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Clojure lint tool

Project README

eastwood - a Clojure lint tool

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Picture of Clint Eastwood in 'A Fistful of Dollars' (1964)

"Now remember, things look bad and it looks like you're not gonna make it, then you gotta get mean. I mean plumb, mad-dog mean. 'Cause if you lose your head and you give up then you neither live nor win. That's just the way it is."

  • Josey Wales, played by Clint Eastwood in "The Outlaw Josey Wales"

Eastwood is a Clojure linter; it inspects namespaces and reports possible problems.

Because it uses tools.analyzer, its analysis and diagnostics tend to be particularly accurate, avoiding false positives and false negatives.

In particular it's about as accurate as the Clojure compiler itself - it prefers evaluation and macroexpansion over other approaches.

This approach is not free of tradeoffs. The use case where it shines is in CI environments, where a matrix of JDKs and/or Clojure versions can be leveraged, and where linter performance is not as critical as in editors or CLIs.

Eastwood's main area of focus is spotting bugs (as opposed to, say, helping following coding conventions). Other tools can complement or partly overlap with Eastwood's offering.

Eastwood supports only JVM Clojure (>= 1.7.0) , not ClojureScript or Clojure/CLR. Consider using .cljc for obtaining certain degree of ClojureScript support.

Installation & Quick usage

Eastwood can be run from within a REPL, regardless of which build tools you may use. See the instructions here.


Eastwood can be run from the command line as a Leiningen plugin.

Merge the following into your project.clj or ~/.lein/profiles.clj:

:plugins [[jonase/eastwood "1.4.2"]]

To run Eastwood with the default set of lint warnings on all of the Clojure files in the source and test paths of your project, use the command:

$ lein eastwood


If you're using deps.edn, you can set Eastwood options in an edn map, like this:

    {:main-opts ["-m"
                 ;; Any Eastwood options can be passed here as edn:
     :extra-deps {jonase/eastwood {:mvn/version "1.4.2"}}}}}

to your deps.edn, and you should then be able to run Eastwood as

clojure -M:test:eastwood

For deps.edn projects in particular, you don't need to set the :source-paths and :test-paths as configuration options; they will be accurately inferred at runtime.

The only requirement is that you enable all relevant deps.edn aliases - mainly test but possibly others, depending on your project layout.

Any :paths not present at runtime, as computed by the Clojure CLI, will not be analyzed by Eastwood.

If it is not obvious what a warning message means, please check the next section, which has a [more] link for each type of warning. Most types of warning messages have a page or more of text describing the warning, why it occurs, and sometimes suggestions on what you can do about it. Also note that there are several types of warnings marked as '(disabled)', meaning that by default no such warnings will be checked for. You may wish to enable those for your project. See the Usage section for options to enable or disable types of warnings for your entire project.

See the Usage section below for more notes on side effects in test code, and instructions on running Eastwood in a REPL session.

Eastwood can only finish linting a file if Clojure itself can compile it (unlike some other lint tools, which try to give meaningful error messages for programs with syntax errors). It is recommended to use a command like lein check to check for compiler errors before running Eastwood. Even better, lein test will compile files in your source paths and test paths, not merely your source paths as lein check does.

If you run Eastwood from a lein command line, it is perfectly normal to see the message Subprocess failed at the end if either the warning or exception thrown counts are not 0. Eastwood exits with a non-0 exit status in this situation, so that shell scripts or build tools running Eastwood will have a simple way to check that something was not perfect. If Eastwood quits due to some internal error that throws an exception, you will typically see much more voluminous output about what went wrong, often including a stack trace.

You can override the exit code with the :forced-exit-code 0 option. That can be helpful when wanting to see the results of linting merely for informative purposes.

What's there?

Eastwood warns when it finds the following kinds of things. Each keyword below is the name of the "linter". That name can be used on the command line to enable or disable the linter. All linters are enabled by default unless they have '(disabled)' after their name.

Linter name Description Docs
no name* Inconsistencies between file names and the namespaces declared within them. * Cannot be disabled. [more]
:bad-arglists Function/macro :arglists metadata that does not match the number of args it is defined with. [more]
:boxed-math Boxed math compiler warnings [more]
:constant-test A test expression always evaluates as true, or always false. [more]
:def-in-def def's nested inside other def's. [more]
:deprecations Deprecated Clojure Vars, and deprecated Java constructors, methods, and fields. [more]
:implicit-dependencies A fully-qualified var refers to a namespace that hasn't been listed in :require. [more]
:keyword-typos (disabled) Keyword names that may be typos because they occur only once in the source code and are slight variations on other keywords. [more]
:local-shadows-var A local name, e.g. a function arg or let binding, has the same name as a global Var, and is called as a function. [more]
:misplaced-docstrings Function or macro doc strings placed after the argument vector, instead of before the argument vector where they belong. [more]
:no-ns-form-found Warn about Clojure files where no ns form could be found. [more]
:non-clojure-file (disabled) Warn about files that will not be linted because they are not Clojure source files, i.e. their name does not end with '.clj'. [more]
:non-dynamic-earmuffs Vars marked ^:dynamic should follow the "earmuff" naming convention, and vice versa. [more]
:performance Performance warnings [more]
:redefd-vars Redefinitions of the same name in the same namespace. [more]
:reflection Reflection warnings [more]
:suspicious-expression Suspicious expressions that appear incorrect, because they always return trivial values. [more]
:suspicious-test Tests using clojure.test that may be written incorrectly. [more]
:unlimited-use Unlimited (:use ...) without :refer or :only to limit the symbols referred by it. [more]
:unused-fn-args (disabled) Unused function arguments. [more]
:unused-locals (disabled) Symbols bound with let or loop that are never used. [more]
:unused-meta-on-macro Metadata on a macro invocation is ignored by Clojure. [more]
:unused-namespaces (disabled) Warn if a namespace is given in an ns form after :use or :require, but the namespace is not actually used. [more]
:unused-private-vars (disabled) Unused private vars. [more]
:unused-ret-vals and :unused-ret-vals-in-try Unused values, including unused return values of pure functions, and some others functions where it rarely makes sense to discard its return value. [more]
:wrong-arity Function calls that seem to have the wrong number of arguments. [more]
:wrong-ns-form ns forms containing incorrect syntax or options. [more]
:wrong-pre-post function has preconditions or postconditions that are likely incorrect. [more]
:wrong-tag An incorrect type tag for which the Clojure compiler does not give an error. [more]

The following table gives some additional detail about each linter.

The 'debug' column indicates whether extra debug messages about a linter's warnings can be enabled via the :debug-warning option. This option can be given a value of true to enable all such warnings, or it can be a set of keywords that also enables additional details to be printed. The only keyword currently supported in this set is :ast, which prints AST contents related to issued warnings for most linters that implement :debug-warning.

The 'suppress' column indicates whether warnings produced by the linter can be selectively disabled via Eastwood config files. See Eastwood config files for more details.

Linter name debug suppress
no name*
:constant-test yes yes
:def-in-def yes
:deprecations yes
:redefd-vars yes yes
:suspicious-expression yes, for those involving macros yes
:suspicious-test yes
:unused-fn-args yes
:unused-meta-on-macro yes
:unused-ret-vals and :unused-ret-vals-in-try yes yes
:wrong-arity yes yes
:wrong-tag yes


From the command line as a Leiningen plugin


$ lein eastwood

in the root of your project will lint your project's namespaces -- all of those in your :source-paths and :test-paths directories and their subdirectories. You can also lint individual namespaces in your project, or your project's dependencies:

$ lein eastwood "{:namespaces [compojure.handler compojure.core-test] :exclude-linters [:unlimited-use]}"
== Linting compojure.handler ==
src/compojure/handler.clj:48:8: deprecations: Var '#'compojure.handler/api' is deprecated.
== Linting compojure.core-test ==
test/compojure/core_test.clj:112:21: suspicious-test: 'is' form has first arg that is a constant whose value is logical true.  This will always pass.  There is probably a mistake in this test
test/compojure/core_test.clj:117:21: suspicious-test: 'is' form has first arg that is a constant whose value is logical true.  This will always pass.  There is probably a mistake in this test
test/compojure/core_test.clj:109:1: constant-test: Test expression is always logical true or always logical false: false
test/compojure/core_test.clj:109:1: constant-test: Test expression is always logical true or always logical false: true
test/compojure/core_test.clj:114:1: constant-test: Test expression is always logical true or always logical false: false
test/compojure/core_test.clj:114:1: constant-test: Test expression is always logical true or always logical false: true
== Warnings: 7. Exceptions thrown: 0
Subprocess failed

Adding :out "warn.txt" to the options map will cause all of the Eastwood warning lines and 'Entering directory' lines, but no others, to be written to the file warn.txt. This file is useful for stepping through warnings.

