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The evolution of Ninja – a “full stack” web framework rooted in Java

Lucy Carey
lego-ninja1

With version number 3 going GA this week, we take a look into the not-so-mysterious ways of this zippy, scalable open-source framework.

Ninja, a web framework
written entirely in Java is as the name would suggest, swift,
silent, and a master of scaling (though obviously not of castle
walls). Much like a martial arts training montage, its development
has been as fast and sure as the flight of a throwing star, taking
just over 18 months to get to this week’s version three
release.

The open-source Java web framework was first developed in 2012
by Berlin based designer and entrepreneur. Previously, the team
were heavy users of the Play Framework, as well as JEE
and Spring, to develop and maintain applications. However, as the
Play framework shifted its focus to Scala, putting Java in the
backseat, a gap in the market emerged for a new ‘vanilla Java’
champion.

It’s this Java focus that helps make Ninja an
attractive option for many – blending high-quality IDE support,
statically typed language, and an enormous sprawling ecosystem. But
Ninja isn’t just there to be a panacea for Play’s withdrawal from
the Javasphere.

FinalFrontierLabs also wanted something that would combine
a veritable Christmas list full of features to make their
development easier. Things like simple JSON consumption and
rendering for clean restful APIs, HTML rendering / form submission
validation and parsing, built-in support for authentication of
users, and a nice clean codebase.

The framework comes with integrated Maven build,
making horizontal scaling relatively easy. It’s got a useful
built-in testing environment, and is “100% compatible with
traditional servlet containers.” Moreover, a lack of XML based
configuration means that it’s easy to get started out of the
box.

Since Ninja kicked into life, rapid development
cycles, testing support, a REST architecture and a simple
programming model have become its signature moves. Having utilised
multiple open source codes in the initial build, the team behind it
state that, “Ninja is standing on the shoulder of giants.”

Within version three you’ll find new dependencies, route
improvements, and new docs. If you’d like take an epic quest to
discover the framework for yourself, you’ll find documentation
on the official website, and the source code
on GitHub.
Pick it up, and, if nothing else, you’ll be able to legitimately
add ‘Ninja developer’ to your Twitter bio. No word yet if there’s a
rival Pirate framework out there, but rest assured I’ll keep you
posted.

Image by wiredforlego

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