Clojure Templates Are Easy With Leiningen

Using templates to create your Clojure projects can save you a lot of setup time and ensure your team is using the same base configuration and dependencies. There are templates on, however I’ll show you how easy it is to create your own with Leiningen.

I’ll create a simple template based on the leiningen default template, adding a section in the project.clj to give a custom propmt when run in the repl.

Templates used to be a Leinigen pluging called lein-newnew and its repo was the only doucmentation I found and was a little outdated. The plugin is now part of Leiningen and there are a few built in templates. There is also information via lein help new.

If you want to create a template in a more automatic way from a more complete project you created, take a look at the lein-create-template Leinignen plugin.

Creating templates

A Clojure template is created in the same was as a Clojure project, however a template called template is used

lein new template your-template-name

I created a new template called jr0cket-prompt, so where you see this name in the following commands, substitue your own template name

lein new template jr0cket-prompt

The documentation for lein-newnew uses the --to-dir to specify the name of a directory to create the template in. This is only useful if you want to give the directory a different name to the template name.

Overview of the template

Directory structure of jr0cket-prompt template

project.clj - this is the same as any other project.clj file, except the project name has /lein-template after it. This allows leiningen find it on

source/leiningen/new/clj_jr0cket_dojo_template.clj - defines how a project is created from this template. For example, defining which files the template generates and how it creates them.

resources/leiningen/new/clj_jr0cket_dojo/ - this is where you put all the source & project files that make up your template, using tags where the name of a new project should be substituted.

Configure the template definition

My template will have a customised project.clj file. The rest of the template is the same as the default Leiningen template. So I edited the src/leiningen/new/jr0cket_prompt.clj and added code to create the threee files for my project, in the correct paths.

The project contains a project.clj file containing my prompt modifications and the core.clj file for the src and test branch.

The sanitized tag is used to change any - characters in the project name to _ characters, so the directory names do not cause issues for Java. The render specifies which file in the resources directory a new file is generated from.

Leiningen template definition - files to be generated by the template

Copy files into the template

I now add the files to the resources directory that my new project files are generated from, configuring each file to substitute the namespace and any other project specific information.

From a project I previosly created with lein new, I copied over a project.clj file along with a core.clj file for src and core_test.clj for test directories. These files all reside under resources/leiningen/new/jr0cket_prompt/.

Add placeholder names to the template

When a new Clojure project is created with your template, in this case using lein new jr0cket-prompt new-project, the name needs to be substitued into the new Clojure files so they have the correct namespace for the project. The new project.clj file also needs to use the name of the new Clojure project.

I edited the project.clj file to add the custom prompt information and a placeholder for the new project name.

Leiningen template - custom project.clj file

For the src/project/core.clj and test/project/core.clj I add the name tag to the namespace definition.

Leiningen template - src core.clj file

Leiningen template - test core_test.clj file

Testing the template

Build the template project into a .jar file using leiningen by running the following command within the template directory:

lein jar

Now change to the target directory and create a new project using leiningen.

cd target
lein new myproject-template new-project-name

By changing into the target directory, you are placing the jar file of the template onto the Java class path and therefore making it avaialble to leiningen.

Installing the template

Once you are happy with the template, you can use it locally by installing it into your library cache - ~/.m2/repository/. From the root of the template project, run the following command:

lein install

Publishing the template

Once the template is ready to share with others, you can publish the jar on using the following command from the root of the template project:

lein deploy clojars

You should clean the project and rebuild it before publishing to Clojars to make sure there are no testing files remaining - lein clean ; lein jar


This has been just the simplest template I could think of. There are many useful helper functions as part of Leiningen templates

Community templates of note

Templates others have created can be found on For example, Splat is a template to create a ClojureScript single page web applications by James Hendersons. Malcolm Sparks has templates for his projects.

Got and create your own templates and contribute them back via

Thank you.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 ShareAlike License, including custom images & stylesheets. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at @jr0cket
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