November 11, 2008, 11:32 AM — SpringSource has bought G2One, which provides training and support for the increasingly popular open-source Groovy language and the related Web application development framework Grails. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
SpringSource is the company behind the Spring framework for enterprise Java development. Grails is based in part on Spring and, like the popular Ruby on Rails Web framework, follows the philosophy of "convention over configuration" to boost developer productivity.
"In many cases, a developer will spend a large portion of their Web development in configuring their app and configuring different elements of the framework to work together," wrote Web developer Brian Burridge in a blog post last year. "... Convention is built into Rails, to save the developer the time in redundantly making these decisions, and to ease the transition as a Rails developer moves from project to project, even company to company."
In buying G2One, SpringSource is betting that demand will grow for Groovy and Grails support and training. Groovy is being downloaded more than 30,000 times per month and Grails downloads are now 70,000 per month, according to SpringSource.
G2One's small staff includes the leaders of the Groovy and Grails projects, which "will continue with a great deal of autonomy," said SpringSource CEO Rod Johnson. SpringSource will hire additional staff and put resources into Grails tooling over time, he added.
Meanwhile, Groovy and Grails have become popular enough to spawn a magazine, GroovyMag, which recently published its debut issue.
"The primary value proposition of Groovy and Grails is that they allow developers to be more concise," said the magazine's editor, Michael Kimsal, a Raleigh, North Carolina, Web developer. "The language itself is more expressive, you get more functionality in fewer lines of code, and fewer lines of code means fewer bugs."
Groovy's similar syntax to Java is also appealing, he said, "People that already know Java know Groovy. It's not a radical shift where you say, 'Throw away everything you've done for the past five years.' ... that to me is the best benefit."
"These are early times," he noted. "This is definitely an early adopter community." But Kimsal expects Groovy and Grails' popularity to rise dramatically in 2009 and 2010.
Another observer wasn't quite as bullish.
"Honestly, I'm seeing a lot more interest in Ruby than Groovy at this point with the clients I talk to," said Jeffrey Hammond, an analyst with Forrester Research, via e-mail. "It may just be a different crowd that I talk to. That said, I think there is an undeniable rise in the level of interest around lean dynamic frameworks like Grails, Rails, the Zend Framework and others."
Such frameworks are purpose-built for Web applications that must create, read, update and delete information in conjunction with a database, making them "well suited for a large number of the types of apps developers build," Hammond said.