Janet 1.17.1-e1c4fc2 Documentation
(Other Versions: 1.16.1 1.15.0 1.13.1 1.12.2 1.11.1 1.10.1 1.9.1 1.8.1 1.7.0 1.6.0 1.5.1 1.5.0 1.4.0 1.3.1 )


As programs grow, they should be broken into smaller pieces for maintainability. Janet has the concept of modules to this end. A module is a collection of bindings and its associated environment. By default, modules correspond one-to-one with source files in Janet, although you may override this and structure modules however you like.

Installing a module

Using jpm, the path module can be installed like so from the command line:

sudo jpm install https://github.com/janet-lang/path.git

The use of sudo is not required in some setups, but is often needed for a global install on POSIX systems. You can pass in a git repository URL to the install command, and jpm will install that package globally on your system.

If you are not using jpm, you can place the file path.janet from the repository in your current directory, and Janet will be able to import it as well. However, for more complicated packages or packages containing native C extensions, jpm will usually be much easier.

Importing a module

To use a module, the best way is use the (import) macro, which looks for a module with the given name on your system and imports its symbols into the current environment, usually prefixed with the name of the module.

(import path)

(path/join (os/cwd) "temp")

Once path is imported, all of its symbols are available to the host program, but prefixed with path/. To import the symbols with a custom prefix or without any prefix, use the :prefix argument to the import macro.

(import path :prefix "")

(join (os/cwd) "temp")

You may also use the :as argument to specify the prefix in a more natural way.

(import path :as p)

(p/join (os/cwd) "temp")

Custom loaders (module/paths and module/loaders)

The module/paths and module/loaders data structures determine how Janet will load a given module name. module/paths is a list of patterns and methods to use to try and find a given module. The entries in module/paths will be checked in order, as it is possible that multiple entries could match. If a module name matches a pattern (which usually means that some file exists), then we use the corresponding loader in module/loaders to evaluate that file, source code, URL, or whatever else we want to derive from the module name. The resulting value, usually an environment table, is then cached so that it can be reused later without evaluating a module twice.

By modifying module/paths and module/loaders, you can create custom module schemes, handlers for file extensions, or even your own module system. It is recommended to not modify existing entries in module/paths or module/loader, and simply add to the existing entries. This is rather advanced usage, but can be incredibly useful in creating DSLs that feel native to Janet.


This is an array of file paths to search for modules in the file system. Each element in this array is a tuple [path type predicate], where path is a templated file path, which determines what path corresponds to a module name, and where type is the loading method used to load the module. type can be one of :native, :source, :image, or any key in the module/loaders table.

predicate is an optional function or file extension used to further filter whether or not a module name should match. It's mainly useful when path is a string and you want to further refine the pattern.

path can also be a function that checks if a module name matches. If the module name matches, the function should return a string that will be used as the main identifier for the module. Most of the time, this should be the absolute path to the module, but it can be any unique key that identifies the module such as an absolute URL. It is this key that is used to determine if a module has been loaded already. This mechanism lets ./mymod and mymod refer to the same module even though they are different names passed to import.


Once a primary module identifier and module type has been chosen, Janet's import machinery (defined mostly in require and module/find) will use the appropriate loader from module/loaders to get an environment table. Each loader in the table is just a function that takes the primary module identifier (usually an absolute path to the module) as well as optionally any other arguments passed to require or import, and returns the environment table. For example, the :source type is a thin wrapper around dofile, the :image type is a wrapper around load-image, and the :native type is a wrapper around native.

URL loader example

An example from examples/urlloader.janet in the source repository shows how a loader can be a wrapper around curl and dofile to load source files from HTTP URLs. To use it, simply evaluate this file somewhere in your program before you require code from a URL. Don't use this as is in production code, as if url contains spaces in load-url the module will not load correctly. A more robust solution would quote the URL, or better yet use os/execute and write to a temporary file instead of file/popen.

(defn- load-url
  [url args]
  (def f (file/popen (string "curl " url)))
  (def res (dofile f :source url ;args))
  (try (file/close f) ([err] nil))

(defn- check-http-url
  (if (or (string/has-prefix? "http://" path)
          (string/has-prefix? "https://" path))

# Add the module loader and path tuple to right places
(array/push module/paths [check-http-url :janet-http])
(put module/loaders :janet-http load-url)

Relative imports

You can include files relative to the current file by prefixing the module name with a ./. For example, if you have a file tree that is structured like so:


With the above structure, init.janet can import dep1 and dep2 with relative imports. This is less brittle as the entire mymod/ directory can be installed without any chance that dep1 and dep2 will overwrite other files, or that init.janet will accidentally import a different file named dep1.janet or dep2.janet. mymod can even be a sub-directory in another Janet source tree and work as expected.


(import ./deps/dep1 :as dep1)
(import ./deps/dep2 :as dep2)


Note that relative imports are relative to the current file, not to the working directory. For that behavior, see the section on working directory imports.

Pre-loaded Modules

An easy way to bypass the import system and create custom modules is to manually add modules into module/cache.

(put module/cache "mymod" (dofile "localfile.janet"))
# The module defined by localfile.janet can now be
# imported with (import mymod)

This is not recommended except in a few circumstances where a module needs to be loaded at runtime but doesn't exist on disk, such as if a program were compiled into a standalone executable. A pattern to allow this in a standalone executable built with jpm is as follows:

(def mod1 (require "./localfile"))

(defn main [& args]
  (put module/cache "mod1" mod1)
  # now calls to (import1 mod1) at runtime will succeed.
  (import mod1))

Working Directory Imports

Starting in 1.14.1, Janet will allow imports relative to the current working directory. This is very useful in scripting circumstances where source code must be loaded at runtime. This can be done with the function dofile, but it can also be done with the default import system.

To import a file relative to the working directory, prefix the import path with a forward slash "/".

(import /local)

This will import from a file ./local.janet, (or ./local.so, ./local.jimage, and so on), and prefix the imported symbols with local/.

Writing a module

Writing a module in Janet is mostly about exposing only the public functions that you want users of your module to be able to use. All top level functions defined via defn, macros defined defmacro, constants defined via def, and vars defined via var will be exported in your module. To mark a function or binding as private to your module, you may use defn- or def- at the top level. You can also add the :private metadata to the binding.

Sample module:

# Put imports and other requisite code up here

(def api-constant
 "Some constant."

(def- private-constant
 "Not exported."

(var *api-var*
 "Some API var. Be careful with these, dynamic bindings may be better."

(var *private-var* :private
 "var that is not exported."

(defn- private-fun
 "Sum three numbers."
 [x y z]
 (+ x y z))

(defn api-fun
 "Do a thing."
 (+ 10 (private-fun stuff 1 2)))

To import our sample module given that it stored on disk at mymod.janet, we could do something like the following (this also works in a REPL):

(import mymod)

mymod/api-constant # evaluates to 10000

(mymod/api-fun 10) # evaluates to 23

mymod/*api-var* # evaluates to nil
(set mymod/*api-var* 10)
mymod/*api-var* # evaluates to 10

(mymod/private-fun 10) # will not compile