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Biff
A simple and easy web framework for Clojure.
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Introduction

Biff is designed to make web development with Clojure fast and easy without compromising on simplicity. It prioritizes small-to-medium sized projects.

Biff has two parts: a library and a template project. As much code as possible is written as library code, exposed under the com.biffweb namespace. This includes a lot of high-level helper functions for other libraries.

The template project contains the framework code—the stuff that glues all the libraries together. When you start a new Biff project, the template project code is copied directly into your project directory, and the library is added as a regular dependency.

Some of Biff's most distinctive features:

Other things that Biff wraps/includes:

We use Biff over at The Sample, a relatively young two-person business. It has about 13k lines of code.

Getting Started

Requirements:

Run this command to create a new Biff project (and if you run into any problems, see Troubleshooting):

bash <(curl -s https://biffweb.com/new-project.sh)

This will create a minimal CRUD app which demonstrates most of Biff's features. Run ./task dev to start the app on localhost:8080. Whenever you save a file, Biff will:

You can connect your editor to nREPL port 7888. There's also a repl.clj file which you can use as a scratch space.

When you're ready to deploy, see Production.

Jacking in

cider-jack-in and similar commands will start up a JVM and an nREPL server for you. However, ./task dev already does that. Instead of running cider-jack-in, you should run cider-connect (or the equivalent) so that you can connect to the nREPL server started by ./task dev. See Connecting to a Running nREPL Server in the CIDER docs.

This does mean that CIDER will not be able to decide what version of the nREPL server dependencies to use. If you run into problems, you'll need to set the versions manually in deps.edn:

{:deps {nrepl/nrepl       {:mvn/version "..."}
        cider/cider-nrepl {:mvn/version "..."}
...

Project Structure

A new Biff project will look like this:

(Throughout these docs, we'll assume you selected com.example for the main namespace when creating your project.)

├── README.md
├── config.edn
├── config.sh
├── deps.edn
├── resources
│   ├── public
│   │   └── img
│   │       └── glider.png
│   ├── tailwind.config.js
│   └── tailwind.css
├── setup.sh
├── src
│   └── com
│       ├── example
│       │   ├── feat
│       │   │   ├── app.clj
│       │   │   ├── auth.clj
│       │   │   ├── home.clj
│       │   │   └── worker.clj
│       │   ├── repl.clj
│       │   ├── schema.clj
│       │   ├── test.clj
│       │   └── ui.clj
│       └── example.clj
└── task

task is a shell script that contains project commands. For example, ./task dev starts the app locally, and ./task deploy pushes your most recent commit to the server. See README.md for a list of all the commands.

config.sh contains configuration for task, such as the project's main namespace (com.example in this case) and the domain name of the server to deploy to. config.edn contains configuration for the application.

deps.edn by default defines a single dependency: com.biffweb/biff. This library is aliased as biff in most namespaces.

setup.sh is a script for provisioning an Ubuntu server. See Production.

Code organization

The example project is separated into three layers.

code structure

We'll start with the middle layer. A feature namespace contains the routes, static pages, scheduled tasks, and/or transaction listeners that pertain to a particular feature. Each namespace exposes these things via a features map:

(ns com.example.feat.some-feature
  ...)

(def features
  {:routes [...]
   :api-routes [...]
   :static {...}
   :tasks [...]
   :on-tx (fn ...)})

For example, the com.example.feat.home namespace defines a single route for the landing page:

(ns com.example.feat.home
  (:require [com.biffweb :as biff]
            [com.example.ui :as ui]))

(defn signin-form []
  ...)

(defn home [_]
  (ui/page
    {}
    (signin-form)))

(def features
  {:routes [["/" {:get home}]]})

The schema namespace defines the types of documents that are allowed to be written to the database. Whenever you submit a transaction, it will be checked against your schema first.

