The Server-Side Pad

by Fabien Tiburce, Best practices and personal experiences with enterprise software

Grails, A Rapid Prototyping Tool That Stands On The Shoulders of Giants

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The last few years have seen the emergence of an entirely new type of software development.  Enterprise development has become primarily declarative, where components are assembled and initialized by a framework layer for a particular purpose.   This is of course what Spring does.  Other frameworks, such as Hibernate, allow us to quickly map (and generate) objects to database tables.  Together, Spring and Hibernate have materially decreased the time it takes to build, maintain and evolve complex enterprise software.  But until more recently, user interfaces, no matter how mundane, still had to be developed and integrated by hand.  While this makes sense for an Ajax-rich, complex and highly customized page, it is a harder to justify for a basic administrative screen managing a couple of entities (“product codes”, “districts”, etc…).  Inspired by the popular Ruby On Rails, but based on Spring and Hibernate, Grails  is the Java-community’s answer to this problem.  The pace at which fully database-bound entities can be created and fully managed by a user-interface makes Grails a very good fit for rapid prototyping.  It also lends itself well to quickly producing administrative screens, a mundane but important task (and often one that is initially passed-on due to budget constraints).  But this is not likely where it ends.  Grails is after all based on Spring, Hibernate and Groovy, a powerful scripting language for the Java platform.  This means Grails-generated screens can be further customized and integrated.   

Any prototyping tool that non only produces screens but also binds objects to database tables, is in itself useful.  But when the prototype is sound enough that it can also be morphed into production code based on best-practices declarative frameworks, the prototyping tool becomes much more than that, a rapid beta builder.  
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Written by Compliantia

December 5, 2008 at 2:38 pm

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