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A small library for explicitly managing configuration files in a Clojure program.


Clojars Project


Every application needs configuration files. There are many different approaches. The purpose of this library is twofold: the first is to codify a set of decisions that have served me well on several projects, and the second to provide a canonical implementation of the pattern so it doesn't need to be continually re-implemented.


  • Explicit. Configurations are intended to be passed through the code explicitly as function arguments, not globally or ambiently. Note that I can't stop you from binding the config to a global or thread-local var but from personal experience its a bad idea.

  • Lightweight. As non-intrusive as possible. Configs are normal Clojure maps.

  • Multiplicity. Configuration data can be specified at multiple levels, embracing multi-target, multi-environment, multi-user applications.

  • Safe. Error messages are clear and informative. There are no bare null pointer exceptions on missing configuration keys. The application will warn on possibly unintended overrides, or when a configuration is missing keys that it requires.


There are different classes of configuration data. Some examples include (but are not limited to):

  • Basic configuration that is used everywhere. Usually it is checked into source control and edited like code.
  • Private configuration that contains sensitive data which cannot be added to source control.
  • Configuration that applies only to specific environments.
  • Configuration that applies only to specific users in a development setting.

Immuconf is built around the concept of using a seperate configuration file for each of these concerns, which are ultimately merged together into a single configuration map. Configuration files are loaded in a constant order. "Upstream" config files can define overridable values which must be overridden in a downstream file, or the configuration is invalid. If two config files specify different values, the value in the "downstream" file wins.

As an example, one might specify this sequence of config files:

["resources/config.edn" "resources/staging.edn" "~/.private/config.edn" "luke-dev.edn"]
  • resources/config.edn is checked into git. It defines certain config items that always apply. It also defines overridable values. For example, it could specify that there must be a database connection defined in subsequent config files.
  • resources/staging.edn is also checked into git. Presumably there are also resources/prod.edn and resources/dev.edn which could be used instead. This file might specify a database connection, and all the non-sensitive parameters for the database connection: the URI, etc. It would also specify that certain sensitive DB parameters (e.g, the password) must be present, but would not actually provide them.
  • ~/.private/config.edn would contain the actual sensitive information, such as database passwords, and would not be checked into git.
  • luke-dev.edn could contain developer overrides, for any values, specifically for an individual developer's environments.

If a key is unexpectedly overridden, it logs a warning. This helps prevent accidental overrides, but allows developers to deliberately override certain values.

Config File Syntax

Config files are valid EDN files.

The basic syntax is standard nested maps. Nested collections other than maps are not supported - vectors, sets and list may be terminal "leaves" but they will not be merged when loading multiple config files.

Overrides are implemented via the immuconf/override reader literal, and may occur in value position:

{:database {:uri "jdbc:postgresql://"
            :user "system"
            :password #immuconf/override "Specify the database password here.
                                          Ask Jim if you don't have it."}}

Values may also specify a default, using the immuconf/default reader literal. Default values may be overridden without any warning message, but will simply resolve to the given value without a warning if they are not overidden.

{:environment {:cache-size #immuconf/default 32}}



The primary api is the immuconf.config/load function. It takes any number of arguments. Each argument must be resolvable to a config file, and can be of any type that is a valid argument for load returns a standard Clojure map, but will throw an error if the config file is invalid (that is, if it contains any values that were specified to have been overridden, but were not).

(def my-cfg (immuconf.config/load "resources/config.edn" "resources/dev.edn"
                                  "~/.private/config.edn" "luke-dev.edn"))

If load is passed no arguments, it will first attempt to read an .immuconf.edn file (relative to the project path), which should be an EDN file containing a sequence of config file paths.

If there is no .immuconf.edn file, it will fall back to reading the value of the IMMUCONF_CFG system environment variable, which should be a colon-delimited list of config file paths.

If there is neither an .immuconf.edn file nor an IMMUCONF_CFG environment variable, the system will throw an error.


The only other public function in the API is immuconf.config/get. Its first argument is a config map, any additional arguments are keys (as would be passed to clojure.core/get-in).

(immuconf.config/get my-cfg :database :uri)

The only differences between immuconf.config/get and clojure.core/get are that the Immuconf version takes varargs instead of a sequence of keys and that, if the key is missing, it will throw an info-bearing exception explaining what key was expected but not found instead of just returning nil (which virtually ensures a NullPointerExcption somewhere downstream).


Logging of warnings and errors is an important part of Immuconf.

Immuconf logs using, which in turn will detect and use most JVM logging systems. If this doesn't meet your needs, please file a Github issue and I will see how hard it is to add support for your logging system.


Copyright © Luke VanderHart 2015

Distributed under the Eclipse Public License either version 1.0 or (at your option) any later version.


A small library for managing config files in Clojure projects




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