A naive clojure to javascript translator
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clojurejs is a naive implementation of a Clojure subset language to Javascript translator. clojurejs is an attempt to implement the predictable semantics in the generated Javascript. Some of its features are:

  • Consistent scoping in let and loop/recur forms
  • Macros with defmacro
  • Implicit return from all forms
  • loop/recur translates to Javascript for loops
  • Translates Clojure vectors, strings, keywords, symbols and maps to Javascript equivalents


Eclipse Public License - v 1.0.


Scoping Rules

clojurejs implements let and loop/recur with anonymous functions in Javascript to ensure consistent scoping rules. See the Examples section for samples of let expansions.

Implicit Return

clojurejs tries to be exhaustive about implementing implicit return in the generated Javascript. This is one area where more unit tests are much needed.

Reserved Symbols/Forms

The following reserved forms are implemented by the clojurejs translator:

def, defn, defmacro, do, dokeys, fn, get, if, inline, length, let,
loop, new, nil, recur, return, set!, try/catch/finally

Symbol Translation

The translator rewrites Lisp style symbols like *foo*, number?, and inc! to acceptable Javascript forms such as the following:

Lisp         Javascript
----         ----------
foo-bar      foo_bar
*foo*        _foo_
number?      numberp
inc!         incf
and          &&
or           ||


clojurejs recognizes the following standard Javascript operators:

++ -- !
&& || + - * / %
> >= < <= == === != !==

Arrays and Objects

Javascript Array and Object member access is via the get form, e.g.,

(def arr [:foo :bar :baz])
(get arr 0)                ;; => :foo
(set! (get arr 0) :quux)
arr                        ;; => [:quux :bar :baz]

;; set the fillStyle of a canvas context
(set! (get ctx 'fillStyle) "red")

Special Forms

clojurejs introduces a couple of special forms, to support Javascript specific functionality.


dokeys is a Clojure (subset) equivalent of the Javascript for..in loop.

(dokeys [k attrs] (.setAttribute el k (get attrs k)))

translates to the following Javascript:

for (var k in attrs) { el.setAttribute(k, attrs[k]); }


inline is an escape hatch to introduce inlined Javascript code, e.g,

(defn isa? [i c] (inline "return i instanceof c"))

translates to the following Javascript:

isap = function(i, c) { return i instanceof c; }


Please note that the output from the following examples are pretty printed Javascript, which is not the default.

To get started:

(use 'clojurejs.js)


 (defn test-fn [a]
   (let [b (+ a 1)
         c (+ b 1)]
     (+ a b c))))

translates to the following Javascript:

test_fn = function (a) {
        b = (a + 1), 
        c = (b + 1);
    return (a + b + c);;


Function args and let bindings can be destructured, e.g.:

 (defn test-fn [num-list]
   (let [[a b] num-list
         c (+ b 1)]
     (+ a b c))))

which translates to:

test_fn = function (num_list) {
        _temp_1000 = num_list, a = _temp_1000[0], b = _temp_1000[1], 
        c = (b + 1);
    return (a + b + c);;

Map destructuring (aka associative destructuring) allows to bind the properties of a JavaScript object to names, including :keys syntax and defaults for missing keys (using :or). For example:

 (defn test-fn [square]
   (let [{:keys [x1 y1 x2 y2]} square
         area (* (- x2 x1) (- y2 y1))]
     (do-stuff area))))


test_fn = function (square) {
    _temp_1000 = square,
    x1 = _temp_1000['x1'], x2 = _temp_1000['x2'],
    y1 = _temp_1000['y1'], y2 = _temp_1000['y2'],
    area = ((x2 - x1) * (y2 - y1));
return do_stuff(area);;

When destructuring an array, aliasing the whole array with :as works the same as in Clojure. Destructuring bindings may be nested arbitrarily.


 (defmacro nil? [x] `(== nil ~x))
 (if (nil? a) (print "is null")))

translates to the following Javascript:

if ((null == a)) { print("is null"); };


 (defn join [arr delim]
   (loop [str (get arr 0)
          i 1]
     (if (< i (length arr))
       (recur (+ str delim (get arr i))
              (+ i 1))

translates to the following Javascript:

join = function (arr, delim) {
        for (var str = arr[0], i = 1; true;) {
            if ((i < arr.length)) {
                str = (str + delim + arr[i]);
                i = (i + 1);
            } else {
                return str;


 (defn test []
     (/ 5 0)
     (catch ex
         (console.log ex))

translates to:

test = function() {
    try {
        return (5 / 0);
    } catch (ex) {
        return console.log(ex);
    } finally {
        return 0;


The defn form doesn't support multiple arity forms or keyword args. Doc-strings are supported and emitted as comments if pretty-printing is turned on.

Currently, there's no support for namespaces. Macro expanders are defined in a global ref, which is preserved between successive invocations of the translator.

There's lots of room for improvements in the generated Javascript, from performance tweaks to better formatting of expressions.


The file `boot.cljs' includes some useful macros and utility functions implemented in clojurejs.

(html spec)

The html function in boot.cljs implements a minimal HTML templating facility which is similar to hiccup, but is executed on the browser side.

 (defn test []
   (.append ($ document.body)
             [:div {:id "container"}
              [:span {:class "title"} "Lorem ipsum blah blah"]
              [:ul {:id "hmenu"}
               [:li [:a {:class "link_login"} "Login"]]
               [:li [:a {:class "link_signup"} "Signup"]]
               [:li [:a {:class "link_about"} "About"]]
               [:li [:a {:class "link_contact"} "Contact"]]]]))))

Invoking (test) on the browser side would create and add the dom tree specified in the array structure to the document body.

Release notes

  • ver 1.2.0

    • adds support for destructuring in fn, defn, and let forms

    • a little optimization in let and loop forms, the outermost function block is elided

    • added a sample macro implementation of the lvar form, to add local var declarations in the generated Javascript