RESTON, Va. – Groovy is getting its groove on and is moving up the charts.
At the 2G Groovy/Grails Experience conference here, Scott Davis, author of several books on Groovy, Java and editor in chief of aboutGroovy.com, said the Groovy language is moving fast up the charts of languages favored by developers.
Groovy now ranks 31 on the list of top programming languages, according to Davis and data from the TIOBE Software BV. Groovy had cracked the top 100 six months ago, moving from 103 to 52, and jumped to its current position in a January poll. Java remains the most popular programming language today, followed by the C language, Visual Basic, PHP, C++, Perl, Python and C#. Fortan, ColdFusion and ActionScript, also rank higher than Groovy.
Groovy, based on Java, is a dynamic language that runs on the Java Virtual Machine, or JVM. James Strachan, the creator of Groovy, first discussed the language on his blog in 2003, but early versions of the language did not appear until 2004, and a 1.0 release came out in January of 2007.
“Groovy is what Java would look like if it had been invented in the 21st century,” Davis said, noting that Groovy is “the next generation of Java.”
Davis, who delivered the opening keynote for the Groovy/Grails Experience, said people often ask whether Groovy will be a replacement for Java.
“It’s like saying do you think icing will ever replace cake,” Davis said. “It’s the same kind of relationship here. What we do is put a nice Groovy facade over Java things like icing over a cake.”
Davis said there is a symbiotic relationship between Groovy and Java. And that makes all the difference between Groovy and other dynamic languages that run on the JVM, he said.
“There’s JRuby out there,” Davis said. JRuby is an implementation of Ruby that runs on the JVM.
“JRuby is a great dynamic language if you already know Ruby,” Davis said. “And Jython is a great dynamic language if you know Python. But when you run JRuby on the JVM you’ve got this weird kind of disconnect.”
However, “Groovy is targeted at us: Java developers,” Davis said. “It is for us by us.”
The strength of Grails is in the plug-in system
Moreover, “because of the linguistic similarities between Java and Groovy it’s painless for developers to switch between Java and Groovy,” Davis said.
To implement Groovy, all a Java developer needs to do is “add a single JAR (Java Archive file) to your classpath; you don’t have to rewrite a single line of code,” Davis said.
Groovy runs on Java 1.4, 1.5 or 1.6.
Meanwhile, Grails is a Web application framework based on Groovy that is patterned after Ruby on Rails. Grails co-creator Graeme Rocher said Grails 1.0 shipped earlier this month. Rocher is the project lead for the open-source Grails project.
“Grails is a fully integrated, modern Java Web application in a box,” Davis said.
“The plug-in system is really where the strength of Grails comes from,” Davis said. “Grails is a simple core, but it’s infinitely extensible through its plug-in system.”
Salil Deshpande, a partner at Bay Partners, a venture capital firm, said, “what’s cool about Groovy is it’s basically a language that is very Ruby-like, but it’s a superset of Java.”
Further, Deshpande explained that because Groovy is based on Java then “enterprises can preserve their legacy investments in Java” to extend their development to a dynamic language or lightweight Web development framework such as Grails.
“For the six to nine million Java developers out there, it’s easier for these guys to go to Groovy and Grails instead of Ruby and Rails,” Deshpande said.
Indeed, Matthew Porter, founder of Contegix, a managed hosting firm, said Contegix went to Groovy and Grails for several reasons, including being able to use their existing skill set in enterprise Java.