A port of Framework One (FW/1) from CFML to Clojure
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This was an interesting thought experiment based on my initial thinking that Clojure needed a very simple, convention-based web framework, like Framework One (FW/1) from the CFML world. I thought it would be a gentle on-ramp for CFML developers who were interested in trying Clojure -- and that part was successful in that it piqued the interest of a number of them to build toy applications with FW/1 for Clojure.

At World Singles, we started using FW/1 for Clojure in 2016, as a migration path from our FW/1 for CFML applications. For those applications, I found I either needed explicit Compojure routes (for our REST APIs) or a more flexible Ring middleware stack, or both. The convention-based views and cascading layouts just weren't useful in the real world programs we were building. In December 2016, I started to think about refactoring FW/1 to more standard Ring middleware and as I started the actual refactoring, I realized that FW/1 really added very little in terms of convenience but a fair bit in terms of non-standard behavior (controllers were not quite regular Ring handlers, CORS handling was custom, non-HTML responses were complex and custom, and HTML responses were full of magic).

By mimicking FW/1 for CFML, I'd lost a lot of the simplicity and elegance that web applications in Clojure can exhibit. That's why I'm sunsetting FW/1 for Clojure before it gets any traction. "So long, and thanks for all the fish!", as they say.

I've converted the user manager example to no longer need FW/1 at all. Yes, there's a little bit more boilerplate in main.clj around creating and starting the web server, and it could easily be streamlined if you only wanted to use Jetty (or only http-kit). Yes, you now have to specify the routes explicitly instead of the magic that was there before -- but in any reasonable web application you will want that level of control over your "public API" (the URLs) and you will want to keep it decoupled from your handlers. Yes, you have to deal with the views and layouts yourself, but as you can see in the usermanager controller's after function, it's just a few lines of simple code to deal with this. With those small trade-offs, you get the benefits of standard Ring handlers, composable middleware, and the freedom to choose how you start/stop your applications and how you deal with HTML templates. You can swap out Compojure for Bidi or something else, you can swap out Selmer for something else. If you're building a REST API, you can drop Selmer and rely on ring-json to turn your responses into JSON for you. The world becomes your Clojure-powered oyster!

Porting FW/1 from CFML to Clojure taught me a lot about the Ring ecosystem and also about Clojure's overall preference for simplicity, elegance, and composability. Time to move on.

The Original README

This was based on a port from CFML to Clojure of Framework One (FW/1). Most concepts carry over but, like Clojure itself, the emphasis is on simplicity.

FW/1 in Clojure is based on Ring, Compojure, and Selmer. FW/1 is a lightweight, (partially) convention-based MVC framework.

The easiest way to get started with FW/1 is to use the fw1-template template for Boot. The template can create a basic FW/1 skeleton project for you that "just works" and provides the directory structure and some basic files for you to get started with.

Assuming you have Boot installed, you can create a new skeleton FW/1 app like this:

boot -d seancorfield/boot-new new -t fw1 -n myfw1app

This will create a skeleton FW/1 app in the myfw1app folder. You can run it like this:

cd myfw1app
boot run -p 8111

If you omit the -p / --port argument, it will default to port 8080, unless overridden by an environment variable:

PORT=8111 boot run

URL Structure

In a FW/1 application, Controller functions and Views are automatically located based on standard patterns - with site sections and items within each section. Layouts are applied, if provided, in a cascade from item to section to site. You specify the site and item as a namespaced keyword :section/item and FW/1 will locate Controllers, Views, and Layouts based on that.

Actual URL route processing is handled via Compojure and FW/1 provides a default set of routes that should serve most purposes. The usermanager example leverages that default in the fw1-handler function:

(defn fw1-handler
  "Build the FW/1 handler from the application. This is where you can
  specify the FW/1 configuration and the application routes."
  (fw1/default-handler application
                       {:application-key "usermanager"
                        :home            "user.default"}))

The default handler behavior is equivalent to this:

(defn fw1-handler
  "Build the FW/1 handler from the application. This is where you can
  specify the FW/1 configuration and the application routes."
  (let-routes [fw1 (fw1/configure-router {:application     application
                                          :application-key "usermanager"
                                          :home            "user.default"})]
    (route/resources "/")
    (ANY "/" [] (fw1))
    (context "/:section" [section]
             (ANY "/"                  []     (fw1 (keyword section)))
             (ANY "/:item"             [item] (fw1 (keyword section item)))
             (ANY "/:item/:id{[0-9]+}" [item] (fw1 (keyword section item))))
    (route/not-found "Not Found"))

As above, the handler is initialized with an application Component. It obtains a router from FW/1 by providing configuration for FW/1. It then defines routes using Compojure, starting with a general resources route, followed by a few standard route patterns that map to :section/item keywords.