# This works on bash shell in Linux and Mac OS X, and also in
# Windows cmd shell
$ lein eastwood "{:out \"warn.txt\"}"

# This saves a little typing in bash shell, but does not work in
# Windows cmd shell.  For all example command lines, you can use
# single quotes in bash if you prefer.
$ lein eastwood '{:out "warn.txt"}'

Available options for specifying namespaces and paths are:

  • :namespaces Vector of namespaces to lint. A keyword :source-paths in this vector will be replaced with a list of namespaces in your Leiningen :source-paths and their subdirectories. These namespaces will be in an order that honors inter-namespace dependencies as determined by :require and :use keys in ns forms. Similarly for a keyword :test-paths. If you do not specify :namespaces, it defaults to [:source-paths :test-paths].
  • :exclude-namespaces Vector of namespaces to exclude. :source-paths and :test-paths may be used here as they can be for :namespaces. Defaults to an empty list if you do not specify :exclude-namespaces.
  • :source-paths is normally taken from your Leiningen project.clj file, which is [ "src" ] by default if not specified there. You can also specify :source-paths in the Eastwood option map to override what Leiningen uses.
  • :test-paths is similar in behavior to :source-paths, except it defaults to [ "test" ] if not specified in your project.clj file.

Linter names are given in the previous section. Available options for specifying which linters are enabled or disabled are:

  • :linters Linters to use. If not specified, same as [:default], which is all linters except those documented as 'disabled by default'.
  • :exclude-linters Linters (or linter sub :kinds) to exclude
  • :add-linters Linters to add. You can use to enable linters that are disabled by default. The final list of linters is the set specified by :linters, taking away all in :excluded-linters, then adding all in :add-linters.

The keyword :all in any of the collections of linters listed above will be replace with the collection of all linters. The keyword :default will be replaced with the collection of default linters. Thus :linters [:all] enables all linters, even those disabled by default, and :linters [:all] :exclude-linters [:default] enables only those that are disabled by default.

Note that you can add Eastwood options to a user-wide Leiningen profiles.clj file or to your project's project.clj file if you wish. See How the Eastwood options map is determined for more details.

Only lint files modified since last run

You can now instruct eastwood to only lint the files changed since the last run.

If passed :only-modified with the value true, Eastwood will only lint the files which are modified since the timestamp stored in .eastwood.

  :only-modified true


As mentioned in the Installation & Quick usage section above, Eastwood causes any and all side effects that loading the file would cause (e.g. by doing use or require on the file's namespace). Eastwood is able to find potential problems in test code, too. If you wish to use Eastwood on test files without such side effects, consider modifying your tests so that merely performing require/use on the files does not cause the side effects. If you can arrange things so that running your tests requires loading the files and then calling some function(s) (e.g. as tests written using clojure.test/deftest do), then you can run Eastwood on those files without the side effects.

If you have a code base you do not trust to load, consider a sandbox, throwaway virtual machine, etc.

There are also options that enable printing of additional debug messages during linting. These are only intended for tracking down the cause of errors in Eastwood. You specify the key :debug with a value that is a list or vector of keywords, e.g.

lein eastwood "{:exclude-linters [:unlimited-use] :debug [:options :ns]}"
  • :all - enable all debug messages. This also enables showing the list of namespaces near the beginning of the output, before linting begins.
  • :options - print the contents of the options map at several steps during startup. May be useful to debug where options are coming from.
  • :config - print the names of Eastwood config files just before they are read.
  • :time - print messages about the elapsed time taken during analysis, and for each individual linter.
  • :forms - print the forms as read, before they are analyzed
  • :forms-pprint - like :forms except pretty-print the forms
  • :ast - print ASTs as forms are analyzed and evald. These can be quite long.
  • :progress - show a brief debug message after each top-level form is read
  • :compare-forms - print all forms as read to a file forms-read.txt, all forms after being analyzed to a file forms-analyzed.txt, and all forms after being read, analyzed into an AST, and converted back into a form from the AST, to a file forms-emitted.txt.
  • :ns - print the initial set of namespaces loaded into the Clojure run-time at the beginning of each file being linted. (TBD: it used to do the following, but this needs to be reimplemented if it is desired: "and then after each top level form print any changes to that list of loaded namespaces (typically as the result of evaluating a require or use form).")
  • :var-info - print some info about Vars that exist in various namespaces, and how many of them have data describing them in Eastwood's var-info.edn resource file, and how many do not. Useful when new releases of Clojure are made that add new Vars, to determine which ones Eastwood does not know about yet.

Eastwood config files

Eastwood evals several config files in its internal resources. You can see the latest versions here. It also supports command line options to change which of these files are read, or to read user-written config files.

Currently Eastwood supports config files that contain code to selectively disable warnings of some linters. For example, consider this expression from config file clojure.clj:

 {:linter :suspicious-expression
  ;; specifically, those detected in function suspicious-macro-invocations
  :for-macro 'clojure.core/let
  :if-inside-macroexpansion-of #{'clojure.core/when-first}
  :within-depth 6
  :reason "when-first with an empty body is warned about, so warning about let with an empty body in its macroexpansion is redundant."})

The :deprecations linter accepts a set of symbols which are marked as ok to be deprecated. This is useful for when you're working on an old project and want to mark stuff as deprecated without breaking the build.

  {:linter :deprecations
   :symbol-matches #{#"^#'my\.old\.project\.*"}})

Eastwood would normally report a :suspicious-expression warning if it encounters a form (let [x y]), because the let has an empty body. It does so even if the let is the result of expanding some other macro.

However, if such a let occurs because of a macro expansion of the expression (when-first [x y]), the warning for the let will be suppressed. Eastwood already warns about the (when-first [x y]) because it has an empty body, so warning about the let would be redundant.

The exact configurations supported are not documented yet, but will be in the documentation for each linter.

You can specify the key :builtin-config-files in the options map to override the built-in config files read. It defaults to ["clojure.clj" "clojure-contrib.clj" "third-party-libs.clj"]. All such file names are only looked for in Eastwood's built-in config files.

Similarly you can specify :config-files in the options map to give additional files to read. These are filenames that can be anywhere in your file system, specified as strings, or if Eastwood is invoked from the REPL, anything that can be passed to clojure.java.io/reader.

Running Eastwood in a REPL

If you use Leiningen, merge this into your project's project.clj file first:

:profiles {:dev {:dependencies [[jonase/eastwood "1.4.2" :exclusions [org.clojure/clojure]]]}}

If you use a different build tool, you will need to add the dependency above in the manner appropriate for it. See Clojars for Gradle and Maven syntax.

From within your REPL, there are two different functions you may call, depending upon the kind of results you want.

  • eastwood prints output similar to when you run Eastwood from the Leiningen command line, but it does not exit the JVM when it finishes.

  • lint returns a map containing data structures describing any warnings or errors encountered. For example, file names, line numbers, and column numbers are all available separately, requiring no parsing of strings containing those things combined together. See the doc string of eastwood.lint/lint for details of the return value.

(require '[eastwood.lint :as e])

;; Replace the values of :source-paths and :test-paths with whatever
;; is appropriate for your project.  You may omit them, and then the
;; default behavior is to search all directories in your Java
;; classpath, and their subdirectories recursively, for Clojure source
;; files.
(e/eastwood {:source-paths ["src"] :test-paths ["test"]})

(e/lint {:source-paths ["src"] :test-paths ["test"]})

All of the same options that can be given on a Leiningen command line may be used in the map argument of the eastwood and lint functions.

There is a :callback key that can be added to the argument map for the eastwood function. Its value is a callback function that gives you significant control of where warning and error messages appear -- by default these all appear on the writer *out*. This callback function should not be overridden for the lint function, since lint uses it in its implementation.

There is no documentation for this callback function yet. You are welcome to read Eastwood source code to see examples of how to write one, but note that this is alpha-status code that will likely have API changes in future Eastwood versions.

Warnings about using Eastwood in a REPL

Eastwood behaves similarly to clojure.core/require while performing its analysis, in that it loads your code. In particular, Eastwood does these things:

  • Reads and analyzes the source code you specify.
  • Generates new forms from the analysis results. Note: if there are bugs, these new forms might not be identical to the original source code.
  • Calls eval on the generated forms.

Hopefully you can see from this that Eastwood bugs, especially in the portion up to generating new forms to be evaluated, could lead to incorrect Clojure code being loaded into a running JVM.

