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Friboo is a lightweight utility library for writing microservices in Clojure. It provides several components that you can use with Stuart Sierra's Component lifecycle framework.

Friboo encourages an "API First" approach based on the Swagger specification. As such, the REST API is defined as YAML.

Leiningen dependency

[org.zalando.stups/friboo 2.0.0]

Why Friboo?

  • Friboo allows you to first define your API in a portable, language-agnostic format, and then implement it (with the help of swagger1st).
  • It contains ready-made components/building blocks for your applications: An HTTP server, DB access layer, metrics registry, Hystrix dashboard (in case you have compliance requirements to follow), and more. See Components.
  • Pluggable support for all authentication mechanisms (basic, OAuth 2.0, API keys).
  • It contains the "glue code" for you, and there is already a recommended way of doing things.

Development Status

In our production we use an extension library that is based on Friboo: friboo-ext-zalando. See the list at the end of this page. However, there is always room for improvement, so we're very much open to contributions. For more details, see our contribution guidelines and check the Issues Tracker for ways you can help.

Getting Started


Starting a New Project

To start a new project based on Friboo, use the Leiningen template:

$ lein new friboo com.example/friboo-is-awesome

This will generate a sample project containing some "foobar" logic that can serve as a starting point in your experiments.

A new directory with name friboo-is-awesome will be created in the current directory, containing the following files:

├── dev
│   └── user.clj
├── dev-config.edn
├── project.clj
├── resources
│   └── api
│       └── api.yaml
├── src
│   └── com
│       └── example
│           └── friboo_is_awesome
│               ├── api.clj
│               └── core.clj
└── test
    └── com
        └── example
            └── friboo_is_awesome
                ├── api_test.clj
                └── core_test.clj
  • contains some pregenerated development tips for the new project.
  • dev/user.clj contains functions for Reloaded Workflow.
  • dev-config.edn contains environment variables that will be used during reloaded workflow (instead of putting them into profiles.clj).
  • project.clj contains the project definition with all dependencies and some additional plugins.
  • resources/api.yaml contains the Swagger API definition in .yaml format.
  • src directory contains these files:
    • core.clj is the system definition.
    • api.clj contains API endpoint handlers.
  • the test directory contains unit test examples using both clojure.test and Midje.

How Friboo works

There are two core parts in any Friboo application:

  • loading configuration by aggregating many sources
  • starting the system

Both these parts are taken care of in core.clj in run function. The name "run" is not fixed, it can be anything.

Let's put configuration aside for now. A minimal run function might look like this:

(require '[com.stuartsierra.component :as component]
         '[org.zalando.stups.friboo.system.http :as http]
         '[org.zalando.stups.friboo.system :as system])

(defn run []
  (let [system (component/map->SystemMap
                 {:http (http/make-http "api.yaml" {})})]
    (system/run {} system)))

Here we declare a system that has just one component created by make-http function. When started, this component will expose a RESTful API where requests are routed according to the Swagger definition in api.yaml, which is taken from the classpath (usually resources/api.yaml).

Then we call run from -main:

(defn -main [& args]
    (catch Exception e
      (println "Could not start the system because of" (str e))
      (System/exit 1))))

run function does not block, it immediately returns the started system that can later be stopped (as reloaded workflow suggests).

This already works, but it's not too flexible.

Parsing configuration options

According to, configuration should be provided via environment variables. However, with REPL-driven reloaded workflow you would have to restart the JVM every time you need to change a configuration value. That's less than perfect.

Friboo supports several sources of configuration:

  • environment variables: HTTP_PORT=8081
  • JVM properties: http.port=8081
  • development configuration from dev-config.edn: {:http-port 8081}
  • default configurations per component (hardcoded)

Another challenge is — how to give components only the configuration they need? What if more than one component would like to use PORT variable? Friboo solves this with namespacing of configuration parameters. Namespace in this case is just a known prefix: HTTP_, API_, ENGINE_ etc.

