React Native

React Native let's you build cross platform mobile and desktop Native applications using good old React. Figwheel now makes setting up a React Native and ClojureScript project a breeze.

Creating a React Native project

We’re going to walk through setting up a Figwheel build for a React Native project.

When working with React Native you will be using NPM packages. This guide assumes that you have read and understood the Using NPM docs page.

The React Native docs are great and well worth your time.

Initial setup

First you will need to make sure you have React Native and its dependencies installed.

On the environment setup page page you will want to choose either the React Native CLI or the Expo CLI. I prefer to start with the React Native CLI as there is less complexity in the tooling to deal with making it easier to figure out what is going on when you use it. However, Expo has its benefits and is very popular.

Install your CLI of choice according to the instructions on that page.

Once things are installed you can then follow the instructions below to get an ClojureScript project setup for Figwheel development.

Create React Native project

Initialize a project:

For React Native CLI do:

$ npx react-native init MyAwesomeProject

For Expo CLI do:

$ npx expo init MyAwesomeProject

In Expo choose either the blank or minimal template

This will create an initial React Native project. Before you go any further you will want to ensure that everything is setup so that you can launch and run your application in a simulator.

Change into the MyAwesomeProject directory and launch a simulator like so:

$ npx react-native run-ios # or run-android

If everything is set up correctly this should launch a phone simulator with the RN application defined in App.js.

This may be a good point to familiarize yourself a bit with React Native development.


If you have any problems with setting up an application please consult the React Native documentation. I really recommend reading all of the React Native documentation as it is well written and will more than likely save you lots of headaches.

If everything is up and running go ahead an close everything so that we can setup a ClojureScript application that uses figwheel-main to support hot reloading and a REPL.

Integrating the ClojureScript and Figwheel

Now we’ll start setting up a basic Figwheel project.

Create a deps.edn file in the MyAwesomeProject directory:

{:deps {org.clojure/clojurescript {:mvn/version "1.10.773"}
        com.bhauman/figwheel-main {:mvn/version "0.2.18"}}
 :paths ["src" "target"]}

Create a ios.cljs.edn file in the MyAwesomeProject directory:

^{:react-native :cli} ;; use :expo if you are using Expo
{:main awesome.main}

Remember to use :react-native :expo if you are using Expo.

Create a src/awesome/main.cljs file in the MyAwesomeProject directory:

(ns awesome.main
  (:require [react]
            [react-native :as rn]))

(def <> react/createElement)

(defn renderfn [props]
  (<> rn/View
      #js {:style #js {:backgroundColor "#FFFFFF"
                       :flex 1
                       :justifyContent "center"}}
      (<> rn/Text
          #js {:style #js {:color "black"
                           :textAlign "center"}}
          (str "HELLO"))))

;; the function figwheel-rn-root MUST be provided. It will be called by 
;; by the react-native-figwheel-bridge to render your application. 
(defn figwheel-rn-root []
  (renderfn {}))

We are almost ready to launch our ClojureScript application, however if you are using Expo we’ll need to make a few adjustments first.

If you are using Expo edit package.json and change "main": "node_modules/expo/AppEntry.js" to "main": "index.js". Also delete the original App.js file at the root of the project as it leads to compilation problems in certain Expo templates.

Now we are ready to launch our ClojureScript application:

First we will start the figwheel-main process to compile our project and create a Websocket for REPL communication.

$ clj -m figwheel.main -b ios -r

Wait for the compile to complete up until the REPL is trying to start and connect. At this point your ClojureScript code has been compiled and you are ready to open your application. In another terminal window change into the MyAwesomeProject directory and start react-native using the correct command for your chosen CLI.

Currently for both CLIs you can run:

$ npm run ios

For Android:

$ adb reverse tcp:9500 tcp:9500
$ npm run android

When using figwheel-main, it will take care of auto refreshing the application for you when figwheel reloads code.

You can see this behavior by editing the src/awesome/main.cljs file. Try changing the "HELLO" to "HELLO THERE". You should see the application change when you save src/awesome/main.cljs.

Auto launching React Native tooling with :launch-js

Using the :launch-js Figwheel option you can set it up so that when you run Figwheel it will launch your React Native tooling.

For example:

^{:react-native :cli
  :launch-js ["npm" "run" "ios"]}
{:main awesome.main}

Now when you launch Figwheel it will take care of launching React Native for you.

This may or may not work for you and is highly dependent on the behavior of React Native tooling. Currently this set up works for me but your mileage may vary.

Compiling for production

You will want to compile for production before you create a release build for your native project.

You can advance compile the above sample project using the command:

$ clj -m figwheel.main -O advanced -bo ios

Compiling for production carries the same caveates as usual. Please see the Advanced compile docs.

Controlling Reload

The React Native Figwheel bridge code automatically refreshes the application by forcing an update on the root element of the application. You may want to control the code refreshes yourself.

After application is loaded a figwheelBridgeRefresh function is registered on goog. You can call this function to force the root element to reload.

So for the above example you could set the :react-native-auto-refresh option to false.

In ios.cljs.edn this looks like:

^{:react-native :cli
  :react-native-auto-refresh false}
{:main awesome.main}

and you can then control reloading via figwheel.main’s reload hooks

Using our src/awesome/main.cljs an example of this looks like:

(ns ^:figwheel-hooks awesome.main
  (:require [react]
            [react-native :as rn]))

(def <> react/createElement)

(defn renderfn [props]
  (<> rn/View
      #js {:style #js {:backgroundColor "#FFFFFF"
                       :flex 1
                       :justifyContent "center"}}
      (<> rn/Text
          #js {:style #js {:color "black"
                           :textAlign "center"}}
          (str "HELLO"))))

(defn figwheel-rn-root []
  (renderfn {}))

;; adding the reload hook here
(defn ^:after-load on-reload [] (goog/figwheelBridgeRefresh))

React Native on MacOS and Windows

Thanks to Microsoft publishing react-native-macos and react-native-windows we can use React Native along with ClojureScript to create desktop applications.

The setup for MacOS is very similar to the above.

You will need to setup a RN MacOS project according to the instructions.

Then just follow the instructions above for the React Native CLI.

The only difference is that you need to launch the React Native MacOs tooling with:

$ npx react-native run-macos

And there you go.

I haven’t tried this for react-native-windows but it should work in the same manner.


This uses react-native-figwheel-bridge to bridge the gap from React Native to figwheel, feel free to read the code and learn more about the details of how this is all managed.

This also introduces a compiler pass taken from Krell to support js/require of images and assets.