Here we define a :user document type which includes an email field and a couple other string fields:

(def schema
  {:user/id :uuid
   :user/email :string
   :user/foo :string
   :user/bar :string
   :user [:map {:closed true}
          [:xt/id :user/id]
          :user/email
          [:user/foo {:optional true}]
          [:user/bar {:optional true}]]
  ...})

The main namespace is the app's entry point. It bundles your schema and features together. For example, here we combine all the routes and apply some middleware:

(def features
  [app/features
   auth/features
   home/features
   worker/features])

(def routes [["" {:middleware [anti-forgery/wrap-anti-forgery
                               biff/wrap-anti-forgery-websockets
                               biff/wrap-render-rum]}
              (map :routes features)]
             (map :api-routes features)])

Finally, "shared" namespaces contain code that's needed by multiple feature namespaces. The example app has a single shared namespace, com.example.ui, which contains helper functions for rendering HTML.

Static Files

You can create static HTML files by supplying a map from paths to Rum data structures. In com.example.feat.auth, we define two static pages, either of which is shown after you request a sign-in link:

(def signin-sent
  (ui/page
    {}
    [:div
     "The sign-in link was printed to the console. If you add an API "
     "key for MailerSend, the link will be emailed to you instead."]))

(def signin-fail
  (ui/page
    {}
    [:div
     "Your sign-in request failed. There are several possible reasons:"]
    [:ul
     [:li "You opened the sign-in link on a different device or browser than the one you requested it on."]
     [:li "We're not sure you're a human."]
     [:li "We think your email address is invalid or high risk."]
     [:li "We tried to email the link to you, but it didn't work."]]))

(def features
  {:routes ...
   :static {"/auth/sent/" signin-sent
            "/auth/fail/" signin-fail}})

The map values (signin-sent and signin-fail in this case) are passed to rum.core/render-static-markup and written to the path you specify. If the path ends in a /, then index.html will be appended to it.

You can use Tailwind CSS to style your HTML:

[:button.bg-blue-500.text-white.text-center.py-2.px-4
 {:type "submit"}
 "Sign in"]

The HTML and Tailwind CSS files will be regenerated whenever you save a file. In addition, any files you put in resources/public/ will be served.

See also:

Routing

Biff uses Ring and Reitit for handling HTTP requests. Reitit has a lot of features, but you can go far with just a few basics.

Multiple routes:

(defn foo [request]
  {:status 200
   :headers {"content-type" "text/plain"}
   :body "foo response"})

(defn bar ...)

(def features
  {:routes [["/foo" {:get foo}]
            ["/bar" {:post bar}]]})

Path parameters:

(defn click [{:keys [path-params] :as request}]
  (println (:token path-params))
  ...)

(def features
  {:routes [["/click/:token" {:get click}]]})

Nested routes:

(def features
  {:routes [["/auth/"
             ["send" {:post send-token}]
             ["verify/:token" {:get verify-token}]]]})

With middleware:

(defn wrap-signed-in [handler]
  (fn [{:keys [session] :as req}]
    (if (some? (:uid session))
      (handler req)
      {:status 303
       :headers {"location" "/"}})))

(def features
  {:routes [["/app" {:middleware [wrap-signed-in]}
             ["" {:get app}]
             ["/set-foo" {:post set-foo}]]]})

If you need to provide a public API, you can use :api-routes to disable CSRF protection (this is a Biff feature, not a Reitit one):

(defn echo [{:keys [params]}]
  {:status 200
   :headers {"content-type" "application/json"}
   :body params})

(def features
  {:api-routes [["/echo" {:post echo}]]})

Biff includes some middleware (wrap-render-rum) which will treat vector responses as Rum. The following handlers are equivalent:

(require '[rum.core :as rum])

(defn my-handler [request]
  {:status 200
   :headers {"content-type" "text/html"}
   :body (rum/render-static-markup
           [:html
            [:body
             [:p "I'll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger on Tuesday"]]])})

(defn my-handler [request]
  [:html
   [:body
    [:p "I'll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger on Tuesday"]]])

See also:

Schema

XTDB (the database Biff uses) does not enforce schema on its own. Biff provides schema enforcement with Malli. Here's a Malli crash course.

