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The main backend service for the Kulu app.

Set up

  • Clone the app

  • Create the secret config from the sample:

cp config/templates/kulu-backend-secrets.edn config/kulu-backend-secrets.edn
$ psql
create database kulu_backend_dev;
\c kulu_backend_dev
create extension "uuid-ossp";

create database kulu_backend_test;
\c kulu_backend_test
create extension "uuid-ossp";
  • lein deps to get all the dependencies
  • Migration script expects DATABASE_URL in the enviroment
DATABASE_URL=postgres://$USER:@localhost:5432/kulu_backend_dev lein clj-sql-up migrate


In dev, run bin/server-start. It sets up some needed env vars and starts the server with lein. Or you can directly run lein run -m kulu-backend.web 3001 (takes defaults for the env vars).

Once started, visit http://localhost:3001/

In heroku

  • Push to heroku with git push heroku master
  • Interact on
  • To run migrations, heroku run lein clj-sql-up migrate

Developer info

Peculiarities in requests and responses

You may have noticed that our HTTP requests come in with under_scored params but everywhere inside the app we use the kebab-case. This is done with kulu-backend.utils.api/idiomatize-keys and it's friends:

  • On incoming HTTP requests (at the handler level) we convert params to the kebab-case (dasherize them).
  • Once the response is ready, we convert the response body back to the under_score flavor.

See example here and read the code documentation here for more details.

Similarly, we apply the inverse transform (under_scorize on the way in, dasherize on the way out) while sending data to SQL.


We use nomad to read our app's configuration from edn files. The config related files are:


In prod, we read the DATABASE_URL env var. The dev and test databases are specified in the config. In test, every DB command is run in a transaction and rolled back after the test, so we always a clean slate.

The connection string in test comes from Nomad configs

(expand further)


We use seperate IAM accounts for dev and prod (we stub out AWS usage in test).

See the AWS Console's IAM tab (for for the various IAM accounts we use. Similarly we have separate S3 buckets and SQS queues for dev/prod and IAM account's permissions make sure that the dev AWS IAM account can't read/write from the prod resources and vice-versa.


  • Kulu has not been tested with versions later than 2.4, use at your own peril.


  • Kulu has not been tested with versions later than 1.8.x, use at your own peril.
  • brew install elasticsearch@2.4

  • Install the KOPF UI plugin to handle all ES administration: in /usr/local/var/lib/elasticsearch/plugins (Note: This is no longer active)

  • Run elasticsearch

  • $ lein run -m kulu-backend.tasks setup dev to migrate indices.

  • Go to and download the 2.4 version (assumingly as zip).

  • unzip it.

  • chmod +x bin/elasticsearch

  • bin/elasticsearch

  • $ lein run -m kulu-backend.tasks setup dev to migrate indices.

  • this starts a process that binds to port 9200.

  • curl -X GET http://localhost:9200/

to get something like:

  "status" : 200,
  "name" : "Mop Man",
  "version" : {
    "number" : "1.3.4",
    "build_hash" : "a70f3ccb52200f8f2c87e9c370c6597448eb3e45",
    "build_timestamp" : "2014-09-30T09:07:17Z",
    "build_snapshot" : false,
    "lucene_version" : "4.9"
  "tagline" : "You Know, for Search"


Running the backend with any recent version of lein will require the following to be put in $HOME/.lein/profiles.clj

 {:dependencies [[org.clojure/clojure "1.8.0"]
                 [potemkin "0.4.5"]]}}

Recent versions of lein use an nrepl which requires clojure 1.8. The potemkin version transitively loaded by clj-http doesn't work with clojure 1.8 so it needs to be updated to a compatible version (anything that plays well with clojure 1.8 and above).


Run lein test to run tests. It will automatically set the NOMAD_ENV=test and pick up the right configuration.

Make sure you run elasticsearch before running tests, as some of the tests in the suite test end-to-end making real calls to ES on a test index.


Recent versions of cider should inject a compatible cider-nrepl. If that doesn't work, please add a compatible cider-nrepl version to the lein plugins vector e.g.

 {:plugins [[cider/cider-nrepl "0.22.0-beta6"]]
  :dependencies [[org.clojure/clojure "1.8.0"]
                 [potemkin "0.4.5"]]}}

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