Groovy Grails Exchange 2013

This week I attended the 2013 Groovy Grails Exchange, organised by Skills Matter (with whom I’ve also been lucky enough to attend a couple of courses over the years).

Finally got time to jot down a few thoughts – I came back with an almost full notebook, but these are the highlights:

1. What a great conference! Skills Matter did an amazing job of hosting. The speakers were varied and interesting. It was fantastically motivating to be amongst all these people who are actually pushing the technology forwards. As I work in a very small dev team (out in the sticks) I found it really interesting to see what goes on in the rest of the world.

2. Must. Learn. Spock.

3. Must also get back on board with Geb. I dabbled a little a while ago, and now that we’re about to start a new Grails project, functional testing with Spock & Geb has to be central to it. Lots of food for thought in the DevQA talk by Alvaro Sanchez-Mariscal, applicable even though we don’t have a dedicated QA team for our internal dev.

4. Forces on code – what makes code “good” depends on the context. Common sense really but well illustrated in the talk by by David the Coder

5. Do I need to learn a JavaScript framework? I enjoyed the very persuasive talk on Developing SPI Applications by Alvaro Sanchez-Mariscal. Separating the front end and back end into independent apps makes a lot of sense especially if you have dedicated UI developers. I’m not sure we have the resources to move away from GSPs just yet. But I’m certainly going to have a browse around ToDoMVC to get an idea of the options.

6. Jeff Brown’s live coding demo of Metaprogramming With The Groovy Runtime was a great refresher – nothing particularly that hadn’t been covered on the Groovy course I attended last year, but a reminder that I am pretty guilty of just writing Java like code inside .groovy files and not taking full advantage of groovy’s awesomeness.

7. The “Open Source and You” session by Peter Ledbrook made me think a bit more deeply about Open Source software – what to expect from it, the costs involved, how to manage a successful open source project. I’m definitely motivated to get more involved.

8. Gradle for deployment? @danveloper’s talk on Groovy for Sysadmins gave me lots to think about. I doubt I’ll ever end up hacking the kernel, but I like the software centric approach to deploying and maintaining servers.

9. Must pay more attention to release notes and road maps. New and upcoming versions of Groovy and Grails have some great new features that I’m looking forward to using. Changes notes for Groovy 2.2 and Grails 2.3 definitely worth a look. Also looking forward to plugin and build system changes in Grails 3.0 some time in 2014.

10. And finally, how come all these Open Source aficionados use Macs?! I’ve not got an iAnything yet and don’t plan to. Linux rocks :)

Anyway, in summary, well worth going for anyone working with Groovy or Grails. Podcasts of all the talks are available on the Skills Matter website, but I think attending in real is a fantastic opportunity to absorb knowledge from an enthusiastic and knowledgeable crowd, and worth every penny. Better get my early bird ticket for next year…