Lokke: Clojure for Guile
lokke scm edn: remove #:declarative; breaks 2.2; already the default
Add initial edn reader as (lokke scm edn)
lokke-reader: drop support for scheme "|" symbols


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You can also use your local clone with git send-email.

#Lokke: Clojure for Guile

Lokke intends to provide a full dialect of Clojure for Guile. It also consists of a set of Guile modules providing some of Clojure's functionality in two different guises.

Note: everything is currently very experimental, including the various API "levels" -- they may not all survive, depending in part on whether or not they end up seeming valuable enough to be worth the maintenance costs.

#For Clojure itself

The Clojure dialect is currently available via ./lokke which can run code, serve as a !# interpreter, or provide a REPL. See below for further information.

#For a more Clojure oriented experience in Scheme

Lokke provides one set of modules, starting with (lokke core) that create an environment that looks suspiciously like Clojure. In most cases these modules prefer Clojure's approach when there's a conflict, and they're not shy about using generic functions. For example, = is a generic, and implements Clojure's semantics, not Scheme's, and currently (lokke core) and (lokke base syntax), will replace let and when, via use-modules, so be cautious. We recommend following the Clojure practice of explicitly #:selecting the symbols you want to import, (or #:prefixing the namespace) to avoid the problem entirely, and to make it much easier to discover the origin of a binding. In some cases, Scheme vectors may be required in place of Clojure's immutable vectors, perhaps something like (let #(x 1 y 2) ...), though the approach to these binding forms on the Scheme side is still experimental.

#For a more Scheme oriented experience in Scheme

Lokke may also provide (lokke scm ...) modules, which define a more Scheme-friendly, and possibly more efficient interface -- think (lokke-vector-length v) as compared to (count v). Perhaps the most notable existing module is (lokke scm vector) which intends to provide a C backed implementation of Clojure's persistent vectors.

#Getting started

Currently Lokke can be found at GitHub and sourcehut.

To build Lokke, you'll need

Your system may already provide these. For Debian, for example:

# apt-get install autoconf automake libpcre2-dev libunistring-dev
# apt-get install make gettext gcc git

and then for Guile 3.0:

# apt-get install guile-3.0 guile-3.0-dev

or for Guile 2.2:

# apt-get install guile-2.2 guile-2.2-dev

See INSTALL for additional platform-specific information.

Once you have the dependencies installed, you should be able to build lokke like this:

$ git clone https://github.com/lokke-org/lokke
$ cd lokke
$ ./setup
$ autoreconf -fi
$ ./configure
$ make check

Hopefully the tests will pass. If not, please report them to the Lokke list. Note that parallel builds are fully supported, so depending on the host, something like make -j5 check can be much faster.

If you have more than one version of Guile installed, you may be able to select a particular version at configuration time like this:


unless your platform requires other arrangements, which should be mentioned in the relevant section in INSTALL.

At this point you should be able to run a Clojure program like this:

$ ./lok -l hello.clj

or run the REPL:

$ ./lok
lokke@(lokke user)>

./lok ... is equivalent to ./lokke run ....

Currently the Lokke REPL is the Guile REPL, with the initial language and environment set for Lokke, and so all of the Guile features should be available. Though for now, lokke loads $XDG_CONFIG_HOME/lokke/interactive.scm if $XDG_CACHE_HOME is set, otherwise ~/.config/lokke/interactive.scm rather than ~/.guile.

See ./lokke --help or man -M . lokke.1 for additional information. A plain text version of the manual page is also available.

Assuming your guile was compiled with readline support, it's likely you'll want to add something like this to ~/.config/lokke/interactive.scm:

;;; -*-scheme-*-
(use-modules (ice-9 readline))

The REPL history will be stored in the file indicated by the environment variable LOKKE_HISTORY if set, otherwise $XDG_CACHE_HOME/lokke/history if $XDG_CACHE_HOME is set, otherwise ~/.cache/lokke/history.