Configuration is in loaded inside run by load-config function before defining the system:

(defn run [args-config]
  (let [config (config/load-config
                 (merge default-http-config
        system (component/map->SystemMap
                 {:http (http/make-http "api.yaml" (:http config))})]
    (system/run config system)))

Here we make run accept a configuration map as an argument, it acts as an additional source of configuration (and it is used by Reloaded Workflow to inject reloadable configuration, see dev/user.clj).

load-config takes 2 arguments:

  • map of default configuration that looks like this:
{:http-port   8081
 :db-password "1q2w3e4r5t"
 :foo-bar     "foobar"
  • list of namespaces, which are known prefixes configuration variables that we expect:
[:http :db]

Configuration parameters' names are normalized in the following way (this is actually done by environ):

  • HTTP_PORT becomes :http-port
  • http.port becomes :http-port

load-config normalizes names in all configuration sources, merges them (real environment overrules the default config), filters the parameters by known prefixes and returns a nested map:

{:http {:port 8081}
 :db   {:password "1q2w3e4r5t"}}

Note that :foo-bar parameter did not make it into the output, because it does not start with :http- nor :db-.

After we have this configuration loaded, it's very straightforward to give each component its part:

{:http (http/make-http "api.yaml" (:http config))
 :db   (db/make-db (:db config))}

system/run also takes the entire configuration as the first argument and uses the :system part of it.


HTTP Component

HTTP component starts a HTTP server and routes the requests based on the Swagger API definition. It lives in org.zalando.stups.friboo.system.http namespace.

It has an optional dependency :controller that is given to all API handlers as first argument. The use case is to make it contain some configuration and dependencies that the handlers should have access to.

      operationId: "com.example.myapp.api/get-hello"
      responses: {}

Part of system map (we make :api component to be a simple map, it's not necessary for every component to implement com.stuartsierra.component/Lifecycle protocol):

:http      (component/using
             (http/make-http "api.yaml" (:http config))
             {:controller :api})
:api       {:configuration (:api config)}

{:controller :api} means that :api component will be available to :http under the name :controller, that's what it expects.

In com.example.myapp.api namespace:

(defn get-hello [{:keys [configuration]} {:keys [name]} request]
  (response {:message (str "Hello " name)}))

get-hello (and every other API handler function) is called with 3 arguments:

  • :controller (:api component in our example)
  • merged parameters map from path, query and body parameters
  • raw request map

Every handler function is expected to return a map representing a HTTP response:

{:body    {:message "Hello Michael"}
 :headers {}
 :status  200

In our example we use ring.util.response/response to create a HTTP 200.

Configuration Options

{:port        8081
 :cors-origin "*"}

DB Component

DB component encapsulates JDBC connection pool and provides Flyway to support schema migrations.

When the component starts, it will have additional :datasource key that contains an implementation of javax.sql.DataSource. You can use it as you like.

One of the examples is in friboo-ext-zalando:

$ lein new friboo-ext-zalando db-example

Take a look at the following files:

├── resources
│   └── db
│       ├── migration
│       │   └── V1__initial_schema.sql
│       └── queries.sql
└── src
    └── db_example
        ├── api.clj
        ├── core.clj
        └── sql.clj

Configuration Options

For available options please refer to org.zalando.stups.friboo.system.db/start-component

Metrics Component

The metrics component initializes a Dropwizard MetricsRegistry to measure frequency and performance of the Swagger API endpoints; see HTTP component.

Management HTTP component

This component starts another embedded Jetty at a different port (default 7979) and exposes endpoints used to monitor and manage the application:

  • /metrics: A JSON document containing all metrics, gathered by the metrics component
  • / The Hystrix stream (can be aggregated by Turbine)
  • /monitor/monitor.html: The Hystrix dashboard

Configuration Options

All Jetty configuration options.

Real-World Usage

There are multiple examples of real-world usages of Friboo, including among Zalando's STUPS components:

TODO HINT: set java.util.logging.manager= org.apache.logging.log4j.jul.LogManager to have proper JUL logging.


Copyright © 2016 Zalando SE

Licensed under the Apache License, Version 2.0 (the "License"); you may not use this file except in compliance with the License. You may obtain a copy of the License at

Unless required by applicable law or agreed to in writing, software distributed under the License is distributed on an "AS IS" BASIS, WITHOUT WARRANTIES OR CONDITIONS OF ANY KIND, either express or implied. See the License for the specific language governing permissions and limitations under the License.