(Quick Reference)

The Grails Framework - Reference Documentation

Authors: Graeme Rocher, Peter Ledbrook, Marc Palmer, Jeff Brown, Luke Daley, Burt Beckwith, Lari Hotari

Version: 3.0.0

Table of Contents

1 Introduction

Java web development as it stands today is dramatically more complicated than it needs to be. Most modern web frameworks in the Java space are over complicated and don't embrace the Don't Repeat Yourself (DRY) principles.

Dynamic frameworks like Rails, Django and TurboGears helped pave the way to a more modern way of thinking about web applications. Grails builds on these concepts and dramatically reduces the complexity of building web applications on the Java platform. What makes it different, however, is that it does so by building on already established Java technologies like Spring and Hibernate.

Grails is a full stack framework and attempts to solve as many pieces of the web development puzzle through the core technology and its associated plugins. Included out the box are things like:

  • An easy to use Object Relational Mapping (ORM) layer built on Hibernate
  • An expressive view technology called Groovy Server Pages (GSP)
  • A controller layer built on Spring MVC
  • An interactive command line environment and build system based on Gradle
  • An embedded Tomcat container which is configured for on the fly reloading
  • Dependency injection with the inbuilt Spring container
  • Support for internationalization (i18n) built on Spring's core MessageSource concept
  • A transactional service layer built on Spring's transaction abstraction

All of these are made easy to use through the power of the Groovy language and the extensive use of Domain Specific Languages (DSLs)

This documentation will take you through getting started with Grails and building web applications with the Grails framework.

1.1 What's new in Grails 3.0?

This section covers the new features that are present in 3.0 and is broken down into sections covering the build system, core APIs, the web tier, persistence enhancements and improvements in testing. Note there are many more small enhancements and improvements, these sections just cover some of the highlights.

1.1.1 Core Features

Groovy 2.4

Grails 3.0 comes with Groovy 2.4 which includes many new features and enhancements.

For more information on Groovy 2.4, see the release notes for more information.

Spring 4.1 and Spring Boot 1.2

Grails 3.0 comes with Spring 4.1 which includes many new features and enhancements.

In addition, Grails 3.0 is built on Spring Boot 1.2 which provides the ability to produce runnable JAR files that can embed Tomcat, Jetty or Undertow containers.

Gradle Build System

Grails 3.0 deprecates the older Gant-based build system in favour of a new Gradle-based build that integrates closely with the Gradle plugin ecosystem.

See the new section on the new Gradle build for more information.

Application Profiles

Grails 3.0 supports the notion of application profiles via a new profile repository. A profile encapsulates an application structure, set of commands, plugins and capabilities. For example the "web" profile allows construction of web applications deployable to a Servlet container. In the future more profiles will be developed targeting different environments.

See the new section on Profiles for more information.

Redesigned API based on Traits

The Grails API has been redesigned so that public API is correctly populated under the grails. package whilst private / internal API that is subject to change can be found in the org.grails. package. The core API has also been rewritten and based around the Groovy Traits.

See the new documentation on Grails 3.0's core traits for more information.

1.1.2 Web Features

New Interceptors API

In previous versions of Grails, filters were used to define logic that intercepts controller action execution.

As of Grails 3.0, this API is deprecated and has been replaced by the new Interceptor API. An example interceptor can be seen below:

class MyInterceptor {

boolean before() { true }

boolean after() { true }

void afterView() { // no-op }

}

1.1.3 Development Environment Features

New Shell and Code Generation API

Replacing Gant, Grails 3.0 features a new interactive command line shell that integrates closely with Gradle and provides APIs for writing scripts that interact with Gradle and perform code generation.

The new shell integrates closely with the concept of application profiles with each profile capable defining profile specific commands. As with previous versions of Grails, plugins can define new shell commands that can invoke Gradle or perform code generation and project automation tasks.

See the new guide on Creating Custom Scripts for more information.

