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[zz]ROR Series 3 : Grails Misconceptions

2007/07/22

Grails Misconceptions

Posted by Geoffrey Wiseman

Marc Palmer, a Grails committer, posted about some of the common misconceptions that developers have about Grails, such as "Grails is not mature enough for me":

The increasing number of live commercial sites is the best answer to that. Its also built on Hibernate, Spring and SiteMesh which are well-established technologies, not to mention the Java JDK which is as old as the hills. Groovy is over three years old.

And, in response to "Grails uses an interpreted language (Groovy)":

Groovy compiles to Java VM bytecode at runtime. It is never, ever, ever interpreted. Period. Never. Did I say never ever? Really.

Finally, talking about whether or not Grails is just a clone of Rails:

Ruby On Rails introduced and unified some great ideas. Grails applies some of them to the Groovy/Java world but adds many features and concepts that don’t exist in Ruby, all in a way that makes sense to Groovy/Java programmers.

Graeme Rocher followed up with his own list of misconceptions and questions, such as "Who needs Grails when we have JRuby on Rails?":

This is a classic and is the foundations for one of the biggest misconceptions about what Grails is. JRuby on Rails is an excellent way to run Rails apps on a Java EE container like GlassFish. End of story. Grails has very different goals. It is not a port of Rails to the Groovy language. It is the act of bringing together solid industrial strength components like Spring, Hibernate, Quartz, Compass, Sitemesh etc. and making them DRY by embracing convention-over-configuration.

We’re not re-inventing the wheel and because the vast majority of the core of Grails is Java it is more robust and performant. Grails is actually a Spring MVC application at its core and is deployable onto all major containers, not just Glassfish, including the big commercial ones such as WebLogic, WebSphere and Oracle AS.

And, "Why is Grails more suitable than Rails for the enterprise?"

A number of reasons. Two of the biggest ones are Spring & Hibernate. As it stands to day a enormous number of organisations are using Spring & Hibernate. They have existing Spring context, existing Hibernate domain models, and so on.

I was in this same situation before I started working in Grails. Grails is designed to integrate with these frameworks as seamlessly as possible. So for example you can drop a Hibernate domain model written in Java and mapping files into a Grails app and start using dynamic finders and GORM straight away.

In addition Grails controllers use standard Servlet API objects like request, response, session etc. and can sit alongside other servlets. It is after all just a Spring MVC application under the covers. Rails on the other hand is designed almost in a way EJB2 was designed (shock, horror bear with me while I qualify this). In other words you extend framework objects like ActiveController, ActiveRecord etc. which bind you to the framework.

There is also no such thing as a domain model in Rails. Rails models are database tables. This is all well and good, but in enterprises the same domain model is often re-used in multiple applications both desktop and web. This is effectively accomplished in Java by packaging the classes with the mapping files in a JAR.

Do you have other questions about Grails, or have you seen other misconceptions about its use? Share them with us here, on InfoQ’s Java community.

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