Monday, May 07, 2007

The Grails US Tour: Arrived to San Francisco + NFJS Denver Report

So I'm sitting here in my hotel room having just arrived to San Francisco after the 2 and bit hour flight from Denver. The No Fluff Just Stuff show in Denver was really fantastic and I was amazed to see so many passionate Java developers coming together on their weekend to talk techie. I met some great people including a few of the regular No Fluffers such as Neal Ford, Ted Neward and Scott Davis. And of course I had the pleasure of meeting the man himself, Jay Zimmerman.

I also managed to take in a couple of sessions and saw Seam demo'ed properly for the first time. My thoughts? Well it certainly papers over the warts of JSF, but it is still a lonnnngggg way away from the claimed "Ruby-on-Rails like" productivity. What summed it up perfectly for me was a moment in David Geary's talk where he created a CRUD app and claimed "it only took 40 lines of config and a 100 lines of Java!". I was tempted to stand up and say well I could have done that in about 10 lines of Grails code with scaffolding and no config, but thought better of it.

Of course Seam will get its users because of the whole "standards" approach that it has, but in terms of developer experience it is miles from Rails or Grails. Moving on, at the conference I did three talks on Grails covering Spring/Hibernate integration, GORM and plug-ins that were all completely packed out and the response was superb.

However, the moment that pleased me the most was near the end where the majority of the 250 attendees gather in the main presentation room and Jay asked them who would be using the various technologies presented. When asked about JRuby about 10 people raised their hands, when asked about Seam around 15 did, when asked about Groovy & Grails the majority of the audience raised their hands, far too many to count anyway. My (and Scott's) work here is done. Next...


Dmitriy Kopylenko said...

Great job, Graeme! Spread the word! And please, keep the reports from your trip coming.

Jonathan Griggs said...

Graeme - I was at the Denver NFJS conference last weekend where I attended one each of yours and Scott's sessions. In retrospect, I wish I would've caught every session dealing with Groovy and Grails, but I suppose I still felt some obligation to learn more about SOA, ESB, TDD and more of the Greatest Hits of 2005.

I've been a Java developer for ten years, the last four of which I've had my head buried, ostrich-like, in EJB land. The thrill was going, going - and after NFJS - completely gone.

Out of sheer laziness and curmudgeonly cynicism (ashamed to say), I'd basically dismissed the whole idea of dynamic languages, Ruby on Rails, DSLs, etc. as Web Development for Idiots. Obviously, I've been too busy searching Dev2Dev bug reports on XATransactions to surf the forward-thinking ideas emerging from the sands of computer science.

Basically, I came away with two grand ideas from NFJS:


1) I can build anything, on my own time

With Grails, there's no excuse not to implement every good idea I've ever had. Obscuring the plumbing is a great motivator for functional thought.

Two days and I was up and running on the first one, which is functionally non-trivial (beyond CRUD) and exposes and consumes services. Also implemented some nice controls via the YUI. Just need to skin it and it's done. On to the next idea.

2) I might not be able to deploy Grails in my production environment, but I can quickly build tools with Grails to help me accomplish my short-term job goals

Unfortuantely (very), I'm playing the role of an Analyst/Domain Expert on my current project. That means lots of Excel spreadsheets. It also implies lots of information that I cannot cognitively process strictly from a database view.

Still, I can write some code, and that means I can model those complex data relationships in a visual web-based application I'm building with Grails in my spare time. Hopefully I can turn some of the other SMEs onto it and we'll have an easy method of notation and a repository of sorts.


Great work with Grails, and beyond that, I'm excited to be writing code for the first time in years.

Graeme Rocher said...

Hi Jonathan

I'm glad you enjoyed the talks, I had an awesome time at NFJS with so many great people passionate about Java. It was awesome.

Grails can certainly help you achieve what you wanna do, and its great to hear that you're doing some non-trivial stuff with it and enjoying it! The wonders of not being stuck in config land for hours upon hours

Anyway, stick with it and make sure you pop on the user list now and then, we'd love to hear your ideas and suggestions