Enhanced IDE Integration

Since Grails 3.0 is built on Gradle, you can now import a Grails project using IntelliJ community edition or GGTS's Gradle tooling support without the need for Grails specific tooling. Grails 3.0 plugins are published as simple JAR files greatly reducing the need for additional IDE support specific to Grails.

Application Main Class

Each new Grails 3.0 project features an Application class that has a traditional static void main signature, meaning to run or debug a Grails 3.0 application from an IDE like IntelliJ or GGTS you can simply right-click on the Application class and execute to start your Grails application. All Grails 3.0 tests can also just be run from the IDE directly without needing to resort to the command line (even integration / functional tests!).

1.1.4 Testing Features

Integration and Geb Functional Tests

Grails 3.0 supports built in support for Spock/Geb functional tests using the create-functional-test command. Functional tests are based on Spring Boot's test running mechanism and load the application just once for an entire suite of tests. The tests can be run from and IDE and don't require the command line.

Gradle Test Running

Since Grails 3.0 is built on Gradle the test execution configuration is much more flexible and can easily configured to execute in parallel.

2 Getting Started

2.1 Installation Requirements

Before installing Grails 3.0 you will need as a minimum a Java Development Kit (JDK) installed version 1.7 or above. Download the appropriate JDK for your operating system, run the installer, and then set up an environment variable called JAVA_HOME pointing to the location of this installation.

To automate the installation of Grails we recommend the GVM tool which greatly simplifies installing and managing multiple Grails versions.

For manual installation, we recommend the video installation guides from grailsexample.net:

These will show you how to install Grails too, not just the JDK.

A JDK is required in your Grails development environment. A JRE is not sufficient.

On some platforms (for example OS X) the Java installation is automatically detected. However in many cases you will want to manually configure the location of Java. For example:

export JAVA_HOME=/Library/Java/Home
export PATH="$PATH:$JAVA_HOME/bin"

if you're using bash or another variant of the Bourne Shell.

2.2 Downloading and Installing

The first step to getting up and running with Grails is to install the distribution.

The best way to install Grails on *nix systems is with the GVM tool which greatly simplifies installing and managing multiple Grails versions.

For manual installation follow these steps:

  • Download a binary distribution of Grails and extract the resulting zip file to a location of your choice
  • Set the GRAILS_HOME environment variable to the location where you extracted the zip
    • On Unix/Linux based systems this is typically a matter of adding something like the following export GRAILS_HOME=/path/to/grails to your profile
    • On Windows this is typically a matter of setting an environment variable under My Computer/Advanced/Environment Variables
  • Then add the bin directory to your PATH variable:
    • On Unix/Linux based systems this can be done by adding export PATH="$PATH:$GRAILS_HOME/bin" to your profile
    • On Windows this is done by modifying the Path environment variable under My Computer/Advanced/Environment Variables

If Grails is working correctly you should now be able to type grails -version in the terminal window and see output similar to this:

bc. Grails version: 3.0.0

2.3 Creating an Application

To create a Grails application you first need to familiarize yourself with the usage of the grails command which is used in the following manner:

grails [command name]

Run create-app to create an application:


grails create-app helloworld

This will create a new directory inside the current one that contains the project. Navigate to this directory in your console:

cd helloworld

2.4 A Hello World Example

Let's now take the new project and turn it into the classic "Hello world!" example. First, change into the "helloworld" directory you just created and start the Grails interactive console:


$ cd helloworld
$ grails

You should see a prompt that looks like this:

What we want is a simple page that just prints the message "Hello World!" to the browser. In Grails, whenever you want a new page you just create a new controller action for it. Since we don't yet have a controller, let's create one now with the create-controller command:


grails> create-controller hello

Don't forget that in the interactive console, we have auto-completion on command names. So you can type "cre" and then press <tab> to get a list of all create-* commands. Type a few more letters of the command name and then <tab> again to finish.