It would be foolhardy to run Eastwood in a JVM running a live production system. We recommend that you use a different JVM process for Eastwood than the one where you do your ongoing testing and development work.

When reporting problems with Eastwood when run from the REPL, please reproduce it in as few steps as possible after starting a new JVM process, and include those steps in your problem report.

Running Eastwood from the REPL more than once in the same JVM process requires you to manage your namespaces manually. Eastwood will not force the removal of any namespaces, and I would guess if there are any issues from reloading a namespace that is already loaded with protocols, deftype, etc. then they are yours to deal with.

Stuart Sierra's component library and workflow might be helpful in automatically removing old versions of namespaces from a JVM process. If you have instructions that you have used with Eastwood and component or a similar tool, please file a GitHub issue so they can be included here.

How the Eastwood options map is determined

If you start Eastwood from a REPL using the function eastwood.lint/eastwood, then the options map you supply is modified only slightly before use. Skip down to the section "Last options map adjustments".

If you start Eastwood from a Leiningen command line, there are two main steps in the creation of the Eastwood options map before those last adjustments. First is what Leiningen itself does before Eastwood starts, followed by some adjustments made by Eastwood.

Options map calculation before Eastwood starts

Leiningen creates a value for the :eastwood key in the effective project map using its normal rules for combining profiles from multiple possible files. In case those are unfamiliar to you, here is a quick summary that should be correct, but leaves out some cases that are recommended against in the Leiningen documentation, e.g. including a :user profile in your project's project.clj file.

From lowest priority to highest, the sources are the value of an :eastwood key in:

  • the top level of the defproject in your project.clj file
  • the :system profile of a system-wide /etc/leiningen/profiles.clj file.
  • the :user profile of a user-wide $HOME/.lein/profiles.clj, or the top level of a $HOME/.lein/profiles.d/user.clj file.
  • the :dev profile of your project's project.clj file.
  • the :dev profile of your project's profiles.clj file (recommended only for temporary overrides of your project.clj file, not to be checked in to revision control).

The value associated with the :eastwood key in any of these locations should be maps. If there is more than one, they are merged similarly to how clojure.core/merge does, where later values for the same key replace earlier values. However, if the values in this map are collections, then they are combined. Vectors and lists are concatenated, sets are combined with clojure.set/union, and sub-maps are merged, recursing down to apply the same rules to their nested values. See the section on Merging in the Leiningen documentation for more details and for metadata that can be used to modify this merging behavior.

For example, if your user-wide profiles.clj file contains this:

{:user {:plugins [[jonase/eastwood "1.4.2"]]
        :eastwood {:exclude-linters [:unlimited-use]
                   :debug [:time]}

and your project.clj file's defproject contains this:

  :profiles {:dev {:eastwood {:exclude-linters [:wrong-arity :bad-arglists]
                              :debug [:progress]
                              :warning-format :map-v2

then Leiningen will merge them to produce the following combined value for the :eastwood key:

  {:exclude-linters (:unlimited-use :wrong-arity :bad-arglists)
   :debug (:time :progress)
   :warning-format :map-v2}

We will call this value the Leiningen option map.

Independently of this Leiningen option map that is a combination of the values of the :eastwood key in various Leiningen files, Leiningen also calculates values for the :source-paths and :test-paths keys (and all other keys, but only these 3 are ever used later to calculate Eastwood options).

Options map adjustments made by Eastwood when invoked from command line

After the Leiningen option map is calculated, Eastwood starts making new modified versions.

It 'normal merges' the three maps below, in the order given. Thus values for the same key in later maps override earlier ones, with no special Leiningen merging behavior for collections:

  1. Leiningen paths - a map containing only the keys :source-paths and :test-paths, and the Leiningen-calculated values for them. The value of :source-paths defaults to ["src"] even if you never specify one. Similarly :test-paths defaults to ["test"].
  2. Leiningen options map - the map for the :eastwood key. Note that this may contain values for :source-paths and/or :test-paths that override the ones above.
  3. command line option map

Last options map adjustments

If you start Eastwood from a REPL, the only changes made to the options map specified as an argument are to fill in default values for some keys if you do not supply them, i.e. to merge a map like the following before the supplied options map. See eastwood.lint/last-options-map-adjustments for details.

  • :cwd - the full path name to the current working directory at the time the function is called. This is used to cause file names reported in warnings to be relative to this directory, and thus shorter, if they are beneath it.
  • :linters - default value of all linters documented to be enabled by default.
  • :namespaces - default value of [:source-paths :test-paths]
  • :source-paths - a list of all directories on the Java classpath. This is a special case that cannot be implemented with merge, because it is only used if neither of the keys :source-paths nor :test-paths are present in the supplies options map, as a convenience for use in the REPL.
  • :callback - a default message callback function, which simply formats all callback data as strings and prints it to *out*, or the writer specified by the value of the :out key in the options map (e.g. if it is a string, the file named by that string will be written).

Known issues

Code analysis engine is more picky than the Clojure compiler

Eastwood uses tools.analyzer and tools.analyzer.jvm to analyze Clojure source code. It performs some sanity checks on the source code that the Clojure compiler generally does not.

Explicit use of Clojure environment &env

Code that uses the values of &env feature of the Clojure compiler will cause errors when being analyzed. Some known examples are the libraries immutable-bitset and flatland/useful.

Note that if a library uses simply (keys &env) it will be analyzed with no problems, however because the values of &env are Compiler$LocalBindings, there's no way for tools.analyzer.jvm to provide a compatible &env

The following exception being thrown while linting is a symptom of this issue:

Exception thrown during phase :analyze+eval of linting namespace immutable-bitset
ClassCastException clojure.lang.PersistentArrayMap cannot be cast to clojure.lang.Compiler$LocalBinding

Notes on linter warnings

Check consistency of namespace and file names

This is not a linter like the others, in that it has no name, cannot be disabled, and the check is always performed by Eastwood before any other linter checks are done.

When doing require or use on a namespace like foo.bar.baz-tests, it is searched for in the Java classpath in a file named foo/bar/baz_tests.clj (on Unix-like systems) or foo\bar\baz_tests.clj (on Windows). Dots become path separator characters and dashes become underscores.

Such a file will normally have an ns form with the specified namespace. If the namespace name is not consistent with the file name, then undesirable things can happen. For example, require could fail to find the namespace, or Leiningen could fail to run the tests defined in a test namespace.

Eastwood checks all Clojure files in :source-paths and :test-paths when starting up (or in whatever files are specified by the :namespaces option). If there are any mismatches between file names and the namespace names in the ns forms, an error message will be printed and no linting will be done at all. This helps avoid some cases of printing error messages that make it difficult to determine what went wrong. Fix the problems indicated and try again.

Leiningen's lein check and lein test commands do not perform as complete a check as Eastwood does here.

If a file on the :source-path contains a non-matching namespace name, but that namespace name exists in another file in your project, lein check will compile the file containing that namespace again, never compiling the file containing the wrong namespace name.

If a file on the :test-path contains a non-matching namespace name, but that namespace name exists in another file, lein test will not run the tests in that file at all, and will only run the tests in the wrongly-given namespace once, not multiple times. In both cases, such a wrong namespace is easy to create by copying a Clojure file and editing it, forgetting to edit the namespace.


Files that will not be linted because they are not Clojure source files

This linter is disabled by default, because it warns even about ClojureScript and Java source files it finds, and these are relatively common in projects with Clojure/Java source files. You must explicitly enable it if you wish to see these warnings.

If you specify :source-paths or :test-paths, or use the default Eastwood options from the command line that cause it to scan these paths for Clojure source files, then with this linter enabled it will warn about each file found that is not a Clojure/Java source file, i.e. if its file name does not end with '.clj'.


Warn about Clojure files where no ns form could be found

If you explicitly specify :source-paths or :test-paths, or use the default Eastwood options from the command line that cause it to scan these paths for Clojure source files, with this linter enabled (the default), it will warn about each file where it could not find an ns form. For each such file, its contents will not be linted, unless it is loaded from another linted file.

Eastwood uses the library tools.namespace to scan for Clojure source files, and in each Clojure source file it looks for a top-level ns form. This form need not be the first form, but Eastwood will not find it if it is not at the top level, e.g. if it is inside of a let, if, compile-if, etc.

It is somewhat unusual to have a file with no ns form at all, not even inside of a let, compile-if, etc. However, there are valid reasons to have them, e.g. you have some code that you want to use in common between Clojure/Java and ClojureScript, and you use load to include it from two or more other source files. Starting with Clojure 1.7.0, this purpose is better satisfied with .cljc files (see Reader Conditions).


