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Code Evaluation Tips

Calva tries to make it easy to evaluate code, supporting interactive development.

NB: The below assumes you have read about Finding Calva Commands and Shortcuts.

There are some different ”flavors” to the evaluation. And it depends on if you are evaluating in a file editor or a in a REPL window.

Evaluation in a File Editor

Calva has commands for evaluating the current form and the current top-level form.

You can also choose what should happen with the results:

  1. Inline. This will display the results (or some of it, if it is long) inline in the editor. You find the full results in the output window, from where it is easy to copy it to the clipboard.
  2. To comments. This will add the results as comment lines below the current line.
  3. Replace the evaluated code. This will do what it says, the evaluated code will be replaced with its results.

Wait, Current Form? Top-level Form?

These are important concepts in Calva in order for you to create your most effective workflow.

Current Form

The current form either means the current selection, or otherwise is based on the cursor position. Play some with the command Calva: Select current form, ctrl+alt+c s, to figure out what Calva thinks is the current form for some different situations. Try it inside a symbol, adjacent to a symbol (both sides) and adjacent to an opening or closing bracket (again, both sides).

Current Top-level Form

The current top-level form means top-level in a structural sense. It is not the topmost form in the file. Typically in a Clojure file you will find def and defn (and defwhatever) forms at the top level, but it can be any form not enclosed in any other form.

An exception is the comment form. It will create a new top level context, so that any forms immediatlly inside a (commment ...) form will be considered top-level by Calva. This is to support a workflow where you

  1. Iterate on your functions.
  2. Evaluate the function (top level).
  3. Put them to test with expressions inside a comment form.
  4. Repeat from 1., until the function does what you want it to do.

Here's a demo of the last repetition of such a workflow, for a simple implementation of the abs function:


Copying the inline results

The easiest way is to use the Copy button in the result hover. There is also the Copy last evaluation results command, ctrl+alt+c ctrl+c.

This works regardless if you have evaluated in a file editor or in a REPL window.

Evaluating in a REPL window

To evaluate code in the REPL window either send a form from the editor (as mentioned above) or type it at the prompt and submit it. There is also a repl history that you can access with alt+up/down.

Note that the repl prompt is a multiline mini Clojure editor. So if you press enter while the cursor is not at the end of the line, it will create a new line. To submit the code at the prompt you have three options:

  1. Place the cursor at the end of the all the code, end (fn+right on Macs lacking an end key).
  2. Press alt+enter. This submits and prints the results un-altered.

See also above about sending forms from the file editors to the REPL window for evaluation.