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 2013.

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 mainstream.

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 builds.

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 Binstock 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 Scala will be jumping ship just yet.

Image by JonJon

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