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Jeff Brown: Grails 1.0 and Beyond

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[img_assist|nid=880|title=|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=165|height=220]Jeff Brown is long time Groovy and Grails committer. He recently joined G2One, the Groovy and Grails company. Learn more about the Grails 1.0 release, the Grails road map and Jeff's thoughts on the Groovy and Grails communities. Enjoy.

Q: Hey Jeff, you're part of the Grails development team and have recently joined G2One. What's your new role at G2One?

A: I am a member of both the Groovy and the Grails development teams and I am The Director of North American Operations at G2One. I am really happy to be a part of G2One at this point. We have a lot of great things coming up in 2008. The next generation of Java is here and it is really exciting to be right at the center of that. We are fielding the demand for professional services surrounding both Groovy and Grails. As the demand continues to increase we have a lot of work to do to support that. We are doing a great job at this point and I know we are going to be doing more of the same moving forward.

Q: You got involved with Grails early on. What are your thoughts on the recent 1.0 release?

A: First of all, I want to say that Graeme Rocher has done a fantastic job of leading the charge to get the framework to this point. I am not saying that because Graeme is a friend and partner at G2One. I am saying that because I know that the product is as good as it is because of his commitment and vision.

The 1.0 release is a great milestone to have accomplished. For a long time there have been folks in our community asking that the framework be promoted to a 1.0 release. We have heard from developers who prototyped a Grails app and found that the framework met all of their needs and the only thing holding them back was the fact that they worked in a shop that wouldn't allow a pre-1.0 framework to be pushed in to their production environment. I think the Grails team deserves some respect for not giving in to that and holding off until as a group, we really were comfortable calling this thing 1.0. Quite a while back a road map of "must haves" for 1.0 was put together and the team kept working hard on the framework until all those checkboxes were accounted for. That doesn't mean that the framework is finished or that there isn't room to improve the framework of course. That simply means that the framework supports the feature set that a 1.0 web framework should support. We will continue to improve, innovate and respond to what users tell us.

Q: What does the Grails road map look like for 2008?

A: We have a lot of exciting stuff coming up in 2008. I will tell you that one of the big things I see coming is the continued growth of our plugin community. Over the last year or so we have seen a lot of really interesting plugins surfacing and that is going to continue. I think that the plugin story for Grails is such a good one that in some ways Grails will become the platform for deploying web apps on the JVM and those applications will be built up largely with re-usable Grails plugins. We are already seeing a lot of that happening and I think that is where a lot of folks are headed with the framework.

Q: Can you elaborate on your plugin story? Right now there are many technical plugins and only few functional ones (a wiki plugin, search plugin, ...). I would think the functional plugins are the really interesting ones.

A: We are going to see more functional plugins surfacing in the coming months and throughout the year. We are going to see a lot of interesting plugins to support things like forums, web of trust management, registration tools and a lot of other areas that teams don't want to reinvent solutions for. One of the great things about the way the Grails plugin system is put together is the fact that a plugin is structured pretty much like a Grails application. A nice side effect of that is it is really simple to pull bits of an application out of the application and treat them as plugins. If a team has built up a monolithic application and decides to modularize components as plugins, that is pretty easy to do. As organizations further commit to the Grails framework and are building more applications they are doing this to leverage the value that plugins offer them.

Q: Some excellent books have been published on Groovy in 2007. Can we expect any new books on Grails in 2008?

A: We are going to see new books on Grails in 2008 now that 1.0 is out there. I know that Apress has announced a new upcoming Grails book. There are others on the horizon as well. The Pragmatic Bookshelf guys have 2 separate Groovy books coming out very soon. Those are Scott Davis' "Groovy Recipes: Greasing The Wheels Of Java" and Venkat Subramanium's "Programming Groovy". I have reviewed pre-release copies of each of those and I can tell you that they are both well written and folks are really going to like having those around. The Groovy Recipes book has more Grails coverage than Programming Groovy.

Q: In the meanwhile the Grails community keeps growing. The mailing list has been very active for many months. Is Grails a hit?

A: Grails absolutely is a hit. Look at the amount of time dedicated to Groovy and Grails on The No Fluff Just Stuff tour in 2007 and how much is being dedicated to Groovy and Grails on that tour in 2008. Look at the excitement and enthusiasm around the upcoming Groovy Grails Experience later this month. All of that is representative of how excited the community is about the technology. I said before that the next generation of Java is here and I really feel that way. I have felt that way for some time and more and more I am hearing from other folks who feel the same way.

Q: This month the second Groovy & Grails conference will take place, this time in the US. How did you like the Grails eXchange last october and what do you expect from the next conference?

A: The Grails eXchange in London was great fun. It was fantastic to see so many people from the Groovy and Grails communities all gathered together to learn and talk about all of the exciting new things going on around Groovy and Grails. The upcoming Groovy Grails Experience in Virginia is going to be more of the same, even bigger and better. I am looking forward to this show more than I look forward to any other.

Thanks for the interview Jeff!

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