There is also a ./guile wrapper which just runs Guile with the correct environment for Lokke (and which ./lokke relies on). It can be useful during development, or if you would like to try out the Scheme specific facilities:

$ ./guile
scheme@(guile-user)> (use-modules (lokke core))
scheme@(guile-user) [1]> (take 3 (repeat "?"))
$1 = #<<class> <lazy-seq> 55bdaff362c0 ("?" "?" "?")>

As you can see, seqs are not written like lists. Currently the Scheme write representation of many Clojure objects is intentionally distinct. Of course prn from (lokke core) prints the Clojure representation.

From ./guile, you can switch to a Lokke REPL manually like this:

scheme@(guile-user)> ,module (lokke user)
scheme@(lokke user)> ,language lokke
Happy hacking with Lokke, a Clojure dialect!  To switch back, type `,L scheme'.
lokke@(lokke user)> (inc 1)
$1 = 2

Lokke expects all Clojure namespaces to be located in a lokke/ns/ subdirectory of one of the directories specified by the Guile load path. The path can be adjusted by setting GUILE_LOAD_PATH in the environment. For example, since ./mod is in ./lokke's default load path, Lokke will look for clojure.string in mod/lokke/ns/clojure/string.go (compiled version), mod/lokke/ns/clojure/string.clj, and mod/lokke/ns/clojure/string.scm in that order (namspaces can be implemented in Clojure or Scheme).

See the DESIGN document for an overview of the implementation, and detailed information about Guile is available in the Guile Reference Manual which should also be available via info guile if installed.

#General comparison with Clojure/JVM

  • The implementation should be properly tail-recursive.

  • Argument evaluation order is (currently) unspecified.

  • Clojure namespaces may be implemented in either Clojure or Scheme, and Clojure namespaces are Guile modules with the entire Clojure namespace tree situated under (lokke ns) in the Guile module tree.

  • Lokke's reader conditional identifier is :cljl, for example, #?(:cljl x), and at the moment reader conditionals are always supported by the reader functions; they are not restricted to .cljc files.

  • Symbols, like keywords, are unique and compare very efficiently. On the JVM, this is only promised for keywords. Symbols do not currently support metadata.

  • There are no agents or refs yet.

  • At the moment, format strings are Guile format strings.

  • The default regular expressions are PCRE2 regular expressions, and right now, reader literal patterns #"x" currently just translate to an equivalent (re-pattern ...) at read time. That is, they are not compiled at read time, and so are re-evaluated.

  • lokke.io is analogous clojure.java.io, and lokke.shell is analogous to clojure.java.shell. At the moment, paths are generally only handled as (Unicode) strings. We'll fix that once Guile does. As a workaround, you may be able to set the LC_CTYPE to a locale that passes arbitrary bytes transparently, e.g.(guile/setlocale LC_CTYPE "en_US.iso88591"), but note that setlocale acts globally, not just with respect to the current thread.

  • There is some experimental, rudimentary compatibility with Clojure/JVM exception handling.

  • Currently, future and future-call always create a new thread, i.e. they do not cache/pool threads.

  • Metadata support is limited: vectors, hash-sets, and hash-maps, vars, namespaces, and atoms are supported, lists and symbols are not. Often metadata will just be discarded when it's unsupported.

  • Persistent lists are currently not counted?, so count must traverse the list.

  • Dynamic variables and binding behave a bit differently, and they must be defined via defdyn.

  • The numeric tower is Guile's, backed by GMP, and there is currently no distinction between functions like +' and +, or *' and *, etc.

  • There are no explicit bigints or BigDecimal (bigint, decimal?, bigdec, 7N, 4.2M, etc.), but of course arbitrarily large integers are supported.

  • The integer syntax does not yet support BASErNUM bases over 16.

  • Rather than throwing an exception, the reader functions, read, read-string, etc. return the rnrs end-of-file object, which can be identified with guile.guile/eof-object?.

  • There are some differences and limitations with respect to the handling of comparisons, hashes, and equality.

