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This is the rudiment of a research notebook for the humanities. The project owner and I decided to discontinue development, because we're lacking the resources to bring it to a close within a reasonable timespan. At the moment (2015-10-03) it shows off and documents some of the basics of a modern Clojure/ClojureScript web application. I expect these to become outdated soon, though.

Documentation overview

The documentation is quite extensive in parts, because there are stakeholders who are not familiar with the used technologies, but still want to be able to understand the system quickly. Other parts are very short and mainly contain references to external documentation. We have these things:

  1. This README. Lots of different things I wrote down when they came to my mind. Provides you with some context. Might be cleaned up in the future.
  2. Comments and doc strings in the source code. At the moment rather sparse, but get beefed up whenever a region of the code becomes reasonably stable.
  3. Commit log. I am a fan of informative commit messages, so you will see many of my thoughts and decisions documented there.
  4. doc/ – Shows how the various parts of the system work together.
  5. doc/ – Shows how to set up the system for development.
  6. doc/ – Shows how to set up the system for production.
  7. The FAQ. As of now contains only one question and answer.

If you miss something or feel that after reading a section you don't understand more than before, please open an issue or fix it yourself.

Notes from the start

I looked at current ways to set up a Clojure web application. The most prominent thing applicable to this application (mainly server-side stuff) appeared Luminus. It claims to be minimal, but when I look at the Leiningen template, it still sets up a lot of stuff that I'd like to set up step by step. Additionally it talks about some things I wouldn't use in my project, most prominently Selmer for templating and non-Datomic databases. It doesn't talk about Datomic anywhere, which makes me suspicious. However, Luminus looks like a good orientation for some things, so probably it will will appear in the Credits section.

A second thing you should know is Stuart Sierra's component framework. Consume these:


The previous section already named some resources I used for my work. Most of the source files will also contain a Credits section referencing places on the web (mainly), where I found snippets or hints about how to write a particular piece of code.


I'm using Datomic Pro Starter Edition as a database system. I wasn't entirely sure whether to use this or Datomic Free, but all the Datomic pages shouted that I should use DPSE, so I gave in. Victim of marketing? It does make the whole thing a bit clumsier. Especially typing my PGP password every time I start a REPL is annoying. However, I didn't buy in to too much, since all it takes to switch to Datomic Free is changing a Leiningen dependency and the connection URI. That's also what you could do in order to test locally if you don't already have Datomic Pro Starter Edition. You should go and get it, though! Just kidding.

Tags and versioning

.travis.yml specifies that every tagged commit gets deployed to GitHub Releases (and eventually to the web server). Commits that are not tagged don't get deployed. I'm too lazy to write a full new version number for every version I want to deploy for testing, so tags will be t<number>.

User interface design

Currently you can see two approaches to producing the user interface. One is the server-generated approach of the Welcome page with my own styling. The other is the client-side approach of the »Try it out« playground page with Bootstrap styling. The final design will probably be a mix of both. However, for now I'll do some functionality prototyping with vanilla Bootstrap and leave the Welcome page for reference.


The fonts are not under version control, because I don't yet know whether they'll make it into the final design. So I don't want to litter the repo with additions and removals of binaries or whatever fonts are.

The fonts used on the Welcome page are:

  • Theano Didot by Alexey Kryukov as a serif font.
  • Chivo by Omnibus Type as a sans-serif font.

The Big Theta is set in GFS Elpis by Natasha Raissaki, published by the Greek Font Society.

If fonts are not available as WOFF, I use the Font Squirrel webfont generator for conversion and packaging.

Note that I'm not a font expert at all, so I welcome all suggestions for improvement.

Colours of the Welcome page

Right now I'm using parts of Solarized as a colour scheme, which is easy on the eyes. The problem is that one has to get used to it. So it might scare off people. The page's flat look came naturally with the colour scheme (maybe also inspired by Light Table) and is slightly unusual, too. These things are by no means final. I just wanted some basis to work with. (In case you're wondering about the inconsistency of the spelling of »color« in the source code and »colour« here: I use American Englisch spelling in source code in order to prevent bugs, since most programmers are accustomed to American English spelling. Everything else is not as critical, so I stay British.)

Om, Kioo, Bootstrap

I'm using Om and I'm using Bootstrap, but I'm not using Om Bootstrap. I found that there is a lot of stuff in Bootstrap that is not in Om Bootstrap and looking at how to use Om Bootstrap I also didn't see huge benefits in using it. So contributing the parts I need is out of question.

Instead, since I like Enlive, I had a look at Kioo and from what I've seen I think that using the trio of Om, Kioo and Bootstrap can be powerful and reasonably easy. There's no tutorials or anything on this combination though, so if you're looking for a topic for your next blog post, this might be something.

Build system

I cobbled together my project.clj and corresponding directory layout following some of David Nolen's templates: om-async-tut, mies and mies-om. For more information you should read The Essence of ClojureScript Redux and Waitin' (and maybe the Om tutorials).


Recently (use git blame to see when I wrote this) I listened to the Cognicast with Aaron Brooks as a guest. He talked about the concept of live specifications, which I found interesting. He said that there are actually very few projects that wouldn't benefit from it. While I won't jump on the idea immediately with this project, I will be making ->LIVE-SPEC annotations whenever I write something that would be better off coming from such a live specification rather than being hard-coded. Of course a first step could also be putting these things in a configuration file or something similar.

Common abbreviations in the code

  • suffix "ra": ratom, reactive atom


See LICENSE.txt.


The contents of the following directories are not my work and remain under their original authorship and license.

They usually contain their own copyright and license information and, as of now, they are not under version control anyway.


A research notebook for the humanities (discontinued)




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