With the recent revelation that Pivotal will stop sponsoring the Groovy and Grails projects after March of this year, I want to give some of my own thoughts on where this leaves the two projects and what their future might hold. I’ll do this across two blog posts, starting with Groovy.
It may come as a surprise, but I feel pretty sanguine about Groovy. That’s not to say that I don’t sympathise with the teams for the situation they find themselves in, but Groovy itself is in a strong position. First and foremost, it’s stable with a solid set of features already there. Recent additions include:
- Static type checking and compilation
- Dedicated Android support
As far as I’m concerned, Groovy doesn’t need any major changes in the near term and so it’s not a big deal if its development slows down. It supplements Java well and provides enough differentiation that it’s worth you using Groovy over Java. It’s great for scripting, Spock is fantastic for unit testing, and Groovy works really well with Spring Boot, Ratpack, Grails, Griffon and other application frameworks. And those are just a fraction of its potential use cases.
The language also benefits from an existing open development process, probably because it originated as a collaborative project between people from different companies. So even if the Groovy team is broken up – something I hope can be avoided – I can’t see there being significant disruption. You’re seeing one of the key benefits of open source software: it survives beyond the withdrawal of a key sponsor. You can’t really say that about commercial software. And while Groovy satisfies a need among developers, you can be sure it will thrive and prosper.
To sum up, Groovy has reached a stable place that puts it in good stead whatever the future might hold. It should still be an essential part of every Java developer’s tool chest. Development may or may not slow down, but it will continue. And I have my fingers crossed that Guillaume, Cédric, and Jochen will find new homes swiftly and I hope they manage to stay together as a team.
One final thought: on the last Groovy Podcast (audio-only version) I half-jokingly said that Google would sponsor Groovy. Of course, I don’t know whether that will happen, but in light of Swift for iOS development, I think it’s something that Google should definitely consider. I’m sure a more productive and expressive alternative to Java would be more than welcome within the Android development community and it fits nicely with their use of Gradle for the build system. Let’s see what happens!
The Grails post may take a bit longer to appear as I think there’s more to say for that.