Cutting-Edge Clojure Development with Maven

I promised, in my previous post, that I would show you how to use the latest-and-greatest versions of Clojure and clojure-contrib in your Maven projects. Here’s that post.

Formos Software maintains a Maven server with nightly builds of Clojure and contrib at http://tapestry.formos.com/maven-snapshot-repository/

Here’s a complete pom.xml file with dependencies on both Clojure and clojure-contrib:

<project xmlns="http://maven.apache.org/POM/4.0.0" xmlns:xsi="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema-instance"
         xsi:schemaLocation="http://maven.apache.org/POM/4.0.0 http://maven.apache.org/maven-v4_0_0.xsd">
  <modelVersion>4.0.0</modelVersion>
  <groupId>YOUR.GROUP.ID</groupId>
  <artifactId>YOUR-PROJECT-NAME</artifactId>
  <packaging>jar</packaging>
  <version>1.0-SNAPSHOT</version>
  <name>YOUR-PROJECT-NAME</name>
  <dependencies>
    <dependency>
      <groupId>org.clojure</groupId>
      <artifactId>clojure-lang</artifactId>
      <version>1.1.0-alpha-SNAPSHOT</version>
    </dependency>
    <dependency>
      <groupId>org.clojure</groupId>
      <artifactId>clojure-contrib</artifactId>
      <version>1.0-SNAPSHOT</version>
    </dependency>
  </dependencies>
  <repositories>
    <repository>
      <id>tapestry.formos.com</id>
      <name>Formos Software snapshot repository</name>
      <url>http://tapestry.formos.com/maven-snapshot-repository</url>
    </repository>
  </repositories>
</project>

Yes, that’s a pile of XML. But it’s not that complicated once you break it down.  Here’s what’s going on:

Dependencies

The <dependencies> section lists the libraries our project depends on.  We have one <dependency> for Clojure (called clojure-lang in the Formos repository) and one for clojure-contrib.  We’re depending on SNAPSHOT versions, which tells Maven to follow the most recent version on a particular branch.

The current development branch of clojure-lang is called 1.1.0-alpha-SNAPSHOT. The development branch of contrib, which has never had a formal release, is just 1.0-SNAPSHOT.

How did I find these version numbers?  I just looked at the repository in a web browser.  In the org/clojure/clojure-lang directory I found directories named for each development branch, 1.0-SNAPSHOT, 1.0.0-RC1-SNAPSHOT, and 1.1.0-alpha-SNAPSHOT.  I chose the latest one, 1.1.0-alpha-SNAPSHOT.  Then I did the same with clojure-contrib.

If you look inside a branch directory like 1.1.0-alpha-SNAPSHOT, you’ll find hundreds of files, one for each daily snapshot, named with timestamps.

Repositories

The <repositories> section tells Maven where to look for JAR files to download.  We added the Formos repository by specifying its URL.

The <id> and <name> tags inside <repository> are purely for our own reference.  Maven only cares about the URL. We could have used any id and name to describe the Formos repository; those names will be used in Maven’s console logging.

Managing Dependency Versions

The problem with tracking the latest snapshot is that sometimes there’s a release that breaks your code.  It might be a bug, or it might just be a change in behavior that makes the library incompatible with previous versions.

The Versions Maven Plugin can help to alleviate this problem by “locking” dependencies to specific releases and updating them in a controlled way.

First, we have to make the Versions plugin available to our project.  Do this by adding the following lines just before the final </project> in your pom.xml:

  <pluginRepositories>
    <pluginRepository>
      <id>Codehaus</id>
      <name>Codehaus Maven Plugin Repository</name>
      <url>http://repository.codehaus.org/org/codehaus/mojo</url>
    </pluginRepository>
  </pluginRepositories>

We’ve added a “plugin repository,” which is just a Maven repository that happens to contain Maven plugins.  (Technically, you don’t need to add this if your local Maven cache already has a copy of the Versions plugin, but putting it in pom.xml ensures that other developers coming to your project have access to all the same plugins.)

Now we can use the following mvn command:

mvn versions:lock-snapshots

This modifies your pom.xml file, setting the version string of every SNAPSHOT dependency to the current snapshot timestamp.  For example, when I run this command, I end up with the following:

  <dependencies>
    <dependency>
      <groupId>org.clojure</groupId>
      <artifactId>clojure-lang</artifactId>
      <version>1.1.0-alpha-20090904.093041-38</version>
    </dependency>
    <dependency>
      <groupId>org.clojure</groupId>
      <artifactId>clojure-contrib</artifactId>
      <version>1.0-20090904.093531-59</version>
    </dependency>
  </dependencies>

Now, whenever you build the project, you know exactly which Clojure release you’re getting.

So you work with a particular release for a while, then you want to upgrade to the latest one.  No problem!  Just run:

mvn versions:unlock-snapshots
mvn -U install

The first command modifies pom.xml, replacing all the timestamped version numbers with SNAPSHOT versions.

The -U option on the second command forces Maven to check for updated versions of all the snapshot dependencies.

Note: Both lock-snapshots and unlock-snapshots create a backup file called pom.xml.versionsBackup.  To remove this file (and accept the Version Plugin’s changes to your pom.xml) run:

mvn versions:commit

Likewise, to go back to the pom.xml file you had before the Versions Plugin messed with it, run:

mvn versions:revert

Explore

There’s a lot more to the Versions plugin, and to Maven dependency management in general.  Check the documentation for details.

Of course, the example here can be combined with the clojure-maven-plugin demonstrated in my previous post.  The syntax of the combined pom.xml file is left as an exercise for the reader.

One other thing: if you really want the absolute latest, up-to-the-second, still-hot-from-the-github version of something, there’s nothing for it but to use Git submodules.  I’ll demonstrate that in another post.

<dependencies>
<dependency>
<groupId>org.clojure</groupId>
<artifactId>clojure-lang</artifactId>
<version>1.1.0-alpha-SNAPSHOT</version>
</dependency>
<dependency>
<groupId>org.clojure</groupId>
<artifactId>clojure-contrib</artifactId>
<version>1.0-SNAPSHOT</version>
</dependency>
</dependencies>
<pluginRepositories>
<pluginRepository>
<id>Codehaus</id>
<name>Codehaus Maven Plugin Repository</name>
<url>http://repository.codehaus.org/org/codehaus/mojo/</url>
</pluginRepository>
</pluginRepositories>

3 thoughts on “Cutting-Edge Clojure Development with Maven

  1. Pingback: Maven’s Not So Bad: Further Thoughts on Clojure Package Management - Digital Digressions by Stuart Sierra

  2. Ivan

    Thanks for the simple version plugin example. I knew something like that must exist, just hadn’t found it on my travels until now. I think it’s exactly what I didn’t know I was looking for.

    Thanks also for the clojure/maven introduction, it’s exactly what I want this weekend!

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