Function or macro doc strings placed after the argument vector, instead of before the argument vector where they belong.

The correct place to put a documentation string for a function or macro is just before the arguments, like so:

(defn my-function
  "Do the thing, with the stuff.  Fast."
  [thing stuff]
  (conj stuff thing))

It is an easy mistake to accidentally put them in the opposite order, especially if you like to place your arguments on the same line as the function name.

(defn my-function [thing stuff]
  "Do the thing, with the stuff.  Fast."
  (conj stuff thing))

This function will still return the desired value. The primary disadvantage is that there is no doc string for a function defined this way, so (doc my-function) will not show what you intended, and tools that extract documentation from Clojure code will not find it.


Deprecated Clojure Vars, and deprecated Java instance methods, static fields, static methods, and constructors.

The warnings issued are based upon the particular JDK you are using when running Eastwood, and can change between different JDK versions.

Clojure vars are considered deprecated if they have metadata with a key :deprecated, and the value associated with that key is neither false nor nil. Which vars are deprecated can change from one version of Clojure, or a Clojure library you use, to the next.

One example of such a function is clojure.core/replicate, deprecated as of Clojure version 1.3 as you can see from its definition, copied below.

(defn replicate
  "DEPRECATED: Use 'repeat' instead.
   Returns a lazy seq of n xs."
  {:added "1.0"
   :deprecated "1.3"}
  [n x] (take n (repeat x)))


Implicit dependencies

A qualified var like some-namespace/foo will resolve if some-namespace has been loaded, regardless of whether or not some-namespace has been explicitly required in the current namespace. That is,

(ns a)


may work by accident, depending on load order.

This linter raises a warning in these cases, so you can list the dependency explicitly:

(ns a
  (:require some-namespace)



Redefinitions of the same name in the same namespace.

It is possible to accidentally define the same var multiple times in the same namespace. Eastwood's :redefd-vars linter will warn about these.

(defn my-favorite-function-name [x]
   ;; code here

;; lots of other functions here

(defn my-favorite-function-name [a b c]
   ;; different code here

Clojure's behavior in this situation is not to give any warnings, and for the later definition to replace the first. It is common practice for many Clojure developers to reload namespaces after editing their source code. If Clojure issued warnings when reloading a modified source file for every redefined var, it would be a significant annoyance.

If you use clojure.test to develop tests for your code, note that deftest statements create vars with the same name as you give to the test. If you accidentally create two deftests with the same name, the tests in the first deftest will never be run, and you will lose test coverage. There will be nothing in the source code to indicate this other than the common name. Below is an example where the first deftest contains tests that clearly should fail, but since they are not run, all of the tests actually run could still pass.

(deftest test-feature-a
  ;; This test should cause test runs to fail, but IT DOES NOT.
  (is (= 0 1)))

;; lots of other tests here

(deftest test-feature-a   ; perhaps written months after the earlier tests
  (is (= 5 (+ 2 3))))

The best fix here is simply to rename the tests so no two have the same name.

Eastwood will treat a declare as if it were not there, for the purposes of issuing :redefd-vars warnings. These are specifically intended to create a var but not yet give it a value, e.g. in cases where you want to write mutually recursive functions.

There are some macros that define a var multiple times, e.g. the deftrace macro in the tools.trace contrib library. Eastwood will issue a warning in such cases, and the reason will not necessarily be obvious unless you read the macro definition. Eastwood contains code specifically to avoid issuing a warning when this is done in the implementation of Clojure's defprotocol and defmulti macros, but it is not possible for it to do this correctly in all cases, no matter how a macro might be written in the future.

If you want to write a macro that uses a similar technique as these others, consider using declare for all but the last definition, if possible, and Eastwood will ignore all but that last definition.


def nested inside other defs

If you come to Clojure having learned Scheme earlier, you may write Clojure code with def statements inside of functions. Or you might be unfamiliar with functional programming style, and try writing code in imperative style using def like this:

(defn count-up-to [n]
  (def i 1)
  (while (<= i n)
    (println i)
    (def i (+ i 1))))

This is bad form in Clojure. It is written in imperative style, which is not encouraged, but that is not the worst thing about this example. The worst part is the use of def inside of another def (the defn count-up-to counts as the outer def). defs always have an effect on a globally visible var in the namespace, whether they are nested inside another def or not.

Unless you really know what you are doing and looking for a very particular effect, it is recommended to take :def-in-def warnings as a sign to change your code.

If you want local functions that can only be used inside of an outer function, not visible or callable elsewhere, consider using let:

(defn outer-fn-callable-elsewhere [n]
  (let [helper-fn (fn [m] (* m m))]
    (if (> n 10)
      (helper-fn n)
      (helper-fn (+ n 17)))))

If you need local functions that can all call each other, let will not work, but letfn will.

If you want to write code in a style like you would in a language that uses mutable variables by default, e.g. most other languages, the first recommendation is to learn the functional style of doing things, if you can find a way that keeps the code understandable. loop may fit your purpose when other ways are not easy to find.

If you have considered that advice and still want local mutable variables, other recommendations are:


Function calls that seem to have the wrong number of arguments.

Eastwood warns if a function call is found that has a number of arguments not equal to any of the defined signatures (also called arities) of the function.

Often this is a mistake in your code, and it is a good idea to correct the erroneous function call. However, there are some projects with unit tests that intentionally make such calls, to verify that an exception is thrown.

Some libraries explicitly set the :arglists metadata on their public functions for documentation purposes, because :arglists are what is shown by doc in the REPL. This :arglists metadata is also used by Eastwood to determine whether a function is being called with a wrong arity, so such functions can lead to incorrect warnings from Eastwood. This is known to affect several functions in java.jdbc 0.3.x, the Midje test library, and functions created with the Hiccup library's macro defelem.

You can create a config file for Eastwood that specifies the arglists to use for this linter. An example for the function query in the java.jdbc Clojure contrib library is given below, copied from Eastwood's built-in config files that it uses by default. The value of the :arglists-for-linting key is a list of all argument vectors taken by the function, as the argument vectors are given in the function definition, not as modified via metadata.

 {:linter :wrong-arity
  :function-symbol 'clojure.java.jdbc/query
  '([db sql-params & {:keys [result-set-fn row-fn identifiers as-arrays?]
                      :or {row-fn identity
                           identifiers str/lower-case}}])
  :reason "clojure.java.jdbc/query uses metadata to override the default value of :arglists for documentation purposes.  This configuration tells Eastwood what the actual :arglists is, i.e. would have been without that."})


Function/macro :arglists metadata that does not match the number of args it is defined with

This linter was created because of the belief that it is better if the value of :arglists for vars accurately represents the number of arguments that can be used to call the function/macro, as opposed to some other thing used purely for documentation purposes.

It is true that even Clojure itself does not conform to this restriction. For example, the arglists of defn, defmacro, and several other macros override :arglists for purposes of clearer documentation. However, all but these few exceptional macros

Other facts supporting this belief are:

The value of metadata key :arglists is set automatically by macros like defn and defmacro.

The Clojure compiler uses these arglists to determine things like the type of the return value of a function call.

It would be nice if Eastwood (in particular its :wrong-arity linter) and other Clojure development tools could rely upon :arglists matching the actual arities of the function or macro that have been defined.


ns forms containing incorrect syntax or options

Clojure will accept and correctly execute ns forms with references in vectors, as shown in this example:

(ns clojure.tools.test-trace
  [:use [clojure.test]
  [:require [clojure.string :as s]])

However, Clojure does this despite the documentation of the ns macro showing only parentheses around references. The tools.namespace library ignores references unless they are enclosed in parentheses, thus leading Eastwood and any other software using tools.namespace to detect incomplete dependencies between namespaces if they are enclosed in square brackets. Thus Eastwood warns about all such references.

Eastwood also warns about ns forms:

  • if more than one ns form is found in a file
  • if a reference begins with anything except one of the documented keywords :require, :use, :import, :refer-clojure, :load, :gen-class
  • if a reference contains flag keywords that are not one of the documented flags :reload, :reload-all, or :verbose
  • if a reference contains a valid flag keyword, because typically those are only used during interactive use of require and use
  • if a :require or :use is followed by a list with only 1 item in it, e.g. (:require (eastwood.util)). This is a prefix list with only a prefix, and no libspecs, so it does not do anything.
  • if a :require libspec has any of the option keys other than the documented ones of :as and :refer. Even though it is not documented, Clojure's implementation of require correctly handles options :exclude and :rename, if :refer is also used, so Eastwood will not warn about these if :refer is present.
  • if a :use libspec has any option keys other than the documented ones :as :refer :exclude :rename :only.
  • if any of the libspec option keys are followed by a value of the wrong type, e.g. if :refer is followed by anything other than a list of symbols or :all.