  • fn condition maps (i.e. :pre :post, etc.) are currently ignored.

  • deftest is little more than a do, i.e. it executes immediately, there's no support for *load-tests*, and it doesn't create a test function to run later.

  • For now, types are implemented via GOOPS which means that you can actually modify them via slot-set!. We may eventually pursue immutable GOOPS classes in Guile, but of course you can modify anything on the JVM too, if you really set your mind to it.

#On the Scheme side

  • #nil is nil

  • There is no do, only begin.

  • Lists are Guile lists.

  • Strings are Guile strings.

  • As with Clojure and :refer, explicit symbol imports are recommended, e.g. #:use-module ((foo) #:select (x)) rather than just #:use-module (foo), and Lokke modules assume this is the norm.

  • Currently equal? is only augmented to handle new types like hash-map, hash-set, etc.

  • Currently Clojure = is only available as an export from (lokke core), and for now, it is implemented via clj=.

  • Bindings starting with /lokke/ are reserved (but they're illegal in Clojure anyway). We use them for internal compiler-communication, among other things. See the DESIGN document for more information.

  • In the (lokke scm) apis, Scheme vectors are referred to as vector, Clojure's as lokke-vector.

  • The num method can be used to convert characters or any to a number. Characters are converted via Guile's char->integer.

  • The integer method is effectively (truncate (num x)), using Guile's truncate.

  • For now, bit-test treats negative values as twos-complement.

  • We prefer to follow the Clojure convention of explicitly #:selecting symbols for import most of the time.

  • We prefer to format module declarations along the same lines suggested here: https://stuartsierra.com/2016/clojure-how-to-ns.html

#Clojure namespaces and Guile modules

Clojure namespaces are Guile modules (which have very comparable semantics), and the entire Clojure namespace tree is situated under (lokke ns) in the Guile module tree, i.e. clojure.string is implemented by the (lokke ns clojure string) module, and clojure.string/join is exactly equivalent to a Guile reference to the join function in the (lokke ns clojure string) module.

All clojure namspaces starting with guile represent direct references to the root of the guile module tree, e.g. (guile.srfi.srfi-19/current-date) calls the current-date function in the guile (srfi srfi-19) module. These provide a convenient way to refer to modules that are not under a (lokke ns ...) prefix, and of course you can use them in forms like ns and require. As a special case, the guile namespace refers to the (guile) module, not (guile guile). For example (guile/current-time) or (guile/delete-file ...).

In many cases, you may have lokke or lok handle the Guile %load-path for you via deps.edn :paths, but manual arrangements like this will also work fine:

mod/lokke/ns -> ../../src

and then:

$ GUILE_LOAD_PATH=$(pwd)/mod lok -e "(require '[something.core ...])" ...

Namespace (alias ...) calls only take full effect at the end of the enclosing top level form (because at the moment, the compiler works from a snapshot of the alias map, cf. rewrite-il-calls).

#Exception handling

There is experimental support for try/catch/finally which maps very closely to Guile's underlying catch/throw, meaning that in addition to catching an ex-info exception via (catch ExceptionInfo ex ...), you can catch Guile exceptions if you know the appropriate tag (symbol) with (catch 'something ex ...).

When an exception is caught, ex will be bound a Scheme list of exactly the arguments that were passed to Guile's throw. For ex-info exceptions, it will currently be a list starting with the (uninterned) tag that is bound to ExceptionInfo, which is why (catch ExceptionInfo ex ...) works. Access the elements of Lokke-specific exceptions via the normal accessors: ex-message, ex-data, etc., and the lokke.exception namespace provides additional bindings like ex-info?, and ex-cause.

Note however, that changes introduced in Guile 3.0 may prompt a rework, perhaps to base exception handling on raise-exception, with-exception-handler, and exception objects. Consider the current support very unstable.

Guile exception keys that map to &error in Guile 3.0 and above are currently caught as an Error, even with Guile 2.2, and even though we don't use the newer style exception objects yet.