The above command will create a new controller in the grails-app/controllers/helloworld directory called HelloController.groovy. Why the extra helloworld directory? Because in Java land, it's strongly recommended that all classes are placed into packages, so Grails defaults to the application name if you don't provide one. The reference page for create-controller provides more detail on this.

We now have a controller so let's add an action to generate the "Hello World!" page. The code looks like this:

package helloworld

class HelloController {

def index() { render "Hello World!" } }

The action is simply a method. In this particular case, it calls a special method provided by Grails to render the page.

Job done. To see your application in action, you just need to start up a server with another command called run-app:


grails> run-app

This will start an embedded server on port 8080 that hosts your application. You should now be able to access your application at the URL http://localhost:8080/ - try it!

Note that in previous versions of Grails the context path was by default the name of the application. If you wish to restore this behavior you can configure a context path in grails-app/conf/application.yml:

server:
    'context-path': '/helloworld'

With the above configuration in place the server will instead startup at the URL http://localhost:8080/helloworld/.

If you see the error "Server failed to start for port 8080: Address already in use", then it means another server is running on that port. You can easily work around this by running your server on a different port using run-app -port=9090. '9090' is just an example: you can pretty much choose anything within the range 1024 to 49151.

The result will look something like this:

This is the Grails intro page which is rendered by the grails-app/view/index.gsp file. It detects the presence of your controllers and provides links to them. You can click on the "HelloController" link to see our custom page containing the text "Hello World!". Voila! You have your first working Grails application.

One final thing: a controller can contain many actions, each of which corresponds to a different page (ignoring AJAX at this point). Each page is accessible via a unique URL that is composed from the controller name and the action name: /<appname>/<controller>/<action>. This means you can access the Hello World page via /helloworld/hello/index, where 'hello' is the controller name (remove the 'Controller' suffix from the class name and lower-case the first letter) and 'index' is the action name. But you can also access the page via the same URL without the action name: this is because 'index' is the default action . See the end of the controllers and actions section of the user guide to find out more on default actions.

2.5 Using Interactive Mode

Grails 3.0 features an interactive mode which makes command execution faster since the JVM doesn't have to be restarted for each command. To use interactive mode simple type 'grails' from the root of any projects and use TAB completion to get a list of available commands. See the screenshot below for an example:

For more information on the capabilities of interactive mode refer to the section on Interactive Mode in the user guide.

2.6 Getting Set Up in an IDE

IntelliJ IDEA

IntelliJ IDEA is an excellent IDE for Grails 3.0 development. It comes in 2 editions, the free community edition and the paid-for ultimate edition.

The community edition can be used for most things, although GSP syntax higlighting is only part of the ultimate edition. To get started with Intellij IDEA and Grails 3.0 simply go to File / Import Project and point IDEA at your build.gradle file to import and configure the project.

Eclipse

We recommend that users of Eclipse looking to develop Grails application take a look at Groovy/Grails Tool Suite, which offers built in support for Grails including automatic classpath management, a GSP editor and quick access to Grails commands.

Like Intellij you can import a Grails 3.0 project using the Gradle project integration.

NetBeans

NetBeans provides a Groovy/Grails plugin that automatically recognizes Grails projects and provides the ability to run Grails applications in the IDE, code completion and integration with the Glassfish server. For an overview of features see the NetBeans Integration guide on the Grails website which was written by the NetBeans team.

TextMate, Sublime, VIM etc.

There are several excellent text editors that work nicely with Groovy and Grails. See below for references:

2.7 Convention over Configuration

Grails uses "convention over configuration" to configure itself. This typically means that the name and location of files is used instead of explicit configuration, hence you need to familiarize yourself with the directory structure provided by Grails.

