Groovy Programming Language Sees Major Boost in Popularity

The Groovy programming language has broken into the top 20 of the TIOBE Index of most popular programming languages for the first time.

The Groovy programming language has gained in popularity over the last year, such that it has now cracked the top 20 list of the TIOBE Index of most popular programming languages.

Groovy, an object-oriented scripting language that runs on the Java Virtual Machine (JVM), ranks number 18 on the TIOBE Index. Last year this time it was ranked number 53. Groovy is fully compatible with Java, making it easy to combine Java programs with Groovy.

However, as TIOBE notes, there is a lot of competition in the field of lightweight languages that fit together with Java. Yet, Groovy beats other well-known JVM languages such as Scala (ranked 36), JavaFX Script (ranked 41) and Clojure (ranked 76).

In an exclusive interview with eWEEK, Guillaume Laforge, Groovy project manager at Pivotal, said one thing that makes Groovy attractive to developers is that its main goal has been to simplify the life of developers, and particularly Java developers.

“Its syntax is based off of the Java language itself, so it's very straightforward and intuitive to learn, but at the same time offers various shortcuts and APIs to make developers much more productive, help them write more concise and more readable code that is easier to maintain and evolve in the long run,” Laforge said.

Groovy also is the alternative language on the JVM that offers the best and most seamless integration and interoperability with the Java platform, as developers don't need to convert from one system to the other as Groovy classes are plain Java classes and vice versa, he said. Moreover, Groovy is well suited for many situations, from writing small scripts to building more complex applications, as well as for designing Domain-Specific Languages (DSLs) for business rules and more.

“I've seen several financial institutions, insurance companies, travel or energy companies use Groovy for describing their business rules,” Laforge said. “I’ve seen actuaries defining rules for loan grants, scientists creating scientific simulations -- nuclear risks, disease evolutions, etc., travel agents customizing booking processes and more. The easy Groovy syntax plus its ability to write almost plain English sentences which are valid Groovy statements makes it simple to write readable business rules.”

Laforge is well versed in Groovy. He is the Spec Lead of Java Specification Request 241 (JSR-241) whose role is to specify this new language. He also initiated the Grails project, which is a web application framework based on Groovy. Laforge has worked as a consultant building Groovy and Grails apps. He also was the co-founder and vice president of technology of G2One, which specialized in leading the development of the Groovy dynamic language and the Grails web framework. SpringSource acquired G2One in 2008 and was itself acquired by VMware in 2009. VMware later spun off SpringSource into Pivotal, where Laforge continues to lead the Groovy developer team.