Over the next several posts, we’ll be doing and end-to-end walkthrough of creating a RESTful web service using the Clojure programming language. Unlike a lot of webapp tutorials on the web, this tutorial series will focus on the entire project as a whole, including infrastructure setup using Vagrant and Puppet, testing/CI, and deploying to Heroku.

The project that we will be building is a shopping list application. The basic operation will be fairly simple, but it will allow us to tackle most of the issues that we’ll run into building RESTful web services professionally. At the end of the tutorial series, we’ll build a simple javascript client application so that we can actually enjoy the fruits of our labour. You should be able to extend the application to create an awesome web or mobile app.

All of the source code for this project is available as a GitHub repo. Each part of the project has a corresponding branch that you can checkout for that specific part. For example, for this first tutorial, you can checkout part2. Please fork the project and experiment with it. I’m releasing all of the code under a MIT license, so you can do pretty much anything you want with it.

Project setup

In this first tutorial, we’ll be setting up a development environment with Vagrant and Puppet, and we will set up our initial project with Leiningen. I have seen a number of projects that started out small then grew too big too fast, retaining an ad-hoc build process and a development environment that took days to get set up. For our project, we’ll avoid that technical debt by manging our development environments with Vagrant (using Puppet for provisioning) and managing our build with the excellent Leiningen build tool for Clojure.

Let’s start out by downloading Leiningen and creating a new project. Leiningen is a build tool written in Clojure and designed specifically for Clojure projects. Over the course of this tutorial, we’ll be using it for running tests, controlling database migrations, and packaging our application for deployment. Its plugin system makes it suitable to be a general-purpose task runner, so any process that you find yourself repeating often while developing an app can be easily automated with Leiningen. If you have used ruby’s Rake or a similar tool, you should be able to pick up on Leiningen very quickly. Although we won’t go into Leiningen internals in this tutorial series, I would strongly encourage you to read over the documentation and even dig into the code - it is an awesome tool that I have found invaluable for developing in Clojure. With that brief introduction, let’s dig in!

You’ll need to download the lein script and place it somewhere on your path. Assuming you have a bin subdirectory inside your home directory, the following commands are all that is necessary to get started:

wget https://raw.github.com/technomancy/leiningen/stable/bin/lein -O ~/bin/lein
chmod a+x ~/bin/lein

With that, we can create our project with one command:

lein new restful-clojure

This will create the basic project structure that we will be building our app on. I have removed the LICENSE and README.md files that Leiningen generates and have placed a license and readme in the project root instead. Lein works under the assumption that the project forder that it generates will be the root of a project, but since we’re keeping Vagrant/Puppet configuration in our project as well, our project root will actually be the parent folder to the folder that Leiningen generates. Right now, your project should look something like the following:

├── README.md
└── restful-clojure
    ├── doc
    ├── project.clj
    ├── resources
    ├── src
    └── test

Next up, let’s install Vagrant. For this tutorial, I am running 1.4.3, but any 1.4 release should work. Head over to the Vagrant downloads page to find the package for your OS. Vagrant uses VirtualBox to host its VMs, so please download the latest version. Once you have Vagrant and VirtualBox installed, grab the project source from GitHub:

git clone --recursive https://github.com/kendru/restful-clojure
cd restful-clojure
git checkout part1

At this point, you can run vagrant up to download the vagrant box and boot your dev VM. Since the box is about 400MB, go ahead and start Vagrant so that the download will start. In the meantime, let’s take a look at the Vagrantfile:

config.vm.box = "ubuntu-puppetlabs"
config.vm.box_url = "http://puppet-vagrant-boxes.puppetlabs.com/ubuntu-server-12042-x64-vbox4210.box"

Here we are instructing Vagrant to download the box from the Puppetlabs URL as “ubuntu-puppetlabs”. If you want to use another box, you can easily specify the box name and URL here.

The next settings we’ll tweak are the network settings. We’ll assign the VM an IP on a private network so that we can treat it almost like a remote machine and test our deployment using the VM. We also allow the machine to access our host machine’s network so that we can take advantage of our host’s internet connection for downloading the packages that we want to install.

config.vm.network :private_network, ip: ""
config.vm.network :public_network

We also want to be able to access our project from within the VM, so we’ll want to mount our Leiningen project folder within the VM.

config.vm.synced_folder "./restful-clojure", "/vagrant"

Finally, we configure Vagrant to provision our VM using Puppet. We create a puppet folder with manifests and modules subfolders.

mkdir puppet puppet/manifests puppet/modules

For our app, our only dependencies (at least initially) will be a Java runtime and the PostgreSQL database. Instead of manually writing all of the boilerplate Puppet code for setting up Java and Postgres, we’ll use Puppet modules, which we’ll add to our repo as git submodules If you have cloned the project from github, you can get the submodules by executing:

git submodule update --init --recursive

Otherwise, add all of the puppet modules that we need as git submodules within puppet/modules:

git submodule add https://github.com/puppetlabs/puppetlabs-stdlib.git puppet/modules/stdlib
git submodule add https://github.com/puppetlabs/puppetlabs-postgresql.git puppet/modules/postgresql
git submodule add https://github.com/puppetlabs/puppetlabs-concat.git puppet/modules/concat
git submodule add https://github.com/softek/puppet-java7 puppet/modules/java7
git submodule add https://github.com/puppetlabs/puppetlabs-apt.git puppet/modules/apt

Finally, we’ll create a Puppet manifest at puppet/manifests/default.pp and configure Vagrant to use this manifest for provisioning the VM:


config.vm.provision "puppet" do |puppet|
	puppet.manifests_path = "puppet/manifests"
	puppet.module_path = "puppet/modules"
	puppet.manifest_file = "default.pp"


exec { 'update_packages':
	command => 'apt-get update',
	path    => '/usr/bin',

# Install Leiningen to run tests and build project
exec { 'get_leiningen':
	command => '/usr/bin/wget https://raw.github.com/technomancy/leiningen/stable/bin/lein -O /usr/bin/lein && /bin/chmod a+x /usr/bin/lein',
	unless  => '/usr/bin/which lein &>/dev/null',

class { 'postgresql::server': }

postgresql::server::db { 'restful_dev':
	user     => 'restful_dev',
	password => postgresql_password('restful_dev', 'pass_dev'),

postgresql::server::db { 'restful_test':
	user     => 'restful_test',
	password => postgresql_password('restful_test', 'pass_test'),

include java7

From this point, fire up your VM, and you should have your environment available:

# If you have not yet started your vagrant box
vagrant up
# If you have already run 'vagrant up'
vagrant provision

Congratulations - you now have a functional Leiningen project set up with a shiny new development VM to run it on! In the next tutorial, we’ll take our application from skeleton to basic web server with a few tests to boot.

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