Here is a breakdown and links to the relevant sections:

2.8 Running an Application

Grails applications can be run with the built in Tomcat server using the run-app command which will load a server on port 8080 by default:

grails run-app

You can specify a different port by using the server.port argument:

grails -Dserver.port=8090 run-app

Note that it is better to start up the application in interactive mode since a container restart is much quicker:

$ grails
grails> run-app
| Server running. Browse to http://localhost:8080/helloworld
| Application loaded in interactive mode. Type 'stop-app' to shutdown.
| Downloading: plugins-list.xml
grails> stop-app
| Stopping Grails server
grails> run-app
| Server running. Browse to http://localhost:8080/helloworld
| Application loaded in interactive mode. Type 'stop-app' to shutdown.
| Downloading: plugins-list.xml

More information on the run-app command can be found in the reference guide.

2.9 Testing an Application

The create-* commands in Grails automatically create unit or integration tests for you within the src/test/groovy directory. It is of course up to you to populate these tests with valid test logic, information on which can be found in the section on Testing.

To execute tests you run the test-app command as follows:

grails test-app

2.10 Deploying an Application

Grails applications can be deployed in a number of different ways.

If you are deploying to a traditional container (Tomcat, Jetty etc.) you can create a Web Application Archive (WAR file), and Grails includes the war command for performing this task:

grails war

This will produce a WAR file under the build/libs directory which can then be deployed as per your container's instructions.

Note that by default Grails will include an embeddable version of Tomcat inside the WAR file, this can cause problems if you deploy to a different version of Tomcat. If you don't intend to use the embedded container then you should change the scope of the Tomcat dependencies to provided prior to deploying to your production container in build.gradle:

provided "org.springframework.boot:spring-boot-starter-tomcat"

Unlike most scripts which default to the development environment unless overridden, the war command runs in the production environment by default. You can override this like any script by specifying the environment name, for example:

grails dev war

If you prefer not to operate a separate Servlet container then you can simply run the Grails WAR file as a regular Java application. Example:

grails war
java -Dgrails.env=prod -jar build/libs/mywar-0.1.war

When deploying Grails you should always run your containers JVM with the -server option and with sufficient memory allocation. A good set of VM flags would be:

-server -Xmx768M -XX:MaxPermSize=256m

2.11 Supported Java EE Containers

Grails runs on any container that supports Servlet 3.0 and above and is known to work on the following specific container products:
  • Tomcat 7
  • GlassFish 3 or above
  • Resin 4 or above
  • JBoss 6 or above
  • Jetty 8 or above
  • Oracle Weblogic 12c or above
  • IBM WebSphere 8.0 or above

It's required to set "-Xverify:none" in "Application servers > server > Process Definition > Java Virtual Machine > Generic JVM arguments" for older versions of WebSphere. This is no longer needed for WebSphere version 8 or newer.

Some containers have bugs however, which in most cases can be worked around. A list of known deployment issues can be found on the Grails wiki.

2.12 Creating Artefacts

Grails ships with a few convenience targets such as create-controller, create-domain-class and so on that will create Controllers and different artefact types for you.
These are just for your convenience and you can just as easily use an IDE or your favourite text editor.
For example to create the basis of an application you typically need a domain model:

grails create-app helloworld
cd helloworld
grails create-domain-class book

This will result in the creation of a domain class at grails-app/domain/helloworld/Book.groovy such as:

package helloworld

class Book { }

There are many such create-* commands that can be explored in the command line reference guide.

To decrease the amount of time it takes to run Grails scripts, use the interactive mode.

2.13 Generating an Application

To get started quickly with Grails it is often useful to use a feature called Scaffolding to generate the skeleton of an application. To do this use one of the generate-* commands such as generate-all, which will generate a controller (and its unit test) and the associated views:

grails generate-all helloworld.Book

3 Upgrading from Grails 2.x

Grails 3.0 is a complete ground up rewrite of Grails and introduces new concepts and components for many parts of the framework.

