Create a Build

In order to start using Figwheel's hot reloading based workflow we will need to create a build. A build defines a compilation process, and is going to be your main unit of configuration.

figwheel.main has a CLI that is fairly expressive. However, most folks who work with it are going to want to define a watch/compile process with a hot-reloading workflow to get the bulk of their work done.

Now that we know how to add our dependencies and set up our project and classpath, let’s start using Figwheel to compile and reload our ClojureScript code.

We’ll start with a project setup as described in the previous chapters.

Your project layout should look like this:

├── deps.edn # or project.clj
├── resources
│   └── public
├── src
│   └── hello_world
│       └── core.cljs
└── target

The contents of the deps.edn file should be:

{:deps {org.clojure/clojure {:mvn/version "1.9.0"}
        org.clojure/clojurescript {:mvn/version "1.10.773"}
        com.bhauman/figwheel-main {:mvn/version "0.2.18"}
        com.bhauman/rebel-readline-cljs {:mvn/version "0.1.4"}}
 :aliases {:fig {:main-opts ["-m" "figwheel.main"]}}
 :paths ["src" "resources" "target"]}

If you’re using Leiningen your project.clj should be:

(defproject example-project "0.1.0-SNAPSHOT"
  :dependencies [[org.clojure/clojure "1.9.0"]]
      {:dependencies [[org.clojure/clojurescript "1.10.773"]
                      [com.bhauman/figwheel-main "0.2.18"]
                      ;; optional but recommended
                      [com.bhauman/rebel-readline-cljs "0.1.4"]]
       :resource-paths ["target"]
       :clean-targets ^{:protect false} ["target"]}}
  :aliases {"fig" ["trampoline" "run" "-m" "figwheel.main"]})

The contents of the src/hello_world/core.cljs file should be:

(ns hello-world.core)

(js/console.log "Hello there world!")

Configuring a build

The ClojureScript compiler can take a fairly extensive set of configuration options. Figwheel provides sane defaults for several important compiler options. This will allow us to configure a compile process by simply defining the :main option.

We are going to pass this option to Figwheel via a build file. A build file is a named set of compiler configuration options. Figwheel utilizes this name to isolate a particular build’s REPL connection and output files from all the other builds.

The build file will sit in our project root directory and the build file’s name will take the form [build-name].cljs.edn where you will substitute [build-name] with a name of your choosing.

Let’s create a build called dev. Create a dev.cljs.edn file with the following content:

{:main hello-world.core}

The above :main option defines a root namespace for our build. When we include the compiled artifact on a webpage it will pull in all the code that our :main namespace depends on.

Figwheel will only be able to start a REPL and hot reload if :optimizations level is at its default setting of :none as it is in the above configuration. The other :optimization levels are intended to be used for deployment.

Running a build

At this point we have everything we need to start compiling and editing our code with a hot reloading workflow.

Start a build with CLI Tools

Run the following in the root directory of the project:

$ clojure -m figwheel.main --build dev --repl

We can also use the shorter -b and -r flags

$ clojure -m figwheel.main -b dev -r

or with the defined alias:

$ clojure -M:fig -b dev -r

Start a build with Leiningen

Let’s use our defined alias:

$ lein fig -- --build dev --repl

We can also use the shorter -b and -r flags

$ lein fig -- -b dev -r

Once you’ve started Figwheel

When you start Figwheel you should see a browser pop open:

default dev page

The green Connected animation that appears next to the CLJS logo indicates the browser environment has successfully connected back to the Figwheel server. If you open your browser’s devtools for the current page you will see Hello there world! (remember that the code that prints this is in our hello_world.core namespace).

devtools open

You should now be able to return to the terminal where you launched Figwheel from to see a working REPL that is ready for you to evaluate some ClojureScript Code.

screen shot 2018-07-24 at 4 44 25 pm

You can now try out some ClojureScript at the REPL.

As an example try entering (js/alert "Crocodile Rock!") at the cljs.user=> prompt.

You can also return to the src/hello_world/core.cljs file and edit the "Hello there world!" string so that it reads "Live edit!!!!!" and then save the file.

You should notice that Figwheel reports loading the new file in the console and you should see Live edit!!!!! printed in the console as well.


You have successfully set up a Figwheel hot-reloading compile process for a ClojureScript project.

If you have never built an application with ClojureScript this is a good place to start building from.

If you are building an application that works with the DOM there is a <div id="app"></div> already on the Figwheel Default Dev Page that you can override. If you clear it’s contents all of the CSS and HTML for the content of the Dev Page will removed.

Adding Figwheel configuration to the build

Figwheel Main has several options to configure how your build process works.

You can add these configuration options straight to your dev.cljs.edn build file. As an example you can turn off hot reloading by adding :hot-reload-cljs false to your build file like this:

^{:hot-reload-cljs false}
{:main hello-world.core}

The ^ character is not a typo, it’s a reader macro that in this case is adding metadata to the map that follows it. Figwheel examines the metadata of your build config for its own configuration options.

You can also specify a map of Figwheel configuration in a figwheel-main.edn file in your project root directory. See the configuration for more details.