Say we want to save a user document like this:

{:xt/id #uuid "..."
 :user/email "bob@example.com"
 :user/favorite-color :blue
 :user/age 132}

In our Malli schema, we'll first define schemas for each of the user document's attributes:

(def schema
  {:user/id :uuid
   :user/email :string
   :user/favorite-color :keyword
   :user/age number?

   ...})

For the schema map values, Malli has a handful of type schemas like :uuid and :string above, and it also supports predicate schemas like number? above.

Once our attributes have been defined, we can combine them into a schema for the user document itself:

(def schema
  {...
   :user [:map {:closed true}
          [:xt/id :user/id]
          :user/email
          [:user/favorite-color {:optional true}]
          [:user/age {:optional true}]]
   ...})

In English, this means:

A note about :xt/id. Every other attribute is defined globally, outside of the document schema. e.g. :user/email is defined globally to be a string. However, every document must have an :xt/id attribute, and different types of documents may need different schemas for :xt/id. So we define the schema for :xt/id locally, within the document.

See also:

Transactions

Biff uses XTDB for the database. It's OK if you haven't used XTDB before, but you may want to peruse some of the learning resources at least.

The request map passed to HTTP handlers (and the scheduled tasks and transaction listeners) includes a :biff.xtdb/node key which can be used to submit transactions:

(require '[xtdb.api :as xt])

(defn send-message [{:keys [biff.xtdb/node session params] :as req}]
  (xt/submit-tx node
    [[::xt/put {:xt/id (java.util.UUID/randomUUID)
                :msg/user (:uid session)
                :msg/text (:text params)
                :msg/sent-at (java.util.Date.)}]])
  ...)

Biff also provides a higher-level wrapper over xtdb.api/submit-tx. It lets you specify document types from your schema. If the document you're trying to write doesn't match its respective schema, the transaction will fail. In addition, Biff will call xt/await-tx on the result, so you can read your writes.

(require '[com.biffweb :as biff])

(defn send-message [{:keys [session params] :as req}]
  (biff/submit-tx
    ;; select-keys is for illustration. Normally you would just pass in req.
    (select-keys req [:biff.xtdb/node :biff/malli-opts])
    [{:db/doc-type :message
      :msg/user (:uid session)
      :msg/text (:text params)
      :msg/sent-at (java.util.Date.)}])
  ...)

If you don't set :xt/id, Biff will use (java.util.UUID/randomUUID) as the default value. The default operation is :xtdb.api/put.

You can delete a document by setting :db/op :delete:

(defn delete-message [{:keys [params] :as req}]
  (biff/submit-tx req
    [{:xt/id (java.util.UUID/fromString (:msg-id params))
      :db/op :delete}])
  ...)

As a convenience, any occurrences of :db/now will be replaced with (java.util.Date.):

(defn send-message [{:keys [session params] :as req}]
  (biff/submit-tx req
    [{:db/doc-type :message
      :msg/user (:uid session)
      :msg/text (:text params)
      :msg/sent-at :db/now}])
  ...)

If you set :db/op :update or :db/op :merge, the document will be merged into an existing document if it exists. The difference is that :db/op :update will cause the transaction to fail if the document doesn't already exist.

(defn set-foo [{:keys [session params] :as req}]
  (biff/submit-tx req
    [{:db/op :update
      :db/doc-type :user
      :xt/id (:uid session)
      :user/foo (:foo params)}])
  ...)

Biff uses :xtdb.api/match operations to ensure that concurrent merge/update operations don't get overwritten. If the match fails, the transaction will be retried up to three times.

When :db/op is set to :merge or :update, you can use special operations on a per-attribute basis. These operations can use the attribute's previous value, along with new values you provide, to determine what the final value should be.