When upgrading an application or plugin from Grails 3.0 there are many areas to consider including:

  • Project structure differences
  • File location differences
  • Configuration differences
  • Package name differences
  • Legacy Gant Scripts
  • Gradle Build System
  • Changes to Plugins
  • Source vs Binary Plugins

The best approach to take when upgrading a plugin or application (and if your application is using several plugins the plugins will need upgrading first) is to create a new Grails 3.0 application of the same name and copy the source files into the correct locations in the new application.

Project Structure Changes

File Location Differences

The location of certain files have changed or been replaced with other files in Grails 3.0. The following table lists old default locations and their respective new locations:

Old LocationNew LocationDescription
grails-app/conf/BuildConfig.groovybuild.gradleBuild time configuration is now defined in a Gradle build file
grails-app/conf/Config.groovygrails-app/conf/application.groovyRenamed for consistency with Spring Boot
grails-app/conf/UrlMappings.groovygrails-app/controllers/UrlMappings.groovyMoved since grails-app/conf is not a source directory anymore
grails-app/conf/BootStrap.groovygrails-app/init/BootStrap.groovyMoved since grails-app/conf is not a source directory anymore
scriptssrc/main/scriptsMoved for consistency with Gradle
src/groovysrc/main/groovyMoved for consistency with Gradle
src/javasrc/main/groovyMoved for consistency with Gradle
test/unitsrc/test/groovyMoved for consistency with Gradle
test/integrationsrc/integration-test/groovyMoved for consistency with Gradle
web-appsrc/main/webappMoved for consistency with Gradle
*GrailsPlugin.groovysrc/main/groovyThe plugin descriptor moved to a source directory

For plugins the plugin descriptor (a Groovy file ending with "GrailsPlugin") which was previously located in the root of the plugin directory should be moved to the src/main/groovy directory under an appropriate package.

New Files Not Present in Grails 2.x

The reason it is best to create a new application and copy your original sources to it is because there are a number of new files that are not present in Grails 2.x by default. These include:

FileDescription
build.gradleThe Gradle build descriptor located in the root of the project
gradle.propertiesProperties file defining the Grails and Gradle versions
grails-app/conf/logback.groovyLogging previously defined in Config.groovy is now defined using Logback
grails-app/conf/application.ymlConfiguration can now also be defined using YAML
grails-app/init/PACKAGE_PATH/Application.groovyThe Application class used By Spring Boot to start the application

Files Not Present in Grails 3.x

Some files that were previously created by Grails 2.x are no longer created. These have either been removed or an appropriate replacement added. The following table lists files no longer in use:

FileDescription
application.propertiesThe application name and version is now defined in build.gradle
grails-app/conf/DataSource.groovyMerged together into application.yml
libDependency resolution should be used to resolve JAR files
web-app/WEB-INF/applicationContext.xmlRemoved, beans can be defined in grails-app/conf/spring/resources.groovy
src/templates/war/web.xmlGrails 3.0 no longer requires web.xml. Customizations can be done via Spring
web-app/WEB-INF/sitemesh.xmlRemoved, sitemesh filter no longer present.
web-app/WEB-INF/tldRemoved, can be restored in src/main/webapp

3.1 Upgrading Plugins

To upgrade a Grails 2.x plugin to Grails 3.x you need to make a number of different changes. This documentation will outline the steps that were taken to upgrade the Quartz plugin to Grails 3, each individual plugin may differ.

Step 1 - Create a new Grails 3 plugin

The first step is to create a new Grails 3 plugin using the command line:

$ grails create-plugin quartz

This will create a Grails 3 plugin in the quartz directory.

