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A library designed to make it easy to use Google App Engine from Clojure
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The appengine-magic library attempts to abstract away the infrastructural nuts and bolts of writing a Clojure application for the Google App Engine platform.

The development environment of Google App Engine for Java expects pre-compiled classes, and generally does not fit well with Clojure's interactive development model. appengine-magic attempts to make REPL-based development of App Engine applications as natural as any other Clojure program.

  1. Programs using appengine-magic just need to include appengine-magic as a Leiningen dev-dependency.
  2. appengine-magic takes a Ring handler and makes it available as a servlet for App Engine deployment.
  3. appengine-magic is also a Leiningen plugin, and adds several tasks which simplify preparing for App Engine deployment.


  • Clojure 1.2.0
  • Leiningen 1.3.1
  • Google App Engine SDK 1.3.7
  • swank-clojure 1.2.1 (optional)

Getting Started

Project setup

You need a copy of the Google App Engine SDK installed somewhere. appengine-magic cannot replace its and functionality.

  1. lein new
  2. rm src/<project-name>/core.clj to clean out the default core.clj file created by Leiningen.
  3. Edit project.clj:
    • add :namespaces [<project>.app_servlet] (or use the equivalent :aot directive)
    • add [appengine-magic "0.1.0] to your dev-dependencies
  4. lein deps
  5. lein appengine-new. This sets up four files for your project: core.clj, app_servlet.clj (the entry point for the application), resources/war/WEB-INF/web.xml (a servlet descriptor), and resources/war/WEB-INF/appengine-web.xml (an App Engine application descriptor). These files should contain reasonable defaults for your application.

The default .gitignore file produced by Leiningen works well with the resulting project, but do take a careful look at it.

Development process

Launch lein swank or lein repl, whichever you normally use. Once you have a working REPL, compile your application's core.clj.

The key construct provided by appengine-magic is the appengine-magic.core/def-appengine-app macro. It takes a Ring handler and defines a new <project-name>-app var. (If you want to rename this var, remember to update app_servlet.clj.) That's it: you may now write your application using any framework which produces a Ring-compatible handler. Then, just pass this handler to def-appengine-app.

To test your work interactively, you can control a Jetty instance from the REPL using appengine-magic.core/start and appengine-magic.core/stop. Examples (assuming you are in your application's core namespace and your application is named foo):

(am/start foo-app)
(am/start foo-app :port 8095)

Recompiling the functions which make up your Ring handler should produce instantaneous results.

Testing with

  1. lein appengine-prepare. This AOT-compiles the entry point servlet, then copies the necessary classes and library dependencies to your application's resources/war/WEB-INF/classes and resources/war/WEB-INF/lib directories.
  2. Run with a path to your application's resources/war directory.

Static resources

Just put all static files into your application's resources/war directory. If you put a file called index.html there, it will become a default welcome file.

Deployment to App Engine

  1. First of all, be careful. You must manually maintain the version field in appengine-web.xml and you should understand its implications.
  2. lein appengine-prepare prepares the resources/war directory with the latest classes and libraries for deployment.
  3. When you are ready to deploy, just run update with a path to your application's resources/war directory.


This is a very early cut of this library. It does not provide access to App Engine services (the datastore, email sending, authentication, and so on). Please see appengine-clj for a library which makes some of those services available in Clojure.

Making App Engine services available requires enumerating the specialized /_ah URLs App Engine uses and figuring out which URL maps to which servlet provided by the App Engine SDK. Help in doing this work is welcome.


Google App Engine maintains a whitelist of permitted Java classes. Other classes will cause your application to fail to deploy. Examples include threads and sockets. If you use those in your application, it will not work. More seriously, if one of your dependencies uses those, your application will also not work. For example, (and its fore-runner, duck-streams from clojure-contrib), uses, a forbidden class.


appengine-magic is distributed under the MIT license.

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