Use :db/union to coerce the previous value to a set and insert new values with clojure.set/union:

[{:db/op :update
  :db/doc-type :post
  :xt/id #uuid "..."
  :post/tags [:db/union "clojure" "almonds"]}]

Use :db/difference to do the opposite:

[{:db/op :update
  :db/doc-type :post
  :xt/id #uuid "..."
  :post/tags [:db/difference "almonds"]}]

Add to or subtract from numbers with :db/add:

[{:db/op :update
  :db/doc-type :account
  :xt/id #uuid "..."
  :account/balance [:db/add -50]}]

Use :db/default to set a value only if the existing document doesn't already contain the attribute:

[{:db/op :update
  :db/doc-type :user
  :xt/id #uuid "..."
  :user/favorite-color [:db/default :yellow]}]

Use :db/dissoc to remove an attribute:

[{:db/op :update
  :db/doc-type :user
  :xt/id #uuid "..."
  :user/foo :db/dissoc}]

Finally, you can use :db/lookup to enforce uniqueness constraints on attributes other than :xt/id:

[{:db/doc-type :user
  :xt/id [:db/lookup {:user/email "hello@example.com"}]}]

This will use a separate "lookup document" that, if the user has been created already, will look like this:

{:xt/id {:user/email "hello@example.com"}
 :db/owned-by ...}

where ... is a document ID. If the document doesn't exist, the ID will be (java.util.UUID/randomUUID), unless you pass in a different default ID with :db/lookup:

[{:db/doc-type :user
  :xt/id [:db/lookup {:user/email "hello@example.com"} #uuid "..."]}]

If the first value passed along with :db/lookup is a map, it will get merged in to the document. So our entire transaction would end up looking like this, assuming the user document doesn't already exist:

[{:db/doc-type :user
  :xt/id [:db/lookup {:user/email "hello@example.com"}]}]
;; =>
[[:xtdb.api/put {:xt/id #uuid "abc123"
                 :user/email "hello@example.com"}]
 [:xtdb.api/match {:user/email "hello@example.com"} nil]
 [:xtdb.api/put {:xt/id {:user/email "hello@example.com"}
                 :db/owned-by #uuid "abc123"}]]

If you need to do something that biff/submit-tx doesn't support (like setting a custom valid time or using transaction functions), you can always drop down to xt/submit-tx.

See also:

Queries

As mentioned last section, Biff uses XTDB for the database. See the XTDB query reference.

Biff provides a couple query convenience functions. com.biffweb/q is a very light wrapper around xtdb.api/q. First, it will throw an exception if you pass an incorrect number of arguments to :in.

(q db
   '{:find [user]
     :in [email color]
     :where [[user :user/email email]
             [user :user/color color]]}
   "bob@example.com") ; Oops, we forgot to pass in a color--ask me sometime
                      ; how often I've made this mistake.

Second, if you omit the vector around the :find value, the results will be scalars instead of tuples. For example, the following queries are equivalent:

(require '[xtdb.api :as xt])
(require '[com.biffweb :as biff])

(map first
     (xt/q db
           '{:find [email]
             :where [[user :user/email email]]}))

;; Think of all the carpal tunnel cases we're preventing by eliminating the
;; need for constant map firsts!
(biff/q db
        '{:find email
          :where [[user :user/email email]]})

com.biffweb/lookup is a bit like xtdb.api/entity, except you pass in an arbitrary key-value pair instead of a document ID:

(lookup db :user/email "bob@example.com")
;; =>
{:xt/id #uuid "..."
 :user/email "bob@example.com"
 :user/favorite-color :chartreuse}

There is also lookup-id which returns the document ID instead of the entire document.

See also:

Htmx

Htmx allows us to create interactive user interfaces without JavaScript (or ClojureScript). It works by returning snippets of HTML from the server in response to user actions. For example, the following code will cause the button to be replaced with some text after it's clicked:

(defn page [request]
  [:html
   [:head
    [:script {:src "https://unpkg.com/htmx.org@1.6.1"}]]
   ...
   [:form {:hx-post "/click" :hx-swap "outerHTML"}
    [:button {:type "submit"} "Don't click this button"]
    ...]])

(defn click [request]
  [:div "What the hell, I told you not to click that!"])