Step 2 - Copy sources from the original Grails 2 plugin

The next step is to copy the sources from the original Grails 2 plugin to the Grails 3 plugin:

# first the sources
cp -rf ../quartz-2.x/src/groovy src/main/groovy
cp -rf ../quartz-2.x/src/java src/main/groovy
cp -rf ../quartz-2.x/grails-app grails-app
cp -rf ../quartz-2.x/QuartzGrailsPlugin.groovy src/main/groovy/grails/plugins/quartz

# then the tests cp -rf ../quartz-2.x/test/unit src/test/groovy mkdir -p src/integration-test/groovy cp -rf ../quartz-2.x/test/integration src/integration-test/groovy

# then templates / other resources cp -rf ../quartz-2.x/src/templates src/main/templates

Step 3 - Alter the plugin descriptor

You will need to add a package declaration to the plugin descriptor. In this case QuartzGrailsPlugin is modified as follows:

// add package declaration
package grails.plugins.quartz
…
class QuartzGrailsPlugin {
 …
}

In addition you should remove the version property from the descriptor as this is now defined in build.gradle.

Step 4 - Update the Gradle build with required dependencies

The repositories and dependencies defined in grails-app/conf/BuildConfig.groovy of the original Grails 2.x plugin will need to be defined in build.gradle of the new Grails 3.x plugin:

compile("org.quartz-scheduler:quartz:2.2.1") {
    exclude group: 'slf4j-api', module: 'c3p0'
  }

Step 5 - Modify Package Imports

In Grails 3.x all internal APIs can be found in the org.grails package and public facing APIs in the grails package. The org.codehaus.groovy.grails package no longer exists.

All package declaration in sources should be modified for the new location of the respective classes. Example org.codehaus.groovy.grails.commons.GrailsApplication is now grails.core.GrailsApplication.

Step 5 - Migrate Plugin Specific Config to application.yml

Some plugins define a default configuration file. For example the Quartz plugin defines a file called grails-app/conf/DefaultQuartzConfig.groovy. In Grails 3.x this default configuration can be migrated to grails-app/conf/application.yml and it will automatically be loaded by Grails without requiring manual configuration merging.

Step 6 - Register ArtefactHandler Definitions

In Grails 3.x ArtefactHandler definitions written in Java need to be declared in a file called src/main/resources/META-INF/grails.factories since these need to be known at compile time.

If the ArtefactHandler is written in Groovy this step can be skipped as Grails will automatically create the grails.factories file during compilation.

The Quartz plugin requires the following definition to register the ArtrefactHandler:

grails.core.ArtefactHandler=grails.plugins.quartz.JobArtefactHandler

Step 7 - Migrate Code Generation Scripts

Many plugins previously defined command line scripts in Gant. In Grails 3.x command line scripts have been replaced by two new features: Code generation scripts and Gradle tasks.

If your script is doing simple code generation then for many cases a code generation script can replace an old Gant script.

The create-job script provided by the Quartz plugin in Grails 2.x was defined in scripts/CreateJob.groovy as:

includeTargets << grailsScript("_GrailsCreateArtifacts")

target(createJob: "Creates a new Quartz scheduled job") { depends(checkVersion, parseArguments)

def type = "Job" promptForName(type: type)

for (name in argsMap.params) { name = purgeRedundantArtifactSuffix(name, type) createArtifact(name: name, suffix: type, type: type, path: "grails-app/jobs") createUnitTest(name: name, suffix: type) } }

setDefaultTarget 'createJob'

A replacement Grails 3.x compatible script can be created using the create-script command:

$ grails create-script create-job

Which creates a new script called src/main/scripts/create-job.groovy. Using the new code generation API it is simple to implement:

description("Creates a new Quartz scheduled job") {
    usage "grails create-job [JOB NAME]"
    argument name:'Job Name', description:"The name of the job"
}

model = model( args[0] ) render template:"Job.groovy", destination: file( "grails-app/jobs/$model.packagePath/${model.simpleName}Job.groovy"), model: model

Please refer to the documentation on Creating Custom Scripts for more information.

Migrating More Complex Scripts Using Gradle Tasks

Using the old Grails 2.x build system it was relatively common to spin up Grails inside the command line. In Grails 3.x it is not possible to load a Grails application within a code generation script created by the create-script command.