#Exception suppression

Lokke's exceptions (ExceptionInfo, Throwable, etc.) have experimental support for suppressing exceptions, a concept also found on the JVM and in Python, though the details vary. If an exception is thrown from within a finally block, and there was a pending Lokke exception, the exception that was thrown from the finally block will be added to the pending exception as a suppressed exception, and the Lokke exception will be rethrown. The collection of suppressed exceptions can be retrieved with lokke.exception/ex-suppressed, and a suppressed exception can be added to any Lokke exception with lokke.exception/add-suppressed. Note that add-suppressed is persistent, returning a new ex-info exception that may or may not share structure with the original, rather than mutating the original.

As an example:

      (print-masterpiece)  ; Throws (ex-info ... {:kind :lp0-on-fire})
        (turn-off-light)))  ; Throws (ex-info ... {:kind :switch-broken})

At this point, without suppression you'd know that you need to fix your light switch, but have no idea that your printer is on fire. But with suppression, that information is preserved:

      (print-masterpiece)  ; Throws (ex-info ... {:kind :lp0-on-fire})
        (turn-off-light)))  ; Rethrows lp0-on-fire exception, with switch-broken
                            ; available via (ex-suppressed lp0-on-fire).

At least for now, if the pending exception is a Guile specific exception like 'out-of-range, rather than a Lokke exception like (ex-info ...) or (Exception. ...), then there will be no suppression, and the original exception will be lost.

The JVM provides a related precedent, though it only applies to try-with-resources constructs.

See DESIGN for further details.


with-final is provided by lokke.exception for more flexible resource management. You can specify final actions to take either:always or only if there's an :error. The latter can be particularly useful in cases where normal cleanup must happen in a completely different scope. For example:

(defn start-server [...]
      (with-final [foo (open-foo ...) :error close
                   bar (connect-bar ...) :error disconnect
        ...do many things...
        {:foo foo :bar bar ...}))

    (defn stop-server [info]
      (with-final [_ (:foo info) :always close
                   _ (:bar info) :always disconnect

with-final may be considered a generalization of with-open.

#Dynamic variables and binding

At the moment, dynamic variables must be declared via (defdyn name init-expr) rather than via metadata, and they are always inherited by sub-threads, unlike on the JVM, where only some forms provide binding conveyance. You can define dynamic variables without conveyance via defdynloc.

Whether or not bindings are established in parallel is undefined.

#Comparisons, hashing, and equality

  • As on the JVM, hash does not produce values consistent with = across Clojure and non-clojure collections, e.g. (hash [1 2 3]) is not likely to be equal to (hash (guile.guile/vector 1 2 3)). Although as an exception, proper Scheme lists should be handled consistently right now, given the way seqs are implemented via Scheme <pair>s.

  • Currently, hash values are only cached for hash-map, hash-set, and vector.

  • compare sorts all symbols lexically, without any special treatment of namepaces, i.e. (compare 'z 'x/y) is negative. That might eventually change for at least the Clojure side.

  • The compare ordering of refs is unspecified, and is unlikely to be the order of their creation.

#Additional differences from Clojure/JVM

  • In addition to nil, the lokke command's -e option doesn't print unspecified values (Guile's *unspecified*).

  • Multiple :as aliases are allowed in destructuring forms.

  • quotient, remainder, and modulus are Scheme's quot, rem, and mod.

  • Many of the coercions haven't been included: float double ...

  • Number is taken to mean (i.e. objects satisfying number?).

  • Duplicate keys in map and set literals, e.g. {:x 1 :x 2} do not provoke an error. They just behave as if (hash-map :x 1 :x 2) had been specified.

  • At the moment, various functions may handle Scheme vectors as they would Clojure vectors and Scheme lists as the would clojure lists, e.g. some collection and sequence operations, etc.

#Known issues

  • Many things are still broken or incomplete.

  • When built against Guile 2.2, def and defn statements cannot currently be interleaved with other expressions.

