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ClaraEAV is a thin layer over Clara-Rules API that simplifies working with EAV triplets, similar to Triplestores. It works with both Clojure and ClojureScript.

The main benefit of EAV triplets over Clara's default n-tuples (arbitrary records) is that updates (equivalent to a retraction and an insertion) are local to the attribute (EAV triplet). Updating an n-tuple requires retraction and re-insertion of the whole tuple. The downside is extra joins are needed to build back an entity from it's constituent EAVs.


ClaraEAV releases are on Clojars.


You should be familiar with Clara Rules before using ClaraEAV. The API docs are on Cljdoc. For a more complete example see this test.

(ns my.sample
  (:require [clara.rules :as r]
            [clara-eav.rules :as er]))

(er/defquery todo-q [?e]
  [?todo <- er/entity :from [[?e]]])

(er/defsession session 'my.sample)

(-> session
    (er/upsert #:todo{:eav/eid :new, :text "...", :done false})
    (r/query todo-q :?e :new))

; ({:?e :new, :?todo #:todo{:eav/eid :new, :text "...", :done false}})


This guide assumes familiarity with Clara Rules. The clara-eav.rules namespace mirrors clara.rules for the most part.

(ns my.sample
  (:require [clara.rules :as r]
            [clara-eav.rules :as er]))


EAV triplets

In Clara you store n-tuples (arbitrary records). In ClaraEAV you store only one type of record, the Entity-Attribute-Value (EAV) triplet. Standard records as normally operated by Clara can still be used alongside in the same session. The equivalence between n-tuples and triplets is illustrated below:

;; Sample N-tuple (4-tuple): a todo with 4 positions
(defrecord Todo [text done tag priority])
(map->Todo {:text "Buy milk", :done false, :tag :buy, :priority 3})

;; EAVs list (triplets list) equivalent to the n-tuple above
[[234 :todo/text "Buy milk"]
 [234 :todo/done false]
 [234 :todo/tag :buy]
 [234 :todo/priority 3]]

EAVs are of type record clara_eav.eav.EAV and can be destructured as 3-valued vectors or as maps with :e :a :v keys.

Transaction data (tx)

Upserts and retractions are done using "transaction data" (tx). It can be:

  1. A vector of 3 elements [e a v], "a" being a keyword.
  2. An EAV instance (clara-eav.eav/->EAV e a v).
  3. A sequence of EAVs like [d1 d2 ...], with d1, d2 etc as defined above.
  4. An entity map {:eav/eid 1 :todo/text "Buy milk", :todo/done false}.
  5. A sequence of entity maps.

Transaction data (tx) is what functions usually work with (upsert/retract). Since we use the generic "transaction data" concept, there is no -all- variants for upserts like in Clara, and standard upsert can be used for all cases.

The "e" position we sometimes name eid or entity id. In an entity map form it is the :eav/eid position.

EAVs with the same eid form entity maps, their attributes (a) and values (v) being keys and values in the entity map, and :eav/eid being a key in the entity map pointing to the eid (e); :eav/eid presence results in an operation with upsert semantics, and absence in results insert semantics.


A string eid designates a tempid and so does a negative int. A tempid is used in upserts as placeholder to be replaced with with unique eids generated from a per-session integer sequence. In the same transaction data, EAVs with the same tempid will be saved with the same eid. Tempids are not allowed in retractions.

;; The transaction data:
[["x" :a 1]
 ["x" :b 2]
 [-8 :a 5]
 [-8 :b 6]]

;; on upsert becomes:
[[1 :a 1]
 [1 :b 2]
 [2 :a 5]
 [2 :b 6]]

Transient EAVs

EAVs with :eav/transient attribute, when upserted, run through the rule chain and activate rules that refer them, but are retracted at the end (at salience -1 billion), and don't end up being saved. They can be used to implement commands.

