Oh, behave!

Groovy smashes records with 3 million downloads in 2013

Lucy Carey

Is it only a matter of time before we see this alternative language crossing over into the mainstream?

With 1.7 million downloads in 2012, all the signs were
good that last year was going to be a big one for Groovy – but not
many people would have predicted today’s news of
three million downloads
of the alternative language in

Creator Guillaume Laforge, who arrived at this figure
by compiling Maven Central statistics, as well as “slicing and
dicing the Codehaus Apache logs”, attributes this staggering
increase to the “hard work of the Groovy core development team and
the friendly community and ecosystem.”

These figures are for pure Groovy downloads by the
way, and don’t account for bespoke versions of the language which
come bundled in with programs such as Grails or Gradle.

As Laforge points out in his blog post, a substantial
amount of downloads are of Groovy as a library, rather than as an
installable binary distribution, due to the fact that Groovy is
essentially a “dependency” to add to projects. The peaks on the
chart for the most part correspond to major releases – naturally
rising in concurrence with monthly downloads, which rise from 200k
to 300k a month between January 2012 and December 2013.

Although it continues to lag behind Scala, with its
huge and tenacious community, in terms of popularity, these figures
show that slowly but surely, Groovy is edging its way into the

For beginners, the language is very simple to pick up
– something that users argue actually hamper it in popularity
rankings, on the grounds that, if people understand how something
works, they won’t be spending hours looking for tutorials and
pushing up your search rankings.

And let’s not forget the all important Java
intercompatibility factor. Due to its similarity to Java, it’s
relatively painless for these devs to master, the main difference
being that it’s
dynamically typed
, which removes a lot of boilerplate, and adds
closures to the language.

There’s also a huge ecosystem which has grown up
around it, and, as the newly emerged static website generator
Grain shows, there are
plenty of additions in development.

A healthy industry interest in Groovy may well have
also contributed to this spike in ranking. Notably last year, the
language was featured in Pivotal’s recently released
Spring Framework 4.0
, as well as the Gradle build automation
system, currently being utilised by Google for Android app

Finally, with its last major releases, Groovy resolved some
major legacy performance issues, which had long turned many people
off the Java alternative. As Andrew
notes, with these developments, the language was
finally poised to explode. The community is relatively small, but
it’s certainly growing. If the Groovy team can continue the good
work they’ve started, 2014 may be yet another bumper year for
adoption – though we’re not convinced Team
will be jumping ship just yet.

Image by JonJon

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