Groovy And Others Continue To Expand The JVM Horizon Saturday, January 20, 2007

We have had the JVM for over a decade now. There are a whole lot of languages out there that allow developers to build applications for the JVM. The most popular of course is Java. The alternative languages cover the whole spectrum including Lisp, Scheme, Logo, Tcl, Cobol, Ada, Python, Forth, Fortran, Pascal and on and on and on. Why would so many people spend so much effort developing new languages for the JVM or bindings for existing languages to run on the JVM when Sun already went to the trouble of developing the Java language? That is a fair question. The answer varies from case to case. Many of the languages built for the JVM were academic exercises but certainly not all of them. Part of the answer is the fact that the JVM is a fantastic platform for deploying applications but the Java language is not always the best solution for the job at hand.

Among the wide array of languages for the JVM, a few languages have poked their heads up as key players lately. In particular, dynamic languages are getting a lot of attention, for good reason. Of those dynamic languages at this point Groovy and JRuby are among the most popular.

JRuby is a pure Java implementation of the Ruby programming language bringing the power and flexibility of Ruby to the Java platform. One of the significant contributors to Ruby's success is the Ruby On Rails web application framework. JRuby promises to bring that power and flexibility to the JVM. JRuby is a great tool for folks who want to write Ruby code for the JVM but JRuby is not what I want to talk about today. I want to talk about Groovy...

Groovy is a dynamic language written specifically for the JVM. Groovy has a syntax that in many areas is going to be really familiar to Java programmers. Like Ruby has Ruby On Rails, Groovy also has a framework for agile web development and that framework is Grails. Grails has taken a whole lot of inspiration from Ruby on Rails and is a really powerful and fun way to build web applications for the JVM. Grails is bringing the "coding by convention" paradigm to Groovy web programming in a way that is really appealing to developers already familiar with Java's syntax and the rich capabilities of the JVM.

So What Is Happening With Groovy And Grails?

So much is going on with Groovy and Grails right now. The Groovy community has been on track for a long time now knowing that 2007 was going to be a big year. Now that 2007 is here, Groovy and Grails are really in their groove. ;)

Here are some of the things stirring in that community right now:

- Groovy has just released version 1.0. The Groovy community has known that this was coming and having 1.0 out there on the shelves now is a big win for Groovy.

- Manning has recently published Groovy In Action, known as GINA. GINA is being referred to as "Groovy's Pick Axe Book" (a reference to Dave Thomas' definitive guide to Ruby, Programming Ruby). That is not because GINA was the first major book published on Groovy. This has more to do with GINA's clear, direct and thorough coverage of the language.

- Apress has recently published The Definitive Guide To Grails. In The Definitive Guide, Graeme Rocher presents Grails with a real nuts-and-bolts feel that takes developers through comprehensive coverage of the Grails framework.

- Morgan Kaufmann has recently published Groovy Programmers: An Introduction for Java Developers. I have not had time to read Kaufmann's book yet but I think having another general coverage book out there is probably a good thing.

- Jay Zimmerman and Scott Davis have gone live with, a great one stop shopping portal for all things Groovy and Grails.

- InfoQ recently published Jason Rudolph's minibook Getting Started with Grails, providing another source of Grails coverage and bringing Grails to the attention of more folks.

- The 2007 No Fluff Just Stuff Symposium Tour is dedicating significant track time to both Groovy and Grails. NFJS has always responded to the community by presenting what developers know is going to be important and the timing is just right this year for the tour to bring Groovy and Grails to the forefront.

- Skills Matter has announced the first 3 day Grails eXchange 2007 event. Grails eXchange focuses on Groovy and Grails in addition to providing tracks dedicated to Java Entperise Edition (JEE) and Ajax/Web 2.0.

- Sven Haiges has announced that his series of Grails podcasts is going to expand to include general Groovy coverage. Sven's podcasts have been a great asset to the Grails community and opening that up to include more Groovy coverage is going to be great for the community.

- Some recent podcasts of interest include Scott Davis' interview with Guillaume Laforge, an interview with Jay Zimmerman and an interview I did with Sven Haiges for the Grails Podcast series.

Developers and Enterprises that are interested in building applications for the JVM are going to find that Groovy solves a lot of their problems really well. All of those Java developers out there will find that learning "The Groovy Way" is not a difficult task and the benefits are fantastic. Combine all of that with the fact that writing Groovy code is just plain fun and you have got a recipe for success.

If you don't already know why so many people are getting excited about Groovy, pickup a copy of GINA and start tinkering. As you start developing your Groovy Kung Fu you will start to question many aspects of "the old way" that have been taken for granted for so long now. Many things about Groovy "just make sense".

Have Fun!


Anonymous said...

Great roundup of the Groovy/Grails movement. I really feel that Groovy and Grails will catch on with Java Developers looking for a different way to develop web applications. Ruby on Rails is doing a great job trailblazing the way for lightweight frameworks, but I think is will be Groovy and Grails that reaps much of the rewards in 2007 and beyond.