CIDER nREPL Internals

Lazy middleware loading

Eager loading of all of `cider-nrepl’s middleware resulted in a significant impact to the startup time of the nREPL server. To mitigate this we’ve devised a strategy to postpone the actual initialization of some middleware until the first time it’s actually used by a client.

That’s the reason why middleware description in cider-nrepl are not following the common nREPL convention to be supplied in the same file where the middleware is defined.

Dealing with unhandled exception

Even though nREPL requests are asychronous in their nature, some editors might be forced to wait for the response of a request. This is obviously going to result in lock-up in case of an unhandled exception, that’s why cider-nrepl introduced the concept of a "safe transport" that does some reasonable handling of such errors.

Operating on unresolved symbols

All middleware ops operating on some symbol that needs to be resolved would normally do the resolution themselves. They typically take as parameters ns and sym, which are current namespace and a symbol in it, and would resolve sym in the context of ns.

This spares users from having to invoke info on every symbol before passing the resolved result to another op. It also maps well to the typical editor workflow - normally you’d be asking for some operation to be performed for some unresolved symbol in the current namespace.

ClojureScript Support

Currently the ClojureScript support relies on inspecting the ClojureScript compiler state. cider-nrepl would fetch the compiler state from Piggieback and pass it to the underlying libraries (e.g. orchard and clj-suitable) that do something useful with it.

Unfortunately the majority of the middleware don’t support ClojureScript currently, as they are implemented in terms of Clojure-only libraries. Another roadblock is that cider-nrepl runs in a Clojure context and you have to jump through some hoops to evaluate ClojureScript code from it (e.g. pipe it to Piggieback’s eval or evaluate it against the ClojureScript runtime directly as a string). Hopefully this will change down the road.

Dependency obfuscation

`cider-nrepl’s dependency would conflict with the dependencies of the application using it, so we have to take some care to avoid such situation.

All of cider-nrepl’s dependencies are processed with mranderson, so that they won’t collide with the dependencies of your own projects. This basically means that cider-nrepl doesn’t have any runtime dependencies in the production artifact - just copies of the deps inlined with changed namespaces/packages.

This means that cider-nrepl has to also take some steps to hide the inlined namespaces, so they won’t pollute the results users would be interested in. Pretty much all of `cider-nrepl’s ops would filter out the inlined namespaces.