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Clojure(Script) i18n & L10n library

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Current semantic version:

[com.taoensso/tower "1.3.0"]

Tower, a Clojure internationalization & translation library

The Java platform provides some very capable tools for writing internationalized applications. Unfortunately, these tools can be disappointingly cumbersome when taken into a Clojure context.

Tower is an attempt to present a simple, idiomatic internationalization and localization story for Clojure. It wraps standard Java functionality where possible, but it isn't afraid to step away from Java conventions when there's a good reason to.

What's In The Box?

  • Small, uncomplicated all-Clojure library.
  • Consistent, lightweight wrappers for standard Java localization functions.
  • Rails-like, all-Clojure translation function.
  • Simple, map-based translation dictionary format. No XML or resource files!
  • Automatic dev-mode dictionary reloading for rapid REPL development.
  • Seamless markdown support for translators.
  • Ring middleware.
  • TODO: export/import to allow use with industry-standard tools for translators.

Getting Started


Depend on Tower in your project.clj:

[com.taoensso/tower "1.3.0"]

and require the library:

(ns my-app (:use [taoensso.tower :as tower :only (with-locale with-scope t style)])


Here Tower diverges from the standard Java approach in favour of something simpler and more agile. Let's look at the default config:

{:dev-mode?      true
 :default-locale :en
 {:en         {:example {:foo       ":en :example/foo text"
                         :foo_note  "Hello translator, please do x"
                         :bar {:baz ":en text"}
                         :greeting  "Hello {0}, how are you?"
                         :with-markdown "<tag>**strong**</tag>"
                         :with-exclaim! "<tag>**strong**</tag>"}}
               :missing  "<Translation missing: {0}>"}
  :en-US      {:example {:foo ":en-US :example/foo text"}}
  :en-US-var1 {:example {:foo ":en-US-var1 :example/foo text"}}}

 :log-missing-translation-fn! (fn [{:keys [dev-mode? locale k-or-ks]}] ...)}

Note the format of the :dictionary map since this is the map you'll change to set your own translations. Work with the map in place using set-config!, or load translations from a ClassLoader resource:

(tower/load-dictionary-from-map-resource! "my-dictionary.clj")

You can put my-dictionary.clj on your classpath or one of Leiningen's resource paths (e.g. /resources/).

For now let's play with the default dictionary to see how Tower handles translation:

(with-locale :en-US (t :example/foo)) => ":en-US :example/foo text"
(with-locale :en    (t :example/foo)) => ":en :example/foo text"
(with-locale :en    (t :example/greeting "Steve")) => "Hello Steve, how are you?"

Translation strings are escaped and parsed as inline Markdown unless suffixed with !:

(with-locale :en (t :example/with-markdown)) => "&lt;tag&gt;<strong>strong</strong>&lt;/tag&gt;"
(with-locale :en (t :example/with-exclaim!)) => "<tag>**strong**</tag>"

If you're calling the translate fn repeatedly within a specific namespace context, you can specify a translation scope:

(with-locale :en
  (with-scope :example
    (list (t :foo)
          (t :bar/baz)))) => (":en :example/foo text" ":en text")

Missing translations are handled gracefully. (with-scope :en-US (t :example/foo)) searches for a translation as follows:

  1. :example/foo in the :en-US locale.
  2. :example/foo in the :en locale.
  3. :example/foo in the default locale, (:default-locale @tower/config).
  4. :missing in any of the above locales.

You can also specify fallback keys that'll be tried before other locales. (with-scope :en-US (t [:example/foo :example/bar])) searches:

  1. :example/foo in the :en-US locale.
  2. :example/bar in the :en-US locale.
  3. :example/foo in the :en locale.
  4. :example/bar in the :en locale.
  5. :example/foo in the default locale.
  6. :example/bar in the default locale.
  7. :missing in any of the above locales.

In all cases, translation request is logged upon fallback to default locale or :missing key.


If you're not using the provided Ring middleware, you'll need to call localization and translation functions from within a with-locale body:


(with-locale :en-ZA (tower/format-currency 200)) => "R 200.00"
(with-locale :en-US (tower/format-currency 200)) => "$200.00"

(with-locale :de (tower/format-number 2000.1))   => "2.000,1"
(with-locale :de (tower/parse-number "2.000,1")) => 2000.1

Dates and Times

(with-locale :de (tower/format-date (java.util.Date.))) => "12.06.2012"
(with-locale :de (tower/format-date (style :long) (java.util.Date.)))
=> "12. Juni 2012"

(with-locale :it (tower/format-dt (style :long) (style :long) (java.util.Date.)))
=> "12 giugno 2012 16.48.01 ICT"

(with-locale :it (tower/parse-date (style :long) "12 giugno 2012 16.48.01 ICT"))
=> #<Date Tue Jun 12 00:00:00 ICT 2012>


(with-locale :de (tower/format-msg "foobar {0}!" 102.22)) => "foobar 102,22!"
(with-locale :de (tower/format-msg "foobar {0,number,integer}!" 102.22))
=> "foobar 102!"

(with-locale :de
  (-> #(tower/format-msg "{0,choice,0#no cats|1#one cat|1<{0,number} cats}" %)
      (map (range 5)) doall))
=> ("no cats" "one cat" "2 cats" "3 cats" "4 cats")


(with-locale :pl
  (sort tower/l-compare ["Warsaw" "Kraków" "Łódź" "Wrocław" "Poznań"]))
=> ("Kraków" "Łódź" "Poznań" "Warsaw" "Wrocław")

Country and Language Names

(with-locale :pl (tower/sorted-localized-countries ["GB" "DE" "PL"]))
=> {:sorted-codes ["DE" "PL" "GB"],
    :sorted-names ["Niemcy" "Polska" "Wielka Brytania"]}

(with-locale :pl (tower/sorted-localized-languages ["en" "de" "pl"]))
=> {:sorted-codes ["en" "de" "pl"],
    :sorted-names ["angielski (English)" "niemiecki (Deutsch)" "polski"]}

(take 5 (:sorted-names (with-locale :en (tower/sorted-localized-countries))))
=> ("Afghanistan" "Åland Islands" "Albania" "Algeria" "American Samoa")


=> {:sorted-ids   ["Pacific/Midway" "Pacific/Niue" ...]
    :sorted-names ["(GMT -11:00) Midway" "(GMT -11:00) Niue" ...]

Ring Middlware

Quickly internationalize your web application by adding (taoensso.tower.ring/make-wrap-i18n-middleware) to your middleware stack.

For each request, an appropriate locale will be selected from one of the following (descending preference):

  • Your own locale selector fn (e.g. for selection by IP address, domain, etc.).
  • (-> request :session :locale).
  • (-> request :params :locale), e.g. "/my-uri?locale=en-US".
  • A URI selector, e.g. "/my-uri/locale/en-US/".
  • The request's Accept-Language HTTP header.

Tower Supports the ClojureWerkz and CDS Project Goals

ClojureWerkz is a growing collection of open-source, batteries-included Clojure libraries that emphasise modern targets, great documentation, and thorough testing.

CDS (Clojure Documentation Site) is a contributor-friendly community project aimed at producing top-notch Clojure tutorials and documentation.

Contact & Contribution

Reach me (Peter Taoussanis) at for questions/comments/suggestions/whatever. I'm very open to ideas if you have any! I'm also on Twitter: @ptaoussanis.


Copyright © 2012 Peter Taoussanis. Distributed under the Eclipse Public License, the same as Clojure.

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