(def features
  {:routes [["/page" {:get page}]
            ["/click" {:post click}]]})

(You use htmx by setting :hx-* attributes on your HTML elements.)

You can also use htmx to establish websocket connections:

(require '[ring.adapter.jetty9 :as jetty])
(require '[rum.core :as rum])

(defn chat-page [request]
  [:html
   ...
   [:div {:hx-ws "connect:/chat-ws"}
    [:div#messages]
    [:form {:hx-ws "send"}
     [:textarea {:name "text"}]
     [:button {:type "submit"} "Send message"]]]])

(defn chat-ws [{:keys [example/chat-clients] :as req}]
  ;; chat-clients is initialized to (atom #{})
  {:status 101
   :headers {"upgrade" "websocket"
             "connection" "upgrade"}
   :ws {:on-connect (fn [ws]
                      (swap! chat-clients conj ws))
        :on-text (fn [ws text]
                   (doseq [ws @chat-clients]
                     (jetty/send! ws (rum/render-static-markup
                                       [:div#messages {:hx-swap-oob "beforeend"}
                                        [:p "new message: " text]]))))
        :on-close (fn [ws status-code reason]
                    (swap! chat-clients disj ws))}})

(def features
  {:routes [["/chat-page" {:get chat-page}]
            ["/chat-ws" {:get chat-ws}]]})

(Note that this chat room will only work if all the participants are connected to the same web server. For that reason it's better to call jetty/send! from a transaction listener—see the next section.)

You can also use htmx's companion library hyperscript to do lightweight frontend scripting. Htmx is good when you need to contact the server anyway; hyperscript is good when you don't. Our previous button example could be done with hyperscript instead of htmx:

(defn page [request]
  [:html
   [:head
    [:script {:src "https://unpkg.com/hyperscript.org@0.9.3"}]]
   ...
   [:div#message]
   [:button {:_ "on click put 'tsk tsk' into #message then remove me"}
    "Don't click this button"]])

See also:

Transaction Listeners

XTDB maintains an immutable transaction log. You can register a listener function which will get called whenever a new transaction has been appended to the log. If you provide a function for the :on-tx feature key, Biff will register it for you and pass the new transaction to it. For example, here's a transaction listener that prints a message whenever there's a new user:

(defn alert-new-user [{:keys [biff.xtdb/node]} tx]
  (let [db-before (xt/db node {::xt/tx-id (dec (::xt/tx-id tx))})]
    (doseq [[op & args] (::xt/tx-ops tx)
            :when (= op ::xt/put)
            :let [[doc] args]
            :when (and (contains? doc :user/email)
                       (nil? (xt/entity db-before (:xt/id doc))))]
      (println "there's a new user"))))

(def features
  {:on-tx alert-new-user})

The value of tx looks like this:

{:xtdb.api/tx-id 9,
 :xtdb.api/tx-time #inst "2022-03-13T10:24:45.432-00:00",
 :xtdb.api/tx-ops ([:xtdb.api/put
                    {:xt/id #uuid "dc4b4893-d4f1-4876-b4c5-6f87f5abcd7d",
                     :user/email "hello@example.com"}]
                   ...)}

See also:

Scheduled Tasks

Biff uses chime to execute functions on a recurring schedule. For each task, you must provide a function to run and a zero-argument schedule function which will return a list of times at which to execute the task function. The schedule can be an infinite sequence. For example, here's a task that prints out the number of users every 60 seconds:

(require '[com.biffweb :as biff :refer [q]])

(defn print-usage [{:keys [biff/db]}]
  (let [n-users (first (q db
                          '{:find (count user)
                            :where [[user :user/email]]}))]
    (println "There are" n-users "users.")))

(defn every-minute []
  (iterate #(biff/add-seconds % 60) (java.util.Date.)))

