Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Grails 1.2 Released

Grails 1.2 final was released today, and there's tons of great new features as well as numerous under-the-hood improvements that make it a very compelling release.

Since I'm relatively new to Grails I'm still wrapping my head around some of the new stuff, but here are some of the more interesting changes in 1.2 from my perspective:

  • Performance Improvements
    Faster is always better of course, so the first thing that caught my eye was the performance improvements in GSP/SiteMesh and the tag library return types (default is now StreamCharBuffer, but tags can return object values too).
  • Environments in Bootstrapper
    Not that this was a showstopper in previous versions of grails, but having to use a kludge or do a quick check of the state of your database to see whether or not you should crank out test data seemed a bit wrong since environment awareness is available elsewhere in Grails apps. Now that it's in the bootstrapper too we can do things the "right way."
  • Per-Method Transactions in Services
    I haven't run into issues with this yet but I could see them coming, so it's nice that you can now declare at the method level whether or not something should be transactional.
  • Named Query Support
    I'm still debating whether or not I think this one is a good idea, but it's certainly interesting. Named query support allows you to define named queries right in your domain classes, and these named queries can then be executed in the same fashion as dynamic finders. The really intriguing thing is that you can run dynamic finders on your named queries, which is tremendously powerful. On the one hand I'm thinking, "Queries in my domain class? That seems wrong." But on the other hand, when they're looked at as "customized dynamic finders," I suppose it's really no more intrusive than the dynamic finders themselves. And frankly given the power you can get out of this feature it's probably worth the small purity of architecture trade-off.
  • Support for SQL Restrictions in Criteria Builder
    Much as I love GORM, sometimes it's simpler to throw some ad-hoc SQL at a problem. This is now supported in the criteria builder which should make lots of the "grab stuff then grab stuff from that stuff" type code disappear (if that made any sense!).
  • GSPs are Pre-Compiled in WAR Deployments
    Small new feature, huge impact in my opinion. On Tomcat instances where we're running a few other apps (especially on 32-bit Windows servers ... don't get me started), we noticed that Grails apps wouldn't start up due to out of memory errors that I strongly suspect were related to this issue. Pre-compiling GSPs reduces the amount of permgen memory space used on deployment.
  • Tomcat is Now the Default Container
    I didn't have a problem with Jetty personally but since we use Tomcat in production it's nice it will be Tomcat in development as well. Note that you can still use Jetty if you like since all the container support is done through plugins. The Tomcat Plugin has a ton of cool additional features like JNDI support in Config.groovy for the embedded Tomcat instance, as well as remote deploy/undeploy scripts. Yes, you can do "grails tomcat deploy" to deploy your app to a remote server. Sweet.
  • Named URL Mappings
    Very handy feature that lets you create URL mappings that may be linked to by name in the link tag/function. For example if you define a URL mapping with the name "fooBar" with attributes of foo and bar, your link tag in a GSP would be <link:fooBar foo="foo" bar="bar">Link to FooBar</link>
  • Improved JSON Builder
    Some nice changes (and an under-the-hood rewrite apparently) here, but note this is a breaking change from previous versions. You can turn on compatibility if you don't want to re-write your code to take advantage of the new simpler syntax.
  • Better Date Parsing
    One of the very few things I've run into in Grails so far that I thought to myself, "this could be simpler," is the way the date picker passes its params to controllers. Now it works like it should have all along.
Much more in this release so be sure and check out the release notes for all the details.

Kudos to everyone involved with this release! Can't wait to upgrade the current app I'm working on and give this all a whirl.

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