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Like many Clojure projects, this is stable and doesn't require active maintenance. There might not be recent commits but it is still used and maintained.

Build Status


This is a Clojure tool that notices when your source changes and then reloads your code and runs your clojure.test tests. It works with Leiningen and deps.edn based projects.

It also works with expectations clojure.test compatible syntax.


  • Enables quick feedback cycles by automatically refreshing your code and running your tests.
  • Runs previously failing tests first, giving you feedback even quicker.
  • Built-in test-selector, :test-refresh/focus, that lets you narrow the scope of your testing without restarting test-refresh. A different selector can be overridden through configuration. See the sample project.clj or documentation in this README for more details.
  • Optionally only automatically runs tests in changed namespaces.
  • Can pass result of running your tests to a notification command of your choice.
  • Has built in Growl notification support.
  • Can be configured to only notify you on failures.
  • Times how long it takes to run your tests.
  • Can optionally suppress clojure.test's Testing namespace output. This is extremely useful in making test output with larger codebases readable again.
  • You can hit enter in terminal to force tests to rerun.
  • Supports clojure.test's custom reports.
  • Supports running your tests once! Useful for taking advantage of custom test reporters or quiet output in CI systems.
  • Has optional repl support for changing global state, such as timbre logging levels
  • Detects if your project uses circleci.test and uses that instead of clojure.test.
  • Leiningen only: Supports subset of Leiningen test selectors.

sample.project.clj show optional Leininen configuration. example.test-refresh.edn shows configuration options available to deps.edn based projects.

The sample configuration files and the rest of this documentation show how test-refresh can be used.



Latest version

Add the above to your ~/.lein/profiles.clj. It should look similar to below.

{:user {:plugins [[com.jakemccrary/lein-test-refresh "0.24.1"]]}}

Alternatively you may add it to your project.clj.

(defproject sample
  :dependencies [[org.clojure/clojure "1.8.0"]]
  :profiles {:dev {:plugins [[com.jakemccrary/lein-test-refresh "0.24.1"]]}})

In my personal setup I also include humane-test-output which changes clojure.test's output to be more readable. Other users include ultra instead which does even more to the output (color, prettifying exceptions and diffs, etc).

Enter your project's root directory and run lein test-refresh. The output will look something like this.

$ lein test-refresh
*************** Running tests ***************

<standard clojure.test output>

Failed 1 of 215 assertions
Finished at 08:25:20.619 (run time: 9.691s)

Your terminal will just stay like that. Whenever there is a code change, test-refresh will reload your code and rerun your tests.

deps.edn based projects

This is new as-of August 2021 and is a feature that the author, Jake McCrary, hasn't used much. Please report back any issues and feedback as Github issues or through email.

Latest version

If you want to use test-refresh with a deps.edn based project then add it to your :aliases section like below but using the version specified above.

{:paths ["src"]
 :deps {org.clojure/clojure {:mvn/version "1.10.3"}}
 {:test-refresh {:extra-paths ["test"]
                 :extra-deps {com.jakemccrary/test-refresh
                              {:mvn/version "0.25.0-SNAPSHOT"}}
                 :main-opts ["-m" "com.jakemccrary.test-refresh"]}}}

Run with clojure -M:test-refresh

$ clojure -M:test-refresh
*************** Running tests ***************
:reloading (hello-test)

<standard clojure.test output>

Failed 1 of 1 assertions
Finished at 19:05:30.927 (run time: 0.034s)

test-refresh will notice when code changes and then reload and rerun your tests. When there is a change your code is tested again.

Configuration for test-refresh in deps.edn files must be specified through .test-refresh.edn files. By default ~/.test-refresh.edn and $PWD/.test-refresh.edn files are loaded, with the project specific file overriding settings from the ~/.test-refresh.edn file.

You can also specify an alternative configuration file at the command line clojure -M:test-refresh -c config-file.edn

Here is an example.test-refresh.edn.


Any command line example here that is lein test-refresh :some-argument is only supported by Leiningen. deps.edn usage must be configured through .test-refresh.edn files.

Hit Enter to rerun tests

If you need to rerun your tests without changing a file then hit Enter when focused on a running test-refresh. This behavior will stop if test-refresh thinks it has read till the end of STDIN. This is usually caused by hitting ctrl-d, but also when a specific version of bash is invoked by test-refresh which can happen when running tests or notify commands.

Built-in test narrowing (test selector)

Have you ever been running all of your tests and then want to only focus on one? Instead of commenting out the others or quitting test-refresh and restarting with a test-selector you can add :test-refresh/focused true to your test(s) or namespace.

With the below code, only test-addition will run until the :test-refresh/focus marker is removed from it.

(deftest ^:test-refresh/focus test-addition
  (is (= 2 (+ 1 1))))

(deftest test-subtraction
  (is (= 0 (- 10 9 1))))

You can optionally specify a shorter flag by adding :focus-flag :your-flag to test-refresh's configuration.