No warning is given if a prefix list is contained within a vector. Clojure processes prefix lists in vectors, and tools.namespace recognizes them as dependencies as Clojure does. It is also somewhat common in the many Clojure projects on which Eastwood is tested.


function has preconditions or postconditions that are likely incorrect

Preconditions and postconditions that throw exceptions if they are false can be specified for any Clojure function by putting a map after the function's argument vector, with the key :pre for preconditions, or :post for postconditions, or both. The value of these keys should be a vector of expressions to evaluate, all of which are evaluated at run time when the function is called. For example:

(defn square-root [x]
  {:pre [(>= x 0)]}
  (Math/sqrt x))

;; AssertionError exception thrown when called with negative number
user=> (square-root -5)

AssertionError Assert failed: (>= x 0)  user/square-root (file.clj:38)

It is an easy mistake to forget that the conditions should be a vector of expressions, and to give one expression instead:

(defn square-root [x]
  {:pre (>= x 0)}     ; should be [(>= x 0)] like above
  (Math/sqrt x))

;; No exception when called with negative number!
user=> (square-root -5)

In this case, Clojure does not give any error or warning when defining square-root. It treats the precondition as three separate assertion expressions: >=, x, and 0, each evaluated independently when the function is called. Every value in Clojure is logical true except nil and false, so unless you call square-root with an argument equal to one of those values, all three of those expressions evaluate to logical true, and no exceptions are thrown.

The :warn-pre-post linter will warn about any precondition or postcondition that is not enclosed in a vector. Even if you do enclose it in a vector, the linter will check whether any of the conditions appear to be values that are always logical true or always logical false. For example:

(defn non-neg? [x]
  (>= x 0))

(defn square-root [x]
  {:pre [non-neg?]}     ; [(non-neg? x)] would be correct
  (Math/sqrt x))

;; No exception when called with negative number!
user=> (square-root -5)

Here Clojure also gives no warning or error. The assert expression it evaluates is the value of non-neg? -- not the value when you call non-neg? with the argument x, but the value of the Var non-neg?. That value is a function, and neither nil nor false, so logical true.


Tests using clojure.test that may be written incorrectly.

It is easy to misunderstand or forget the correct arguments to clojure.test's is macro, and as a result write unit tests that do not have the desired effect. The :suspicious-test linter warns about some kinds of tests that appear to be incorrect.

The form of correct tests written using clojure.test's is macro are as follows:

(is expr)
(is expr message-string)
(is (thrown? ExceptionClass expr1 ...))
(is (thrown? ExceptionClass expr1 ...) message-string)
(is (thrown-with-msg? ExceptionClass regex expr1 ...))
(is (thrown-with-msg? ExceptionClass regex expr1 ...) message-string)

Here are some examples of tests that are not quite one of these forms, but will silently pass. The :suspicious-test linter will warn about all of them, but it may take some thought to learn how to correct the test.

(is ["josh"] names)    ; warns that first arg is a constant
;; Any values except nil or false are treated as logical true in if
;; conditions, so the test above will always pass.  Probably what was
;; intended was:
(is (= ["josh"] names))   ; probably intended

(is (= #{"josh"}) (get-names x))   ; warns that second arg is not a string
;; The warning message is true, but perhaps misleading.  It appears
;; that the author intended to compare the set against the return
;; value of get-names, but the extra parens are legal Clojure.  (= x)
;; always returns true.
(is (= #{"josh"} (get-names x)))   ; probably intended

(is (= ["josh"] names) (str "error when testing with josh and " names))
;; This linter has a special case that if the 2nd arg to 'is' is a
;; form beginning with str, format, or a few other macros and
;; functions commonly used to return strings, it will not issue a
;; warning.  It does this with the assumption that this symbol has not
;; been redefined to return something other than a string.

(deftest test1
  (= 5 (my-func 1))       ; warns that = expr occurs directly inside deftest
  (contains? #{2 4 6} 4)) ; similar warning for contains? or any 'predicate'
                          ; function in clojure.core
;; The = and contains? expressions above will be evaluated during
;; testing, but whether the results are true or false, the test will
;; pass.
(deftest test1
  (is (= 5 (my-func 1)))        ; probably intended
  (is (contains? #{2 4 6} 4)))

(is (thrown? Throwable #"There were 2 vertices returned."
;; The above warns that the second arg to thrown? is a regex, but that
;; (is (thrown? ...)) ignores this regex.  Why is it ignored?  Because
;; thrown? can take any number of expressions.  If any of them is a
;; regex, it is evaluated, and then Clojure goes on to evaluate the
;; other expressions.  The developer probably intended to use
;; thrown-with-msg? so that not only is it verified that an exception
;; is thrown, but also that the message in the exception matches the
;; given regex.
(is (thrown-with-msg? Throwable #"There were 2 vertices returned."


Suspicious expressions that appear incorrect, because they always return trivial values.


A test expression always evaluates as true, or always false

Warn if you have a test expression in if, cond, if-let, when-let, etc. that is obviously a constant, or it is a literal collection like a map, vector, or set that always evaluates as true.

For example:

;; These all cause :constant-test warnings, because the test condition
;; is a compile-time constant.
(if false 1 2)
(if-not [nil] 1 2)
(when-first [x [1 2]] (println "Goodbye"))

;; Even though Eastwood knows that the test condition is not a compile
;; time constant here, it is a map, which always evaluate to logical
;; true in a test condition.
(defn foo [x]
  (if {:a (inc x)} 1 2))

The blanket approach to disabling all :constant-test warnings is to use the :exclude-linters keyword in the Eastwood options map, or from Leiningen you can merge the following into your project.Clj or $HOME/.lein/profiles.clj file:

:eastwood {:exclude-linters [:constant-test]}

Starting with Eastwood version 0.2.1, the more surgical approach is to add expressions to a config file to disable these warnings, only when they occur within particular macro expansions. Search those config files for :constant-test to find examples.

It is common across Clojure projects to use :else as the last 'always do this' case at the end of a cond form. It is also fairly common to use true or :default for this purpose, and Eastwood will not warn about these. If you use some other constant in that position, Eastwood will warn.

It is somewhat common to use (assert false "msg") to throw exceptions in Clojure code. This linter has a special check never to warn about such forms.


Metadata on a macro invocation is ignored by Clojure

When you invoke a macro and annotate it with metadata, in most cases that metadata will be discarded when the macro is expanded, unless the macro has been written explicitly to use that metadata.

As a simple example, the macro my-macro below will have all metadata discarded any time it is invoked:

(require 'clojure.java.io)
(import '(java.io Writer StringWriter))

(defn my-fn [x]
  (clojure.java.io/writer x))

;; Example behavior below is for Clojure 1.5.0 through 1.7.0 alphas,
;; at least.
(defmacro my-macro [x]
  (if (>= (compare ((juxt :major :minor) *clojure-version*) [1 5])
    `(my-fn ~x)

;; No metadata here, so nothing to lose, and no Eastwood warning.
;; .close call will give reflection warning, though.
(.close (my-macro (StringWriter.)))

;; All metadata is discarded, including type tags like ^Writer, which
;; is just a shorthand for ^{:tag Writer}.  Clojure will give a
;; reflection warning, which is mightily confusing if you are not
;; aware of this issue.  Eastwood will warn about it.
(.close ^Writer (my-macro (StringWriter.)))

If your purpose for annotating a macro invocation with metadata is to type hint it, to avoid reflection in a Java interop call, you can work around this behavior by binding the macro invocation return value to a symbol with let, and type hint that symbol. For example:

;; No reflection warning from Clojure, and no warning from Eastwood,
;; for this.
(let [^Writer w (my-macro (StringWriter.))]
  (.close w))

A Clojure ticket has been filed for this behavior: CLJ-865. However, most ways of changing it would change the behavior of at least some existing Clojure code, so it seems unlikely to change. Hence, this Eastwood linter to alert people unaware of the behavior.

Most Java interop forms are macro invocations, expand like them, and thus lose any metadata annotating their invocations. However, there are special cases in the Clojure compiler where such Java interop forms will have :tag type hint metadata preserved for them. Eastwood will warn if you try to use metadata on such a Java interop form that is discarded by the compiler.