[:my-command :eav/transient "my-value"]

Fact DSL

Rules and Queries can use the [E A V] syntax sugar in fact definition. The following fact pairs are equivalent (notice the extra [] vector brackets):

[[?e :todo/text ?v]]     => [:todo/text (= (:e this) ?e)
                                        (= (:v this) ?v)]
[[?e :todo/done]]        => [:todo/done (= (:e this) ?e)]

[[_]]                    => [:eav/all]
[[?e]]                   => [:eav/all (= (:e this) ?e)]
[[?e ?a]]                => [:eav/all (= (:e this) ?e)
                                      (= (:a this) ?a)]
[[?e ?a ?v]]             => [:eav/all (= (:e this) ?e)
                                      (= (:a this) ?a)
                                      (= (:v this) ?v)]

[?eavs <- [?e ?a ?v]]    => [?eavs <- :eav/all (= (:e this) ?e)
                                               (= (:a this) ?a)
                                               (= (:v this) ?v)]

[?x <- accumulator :from [[_]] => [?x <- accumulator :from [:eav/all]]

Keywords can be also be used as types, and they match the EAVs attribute. The attribute :a of an EAV is used as it's Clara type. The :eav/all keyword used as a type matches all EAVs.

;; Clara fact syntax
[?eav <- :todo/text (= (:e this) :new)]
[?eav <- (a/all) :from [:eav/all (= (:e this) :new)]]

;; ClaraEAV fact syntax
[?eav <- [:new :todo/text]]
[?eav <- (a/all) :from [[:new]]]



Sessions created trough ClaraEAV api are configured to work with EAVs.

(er/defsession session 'my.rules 'my.other.rules)

Rules and Queries

Define rules and queries using the two provided macros, er/defrule and er/defquery, in which you can use the ClaraEAV fact DSL:

(er/defrule logged-in
  {:salience 1000}
  [[:session :email]]
  (er/upsert! [:global :layout :todos]))

(er/defquery done-todos []
  [[?e :todo/done true]]
  [?todos <- er/entities :from [[?e]])

Transact EAV triplets

In ClaraEAV there is no plain insert operation, only upsert and retract. Functions are somewhat similar with those in Clara.

;; Upsert an EAV; if the attribute :layout exists under the eid :global, it's
;; value will be updated to :login, otherwise the triplet will be inserted.
;; Like in Clara, functions not ending in exclamation mark are used outside of
;; rules and take the session parameter.
(er/upsert session [:global :layout :login])

;; Upsert a list of EAVs. Like in Clara, functions ending in exclamation mark
;; are used inside rules, with truth maintenance.
(er/upsert! [[:new :todo/text "..."]
             [:new :todo/done false]])

;; Insert an entity map, from witin a rule. The eid is allocated automatically.
;; Like in Clara, the unconditional variant does not do truth maintenance.
(er/upsert-unconditional! {:todo/text "Buy milk"
                           :todo/done false})

;; The entity EAVs are inserted, or updated if they already exist.
(er/upsert! {:eav/eid :new
             :todo/text "Buy milk"
             :todo/done false})

;; The two EAVs will form one entity, "todo-id" tempid (string) being replaced
;; with the same generated eid for the given transaction data.
(er/upsert! [["todo-id" :todo/text "..."]
             ["todo-id" :todo/done false]])

;; Same as previous in map form.
(er/upsert! {:eav/eid "todo-id"
             :todo/text "..."
             :todo/done false})

;; Retract a list of entity maps in a call outside of rules.
(er/retract session [{:todo/text "Buy milk"
                      :todo/done false}
                     {:todo/text "Buy eggs"
                      :todo/done true}])

;; Retract an EAV from within a rule
(er/retract! [5 :todo/done true])


Accumulators are provided to turn EAVs back into entity maps upon retrieval.

  1. er/entity builds one entity map from a list of EAVs (they must all share the same eid, otherwise an exception is thrown) and binds it to the given variable.
  2. er/entities builds a list of entity maps from a list of EAVs, and binds them to the given variable.
(er/defquery todo [:?e]
  [?todo <- er/entity :from [[?e]]])

(er/defquery done-todos []
  [[?e :todo/done true]]
  [?todos <- er/entities :from [[?e]])

Pull API

See the Clara EQL project, based on EDN Query Language.


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