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Calva supports most any JVM hosted ClojureScript environment (and some others, including SCI based, too), but shadow-cljs gets some special treatment to try make it extra convenient to use.

With many shadow-cljs projects, Calva's connect project type shadow-cljs, is the right choice. Projects that use Leiningen or deps.edn can be used both with the Leiningen/deps.edn and shadow-cljs type, depending on configuration see below for more on this.

shadow-cljs - browser quickstart

Here's how you start a shadow-cljs ClojureScript REPL and connect Calva with the shadow-cljs - browser quickstart example project:


  1. Clone the project to your machine and open its root folder in VS Code.
  2. Open a terminal and run npm install

Connect Calva:

  1. Run the command Calva: Start a Project REPL and Connect (a.k.a. Jack-in)
  2. Select project type shadow-cljs
  3. Select to start the build :app
  4. Select to connect to the build :app
  5. Wait for the build to complete
  6. Open http://localhost:8020/ in the browser
  7. Open browser.cljs file and load it in the REPL: Calva: Load/Evaluate Current File and Dependencies

Now you can should be able to evaluate forms, e.g.:

  • The current form or selection with ctrl+enter, or
  • Top-level forms with alt/option+enter.

(See Code Evaluation)

shadow-cljs in full stack projects

shadow-cljs is a bit special in regards to Calva REPL connection. Mainly because you can start shadow-cljs and it's nREPL server in two ways:

  1. Using the shadow-cljs npm executable
  2. Via the Clojure REPL in your Leiningen or deps.edn project

These options show up as project types when connecting or jacking in:

  1. Project type: shadow-cljs
  2. Project type: deps.edn + shadow-cljs or Leiningen + shadow-cljs

The technical difference here is wether you let shadow-cljs start clojure/Leiningen (the first option) or if you let Calva do it (the second option). If you let Calva do it, Calva will then start the shadow-cljs watcher from the Clojure process. From a usage perspective the two approaches will result in different channeling of shadow-cljs output, e.g. test runner results. With the first option (the shadow-cljs project type), shadow-cljs output will be channeled to the Jack-in terminal. With the deps.edn/Leiningen option, that output will be channeled to the Output/REPL window.

See shadow-cljs + Clojure with Calva: The basics for some more discussion on how the REPL connection works.

shadow-cljs and clojure aliases

The shadow-cljs project type will not prompt you for any aliases found in the deps.edn file. Usually you should provide such aliases in shadow-cljs.edn like :deps {:aliases [...]}. If, for whatever reason you can't provide the aliases that way, you can configure a Custom REPL Connect Sequence and provide the aliases as menuSelections -> cljAliases.

Leiningen + shadow-cljs middleware issue

Please note that for Leiningen, the command line dependency injection of the shadow-cljs nrepl middleware doesn't work. You need to add it to your project.clj:

:repl-options {:nrepl-middleware [shadow.cljs.devtools.server.nrepl/middleware]}

See also: