Groovy 2009 Year In Review and 2010 Predictions
The following is my review of Groovy in 2009, and a look at where Groovy might go in 2010.
Groovy in 2009
Groovy 1.6 Released
Groovy 1.6 was released at the beginning of the year, and the most exciting new features have turned out to be Grape and AST Transformations.
Grape allows a developer to declare dependencies within their Groovy source code and then, at runtime, Groovy will download and install the dependencies using Ivy repositories. Want to ship scripts to your operations team? You no longer need to email or build JARs! It's no Jigsaw, but maybe that's a good thing.
AST Transformations allow developers to hook into the Groovy compiler and alter the way the code is compiled. This has enabled great work like the @Bindable and @Delegate annotations, as well as many forward thinking (read: visionary) libraries like the Spock testing framework and the CodeNarc static code analysis tools. Watch for more cool libraries and frameworks to use these features in 2010.
While Flex and JavaFX duked it out for developer mindshare in the coveted (and hyped) RIA space, a groovier team quietly forked the Grails codebase and adapted it for Swing desktop applications. Griffon is way more than a dynamically typed builder pattern on top of Swing components. Griffon gives you property binding to widgets (you're not the only one Flex), a standard and simple MVC architecture without a spaghetti monster diagram (that's you PureMVC), more components than just a TextBox (the complete JavaFX widget set last Winter), a plugin system that allows you to decompose problems into reusable addons, and an easy way to deploy your app via webstart. If the Griffon team can keep the energy they had in 2009 then 2010 should be the year of the lion. Or eagle... or dog. What the hell is a griffon anyway?
Groovy Tooling Explosion
Looks like IntelliJ IDEA has some competition for best Groovy IDE. The Groovy Eclipse plugin got new life as Andrew Eisenberg revived the project, and SpringSource released better Grails support in SpringSource Tool Suite. Was the open sourcing of IDEA a response to the new competition? Who cares, it's free now! While IDEA is still the best IDE for Groovy, Groovy users will surely benefit from each IDE maker trying to outdo the other.
VMWare Buys SpringSource
Seriously, who saw this coming? This week at Groovy/Grails Exchange, Graeme Rocher demoed deploying to the cloud from his IDE (according to Twitter). Easy cloud deployment is good news... it will end the monthly "who do you use for Java hosting?" questions on user groups. Now if only the price would come down.
A Groovy conference created by the community, for the community, and priced for the community. It's great to see not for profit additions to the Groovy conference scene, and next year sees two GR8 events: one in Europe and one in North America (Minneapolis!). In other community news, Chicago Groovy Users Group started posting video sessions to blip.tv. Can we get some other GUGs to do the same?
A Groovy 2010
Don't think of these as predictions... think of them more as premature facts.
To be clear: Gradle is not a Groovy technology. It is an enterprise build system written in Java with Groovy used as a build script. Anyway, the 0.9 release will include "Smart Execution/Incremental Compile" and 1.0 will support multi-threaded builds. These are enterprise level features that would be totally unique to Gradle... and they're sure to intice a lot of unhappy Maven developers. If the Gradle team can hit 1.0 and publish a book(!), then a lot of people will migrate.
I can't find anyone with anything bad to say about either the Fork/Join Framework or BMW Motorcycles... and I just sold my bike to spend more time coding. GParallelizer hasn't been widely adopted to date, in my opinion because it chased the Actor-Model hype a little too strongly. But now it's been rebranded GPars and an all-star team has been assembled to work on it. This isn't a good project to just follow, it's a good project to download and play with. Get the bits and join the mailing list. Your opinion counts! It's too bad that they hate cool the logo I made for them.
The decision by the Grails team to make almost everything a plugin was genius. It provides a standard mechanism for everyone to modularize their own applications, and provides an easy path for users to push their non-business-critical plugins back into the community. If Griffon users embrace the plugin system, and then push their plugins back to the community, then Griffon could be a real alternative to JavaFX/Flex by the end of the year.
I wish the JDK team the best of luck meeting their September 2010 release deadline. While I have doubts that JDK 7 will ship in 2010, I do believe the closure syntax will be decided upon. And Groovy will be the first Java language to support that syntax. Whether a version of Groovy containing Java closures actually ships before JDK 7 is probably dependent on how the Groovy team wants to address the modularization issues of Jigsaw, which sounds like a much harder problem to solve.
Groovy IDE Support Improves... a little
IntelliJ IDEA still leads in features by a wide margin, but Eclipse and STS aren't stealing IDEA users, they're stealing TextMate users. People just want to debug without parsing all the files in the world. IDEA will remain the sole provider of Groovy refactorings, intentions, and auto-completions. But Eclipse will finally become a better alternative than a text editor. However, the open sourceing of IDEA should make it easier (and faster) to get IDEA support for newer frameworks, which is a good thing.
Groovy-User Mailing List Shuts Down
For the entire month of June, all posts to groovy-user will be answered with the same response: "This is covered in Groovy in Action 2nd Edition". By the end of the month admins will simply replace the mailing list home page with an advertisement for the book.
What Won't Happen
InvokeDynamic is set to greatly improve implementing and running dynamic languages on the JVM. Only it won't be released until September 2010 at the earliest. Sure you can get the OpenJDK now, but most users won't do that. I predict InvokeDynamic being the story of 2011, not 2010... and even then I bet the JRuby guys beat us to it.
The Java Store
Let me get this straight... you want me to pay US$50 yearly so that I can give my Griffon app away free on the Java Store? You gotta be kidding. Griffon + the Java Store could be a match made in heaven: Griffon makes JNLP Webstart simple to configure and the Java Store handles hosting the files. But Sun/Oracle is turning too many hobbiest and small time developers away with their entrance fee. Are you listening Mr Ellison? I said I want... oh wait, you're not listening. How hard would it be to make the Groovy Store?
This was fun. What are your Groovy 2009 highlights and 2010 predictions?
(Note: Opinions expressed in this article and its replies are the opinions of their respective authors and not those of DZone, Inc.)