Why I’ll never use Groovy on Grails

Why? Because it doesn’t exist. The framework is called Grails. Just Grails. Go to http://grails.org/ and search the site. You won’t see any “Groovy on” anywhere. Seriously. Check it out. I’ll wait.

I guess some history about what caused all this is in order. Back in 2005 the Grails framework was started after discussions on the Groovy mailing list about the idea of a Groovy-based JVM alternative to Ruby on Rails which was then starting to get a lot of buzz. The original name was “Groovy on Rails”, but only a few months later in March 2006 Graeme sent a note to the mailing list titled “Groovy on Rails is no more (kind of)” saying that David Heinemeier Hansson had complained about the name, so he was changing it to just “Grails”.

It’s now February 2012. One month short of six years since the name was changed to Grails. And yet there are still a lot of recruiters (who are for the most part beyond hope) and even developers (who should know better) who call Grails “Groovy on Grails” and “Groovy on Rails”. “Groovy on Rails” makes some sense since there’s a historical basis for it, but “Groovy on Grails” makes me think of nonsense phrases like Splooby on Splails. We don’t call Spring MVC “Spring on Java” or Struts “Struts on Java”. Django isn’t “Django on Python”. Even recruiters looking for “Groovy & Grails” developers are a bit confused since you can’t use Grails without Groovy.

I was thinking that if there were a PHP framework that used the Rails-like convention-over-configuration approach that they could call it PHP on Rails, but that developers would just call it Phails, so I guess that’d be unfortunate. But someone did this, and I’m guessing got a similar note from DHH since the PHP on TRAX website describes the name as “Php On Trax (formerly Php On Rails)”.

So if you’re one of “them”, stop. Refer to the framework as Grails. And when replying to clueless recruiters who are looking for Groovy on Grails developers, gently remind them that there’s no such thing.

9 Responses to “Why I’ll never use Groovy on Grails”

  1. Nicolas Lupien says:

    It’s definitely true, i got a called last week about a job offer in Groovy on Grails. I think the confusion may come from the original Grails website. It was written “Groovy AND Grails” and it’s still there though it’s now written “Groovy & Grails training”. The “and” can easily become “on” in a verbal conversation because we hear a lot about RoR.

  2. Just as a curious note, if I remember correctly, Aaron Patterson (tenderlove), both Ruby-core and Rails-core commiter, besides a very funny guy, has developed a pet project called Phails where he demonstrates how to run WordPress inside a Rails project. I guess this is the keynote that I’ve seen:


  3. Matthias says:

    You have no idea what kind of monster you’ve just picked to describe. Recruiters have absolutely no idea whatsoever about any kind of technology they are recruiting for. None! Zip! All they have is a bunch of trigger-happy managers eager to move their companies to “the next level”, “into the future” and so on giving recruiters a bunch of buzz words like Groovy, Grails, Rails, NoSQL and the like and requesting them to find the right people for the job. It’s like trying to put together a car when all you know is that it has a steering wheel. It’s a nightmare!

    And for that reason alone a professional developer should never ever ever seek a new position via such agencies. It’s about finding the right spot yourself, about getting to know the people you’ll work with and about creation of software – not buzzwords and management BS.

  4. Donald says:

    I recently noticed you’ve been editing StackOverflow questions to correct this :)

  5. Donald says:

    And as I read through last week in Grails, I also noticed:
    “@LeiLaniThomas: Grails/ Groovy on Rails Developer needed NOW!”

  6. Rob Hruska says:

    I hear some people are also looking for some “Grails on Rails” programmers.


    Makes for a good laugh. Anyway, gotta get back to my JAVA development work.

  7. Chethan says:

    Talking about recruiters calling it all sorts of things, I’ve heard project leads call it ‘Groovy on Grills’ and what not :D I mean, these guys are supposed to manage products being developed on Grails.

  8. Patraphong says:

    Even JetBrains says “Groovy on Grails.” Check: http://www.jetbrains.com/idea/features/groovy_grails.html

    Btw, Phails sounds really funny to me.

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