Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Groovy/Grails Experience... The name says it all

Well, I didn’t get a chance to post during the rest of the Groovy Grails Experience. There was just too much to do. This was a very full conference with quality content until after 10PM each night.

Now that I’m caught up on my sleep, I will give a few impressions. But first let me say that several more prolific writers than myself have already written about the event. You can see a bunch of them at the GroovyZone:

This was the best conference that I have ever attended period. Literally. I think the best way to explain why I say this is the name of the conference. The Groovy / Grails Experience.

Groovy is so refreshing! It is NOT a replacement for Java. As Scott Davis said so eloquently “Groovy IS Java and Groovy is NOT Java” How do you argue with logic like that. But seriously. It wouldn’t be that hard to claim that Groovy isn’t really a different language. One could say “It’s just a jar that you add to your classpath that gives you some new APIs and some new syntactical sugar”. Think about things like JSTL and JSP expression language. But when you look at the APIs and syntax goodness that Groovy gives you, you just don’t want to go back. To see more about Groovy take a look at the tutorials and articles on the Groovy website:

Grails is like a web framework on steroids! With tools like Spring, Hibernate, Ant, SiteMesh, Jetty and so many more built into it, Grails would be great even without Groovy but when you add in the power and flexibility (not to mention sheer joy) of Groovy, this web application development system is almost too good to be true. I have been using Grails for about a year now but at this conference I learned several more things that can be done with Grails. Things like integration with UI tools like YUI, that is so easy it should be illegal! Glen Smith's talks were worth the price of admission on their own. Then there was the deep dive into GORM the Grails Object Relational Mapper by Graeme Rocher that was mind-blowing. The more I see of what Grails does for me the happier I am that I get to use it full time. You can do (almost) everything you can do with Grails with Spring and Hibernate by themselves, but it would be so much more work and so much more complexity.

Experience is what set’s all the NFJS conferences apart and this one was no exception. Every detail was taken care of, all the slides were on a 1 gig USB drive that was also very handy for grabbing code samples from speakers after a session. The room sizes and layouts were good, the food was great and refreshments were available throughout the day. This is not a big deal but it’s a very telling point about the difference between NFJS events and other big name conferences. At many other conferences I’ve been at, on the last break of the last day, you’d be lucky to find some cold coffee left over but at the 2GX the last break had plenty of coffee, soft drinks and an ice box full of a variety of ice cream bars. These “little” things really make it easier for you to concentrate on the sessions and the networking opportunities, which were also awesome. The Groovy / Grails community has some of the sharpest developers I’ve met anywhere. With half hour breaks between each 90 minute session and hour to hour and half lunch and dinner breaks, there were many opportunities for those side discussions that make conferences like this so special.

If you weren’t able to make it, don’t worry. They are already planning another one on the west coast in October.

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