(def features
  {:tasks [{:task #'print-usage
            :schedule every-minute}]})

See also:

Authentication

The authentication code is kept entirely within the template project at com.example.feat.auth. Biff uses email sign-in links instead of passwords. When you create a new project, a secret token is generated and stored in config.edn, under the :biff/jwt-secret key. When a user wants to authenticate, they enter their email address, and then your secret token is used to sign a JWT which is then embedded in a link and sent to the user's email address. When they click on the link, their user ID is added to their session cookie. By default the link is valid for one hour and the session lasts for 60 days.

You can get the user's ID from the session like so:

(defn whoami [{:keys [session biff/db]}]
  (let [user (xt/entity db (:uid session))]
    [:html
     [:body
      [:div "Signed in: " (some? user)]
      [:div "Email: " (:user/email user)]]]))

(def features
  {:routes [["/whoami" {:get whoami}]]})

In a new Biff project, the sign-in link will be printed to the console. To have it get sent by email, you'll need to include an API key for MailerSend under the :mailersend/api-key key in config.edn. It's also pretty easy to use a different service like Mailgun if you prefer.

Some applications that use email sign-in links are vulnerable to login CSRF, wherein an attacker requests a sign-in link for their own account and then sends it to the victim. If the victim clicks the link and doesn't notice they've been signed into someone else's account, they might reveal private information. Biff prevents login CSRF by checking that the link is clicked on the same device it was requested from.

It is likely you will need to protect your sign-in form against bots. The template project includes backend code for reCAPTCHA v3, which does invisible bot detection (i.e. no need to click on pictures of cars; instead Google just analyzes your mouse movements etc). See this page for instructions on adding the necessary code to the frontend. You can enable the backend verification code by setting :recaptcha/secret-key in config.edn.

For added protection (and to help catch incorrect user input), you can also use an email verification API like Mailgun's.

See also:

System Composition

All the pieces of a Biff project are combined using the com.biffweb/start-system function. This function takes a system map and then passes it through a list of component functions. For example, here we start a very simple app that includes Jetty (as a convention, component functions start with use-):

(require '[com.biffweb :as biff])
(require '[ring.adapter.jetty9 :as jetty])

(defn use-jetty [{:keys [biff/handler] :as system}]
  (let [server (jetty/run-jetty handler
                                {:host "localhost"
                                 :port 8080
                                 :join? false})]
    (update system :biff/stop conj #(jetty/stop-server server))))

(defn handler [request]
  {:status 200
   :headers {"content-type" "text/plain"}
   :body "hello"})

(defn -main [& args]
  (biff/start-system
    {:biff/handler #'handler
     :biff/components [use-jetty]}))

After calling start-system, the system map will be stored in com.biffweb/system (an atom). You can inspect it from the repl with e.g. (sort (keys @com.biffweb/system)).

The system map uses flat, namespaced keys rather than nested maps. For example, after starting up a new project, here are a few of the keys that the system map will include:

{;; These were included in our call to start-system
 :biff/config "config.edn"
 :biff/handler ...
 :example/chat-clients ...

 ;; These were read from config.edn and merged in by use-config
 :biff.xtdb/topology :standalone,
 :biff.xtdb/dir "storage/xtdb",
 :biff/base-url "http://localhost:8080",

 ;; This was added by use-xt
 :biff.xtdb/node ...

 ...}

Several of the component functions pass the system map to their children. For example, Biff includes some middleware that will merge the system map with the request map for all incoming requests. use-chime will similarly pass the system map to scheduled task functions. Application code should not touch com.biffweb/system directly; instead, always take it as a parameter from the parent component function.

If you need to modify some code that runs at startup, you can call com.biffweb/refresh. This will call all the functions stored in :biff/stop, then it will reload all the code with clojure.tools.namespace.repl/refresh, after which start-system will be called with the new code.

However, you shouldn't need to call refresh regularly. Whenever possible, Biff uses late binding so that code can be updated without restarting the system. For example, since we pass the Ring handler function as a var—(biff/start-system {:biff/handler #'handler ...})—we can redefine handler from the repl (which will happen automatically whenever you modify any routes and save a file) and the new handler will be used for new HTTP requests immediately.

start-system and refresh are only a few lines of code, so it'd be worth your time to just read the source:

(defonce system (atom nil))

(defn start-system [system*]
  (reset! system (merge {:biff/stop '()} system*))
  (loop [{[f & components] :biff/components :as sys} system*]
    (when (some? f)
      (println "starting:" (str f))
      (recur (reset! system (f (assoc sys :biff/components components))))))
  (println "System started."))

