Grails – incredible? Be surprised!

grailslogo_topNavAfter a short look the answer is yes. But after a little deeper digging into Groovy and Grails, I must admit that I’m simply surprised! Not only by its simplicity but also because of its decent features and the fact that Grails combines all the best from both Ruby on Rails and Java. If you worked with this couple, you should be curious by now.

What is Grails?

Grails is an open source web framework powered by the Groovy – language based on Java. Hiding a lot of unnecessary configuration details it brings a clear web-development enviroment. Grails runs on a standard servlet container, which enables you to choose your own presentation technology, no matter if it’s JSP or GSP based.

Why you should consider Grails?

Because it’s easy to start with

Grails offers an easy start for experienced Java developers as well as beginners with no Java knowledge. All thanks to Groovy. If you write some Java code it’s very likely that with groovy the same code will be MUCH shorter, yet giving the same result. On the other hand – do you have some custom, nice Java libraries and you want to use them again? No problem. Just import them like you always do in Java files. Cool, isn’t it?

Extremely simplified and speedy development

No need to configure cursed XML files, easy command line scripting gives all what is needed for application development, creating files etc. Full MVC support, tons of useful plug ins. Additionally – NetBeans offers fully implemented, excellent support for Grails projects and this can really speed up the development process even more.

Custom Tags, RIA, great templating

Creating custom tag in Grails is a breeze, thanks to the rich plug ins database it’s very easy to add any AJAX or JavaScript based solution. You can define your templates and use them in your Grails application with ease.

Additionally along with Grails you obtain an inbuilt Jetty server and HSQLDB database. No need to configure – it’s ready to run. And since all you need to do after downloading is to set the environment variables, your first web application (even with database usage) is ready after 5 minutes.

In my next article I will explain how to set up a  Grails application from scratch to show you how simple it is. Besides I will explain the best Grails’ features. Stay tuned! And of course share your experience with us below or meet us on Twitter: @GOYELLO.

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6 comments

  1. I am still confused as to why so many developers complain about the XML configs? Most of them are covered in Eclipse plugins with little to no work, and it gives you a nice understanding of the process between the various pieces. It amazes me how many developers continue to want to be removed further and further from actually understanding what is going on with their code. I have plenty of working J2EE apps complete with mysql configuration, schemas, xsd for JAXb object creation, build scripts, servelt/jsp, mvc framework and ejbs that literally take me a few minutes to copy/paste to a new project and build/deploy it. Then I just mostly work on the guts of the app itself with a little here and there configuration. How hard is it to do this? It seems groovy, grails, ruby/rails, etc are all these fluff frameworks that try to show ways java is hard or difficult to use and learn, yet java is far easier than c/C++, prolog, .net and many other languages and besides being the most sought after and used language, it's easier to learn than these others too. Maybe the OO concepts are hard for beginners, but being experienced, I find that trying to look at the horrible script like syntax of php, ruby and such, I don't find it at all easy to pick up and use. Thus far performance has shown Java to still be far ahead of all these other new frameworks, even those compiled on the JVM like JRuby and Grails.

    Is Java really that hard? I mean, if you've been doing java for some years already and understand the language and the Jave EE stack, what is so difficult about it? Google has basically taken the hard work out of remembering how some configuration files work simply by looking things up and copying/pasting the modifying for your specific use.

    So what is it that has gotten so many java developers hyping up Ruby, Groovy, Python, etc? Are these frameworks and languages being used in mass all over the web replacing Java EE sites, complete with full scalable sites handling millions of usres, transactions, etc? So far, most of what I find is “I'll use it for a pet project.. it's fun to mess around with.” Great.. thats great if you've got all this spare time to try a language just for fun. I agree with that. But to use php's script like syntax, which is basically like putting Java code in a JSP page which as far as I've known for years is a VERY bad idea, I am lost as to why anyone would consider using php or ruby over Java for anything other than basic sites or to learn something new even though it's unlikely it will ever come close to being on the scale of Java or even .NET.

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  2. Kevin, you've got the point, but for example i've started using some frameworks just recently. Before i only was creating in pure JSP – i mean i never even used eclipse or netbeans. And i have learned a lot about getting my server and apps running. Of course it took some time to understand rules but now im pretty confident about what im actually doing.

    But just a few weeks ago i stated trying some frameworks – Wicket was first try, but then i tried Grails. And it is just fine to see how my dev speeded up. Since im still newbie wih grails im not sure if i actually have to put any code into my pages except html with some groovy tags. I already know what is it like putting any scriptlets in JSP 🙂 So im not doing it, but u mentioned as well that its fluffy scripting all around. Groovy is quite script-like language, but from my experience it is only a wrapper to real java. I know java, so why should i write some addictional code when i can pack it into few lines of groovy?

    What i really admire is this all CRUD stuff. I'm setting my scaffold and im not worried any more.

    I can see your point Kevin, but noone should always choose hardcore way of learning stuff 😉 I mean – maybe after some work with grails someone will want to know what is under the hood and this way you can have another java-geek 😉 (im joking, still im java-geek as well 🙂

    Regards

    ps. when is new post coming? im still learning grails and doing lots of tutorials, but many of them aren't “from the scratch”, so im having difficulties sometimes 🙂

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  3. Thanks for you comment.

    I think Java is incredible and I think that it is a matter of choice. So, if you don't care about what is going on behind scenes you can freely choose a framework like Grails. I also think that is good that there are many frameworks for developing Java Web applications. It makes Java more popular and maybe, when most of the developers that have chosen Grails because it is fast they would soon try out new incoming JEE6 with new nice features when they needed more scalable frameworks. Who knows…

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