Configuration Features

A sample.project.clj contains the definitive example of configuring test-refresh features. Configuration can appear in any file that Leiningen uses to merge into your project's configuration when running commands. Often test-refresh configuration is a personal preference and should be configured in your personal ~/.lein/profiles.clj.


test-refresh supports specifying a notification command. This command is passed a short message after your tests have run. This command is configured through your project.clj or profiles.clj. For example, if you want to send OSX notifications using terminal-notifier then you would add the following to your project.clj or profiles.clj

:test-refresh {:notify-command ["terminal-notifier" "-title" "Tests" "-message"]}

test-refresh also has built-in Growl support. To receive Growl notifications run lein test-refresh :growl. This has been tested with modern (well, asof 2016) versions of Growl for OS X, Linux, and Windows. You can also always set this to true by setting :test-refresh {:growl true}}. An example can be found in the sample project.clj.

:notify-on-success is another available option. It can be used to turn off notifications when your tests are successful. Set :notify-on-success false to turn off success notifications. An example can be found in the sample project.clj.

Reduced terminal output

test-refresh can be configured to suppress clojure.test's Testing namespace output. Add :quiet true to your :test-refresh configuration map to suppress clojure.test's noisy output. This is particularly useful on codebases with a large number of test namespaces.

Only run changes in changed namespaces.

test-refresh can be configured to only automatically run tests in changed namespaces. This can be used to get even faster feedback since only tests where something has changed will be run. You can toggle this mode by adding a :changes-only true entry in your :test-refresh configuration or by passing it as a command line option lein test-refresh :changes-only.

If you are in this mode and want to run all your tests you can trigger them by hitting enter in the terminal where test-refresh is running.

Custom Clojure.test report

test-refresh can be configured to use a custom clojure.test output report. Add :report myreport.namespace/myreport to your :test-refresh configuration map to use your own reporter for clojure.test's output. An example can be found in the sample project.clj.

Running your tests once

At first this seems like a weird feature for a refreshing test runner to support but because of the other features test-refresh supports, such as custom test runners, being able to just run tests once can be useful. See this pull request for discussion.

You can either configure this option in your project.clj (or profiles.clj) or pass it as a command line option. Check out sample.project.clj for an example of project configuration.

Using it at the command line looks like lein test-refresh :run-once.

Running with a REPL

test-refresh can be run with :with-repl which will start up a repl that you can interact with in between test runs. The main reason for this option is that sometimes you want to affect global state in your application. An example is when you see a test failure, you can call (taoensso.timbre/set-level! :debug) and see more information.

See this pull request for details.

Running in a REPL

test-refresh supports running in a repl. This was done to support running in Cursive's repl so users could click and navigate to source.

To use this feature, add test-refresh as a project dependency instead of as a plugin. Then open your repl and do the following

user=> (require 'com.jakemccrary.test-refresh)
user=> (com.jakemccrary.test-refresh/run-in-repl "test")
*************** Running tests ***************

The tests will run until you kill the evaluation with ctrl-c.

This feature is one I never use myself. I'd consider it experimental. In my very limited testing I've had some weird behavior where I couldn't get it to stop running. I'm putting it out there though so others can use it.


I encourage pull requests. If you're making a large change it is probably a good idea to create an issue and run it by me first. If you open a pull request you should expect me to review the code and potentially suggest improvements.

Working on test-refresh can be a bit tricky. Despite being a tool to enhance testing it has very few tests itself. As a result its sort of a pain to work on. My typical work flow is outlined below. I encourage you to do the following as well (or better yet, add some useful tests!).

  1. Open two terminals, one in the ./test-refresh directory and one in ./lein2.
  2. In ./test-refresh run lein install to put a version built from your local test-refresh checkout into your ~/.m2 directory.
  3. The project in ./lein2 is setup to use whatever version is specified in ./test-refresh/project.clj. As a result it will use the recently lein installed version from the above step. Use the project in ./lein2 to test out your local version of test-refresh. Toggle settings in ./lein/project.clj to test various features. Make tests fail and pass.
  4. Make your changes to the project in ./test-refresh and lein install.
  5. Repeat manual testing in ./lein2. Add sample code or configuration to ./lein2 project to show your changes.

Its a bit painful but it works. If there were more active changes happening to the project I'd invest the time to figure out how to test it but given the stability of test-refresh I haven't bothered. They would be a welcome addition.

Latest version & Change log

The latest version is the highest non-snapshot version found in or whatever the below images says (sometimes image doesn't seem to load).


Latest version


Latest version


lein-test-refresh has been tested to work with Clojure 1.5.1, 1.6, and 1.7, 1.8, 1.9 with Leiningen 2.3+.

Because of tools.namespace changes test-refresh requires that your project use Clojure >= 1.3.0. If your project also depends on a version of tools.namespace < 0.2.1 you may see occasional exceptions.

Leiningen 1.0

If you are using Leiningen 1 this project is definitely broken starting on lein-test-refresh version 0.21.0. Try using 0.20.0 or earlier. These versions were not explicitly tested with Leiningen 1 but they probably work. Leiningen 1 is not officially supported.


Copyright (C) Jake McCrary

Distributed under the Eclipse Public License, the same as Clojure.

Can you improve this documentation? These fine people already did:
Jake McCrary, Petr Vápenka, Jeff Slavin, Aaron Bell, Miloslav Nenadal, Bitdeli Chef, Tommi Reiman, Pedro Santos, Anthony D'Ambrosio & Colin Yates
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