  • When an error occurs in the REPL, a new (recursive) prompt is created. At the moment, the new prompt will use the Guile printer instead of Lokke's. For example:

      lokke@(lokke user)> true
      $1 = true
      lokke@(lokke user)> (/ :x)
      ice-9/boot-9.scm:1669:16: In procedure raise-exception:
      In procedure /: Wrong type argument in position 1: #:x
      Entering a new prompt.  Type `,bt' for a backtrace or `,q' to continue.
      lokke@(lokke user) [1]> true
      $2 = #t

    An exit back to the top-level prompt will restore the Lokke writer.

  • May be missing important specializations for say collection/seq operations where the fallback is a lot more expensive.

  • Some versions of Guile prior to 3.0 had a problem with the hash function that would cause it to produce a very poor distribution of values in some cases (e.g. for symbols and keywords), which is likely to decrease performance. We may attempt to address that, but for now, prefer Guile 3.0 or newer when possible.

  • The code has not been evaluated with respect to the need for continuation barriers yet.

  • atom semantics may not be completely right yet (see code).

  • To the extent that pairs are used right now (and they're currently used for lists like '(1 2 3)), they don't support metadata, and are not counted?.

  • Lazy sequences (i.e. via <pair-seq>) are not counted?.

  • The syntaxes probably aren't always consistent on the scheme side, i.e. do we want to support (fn #(...) ...) or (fn (...) ...) if either? Presumably all destructuring bindings should work the same.

  • time relies on guile's SRFI-19 time-monotonic, which is not yet truly monotonic. It's actually International Atomic Time.

  • See DESIGN for additional issues.


Patches to Lokke should have a Signed-off-by: header. Including this header in your patches signifies that you are licensing your changes under the terms described in the License section below. If you like, git can can add the appropriate pseudo-header for you via the --signoff argument to commit, amend, etc.

Additional information, conventions, etc. may be found in the Hacking section in DESIGN.

The mailing list is available for broader, more general discussions, and patches are welcome there

Please send patches and problem reports to the list or raise a pull request. We may prefer the list for more involved discussions.

#Additional tests

You can run the full test suite (requires all changes in the working tree to be committed) like this:

make check-everything

Note that this may download and execute code (e.g. dependencies like tools.cli via --deps). (The normal make check tests should not.)

#Lokke (Danish)


From Old Norse lokka. Cognate with German locken. Pronunciation

  • IPA: /lɔkə/, [ˈlʌɡ̊ə]


lokke ‎(imperative lok, infinitive at lokke, present tense lokker, past tense lokkede, past participle har lokket)

  1. tempt, entice, lure, seduce
  2. persuade, coax, cajole, wheedle, inveigle


Definition provided by the wiktionary. (CC BY-SA 3.0)

#Additional contacts


Sincere thanks to Russell Mull, Ryan Senior, and Zak-Kent, for invaluable support and advice during the creation of the initial version.


This project (Lokke) is free software; unless otherwise specified you can redistribute it and/or modify it under the terms of (at your option) either of the following two licenses:

  1. The GNU Lesser General Public License as published by the Free Software Foundation; either version 2.1, or (at your option) any later version

  2. The Eclipse Public License; either version 1.0 (EPL-1.0) or (at your option) any later version.

which is also specified by

SPDX-License-Identifier: LGPL-2.1-or-later OR EPL-1.0+

When an SPDX-License-Identifier appears in a given file, it specifies the license that applies to the contents of that file.

Any files covered by another license include a suitable disclaimer describing the applicable terms, including, but not limited to:

  • The file lib/lokke-reader.c
  • The file mod/fhash.scm
  • Any file named epl.clj
  • Files under example/nbody/
  • mod/lokke/ns/clojure/walk.clj
  • mod/lokke/ns/clojure/zip.clj
  • test/clojure-walk

Copyright © 2015-2021 Rob Browning <rlb@defaultvalue.org>