(defn refresh []
  (let [{:keys [biff/after-refresh biff/stop]} @system]
    (doseq [f stop]
      (println "stopping:" (str f))
      (f))
    (clojure.tools.namespace.repl/refresh :after after-refresh)))

(In general, reading Biff's source code is a great way to learn more about how it works under the hood. The whole thing isn't very large anyway.)

See also:

Taking Biff apart

As your application grows, you will inevitably need more and/or different behaviour than what Biff gives you out of the box. You can modify any part of Biff by supplying a different list of component functions to start-system. You can add or remove components, and you can modify existing components by copying their source into your project. For example, if you want to read in your configuration differently, you can change this:

(require '[com.biffweb :as biff])

(defn start []
  (biff/start-system
    {:biff/config "config.edn"
     :biff/components [biff/use-config
                       ...]
     ...}))

to this:

(defn read-config [path]
  (let [env (keyword (or (System/getenv "BIFF_ENV") "prod"))
        env->config (clojure.edn/read-string (slurp path))
        config-keys (concat (get-in env->config [env :merge]) [env])
        config (apply merge (map env->config config-keys))]
    config))

(defn use-config [sys]
  (merge sys (read-config (:biff/config sys))))

(defn start []
  (biff/start-system
    {:biff/config "config.edn"
     :biff/components [use-config
                       ...]
     ...}))

and then make your desired modifications. If you want you could even replace start-system with e.g. Integrant or Component, adding the appropriate wrappers for Biff's component functions.

Production

Biff comes with a script (setup.sh) for setting up an Ubuntu server. It's been tested on DigitalOcean. You can of course deploy Biff anywhere that can run a JVM—but if you're happy with the defaults then you can simply follow these steps:

  1. Create an Ubuntu VPS in e.g. DigitalOcean.
  2. (Optional) If this is an important application, you may want to set up a managed Postgres instance and edit config.edn to use that for XTDB's storage backend instead of the filesystem. With the default standalone topology, you'll need to handle backups yourself, and you can't use more than one server.
  3. Edit config.sh and set SERVER to the domain you'd like to use for your app. For now we'll assume you're using example.com. Also update DEPLOY_FROM if you use main instead of master as your default branch.
  4. Edit config.edn and update :biff/base-url.
  5. Set an A record on example.com that points to your Ubuntu server.
  6. Make sure you can ssh into the server, then run scp setup.sh root@example.com:.
  7. Run ssh root@example.com, then bash setup.sh. After it finishes, run reboot.
  8. On your local machine, run git remote add prod ssh://app@example.com/home/app/repo.git.

Now you can deploy your application anytime by committing your code and then running ./task deploy. This will copy your config files (which aren't checked into Git) to the server, then it'll deploy the latest commit via git push. You can run ./task logs to make sure the deploy was successful.

Some notes:

Developing in prod

After you've deployed at least once, you can continue developing the production system while it's running. You'll need to install fswatch. (sudo apt install fswatch on Ubuntu, brew install fswatch on Mac.) Then run ./task prod-dev. Whenever you save a file, it'll get copied to the server and evaluated. See README.md for more commands.

Troubleshooting

UnsatisfiedLinkError

This is usually a problem with RocksDB. As a quick fix, you can switch to LMDB. Add the LMDB dependency to deps.edn and remove the RocksDB dependency:

{:deps {com.biffweb/biff {...
                          :exclusions [com.xtdb/xtdb-rocksdb]}
        com.xtdb/xtdb-lmdb {:mvn/version "1.21.0-beta2"}
...

Then update config.edn:

{:prod {:biff.xtdb/kv-store :lmdb
...