [sum x] (+ sum x)) x))


In wisp functions can be overloaded depending on number of arguments they take, without introspection of rest arguments.

(fn sum
  "Return the sum of all arguments"
  {:version "1.0"}
  ([] 0)
  ([x] x)
  ([x y] (+ x y))
  ([x & more] (more.reduce (fn [x y] (+ x y)) x)))

If function does not has variadic overload and more arguments is passed to it, it throws exception.

  ([x] x)
  ([x y] (- x y)))


The classic way to build a loop in a Lisp is a recursive call, and it’s in wisp as well. To do that it provides loop recur pair.

(loop [x 10]
  (if (> x 1)
    (print x)
    (recur (- x 2))))

Other Special Forms


In wisp type instantiation has a concise form. The type function just needs to be suffixed with . character

(Type. options)

The more verbose but more JS-like form is also valid

(new Class options)

Method calls

In wisp method calls are no different from function calls, it's just that method functions are prefixed with . character

(.log console "hello wisp")

More JS-like forms are supported too!

(window.addEventListener "load" handler false)

Attribute access

In wisp attribute access is also just like function call. Attribute name just needs to be prefixed with .-

(.-location window)

Compound properties can be access via get special form

(get templates (.-id element))

Catching exceptions

In wisp exceptions can be handled via try special form. As with everything else, the try form is also expression. It results to nil if no handling takes place.

(try (raise exception))

Although the catch form can be used to handle exceptions

  (raise exception)
  (catch error (.log console error)))

Also finally clause can be used when necessary

  (raise exception)
  (catch error (recover error))
  (finally (.log console "That was a close one!")))

Throwing exceptions

Throw special form allows throwing exceptions, although doing that is not idiomatic.

(fn raise [message] (throw (Error. message)))


Wisp has a programmatic macro system which allows the compiler to be extended by user code. Many core constructs of Wisp are in fact normal macros.


Before diving into macros too much, we need to learn about few more things. In lisp any expression can be marked to prevent it from being evaluated. For instance, if you enter the symbol foo you will be evaluating the reference to the value of the corresponding variable.


If you wish to refer to the literal symbol, rather than reference you could use

(quote foo)

or more usually


Any expression can be quoted, to prevent its evaluation. Although your resulting programs should not have these forms compiled to JS.

'(a b)

Wisp doesn’t have unless special form or a macro, but it's trivial to implement it via macro. Although let's try implemting it as a function to understand a use case for macro!

We want to execute body unless condition is true.

(defn unless-fn [condition body]
  (if condition nil body))

Although following code will log "should not print" anyway, since function arguments are exectued before function is called.

(unless-fn true (console.log "should not print"))

Macros solve this problem, because they do not evaluate their arguments immediately. Instead, you get to choose when (and if!) the arguments to a macro are evaluated. Macros take items of the expression as arguments and return new form that is compiled instead.

(defmacro unless
  [condition form]
  (list 'if condition nil form))

The body of unless macro executes at macro expansion time, producing an if form for compilation. Later this is compiled as usual. This way the compiled JS is a conditional instead of function call.

(unless true (console.log "should not print"))


Simple macros like above could be written via templating, expressed as syntax-quoted forms.

syntax-quote is almost the same as the plain quote, but it allows sub expressions to be unquoted so that form acts a template. Symbols inside form are resolved to help prevent inadvertent symbol capture. Which can be done via unquote and unquote-splicing forms.

(syntax-quote (foo (unquote bar)))
(syntax-quote (foo (unquote bar) (unquote-splicing bazs)))

Note that there is special syntactic sugar for both unquoting operators:

Syntax quote: Quote the form, but allow internal unquoting so that the form acts as template. Symbols inside form are resolved to help prevent inadvertent symbol capture.

`(foo bar)

Unquote: Use inside a syntax-quote to substitute an unquoted value.

`(foo ~bar)

Splicing unquote: Use inside a syntax-quote to splice an unquoted list into a template.

`(foo ~bar ~@bazs)

For example, the built-in defn macro can be defined expressed with simple template macro. That's more or less how build-in defn macro is implemented.

(defmacro define-fn
  [name & body]
  `(def ~name (fn ~@body)))

Now if we use define-fn form above defined macro will be expanded and compile time resulting into diff program output.

(define-fn print
  (.log console message))

Not all of the macros can be expressed via templating, but all of the language is available at hand to assemble macro expanded form. For instance let's define a macro to ease functional chaining popular in JS but usually expressed via method chaining. For example following API is pioneered by jQuery is very common in JS:

open(target, "keypress").

Unfortunately though it usually requires all the functions need to be methods of dsl object, which is very limited. Making third party functions second class. Via macros we can achieve similar chaining without such tradeoffs.

(defmacro ->
  [& operations]
   (fn [form operation]
     (cons (first operation)
           (cons form (rest operation))))
   (first operations)
   (rest operations)))

 (open target :keypress)
 (filter enter-key?)
 (map get-input-text)
 (reduce render))

Export/Import modules


All the top level definition in a file are by default exported:

(def foo bar)
(defn greet [name] (str "hello " name))

Although it's still possible to define top level bindings without exporting them via ^:private matada:

(def ^:private foo bar)

For functions there is even syntax sugar:

(defn- greet [name] (str "hello " name))


Module importing is done via ns special form that is manually named. Unlike ns in clojure in wisp it's super minimalistic and supports only one essential way of importing modules:

(ns interactivate.core.main
  "interactive code editing"
  (:require [interactivate.host :refer [start-host!]]
            [wisp.backend.javascript.writer :as writer]
             :refer [first rest]
             :rename {first car rest cadr}]))

Let's go through the above example to get a complete picture on how modules can be imported:

First parameter interactivate.core.main is a name of the module / namespace, in this case it represent's module ./core/main under the package interactivate. While this is not enforced in any way it's recomended to replecate filesystem path's in name.

Second string parameter is just a description of the module and is completely optional.

Next (:require ...) form defines dependencies that will be imported at runtime. Given example imports multiple modules:

  1. First import will import start-host! function from the interactivate.host module. Which will be loaded from the ../host location. That's because modules path is resolved relative to a name, but only if they share same root.
  2. Second form imports fs module and make it available under the same name. Note that in this case it could have being written without wrapping it into brackets.
  3. Third form imports wisp.backend.javascript.writer module from wisp/backend/javascript/writer and makes it available via writer name.
  4. Last and most advanced form imports first and rest functions from the wisp.sequence module, although it also renames them and there for makes available under different car and cdr names.

While clojure has many other kind of reference forms they are not recognized by wisp and there for will be ignored.