The social value of Groovy and Grails in Brazil

As a Groovy and Grails consultant I can say that one of the biggest gains these technologies brought is the large amount of people that it introduced to the Java EE platform. This post is about these people and how I see it happen here in Brazil.

Groovy and Grails greatest achievement in my opinion

Here in Brazil when you talk to young developers who usually attend to conferences they can transmit the impression that software development is limited to two platforms (Java and .net) and the latest trends like Ruby (and Raills), NoSQL, Python, Node.js and all the new stuff. Add to this the publications which usually only will tell you about the newest technologies and you run the risk of actually believe in it.

This is not the case: much of software development in IT departments still is desktop based and a large (REALLY LARGE) chunk based on older technologies like Delphi 7 (and earlier versions), Visual Basic (classic), Power Builder, COBOL, CGI, Clipper, FoxPro, VBA, Microsoft Access (97),  or many fourth generation programming languages. And these are not bad software at all, many of these are simply AMAZING projects. The problem is that most of the technologies in which these are based are no longer supported, which creates the need to change the programming environment.

One of the most alluring software development environments to those companies is Java EE. The problem is that for those which are not used to the Java world the learning process can be a traumatic experience. The first contact is really scary when you face all those acronyms like JPA, EJB, JNDI, CMT, JMS and many others. Even with all the recent developments of the platform it still frighten and alienates many developers which are trying to learn it.

This is a big problem in a market lacking qualified workers and this is where Grails save the day by introducing the Java EE platform to this crowd without scaring the novices with all the acronyms that I mentioned above. One of the biggest myths about Java web development is that it is cumbersome. Depending on what you use it may be true but this resistence fall apart when you show how easy it is to create real projects using Grails scaffolding, GORM and how simple it is to apply the MVC pattern using Grails.

Groovy also play an important role bringing these developers to the Java EE platform, because the syntax is very similar to the languages these professionals are used to. Simple details like optional semi colons and parenthesis, which seems silly to many of us can be a source of resistence to the platform. If you can reduce the resistence with these simple things, why not? (I wrote about this on a recent blog post)

Why Java EE?

Here is a small list of the reasons my clients tell me to justify their switch to Java EE:

  • The fact that it’s an open platform and they won’t be caught again in a vendor lock-in. (there’s a huge Visual Basic 6 trauma in Brazil)
  • The huge collection of third party libraries, frameworks and components available, most of them being open source.
  • The low licensing costs compared to other closed platforms.
  • It’s multiplatform.
  • There’s a lot of material written about it.
  • Active community.

So now using Grails many IT departments can take advantage of these facts to empower their infrastructure.

A short story

Some years ago I used to help a developer which lived in a remote town here in Brazil. This experience helped me to understand a reality vastly different from mine: one in which Internet access was a luxury and books and magazines even more. We exchanged a lot of e-mails for some years and suddenly this guy disappeared.

This year I received one e-mail from him thanking me because that system actually worked and now he had a company with 40 employees. Woa! If a simple exchange of e-mails about Delphi 5 could achieve this just imagine what the popularization of the Java EE can do!

PS: I’m the founder of Grails Brasil: one of the largest Groovy and Grails user groups in the world. Often I receive e-mails like the one I mentioned above.

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