This guide is intended to help you use the Clojure Contrib JDBC wrapper:

A modern JDBC wrapper has since been written (by the same author/maintainer) -- read about next.jdbc on



java.jdbc is intended to be a low-level Clojure wrapper around various Java JDBC drivers and supports a wide range of databases. The java.jdbc source is on GitHub and there is a dedicated java.jdbc mailing list. The detailed java.jdbc reference is automatically generated from the java.jdbc source.

Generally, when using java.jdbc, you will set up a data source as a "database spec" and pass that to the various CRUD (create, read, update, delete) functions that java.jdbc provides. These operations are detailed within the Using SQL page, but a quick overview is provided by the walkthrough below.

By default, each operation opens a connection and executes the SQL inside a transaction. You can also run multiple operations against the same connection, either within a transaction or via connection pooling, or just with a shared connection. You can read more about reusing connections on the Reusing Connections page.

Higher-level DSL and migration libraries

If you need more abstraction than the java.jdbc wrapper provides, you may want to consider using a library that provides a DSL. All of the following libraries are built on top of java.jdbc and provide such abstraction:

In particular, [Korma][korma] goes beyond a SQL DSL to provide "entities" and "relationships" (in the style of classical Object-Relational Mappers, but without the pain).

Another common need with SQL is for database migration libraries. Some of the more popular options are:

A brief java.jdbc walkthrough

Setting up a data source

A "database spec" is a Clojure map that specifies how to access the data source. Most commonly, you specify the database type, the database name, and the username and password. For example,

(def db-spec
  {:dbtype "mysql"
   :dbname "mydb"
   :user "myaccount"
   :password "secret"})

See Database Support below for a complete list of databases and drivers supported by java.jdbc out of the box.

A "Hello World" Query

Querying the database can be as simple as:

(ns dbexample
  (:require [ :as jdbc]))

(def db-spec ... ) ;; see above

(jdbc/query db-spec ["SELECT 3*5 AS result"])
=> {:result 15}

Of course, we will want to do more with our database than have it perform simple calculations. Once we can successfully connect to it, we will likely want to create tables and manipulate data.

Creating tables

java.jdbc provides create-table-ddl and drop-table-ddl to generate basic CREATE TABLE and DROP TABLE DDL strings. Anything beyond that can be constructed manually as a string.

(ns dbexample
  (:require [ :as jdbc]))

(def db-spec ... ) ;; see above

(def fruit-table-ddl
  (jdbc/create-table-ddl :fruit
                         [[:name "varchar(32)"]
                          [:appearance "varchar(32)"]
                          [:cost :int]
                          [:grade :real]]))

We can use the function db-do-commands to create our table and indexes in a single transaction:

(jdbc/db-do-commands db-spec
                      "CREATE INDEX name_ix ON fruit ( name );"])

For more details on DDL functionality within java.jdbc, see the Using DDL and Metadata Guide.

Querying the database

The four basic CRUD operations java.jdbc provides are:

(jdbc/insert! db-spec :table {:col1 42 :col2 "123"})               ;; Create
(jdbc/query   db-spec ["SELECT * FROM table WHERE id = ?" 13])     ;; Read
(jdbc/update! db-spec :table {:col1 77 :col2 "456"} ["id = ?" 13]) ;; Update
(jdbc/delete! db-spec :table ["id = ?" 13])                        ;; Delete

The table name can be specified as a string or a keyword.

insert! takes a single record in hash map form to insert. insert! can also take a vector of column names (as strings or keywords), followed by a vector of column values to insert into those respective columns, much like an INSERT statement in SQL. Entries in the map that have the value nil will cause NULL values to be inserted into the corresponding columns.

If you wish to insert multiple rows (in hash map form) at once, you can use insert-multi!; however, insert-multi! will write a separate insertion statement for each row, so it is suggested you use the column-based form of insert-multi! over the row-based form. Passing multiple column values to insert-multi! will generate a single batched insertion statement and yield better performance.

query allows us to run selection queries on the database. Since you provide the query string directly, you have as much flexibility as you like to perform complex queries.

update! takes a map of columns to update, with their new values, and a SQL clause used to select which rows to update (prepended by WHERE in the generated SQL). As with insert!, nil values in the map cause the corresponding columns to be set to NULL.

delete! takes a SQL clause used to select which rows to delete, similar to update!.

By default, the table name and column names are converted to strings corresponding to the keyword names in the underlying SQL. We can control how we transform keywords into SQL names using an optional :entities argument which is described in more detail in the Using SQL section.

Dropping our tables

To clean out the database from our example, we can generate a the command to drop the fruit table:

(def drop-fruit-table-ddl (jdbc/drop-table-ddl :fruit))

Ensure you tear down your tables and indexes in the opposite order of creation:

(jdbc/db-do-commands db-spec
                     ["DROP INDEX name_ix;"

These are all the commands we need to write a simple migration for our database!

Database Support

Out of the box, java.jdbc understands the following :dbtype values (with their default class names):

  • "derby" - org.apache.derby.jdbc.EmbeddedDriver
  • "h2" - org.h2.Driver
  • "h2:mem" - org.h2.Driver
  • "hsqldb" or "hsql" - org.hsqldb.jdbcDriver
  • "jtds:sqlserver" or "jtds" - net.sourceforge.jtds.jdbc.Driver
  • "mysql" - com.mysql.jdbc.Driver
  • "oracle:oci" - oracle.jdbc.OracleDriver
  • "oracle:thin" or "oracle" - oracle.jdbc.OracleDriver
  • "postgresql" or "postgres" - org.postgresql.Driver
  • "pgsql" - com.impossibl.postgres.jdbc.PGDriver
  • "redshift" -
  • "sqlite" - org.sqlite.JDBC
  • "sqlserver" - "mssql" -

You must specify the appropriate JDBC driver dependency in your project -- these drivers are not included with java.jdbc.

You can overide the default class name by specifying :classname as well as :dbtype.

For databases that require a hostname or IP address, java.jdbc assumes "" but that can be overidden with the :host option.

For databases that require a port, java.jdbc has the following defaults, which can be overridden with the :port option:

  • Microsoft SQL Server - 1433
  • MySQL - 3306
  • Oracle - 1521
  • PostgreSQL - 5432

Some databases require a different format for the "database spec". Here is an example that was required for an in-memory H2 database prior to java.jdbc release 0.7.6:

(def db-spec
  {:classname   "org.h2.Driver"
   :subprotocol "h2:mem"                  ; the prefix `jdbc:` is added automatically
   :subname     "demo;DB_CLOSE_DELAY=-1"  ; `;DB_CLOSE_DELAY=-1` very important!!!
   :user        "sa"                      ; default "system admin" user
   :password    ""                        ; default password => empty string

This is the most general form of database spec, that allows you to control each piece of the JDBC connection URL that would be created.

Note: as of java.jdbc 0.7.6, in-memory H2 databases are supported directly via the simple spec form:

(def db-spec
  {:dbtype "h2:mem"
   :dbname "mydb"})

For file-based databases, such as H2, Derby, SQLite etc, the :dbname will specify the filename:

(def db-spec
  {:dbtype "h2"
   :dbname "/path/to/my/database"})

More detailed java.jdbc documentation