Grails is an open-source, rapid web application development framework that provides a super-productive full-stack programming model based on the Groovy scripting language and built on top of Spring, Hibernate, and other standard Java frameworks.

At least that’s what the marketing hype says.

My take – Grails is an open-source answer to Rails for the Java Enterprise crowd.  It’s got all the flexibility of Ruby on Rails with the added benefit of being able to quickly leverage Java SDK resources from within the underlying language (called Groovy).  I’ve recently been working with Grails and a can say it’s an excellent platform for rapidly developing web front-ends that can work with your existing enterprise infrastructure.  Even better, it can work with almost seamlessly with your current/legacy Java application codebase.  But the trick to all of this is getting started.  The available documentation that you find online could be FAR better (and I’ll talk about that in other posts) but here are some resources and books that I’ve found to be excellent starting points.

Programming Groovy: Dynamic Productivity for the Java Developer

by Venkat Subramaniam

Vslg To become proficient at Grails, you need to understand the Groovy Programming language, it’s constructs, and it’s importance in contrast to the Java ecosphere. Dr. Subramaniam’s book provides an excellent foundation and starting point. I’ve kept the printed edition in my backpack with me and refer to it regularly. I’ve found the information and insights Dr. Subramaniam provides to be invaluable.You can order the printed and PDF book editions at the Pragmatic Programmer’s Website:

Getting Started with Grails, Second Edition

Scott Davis & Jason Rudolph

LandingPageCoverSo you’ve started reading about Groovy, but you need to find out more about Grails… This book is the next logical step in that progression. Davis’ and Rudolph’s book provides a step-by-step example showing how to create a basic application (called Racetrack) that takes you along the same development lines that the Depot application in the Dave Thomas/David Heinemeier Hansson Rails book does. You’ll learn how to leverage the underlying Hibernate layer via GORM (Grails Object Relational Mapping), connecting to external databases, the basics for developing robust MVC-based applications using GSP and Grails controllers, implementing basic security and user authentication, and working with the vast plugin library available to Grails developers. The best part is you can the book is in a “try before you buy” model. You can download the book for free from the InfoQ website, and if you find you like the book and find it useful, you can support the author’s efforts and buy a print version. I found the book valuable and was able to get a basic version of an application completed for a project in a day after working through the Racetrack example.

The Groovy Language Homepage

Before you can do Grails – you need to get Groovy. Go here and get your Groove on.

The Grails Quick Start

Get grails direct from the source at If you want to spin up a Grails application and you are familiar with Ruby and Rails – this will get you going fast. Be sure to read the Installation section for getting the Grails environment configured and running before you use the Quick Start or you’ll get nowhere fast.