Java interop forms that remove all metadata on them, even type hints:

  • constructor calls - (ClassName. args)

Java interop forms that remove all metadata, except they explicitly preserve type hints:

  • class method calls - (ClassName/staticMethod args)
  • class field access - (ClassName/staticField)
  • instance method calls - (.instanceMethod obj args)
  • instance field access - (.instanceField obj)

Java interop forms that are not macroexpanded, and thus do not lose any metadata annotating them:

  • constructor calls beginning with new - (new ClassName args)
  • calls beginning with a . (not .close, but just a . by itself) - (. x close)

Clojure's clojure.core/fn macro uses the hidden &form argument to all Clojure macros to explicitly preserve the metadata on any (fn ...) forms. Eastwood has a special case not to warn about those cases.


Unused values, including unused return values of pure functions, and some others functions where it rarely makes sense to discard its return value.

The variant :unused-ret-vals-in-try is also documented here.

Values which are unused are sometimes a sign of a problem in your code. These can be constant values, values of locally bound symbols like let symbols or function arguments, values of vars, or return values of functions.

(defn unused-val [a b]
  a b)   ; b is returned.  a's value is ignored

Calling a side-effect-free function in a place where its return value is not used is likely to be a mistake, and Eastwood issues warnings for this.

(defn unused-ret-val [k v]
  (assoc {} k v)   ; return value of assoc is discarded
  [k v])           ; [k v] is the only return value of the function

There are many Clojure functions that are not pure functions, but for which it is probably a mistake to discard its return value. For example, assoc!, rand, and read. Eastwood warns about these, too.

Discarding the return value of a lazy function such as map, filter, etc. is almost certainly a mistake, and Eastwood warns about these. If the return value is not used, these functions do almost nothing, and never call any functions passed to them as args, whether those functions have side effects or not.

;; This use of map calls print 4 times, because the REPL will print
;; the return value of anything you evaluate in it, and thus force its
;; evaluation.
user=> (map print [1 2 3 4])
(1234nil nil nil nil)

;; The call to foo1 below will never call print, because nothing is
;; forcing the evaluation of the return value of the lazy function map
user=> (defn foo1 [coll]
  #_=>   (map print coll)
  #_=>   (count coll))
user=> (foo1 [1 2 3 4])

There are many Clojure functions that take other functions as arguments. These are often called higher order functions, or HOFs. Some of these HOFs are 'conditionally pure', meaning that if the functions passed as arguments are pure, then so is the HOF. For example, mapv, group-by, every?, and apply are conditionally pure HOFs (and none of them are lazy).

Eastwood warns about discarding the return value of a conditionally pure non-lazy HOF. It is not sophisticated enough to check whether the function arguments to the HOF are non-pure, e.g. it will warn about a case like (mapv print args) if the return value is discarded, even though a person can easily see that discarding the return value still causes the side effects of print to occur. As a special case, Eastwood only warns about the return value of apply being discarded based upon the properties of the function passed as its first argument, so (apply print args) will not cause a warning because print is known by Eastwood to have side effects.

It is not commonly done, but it can be useful to invoke what we have called a pure function, even if its return value is discarded. The only reason to do so (known to this author) is when the 'pure' function can throw an exception for some argument values judged to be invalid, and you want to determine whether your data is valid by calling the pure function and catching an exception if it is thrown. For example, str can throw an exception if the value passed to it is unprintable.

Technically, a function that can throw an exception is not really pure in the mathematical sense of the term. However, it is common to refer to it as a pure function if the only thing 'unpure' about it is the possibility of throwing an exception, since in most circumstances it is pure.

If you use clojure.test, this warning can also occur if such an expression is evaluated in an (is (thrown? ThrowableType (expression))). This is another case of an expression's return value being discarded, in the expansion of the is macro. The expression is being evaluated only to see if it will throw an exception.

When such a discarded return value occurs directly within the body of a try form, it is warned about with a linter having a different name, :unused-ret-vals-in-try. The detection of an unused return value being done within a try form is done after macro expansion. Thus since the (is ...) forms of clojure.test macro expand into try blocks, unused return values directly in their bodies will be reported by the :unused-ret-vals-in-try linter. You can exclude this linter, but keep :unused-ret-vals, or vice versa, if one or the other linter gives too many false warnings for your code.

Implementation note: Eastwood does not automatically determine whether a function is pure, conditionally pure, a HOF, etc. All of these properties were determined by manual inspection and recorded in a map of data about Clojure core functions.


A local name, e.g. a function arg, let binding, or record field name, has the same name as a global Var, and is called as a function

Many functions in clojure.core have names that you might like to use as local names, such as function arguments or let bindings. This is not necessarily a mistake, and Clojure certainly allows it, but it is easy to do so and accidentally introduce a bug.

For example, below the intent was to call clojure.core/count on the collection data, but instead the let binds a value to count, and that value is called as a function instead (or at least Clojure tries to call it as a function):

(let [{count :count
       data  :data} (fetch-data)
      real-count (count data)]
  ... )

It is very common in Clojure code to 'shadow' the names of global Vars like name, list, symbol, etc., so the :local-shadows-var linter does not warn every time you use such a local name. It only does so if:

  • The name is used as the first position in a form, as for a function call, and
  • Eastwood cannot prove that the value bound to the name is a function.

For example, this will not cause a warning, because it is assumed that the developer has intentionally used the name replace as a locally defined function.

(let [replace #(str (biginteger %))]
  (println (replace 5)))

The following will cause a warning, because Eastwood's analysis is not sophisticated enough to determine that the value bound to replace is a function.

(let [replace (comp str biginteger)]
  (println (replace 5)))

The following example will not cause a warning, because even though pmap is determined to have a non-function value, Eastwood does not 'know' that the function call to map will use pmap's value as a function.

(let [pmap {:a 1 :b 2}]
  (println (map pmap [1 2 3])))

Eastwood also warns if a field of a Clojure record is called as a function, where there is a Var visible with the same name.

No matter what kind of local symbol is shadowing a Var, you can force use of the Var by qualifying it with a namespace, or an alias of a namespace as created by :as in a require form.


An incorrect type tag for which the Clojure compiler does not give an error

You can use a type tag on a Var name, like in the examples below. This does not force the type of the value assigned to the Var, but Clojure does use the type tag to avoid reflection in Java interop calls where the Var name is used as an argument.

;; Correct primitive/primitive-array type hints on Vars
(def ^{:tag 'int} my-int -2)
(def ^{:tag 'bytes} bytearr1 (byte-array [2 3 4]))
(defn ^{:tag 'boolean} positive? [x] (> x 0))

However, the following examples cause Clojure to use the values of the functions clojure.core/int, clojure.core/bytes, and clojure.core/boolean as (incorrect) type tags. They will not help Clojure avoid reflection in Java interop calls. Clojure gives no errors or warnings for such type hints, but Eastwood will. This happens because the Clojure compiler evals metadata applied to a Var being defd, as documented here.

;; Incorrect primitive/primitive-array type hints on Vars, for which
;; Eastwood will warn
(def ^int my-int -2)
(def ^bytes bytearr1 (byte-array [2 3 4]))
(defn ^boolean positive? [x] (> x 0))

For Java classes, it is correct to use type tags on Vars like in these examples:

;; Correct Java class type hints on Vars
(def ^Integer my-int -2)
(defn ^Boolean positive? [x] (> x 0))
(defn ^java.util.LinkedList ll [coll] (java.util.LinkedList. coll))

;; For type tags on the Var name, you may even avoid fully qualifying
;; the name, as long as you have imported the class.  Unlike some
;; examples below with type tags on the argument vector, this does not
;; cause problems for Clojure.
(defn ^LinkedList l2 [coll] (java.util.LinkedList. coll))

You can define functions that take primitive long or double values as arguments, or that return a primitive long or double as its return value, as shown in the examples below. Note that the return type tag must be given immediately before the argument vector, not before the name of the function.

;; correct primitive type hints on function arguments and return value
(defn add ^long [^long x ^long y] (+ x y))
(defn reciprocal ^double [^long x] (/ 1.0 x))

Clojure will give a compilation error with a clear message if you attempt to use any primitive type besides long or double in this way.

You can also type hint function arguments and return values with Java class names.

Such type hints on function arguments can help avoid reflection in Java interop calls within the function body, and it does not matter whether such type hints use fully qualified Java class names (e.g. java.util.LinkedList) or not (e.g. LinkedList), although using the version that is not fully qualified only works if it is in the java.lang package, or you have imported the package into the Clojure namespace.

:wrong-tag warnings in uses of extend-type and extend-protocol macro

extend-type and extend-protocol convenience macros take the class name you specify and propagate them as type tags on the first argument of all functions. This is handy, as long as the class name is a valid type tag, as in this example:

(defprotocol MyType
  (get-type [x]))

;; A more interesting example would avoid reflection only because of
;; the auto-propagated type tags on the argument m.  Better example
;; welcome.