Project Structure

The standard file structure for a FW/1 application is:

  • resources/
    • public/ - folder containing web-accessible (public) assets
  • src/
    • app_key/ - matches the :application-key value specified in the configuration above.
      • controllers/ - contains a .clj file for each section that needs business logic.
      • layouts/ - contains per-item, per-section and per-site layouts as needed.
      • views/ - contains a folder for each section, containing an HTML view for each item.
      • main.clj - the entry point for your application.

Your Model can be anywhere since it will be required into your controller namespaces as needed.

Request Lifecycle

Controllers can have before(rc) and after(rc) handler functions that apply to all requests in a section.

A URL of /section/item will cause FW/1 to call:

  • (controllers.section/before rc), if defined.
  • (controllers.section/item rc), if defined.
  • (controllers.section/after rc), if defined.

A handler function should return the rc, updated as necessary. Strictly speaking, FW/1 will also call any :before / :after handlers defined in the configuration -- see below. This sequence of controller calls will be interrupted if (abort rc) has been called.

If one of the render-xxx functions has been called, FW/1 will render the data as specified. If the redirect function has been called, FW/1 will respond with a redirect (a Location header containing a URL). Otherwise FW/1 will look for an HTML view template:

  • views/section/item.html

The suffix can be controlled by the :suffix configuration option but defaults to "html".

FW/1 looks for a cascade of layouts (again, the suffix configurable):

  • layouts/section/item.html,
  • Replacing {{body}} with the view (and not calling any transforms).
  • layouts/section.html,
  • Replacing {{body}} with the view so far.
  • layouts/default.html,
  • Replacing {{body}} with the view so far. The :layout configuration is ignored.

Rendering Data

If a render-xxx function is called, FW/1 will return a response that has the given status code (or 200 if none were specified) and the set a Content-Type header based on the data type specified for the rendering. The body will be the expression, converted per the data type.

The following content types are built-in:

  • :html - text/html; charset=utf-8
  • :json - application/json; charset=utf-8
  • :raw-json - application/json; charset=utf-8
  • :text - text/plain; charset=utf-8
  • :xml - text/xml; charset=utf-8

By default, :html, :raw-json, and :text render the data as-is. :json uses Cheshire's generate-string to render the data as a JSON-encoded string, using the :json-config settings from the FW/1 configuration if specified. :xml uses clojure.data.xml's sexp-as-element and then emit to render the data as an XML-encoded string.

You can override these in the FW/1 config, via the :render-types key. You can also add new data types that way. Each data type is specified by a keyword (as above) and a map with two keys:

  • :type - the content type string to use (as shown above).
  • :body - a function that accepts two arguments - the FW/1 configuration and the data to render - and returns a string that represents the converted value of the data.

Convenience functions are provided for the five built-in data types: render-html, render-json, render-raw-json, render-text, and render-xml. The render-data function can be used for custom data types. In particular, render-data can be used to specify runtime data rendering:

(fw1/render-data rc render-fn expr)
(fw1/render-data rc status render-fn expr)

The render-fn should be a function of two arities. When called with no arguments, it should either return a content type string for the rendering, or one of the known data types (including custom ones from the :render-types configuration) and that data type's content type string will be used. When called with two arguments - the FW/1 configuration and the data to render - it should return a string that represents the converted value of the data.

As a convenience, you can use the render-by function to turn your render-fn into a function that behaves like the built-in render-xxx data type renderers:

(def render-custom (fw1/render-by my-render-fn))
(render-custom rc expr)

Framework API

Any controller function also has access to the the FW/1 API (after requireing framework.one):

