October 13, 2021

deps.edn and monorepos VII (Polylith)

This is part of an ongoing series of blog posts about our ever-evolving use of the Clojure CLI, deps.edn, and Polylith, with our monorepo at World Singles Networks.

The Monorepo/Polylith Series

This blog post is part of an ongoing series following our experiences with our Clojure monorepo and our migration to Polylith:

  1. deps.edn and monorepos
  2. deps.edn and monorepos II
  3. deps.edn and monorepos III (Polylith)
  4. deps.edn and monorepos IV
  5. deps.edn and monorepos V (Polylith)
  6. deps.edn and monorepos VI (Polylith)
  7. deps.edn and monorepos VII (Polylith) (this post)

Part VII

Another update, less than two weeks since the last one? Yes! Polylith has had another alpha release with a very cool new feature added, we've completed our first multi-implementation component in Polylith, and my development workflow has had a major facelift with the latest releases from Portal!


Let's start with the development workflow. I've been using tap> in my development workflow ever since it was added in the Clojure 1.10 prerelease cycle (Fall 2018 I think?). When Cognitect's REBL came out, I loved what could be done with datafy and nav and I also loved that it began to keep a tap> history so you could browse through all of that data. I used REBL for a long time before switching to Reveal and I've been enjoying using that on both macOS and Windows, although having a WSLg-powered X window for Reveal is a much less pleasant experience on Windows than the drop-snap behavior for fullscreen apps on macOS.

I'd looked at Portal fairly early on in its life and really didn't like that it required a browser window for rendering but recently decided to take another look because it was clear that Chris Badahdah (@djblue) had put in a lot of work since then. It turned out that Chris had been considering a VS Code extension that encapsulated Portal into a webview panel and I got to test an early .vsix file and, for me, that was a game changer! I no longer needed my VS Code window to share space with either a JavaFX app or a browser: I could have my data visualizer right there inside my editor and move it around like any other tab, and have my editor be completely full screen on both macOS and Windows!

My core workflow with tap> hasn't changed: my dot-clojure repo still has a dev.clj script that starts a Socket REPL and Rebel Readline etc and my VS Code/Clover setup repo still has all the same key bindings and config.cljs file that sends all of my evaluated code to tap>. But now everything happens inside VS Code. I've added a key binding (ctrl-; shift-p) that runs a Portal start task, which uses the REPL to launch a Portal window inside VS Code (see the Portal extension for VS Code) and adds a few extra custom commands to it (via a nice custom predicate/function API!).

Best of all, my workflow on Windows and macOS is now "identical" (modulo a few VS Code key binding differences between platforms)!

Polylith & Swappable Implementations

I talked about our plan to implement an http-client component in part 6 and that work has been completed and merged in (and is currently in QA). Overall, it was fairly straightforward to leverage Polylith's "profiles" and have two implementations of the same "interface" but integrating it into our hybrid Polylith/legacy repo did have a couple of head-scratching moments.

We have http-client-hato and http-client-httpkit, both implementing the http-client interface. We've added :+default and :+httpkit aliases to our main deps.edn file -- following the Polylith profile naming convention -- so we are using the Hato implementation by default for development/testing and for nearly all of our Polylith projects. Our legacy apps use the httpkit implementation. It's just a matter of which :local/root dependency you put in your deps.edn file, so that's pretty slick.

You can run tests against either implementation:

  • poly test :dev uses the default, Hato-based, profile (the :+default alias),
  • poly test :dev +httpkit uses the httpkit-based profile (the :+httpkit alias).

Project-based tests use whichever :local/root dependency is declared in their deps.edn -- we decided to keep one of them using the httpkit implementation for now, just as a sanity check within the Polylith world.

Our hybrid repo also has :everything and :runner aliases which mirror Polylith's :dev and :test aliases and we have added the Hato-based component to the :runner alias so that our legacy test suite also uses Hato (and the JDK11+ HttpClient).

What was head-scratching? Initially, I forgot to also add the Hato-based component's test path to the :runner alias and just got a mysterious Namespace cannot be loaded error from the Clojure CLI claiming that our wrapper namespace for Cognitect's test-runner could not be found. Since the "exec" functionality doesn't expose the underlying exception, that took a bit of debugging.

In addition, Polylith currently doesn't support :local/root components in profiles, only :extra-paths (see issue #146), so getting the profiles working was not as straightforward as I had expected.

And, finally, actually developing the alternate implementations was a bit frustrating since I was trying to develop them side-by-side, rather than creating a new implementation against an existing interface so I was evaluating both components into the same REPL -- and they both had the same namespaces (ws.http-client.interface and ws.http-client.impl). After a while, I got into a good rhythm but it took a few attempts before I settled into "eval .impl, eval .interface, eval other code and test, switch to the other component and repeat". I learned a lot about both httpkit and Java's HttpClient while I was doing this, especially around how they handle async operations, thread pools, executors, and also how they handle different SSL setups!

Overall, I would consider this a big win for Polylith: our shared code is written against a functional interface, we can easily run all the tests against either implementation with just a command-line flag, and our projects can decide which implementation to use at build time!

Polylith 0.2.13-alpha

And finally, on to the first item I mentioned: Polylith's new alpha release.

The main new feature is a very nice, interactive shell command that provides auto-complete and history so you can just run poly and then keep that open and work with Polylith without any startup overhead.

You can type i<TAB>l<TAB> and get the info :loc command. It also knows how to offer auto-complete for your bricks and projects so you save a lot of typing, and can easily scroll back and forth through your history with the arrow keys.

One of the first things I did when I started working with the poly tool was to write a primitive interactive wrapper so I didn't have to keep running the entire process from scratch every time so I'm very pleased to see this slick interactive mode in the core tool!

The second "big feature" is that the monolithic README for the tool has been moved to the poly GitBook so it is much easier to navigate and much more pleasant to read. I think this will be a big help for newcomers to Polylith: there's a huge amount of documentation and a lot to learn before you can really become effective with Polylith and its command-line tool and this is so much more digestible.

The final "big" change in this new release is that the project has switched from a custom build/deploy pipeline, based on a mixture of depstar and Polylith's own deployer-cli base and deployer component to using tools.build, via my build-clj wrapper library. This helped iron out a couple of wrinkles in how monorepo-based artifacts get built so build-clj now has a :transitive option for working with :local/root components, such as Polylith relies heavily on.

This has also allowed for all build documentation to recommend using tools.build to create artifacts from Polylith repos, instead of relying on depstar, which makes me happy.

See the 0.2.13-alpha release notes for all the other changes in this release.

If you have a monorepo, or you are contemplating switching to a monorepo, consider Polylith very seriously.

Tags: clojure polylith tools.build monorepo vs code