(extend-protocol MyType
  (get-type [m] :long)
  (get-type [m] :double))

;; The extend-protocol expression above becomes the following after
;; macro expansion, with valid type tags ^Long and ^Double.

  (clojure.core/extend Long
    {:get-type (fn ([^{:tag Long} m] :long))})
  (clojure.core/extend Double
    {:get-type (fn ([^{:tag Double} m] :double))}))

(get-type 5)
;; => :long

(get-type 5.3)
;; => :double

However, if you try to use extend-type or extend-protocol with an expression that evaluates to a class at run time, e.g. (Class/forName "[D") as the type, most things will work correctly, but it will also expand to code that has that expression as a type tag on the first argument of all functions. That expression is not a valid type tag. Clojure silently ignores such type tags, so there are no errors or warnings during compilation. Since the invalid type tag is ignored, you will be disappointed if you were relying on it to avoid reflection.

Note: (Class/forName "[D") evaluates to the Java class for an array of primitive doubles. In places where you want to use such a type as a type tag, you can use ^doubles in Clojure. However, that will not work as an argument to extend or its variants.

(defprotocol PGetElem
  (get-elem [m idx]))

;; This will cause reflection on the aget call, because m has an
;; invalid, ignored type tag of (Class/forName "[D").  Eastwood will
;; give a :wrong-tag warning on m.

(extend-protocol PGetElem
  (Class/forName "[D")
    (get-elem [m idx] (aget m idx)))

;; This also causes reflection on the aget call, because the ^doubles
;; type tag is replaced by the invalid, ignored type tag when
;; extend-protocol is macroexpanded.  Eastwood will give a :wrong-tag
;; warning on m.

(extend-protocol PGetElem
  (Class/forName "[D")
    (get-elem [^doubles m idx] (aget m idx)))

;; No reflection here, because the valid type hint ^doubles is inside
;; of the aget call, where extend-protocol does not overwrite it.
;; Eastwood will give a :wrong-tag warning on m.

(extend-protocol PGetElem
  (Class/forName "[D")
    (get-elem [m idx] (aget ^doubles m idx)))

;; You will always get an Eastwood :wrong-tag warning if you use a
;; run-time evaluated expression as a type in extend-protocol or
;; extend-type.  You can suppress Eastwood's warning, or instead use
;; the function extend.

;; This is the only version that both (a) avoids reflection, and (b)
;; Eastwood will not warn about.  It calls the function extend, and
;; uses a correct type tag ^doubles on the first argument.  You could
;; also put the type tag inside of the aget call if you prefer.

(extend (Class/forName "[D")
  (fn ([^doubles m idx]
    (aget m idx)))})

See Clojure ticket CLJ-1308. Vote on it if you are interested in Clojure changing its implementation and/or make its documentation more explicit.


Unused arguments of functions, macros, methods

This linter is disabled by default, because it often produces a large number of warnings that are not errors. You must explicitly enable it if you wish to see these warnings.

Writing a function that does not use some of its arguments is not necessarily a mistake. In particular, it is common for multimethods defined with defmulti to have a dispatch function that only uses some of its arguments.

However, Eastwood warns about such unused function arguments, to signal to a developer that there might be a problem.

Eastwood will not issue an :unused-fn-args warning for any argument whose name begins with an underscore character, such as _ or _coll. It is a common convention in Clojure to use _ as a name for something that will not be used, and this convention is recognized and extended by Eastwood. If you wish to enable the :unused-fn-args linter, but have several unused arguments that are acceptable to you, consider prepending an underscore to their names to silence the warnings.


Symbols bound with let or loop that are never used

This linter is disabled by default, because it often produces a large number of warnings, and even the ones that are correct can be annoying, and usually just vestigial code that isn't really a bug (it might hurt your performance).

However, for many projects tested, the warnings are correct. If you wish to eliminate such symbols from your code using these warnings, you must explicitly enable it. You can specify it in :add-linters on the command line or when invoked from a REPL. To avoid specifying it each time when using Leiningen, you can merge a line like the following into your project.clj file or user-wide $HOME/.lein/profiles.clj file.

:eastwood {:add-linters [:unused-locals]}

If you bind a value to a symbol in a let or loop binding, but then never use that symbol, this linter will issue a warning for it. You can disable individual warnings by prepending the symbol name with a _ character, as for the :unused-fn-args linter.

The warning occurs even if the let or loop is the result of expanding a macro, so sometimes the source of the warning is not obvious. If the symbol name looks like somename__5103, it is most likely from a let introduced during macroexpansion. Such warnings may be split into a separate disabled-by-default linter in a future version of Eastwood.

Destructuring forms like [x & xs] and {:keys [keyname1 keyname2 ...] :as mymap} are macroexpanded into let forms, even when used as function arguments, and can thus cause these warnings. You can disable individual ones by prepending their names with a _ character.

It may seem a little odd to disable such destructuring warnings for keys in a map, since it changes the name of the keyword in the macroexpansion, and thus it will not be bound to the same value. But hey, the value wasn't being used anyway, right? Consider removing it from the list of keywords completely.


A namespace you use/require could be removed

This linter is disabled by default, because it can be fairly noisy. You must explicitly enable it if you wish to see these warnings.

Warn if a namespace is given in an ns form after :use or :require, but the namespace is not actually used. Thus the namespace could be eliminated.

This linter is known to give false positives in a few cases. See these issues:



A Var declared to be private is not used in the namespace where it is def'd

This linter is disabled by default, but at least with a collection of projects on which Eastwood is frequently tested, it is an uncommon warning for most of them (Seesaw is an exception where it is common). You must explicitly enable it if you wish to see these warnings.

If a Var is defined to be private using ^:private, ^{:private true}, defn-, etc., but is not used elsewhere in the same namespace, it is likely to be dead code. It is still possible to refer to the Var in another namespace using syntax like #'name.space/private-var-name, but this is not checked for by this linter.

This linter never warns for private Vars that also have ^:const or ^{:const true} metadata. This is due to some uncertainty whether uses of such Vars can be reliably detected in the tools.analyzer ASTs.

It will cause undesirable warnings in case like this, which have been seen in some namespaces:

(defn- private-fn [x]
  (inc x))

(defmacro public-macro [y]
  `(#'my.ns/private-fn ~y))

It is not straightforward for Eastwood to determine from the ASTs that private-fn is used elsewhere in the namespace, since syntax quoting with the backquote character causes the resulting code to not refer to the Var directly, but to create a function that only when evaluated contains (var my.ns/private-fn).


Unlimited (:use ...) without :refer or :only to limit the symbols referred by it.

An ns statement like the one below will refer all of the public symbols in the namespace clojure.string:

(ns my.namespace
  (:use clojure.string))

Any symbols you use from namespace clojure.string will typically have no namespace qualifier before them, which is likely your reason for using use instead of require. This can make it difficult for people to determine which namespace the symbols are defined in. A require followed by :refer and a list of symbols makes it clearer to readers the origin of such symbols. You can also put in an :as str in the same require so you have an alias to prefix any other symbols you need from the namespace:

(ns my.namespace
  (:require [clojure.string :as str :refer [replace join]]))

The :unlimited-use linter will not warn about 'limited' use statements, i.e. those with explicit :only or :refer keywords to limit their effects, such as these:

(ns my.namespace
  (:use [clojure.string :as str :only [replace]]
        [clojure.walk :refer [prewalk]]
        [clojure [xml :only [emit]]]))

In addition, since it is so common (and in my opinion, harmless) to do an unlimited use of namespace clojure.test in test files, this linter never warns about clojure.test.

For an infrequently-changing namespace like clojure.string, the set of symbols referred by this use is pretty stable across Clojure versions, but even so, it only takes one symbol added to shadow an existing symbol in your code to ruin your day.


Vars marked ^:dynamic should follow the "earmuff" naming convention, and vice versa:

  • (def foo 42) (OK: non-dynamic, non-earmuffed)
  • (def ^:dynamic foo 42) (NOK: dynamic, non-earmuffed)
  • (def *foo* 42) (NOK: earmuffed, non-dynamic)
  • (def ^:dynamic *foo* 42) (OK: dynamic, earmuffed)


Boxed math warnings from the Clojure compiler

See: *unchecked-math*

Disabled by default because it's not customary or necessarily justified to aim for a boxed-math-free codebase.

