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A barebones example of shoreleave + compojure/ring (plus a wee bit of enlive and jayq while we're at it.)
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Barebones Shoreleave.

Shoreleave is billed as

A smarter client-side in ClojureScript

Shoreleave is a collection of integrated libraries that focuses on:

  • Security
  • Idiomatic interfaces
  • Common client-side strategies
  • HTML5 capabilities
  • ClojureScript's advantages

It builds upon efforts found in other ClojureScript projects, such as Fetch and ClojureScript:One.

More concisely (and reductively), Shoreleave is a set of web-app libraries that make it simpler to get a ClojureScript-based client-side connected to a Ring/Compojure-based Clojure backend.

This document represents my attempt to figure out how Shoreleave works, what all the different libraries do (although I only end up using a few of them), and what the bare minimum necessary is for getting a Shoreleave/ClojureScript + Ring app set up. It assumes you are relatively familiar with Ring/Compojure and getting Clojure web apps running with lein ring/in the repl.


The libraries that are listed on the main Shoreleave github project page are as follows:

Presumably shoreleave-remote-noir was meant to replace Noir's "fetch" lib, and appears to be superseded by shoreleave-remote-ring. shoreleave-browser is a set of ClojureScript utilities for manipulating cookies, HTML5's blobs and history functionality, which I won't touch in this tutorial. Similarly, shoreleave-pubsub, shoreleave-worker and shoreleave-core (which, unless I'm missing something--quite possible--I find to be confusingly named, as it seems to deal exclusively with clojure.browser.repl helper functionality) represent use-cases outside of the scope of this tutorial, which is really about getting the most basic, unsophisticated (in contrast with what shoreleave-pubsub represents) implementation of Shoreleave up and running.

In addition to the libraries above, there are two apps which illustrate sample usage of Shoreleave:

  • shoreleave-baseline - A baseline application to get started with Compojure+Shoreleave
  • demo-shoreleave-solr - A demo app using Shoreleave, SOLR, and Noir (note: did not investigate this one at all, have no idea how current it is.)

I learned a lot from Shoreleave-baseline and reference it in this tutorial, but (no offense to the creator) I feel that it doesn't represent the best "basic" app for understanding what Shoreleave is composed of and how to integrate it with a Ring/Compojure web application.

Please also note that this tutorial does not illustrate every step to getting this app up and running: it is assumed you will refer to the app in the git repo for a functioning version. I use other Clojure/ClojureScript libraries like Enlive and jayq which I don't go into in this tutorial, so please refer to that code and the related documentation for those projects for details.

Including the Shoreleave libraries in your project.

There exists a wrapper lib for some of these, simply called "shoreleave." It can be included in your project.clj file using the following:

[shoreleave "0.3.0"]

and it includes the following libraries (see clojars):

However, it doesn't include shoreleave-remote-ring, which can be a problem, as it contains libraries necessary for a "basic shoreleave app" (as I'm defining it). You'll need this in your project.clj:

[shoreleave/shoreleave-remote-ring "0.3.0"]

...although this is not obvious from the documentation.

It turns out, you really only need shoreleave-remote and shoreleave-remote-ring to get a basic app up and running. I have just these two in my project.clj and for what I'm doing it works fine:

[shoreleave/shoreleave-remote "0.3.0"]
[shoreleave/shoreleave-remote-ring "0.3.0"]

Connecting things together

The most basic--yet still somewhat "real-world"--example of AJAX interaction I could think of when starting this was:

  • On the client-side, click on a link.
  • Behind the scenes, the client code initiates a connection with the server.
  • The server gets it and responds.
  • We then display evidence that the server has responded on the client-side.

The only thing I didn't like about how Shoreleave-baseline did it was, it initiated the act of connecting with the server based on loading a JS file. I wanted my example to be slightly more representative of a "real-world" AJAX interaction with the server, even if still quite simplistic.


To start, I created a really basic compojure app

$ lein new compojure hello-world

...and I pulled the bits out of Shoreleave-baseline that I wanted. For the handler, I added the necessary libraries:

(ns barebones-shoreleave.handler
  ;; ...
   [shoreleave.middleware.rpc :refer [defremote wrap-rpc]]
  ;; ...

