Almost a year in development, it's finally here

The wait is over – Grails 2.0 released!

Chris Mayer

Grails 2.0 includes the latest libraries such as Groovy 1.8 and Spring 3.1 and gets a lick of paint with new intuitive UI

The SpringSource team certainly like dropping a sack full of goodies to the community around December. Nearly a year in development, the second major release of the full stack Groovy language-based framework, Grails 2.0 has been revealed and it has already got developers salivating at the prospect of migrating their applications

It’s fair to say that Grails has certainly modernised web development on the JVM in recent years, by ridding the complexity of old frameworks. By using established Java technologies such as Spring and Hibernate and constantly evolving the amount of plugins available, Grails has managed to become a crowd favourite.

Graeme Rocher promised a greater user experience and the list of the gifts on offer seems longer than many you’d see at this time of year. The first striking difference is the new console interface, now incorporating tab completion and coloured output, certainly giving the framework the aesthetic look it rightly deserves. The documentation engine has got a makeover too, making it much easier to retrieve information.

Another welcomed improvement is the revised reloading mechanism that no longer uses class loaders, but instead employs a JVM agent to do the class files work, meaning that there should be far less server restarts. Further enhancements include:

  • Improved error reporting and problem diagnosis
  • The latest libraries: Groovy 1.8, Spring 3.1, Hibernate 3.6 and Servlet 3.0
  • A powerful framework for static resources (CSS, Javascript, etc.)
  • New APIs for link generation and page rendering
  • New GORM features: detached criteria, Where queries, multiple data sources, and NoSQL support ( Redis, Riak, and MongoDB)
  • Standard plugins for database migrations and reverse engineering
  • New unit testing API with full GORM emulation

This is only scratching the surface however with over 900 tweaks tailored to make Grails that little bit better. If that’s possible. Grails 2.0 is cloud-ready through Cloud Foundry, with both the Grails and Heroku teams stating that they are in the midst of migration.

Rocher also noted the internal changes as development went on:

During the course of the development of Grails 2.0 the source code has evolved in a number of significant ways. We modularized the source code by shifting to Gradle as a build tool; we now use Artifactory for repository management; Spock has become our defacto testing tool; and we rewrote the internals to take advantage of Groovy AST transformations. Grails is significantly better off with all these changes and users will see the benefit in Grails 2.0

You’ll find much deeper detail within the team’s magnificently crafted What’s New section, really delving deep into the changes they’ve made. Peter Ledbrook also provides this excellent webinar, telling you why you should think of upgrading if you’re an avid user or if you’re not a Grails user why you ought to reconsider. His Countdown to Grails 2.0 series gives great insight too.

Once again, Grails has reinvented the wheel and is on the right track towards a greater user experience and community acclaim. That year in incubation has really paid off.

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