Note that if enabling it, all code will be evaluated with a surrounding *unchecked-math* :warn-on-boxed binding, which not only enables the warnings but it actually affects the final code that will be emitted (although in minor ways, only concerned with unchecked math matters).

Generally this won't affect you in any way except in the case that you are invoking Eastwood in a REPL, such that namespaces re-compiled by Eastwood's analysis will be visible and used by your application.


Performance warnings from the Clojure compiler

The Clojure compiler optionally emits performance warnings related to the use of case and recur and their relationship with primitive numerics.

Please refer to https://clojure.org/reference/java_interop for a guide on primive math (tldr: use (long), or occasionally ^long where it is permitted).

Eastwood wraps these warnings, enhancing them when needed (the reported file name can be misleading), restricting them to your project's source paths and allowing them to be omitted on a file/line basis.

This linter is disabled by default because it's not customary or necessarily justified to address these warnings. For some corner cases it might not be even possible (however the :ignored-faults would allow you to prevent that corner case from failing your build).


Reflection warnings from the Clojure compiler

Addressing reflection warnings systematically is a good idea for many reasons:

  • Performance will be improved
  • Performance will easier to measure
    • Even assuming that JITs can emit optimizations akin to manual type hints, having one's code left unoptimized for an indefinite time (maybe forever, in your local JVM) makes it harder to accurately measure performance, as it can be potentially full of distractions caused by slow, reflective calls.
  • Code will be more maintainable, as anyone reading the code will know the class a given piece of code is dealing with
    • e.g. some code may be dealing with a very unusual/specific Java class. By using a type hint, maintainers can quickly know of this class instead of having to reverse-engineer that info.
  • Increased compatibility with newer JDKs
    • newer JDKs may emit warnings or even not work at all depending on reflective access.
    • this has changed substantially how Clojure programmers deal with reflection - before it was more of an optimization only.
  • Increased compatibility with GraalVM native images ref
  • Better integration with various Clojure tooling
    • e.g. compliment (used by CIDER) is able to perceive type hints and offer better completions accordingly.
  • They might be propagated downstream
    • If you are a library or tooling author, reflective code you write will show up as warnings for your consumers.
    • Consumers might be actually be negatively impacted in terms of performance - one never can know how other people use a given piece of code.
    • Since consumers can't do anything to directly fix this, it's most considerate to avoid in advance any reflective calls.

Eastwood helps you systematically avoid reflection warnings by considering reflection warnings yet another lintable thing.

It generally doesn't matter whether a given ns uses (set! warn-on-reflection ...) - Eastwood analyses each top-level form with a binding overriding any surrounding choice.

The default behavior is only emitting warnings if the reflection happens inside your source paths or test paths: this way one doesn't have to pay a price for unrelated code.

However if a third-party macro expands to reflective access within our source path, it will be reported. This is because, in the end, one is creating reflective code in one's codebase, which can be a severe problem and therefore should be fixed, even if it can take some extra effort.

Sibling linters such as :wrong-tag and :unused-meta-on-macro help guaranteeing that reflection is being addressed in a veridic way.


Keywords that may have typographical errors

This linter is disabled by default, because it often produces a large number of warnings that are not errors. You must explicitly enable it if you wish to see these warnings.

If you use a keyword like :frangible in several places in your source code, but then in one place you accidentally type :frangable instead, that will likely lead to incorrect behavior of your program.

This linter cannot guarantee finding such misspelled keywords, but if there is a keyword in your source code that appears only once, and is nearly the same spelling as keywords that appear elsewhere in the same source file, this linter will warn about them. It can of course report keywords that are exactly what you intended them to be.

As implemented now, this linter only works if (a) there are no keywords of the form ::ns-alias/name in the file, or (b) the first expression in the file is an ns expression, and the namespace remains the same throughout the file. This is a common convention followed by most Clojure source code, and required by several other Clojure development tools.

Ignored faults

If there are specific instances of linter faults that you need to supress (e.g. for making a CI build pass), you can use the :ignored-faults option.

It has the following shape:

;;linter-name            ns-name                target
;;---                    ---                    ---
{:implicit-dependencies {'example.namespace     [{:line 3 :column 2}]
                         'another.namespace     [{:line 79}]
                         'random.namespace      [{:line 89}, {:line 110}, {:line 543 :column 10}]} 
 :unused-ret-vals       {'yet.another.namespace true}}

An entry like :implicit-dependencies {'example.namespace [{:line 3 :column 2}] has the meaning "the linter :implicit-dependencies should be ignored in line 3, column 2".

Note that the targets are expressed as vectors, since there may be multiple instances to ignore.

The following are acceptable targets:

  • [{:line 1 :column 1}]
    • will only ignore a linter if line and column do match
  • [{:line 1}]
    • will match line, disregarding the column
    • it's a bit more lenient than the previous syntax, while not too much
  • true
    • will match any ocurrence within the given namespace, regardless of line/column
    • this is the most lenient choce, which of course can create some false negatives.
    • if passing true, you don't need to wrap it in a vector.

Please, if encountering an issue in Eastwood, consider reporting it in addition to (or instead of) silencing it. This way Eastwood can continue to be a precise linter, having as few false positives as possible.

Ignoring linter sub :kinds

A given linter may have different :kinds of emitted warnings. For example the :suspicious-test linter has the following kinds:

:first-arg-is-string, :first-arg-is-constant-true, :second-arg-is-not-string, :thrown-regex, :thrown-string-arg, :string-inside-thrown

That :kind is reported to stdout when running Eastwood as a tool, and returned as data when invoking Eastwood programatically.

You can prevent a specific :kind from emitting warnings by using any of the following syntaxes:

;; simple pairs of [<linter>, <kind>]:
:exclude-linters [[:suspicious-test :first-arg-is-constant-true], [:suspicious-test :thrown-regex]]
;; or
;; pairs of [<linter>, <vector of kinds for that linter>]:
:exclude-linters [[:suspicious-test [:first-arg-is-constant-true :thrown-regex]]]

;; You can mix and match both syntaxes.
;; You can also mix them with single keywords which denote a whole linter to be omitted:
:exclude-linters [:constant-test, [:suspicious-test :first-arg-is-constant-true]]

With newer versions, Eastwood disables [:suspicious-test :first-arg-is-constant-true] by default.

To re-enable it, set :exclude-linters to [] or any custom value. Whatever value you provide will replace the default entirely.


See the changes.md file.

For Eastwood developers

To be on the bleeding edge, install Eastwood in your local Maven repository:

$ cd path/to/eastwood
$ lein with-profile -user,-dev,+eastwood-plugin install

Then add [jonase/eastwood "1.4.2"] to your :plugins vector in your :user profile, perhaps in your $HOME/.lein/profiles.clj file.


Copyright (C) 2012-2023 Jonas Enlund, Nicola Mometto, and Andy Fingerhut

Distributed under the Eclipse Public License, the same as Clojure.

The source code of the following libraries has been copied into Eastwood's source code, and each of their copyright and license info is given below. They are all distributed under the Eclipse Public License 1.0.



Copyright (c) Rich Hickey, Michael Fogus and contributors, 2012. All rights reserved. The use and distribution terms for this software are covered by the Eclipse Public License 1.0 (http://opensource.org/licenses/eclipse-1.0.php) which can be found in the file epl-v10.html at the root of this distribution. By using this software in any fashion, you are agreeing to be bound by the terms of this license. You must not remove this notice, or any other, from this software.



Copyright (c) Rich Hickey and Michael Fogus, 2012, 2013. All rights reserved. The use and distribution terms for this software are covered by the Eclipse Public License 1.0 (http://opensource.org/licenses/eclipse-1.0.php) which can be found in the file epl-v10.html at the root of this distribution. By using this software in any fashion, you are agreeing to be bound by the terms of this license. You must not remove this notice, or any other, from this software.


Copyright (C) 2013 Mark Engelberg

Distributed under the Eclipse Public License, the same as Clojure.




Copyright © 2013-2014 Nicola Mometto, Rich Hickey & contributors.

Distributed under the Eclipse Public License, the same as Clojure.



Copyright © 2013-2014 Nicola Mometto, Rich Hickey & contributors.

Distributed under the Eclipse Public License, the same as Clojure.



Copyright © 2012 Stuart Sierra All rights reserved. The use and distribution terms for this software are covered by the Eclipse Public License 1.0 which can be found in the file epl-v10.html at the root of this distribution. By using this software in any fashion, you are agreeing to be bound by the terms of this license. You must not remove this notice, or any other, from this software.



Copyright © 2013-2014 Nicola Mometto, Rich Hickey & contributors.

Licensed under the EPL. (See the file epl.html.)

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