  • (abort rc) - abort the controller lifecycle -- do not apply any more controllers (of the :before "before" item "after" :after lifecycle).
  • (cookie rc name) - returns the value of name from the cookie scope.
  • (cookie rc name value) - sets name to value in the cookie scope, and returns the updated rc.
  • (event rc name) - returns the value of name from the event scope (:action, :section, :item, or :config).
  • (event rc name value) - sets name to value in the event scope, and returns the updated rc.
  • (flash rc name value) - sets name to value in the flash scope, and returns the updated rc.
  • (header rc name) - return the value of the name HTTP header, or nil if no such header exists.
  • (header rc name value) - sets the name HTTP header to value for the response, and returns the updated rc.
  • (parameters rc) - returns just the form / URL parameters from the request context (plus whatever parameters have been added by controllers). This is useful when you want to iterate over the data elements without worrying about any of the 'special' data that FW/1 puts in rc.
  • (redirect rc url) or (redirect rc status url) - returns rc containing information to indicate a redirect to the specified url.
  • (redirecting? rc) - returns true if the current request will redirect, i.e., (redirect rc ...) has been called.
  • (reload? rc) - returns true if the current request includes URL parameters to force an application reload.
  • (remote-addr rc) - returns the IP address of the remote requestor (if available). Checks the "x-forwarded-for" header (set by load balancers) then Ring's :remote-addr field.
  • (render-by render-fn) - a convenience to produce a render-xxx function. See the last section of Rendering Data above for details.
  • (render-data rc type data) or (render rc status type data) - low-level function to tell FW/1 to render the specified data as the specified type, optionally with the specified status code. Prefer the render-xxx convenience functions that follow is you are rendering standard data types.
  • (render-xxx rc data) or (render-xxx rc status data) - render the specified data, optionally with the specified status code, in format xxx: html, json, raw-json, text, xml.
  • (rendering? rc) - returns true if the current request will render data (instead of a page), i.e., (render-xxx rc ...) has been called.
  • (ring rc) - returns the original Ring request.
  • (ring rc req) - sets the Ring request data. Intended to be used mostly for testing controllers, to make it easier to set up test rc data.
  • (servlet-request rc) - returns a "fake" HttpServletRequest object that delegates getParameter calls to pull data out of rc, as well as implementing several other calls (delegating to the Ring request data); used for interop with other HTTP-centric libraries.
  • (session rc name) - returns the value of name from the session scope.
  • (session rc name value) - sets name to value in the session scope, and returns the updated rc.
  • (to-long val) - converts val to a long, returning zero if it cannot be converted (values in rc come in as strings so this is useful when you need a number instead and zero can be a sentinel for "no value").

The following symbols from Selmer are exposed as aliases via the FW/1 API:

  • add-tag!, add-filter!

Application Startup & Configuration

As noted above, you can start the server on port 8080, running the User Manager example if you cloned this repository, with:

boot run

You can specify a different port like this:

boot run -p 8111


PORT=8111 boot run

In your main namespace -- main.clj in the example here -- the call to (fw1/configure-router) can be passed configuration parameters either as a map (preferred) or as an arbitrary number of inline key / value pairs (legacy support):

  • :after - a function (taking / returning rc) which will be called after invoking any controller
  • :application-key - the namespace prefix for the application, default none.
  • :before - a function (taking / returning rc) which will be called before invoking any controller
  • :default-section - the section used if none is present in the URL, default "main".
  • :default-item - the item used if none is present in the URL, default "default".
  • :error - the action - "section.item" - to execute if an exception is thrown from the initial request, defaults to :default-section value and "error" [untested].
  • :home - the "section.item" pair used for the / URL, defaults to :default-section and :default-item values.
  • :json-config - specify formatting information for Cheshire's JSON generate-string, used in render-json (:date-format, :ex, :key-fn, etc).
  • :lazy-load - boolean, whether controllers should be lazily loaded. Default is false and all files in the controllers will be loaded just once at startup. When true, each controller is loaded when it is first requested, and if a request is a reload (see below) then the controller for that request is fully reloaded. :lazy-load true is useful for development, but should be turned off in production. Note: in versions prior to 0.10.0, lazy loading was the default.
  • :middleware-default-fn - an optional function that will be applied to Ring's site defaults; note that by default we do not enable the XSRF Anti-Forgery middleware that is normally part of the site defaults since that requires session scope and client knowledge which is not appropriate for many uses of FW/1. Specify #(assoc-in % [:security :anti-forgery] true) here to opt into XSRF Anti-Forgery (you'll probably also want to change the :session :store from the in-memory default unless you have just a single server instance).
  • :middleware-wrapper-fn - an optional function that will be applied as the outermost piece of middleware, wrapping all of Ring's defaults (and the JSON parameters middleware).
  • :options-access-control - specify what an OPTIONS request should return (:origin, :headers, :credentials, :max-age).
  • :password - specify a password for the application reload URL flag, default "secret" - see also :reload.
  • :reload - specify an rc key for the application reload URL flag, default :reload - see also :password.
  • :reload-application-on-every-request - boolean, whether to reload controller, view and layout components on every request (intended for development of applications).
  • :render-types - an optional map of data types to replace or augment the built-in data rendering. See Rendering Data above for more details.
  • :routes - a vector of hash maps, specifying route patterns and what to map them to (full documentation coming in due course).
  • :selmer-tags - you can specify a map that is passed to the Selmer parser to override what characters are used to identify tags, filters
  • :suffix - the file extension used for views and layouts. Default is "html".

For example: (fw1/configure-router {:default-section "hello" :default-item "world"}) will tell FW/1 to use hello.world as the default action.

License & Copyright

Copyright (c) 2015-2016 Sean Corfield.

Distributed under the Apache Source License 2.0.