In Shoreleave, a lot of interaction is abstracted out. shoreleave-remote-ring provides you with a defremote call to allow you to define something like a Compojure route which your client-side code can then access in a RPC-like fashion. I added a very simple defremote:

(defremote ping [pingback]
  (str "You have hit the API with: " pingback))

And finally, to get this actually integrated with the app, I added the wrap-rpc function to the handler code:

(def app
  (-> app-routes

The rest was just scaffolding to get some basic templating in place:

;; Enlive template
(html/deftemplate main-layout
  [:div#content] (html/html-content text))

;; ...

;; Barely modified default routes
(defroutes app-routes
  (GET "/" []
       (main-layout "<a href='#' id='click'>Click me!</a>"))
  (route/resources "/")
  (route/not-found "Not Found"))

That was it for the server-side.


In my src/barebones_shoreleave dir I then added a directory called client per the convention in Shoreleave-baseline, and mimicking Shoreleave-baseline added a main.cljs file. This simply contained the flip side of the server-side code, a call to the remote I had defined in the handler:

(ns barebones-shoreleave.main
   [jayq.core :only [$ bind]])
   [shoreleave.remotes.macros :as srm]))

(def $click ($ :a#click))

 $click "click"
 (fn []
    (ping "Testing...") [pong-response]
    (js/alert pong-response))))

It uses jayq to get some jQuery event listener functionality, and binds the anchor link's click to the Shoreleave remote call.

That's it! It is very simple, it works and I think it is easy to understand. It doesn't begin to address the full power of Shoreleave, but we'll leave that for the next tutorial...

Protection against CSRF

But it's not secure! At the bare minimum, I want to know how to provide simple CSRF-protection on all my AJAX POST requests.

As the docs for Shoreleave-baseline state,

Shoreleave-baseline is already wired up to do a host of best-practices for web applications. This includes, but is not limited to client-side caching, compression, and CSRF protection (all via Ring Middleware).

"Ring Middleware" in this case means, specifically, ring-anti-forgery. So, plugging it into our app we get:

(def app
  (-> app-routes

Sweet, it was easy! Let's reload and...huh?

POST 403 (Forbidden) baseline.js:16916
XHR ERROR: <h1>Invalid anti-forgery token</h1> what I see in my console. Hmm, this is weird. At least we know CSRF protection is working I suppose...

I dug back into Shoreleave-baseline (and after an hour of digging through the code), I could see that there was a cookie getting set that I don't have in my own simple app:

__anti-forgery-token iaED%2B9pTukUkCo6bmllUVQXlnvp1x82Qe%2BLITGran9uvoCo1qUSjGl7mkJ2WxZ%2FZQlqZI%2BK89COJdbpz

Poking around Shoreleave-baseline's baseline directory code (i.e. the code in the repo I had assumed represents the Shoreleave app itself), I see nothing obvious that is adding this cookie to the response. Could it be that the ring-anti-forgery packaged in the repo is modified?

;; The token should also be in a cookie for JS (proper double submit)
(assoc-in [:cookies "__anti-forgery-token"] token)))))

Sneaky! Rather than copy this over, let's add our own simple middleware wrapper to pull the token from the session and set it as a cookie:

;; src/barebones_shoreleave/middleware.clj
(defn wrap-add-anti-forgery-cookie
  "Mimics code in Shoreleave-baseline's
   customized ring-anti-forgery middleware."
  [handler & [opts]]
  (fn [request]
    (let [response (handler request)]
      (if-let [token (-> request :session (get "__anti-forgery-token"))]
        (assoc-in response [:cookies "__anti-forgery-token"] token)

(Please note, there is a proposal to add this functionality to ring-anti-forgery, but it's not in there yet.)

And there we have it, a very simple Shoreleave app with basic CSRF protection baked-in.

Comments/criticisms/pull requests welcome! (You can attach "ddellacosta" to the domain used by Google's mail service to contact me by email).


Distributed under the MIT License ( Text copyright © 2013 Dave Della Costa

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