Instead a new mechanism specific to plugins exists via the create-command command. The create-command command will create a new ApplicationCommand, for example the following command will execute a query:

import grails.dev.commands.*
import javax.sql.*
import groovy.sql.*
import org.springframework.beans.factory.annotation.*

class RunQueryCommand implements ApplicationCommand {

@Autowired DataSource dataSource

boolean handle(ExecutionContext ctx) { def sql = new Sql(dataSource) println sql.executeQuery("select * from foo") return true } }

With this command in place once the plugin is installed into your local Maven cache you can add the plugin to both the build classpath and the runtime classpath of the application's build.gradle file:

buildscript {
  …
  dependencies {
    classpath "org.grails.plugins:myplugin:0.1-SNAPSHOT"
  }
}
…
dependencies {
  runtime "org.grails.plugins:myplugin:0.1-SNAPSHOT"
}

Grails will automatically create a Gradle task called runQuery and a command named run-query so both the following examples will execute the command:

$ grails run-query
$ gradle runQuery

Step 8 - Delete Files that were migrated or no longer used

You should now delete and cleanup the project of any files no longer required by Grails 3.x (BuildConfig.groovy, Config.groovy, DataSource.groovy etc.)

3.2 Upgrading Applications

Upgrading applications to Grails 3.x will require that you upgrade all plugins the application uses first, hence you should follow the steps in the previous section to first upgrade your plugins.

Step 1 - Create a New Application

Once the plugins are Grails 3.x compatible you can upgrade the application. To upgrade an application it is again best to create a new Grails 3 application using the "web" profile:

$ grails create-app myapp
$ cd myapp

Step 2 - Migrate Sources

The next step is to copy the sources from the original Grails 2 application to the Grails 3 application:

# first the sources
cp -rf ../old_app/src/groovy src/main/groovy
cp -rf ../old_app/src/java src/main/groovy
cp -rf ../old_app/grails-app grails-app

# then the tests cp -rf ../old_app/test/unit src/test/groovy mkdir -p src/integration-test/groovy cp -rf ../old_app/test/integration src/integration-test/groovy

Step 3 - Update the Gradle build with required dependencies

The repositories and dependencies defined in grails-app/conf/BuildConfig.groovy of the original Grails 2.x application will need to be defined in build.gradle of the new Grails 3.x application.

Step 4 - Modify Package Imports

In Grails 3.x all internal APIs can be found in the org.grails package and public facing APIs in the grails package. The org.codehaus.groovy.grails package no longer exists.

All package declaration in sources should be modified for the new location of the respective classes. Example org.codehaus.groovy.grails.commons.GrailsApplication is now grails.core.GrailsApplication.

Step 5 - Migrate Configuration

The configuration of the application will need to be migrated, this can normally be done by simply renaming grails-app/conf/Config.groovy to grails-app/conf/application.groovy and merging the content of grails-app/conf/DataSource.groovy into grails-app/conf/application.groovy.

Note however that Log4j has been replaced by grails-app/conf/logback.groovy for logging, so any logging configuration in grails-app/conf/Config.groovy should be migrated to logback format.

Step 6 - Migrate web.xml Modifications to Spring

If you have a modified web.xml template then you will need to migrate this to Spring as Grails 3.x does not use a web.xml (although it is still possible to have on in src/main/webapp/WEB-INF/web.xml).

New servlets and filters can be registered as Spring beans or with ServletRegistrationBean and FilterRegistrationBean respectively.

Migrate Static Assets not handled by Asset Pipeline

If you have static assets in your web-app directory of your Grails 2.x application such as HTML files, TLDs etc. these need to be moved. For public assets such as static HTML pages and so on these should go in src/main/resources/public.

TLD descriptors and not public assets should go in src/main/resources/WEB-INF .

Step 8 - Migrate Tests

Once the package names are corrected unit tests will continue to run, however any tests that extend the deprecated and removed JUnit 3 hierarchy will need to be migrated to Spock or JUnit 4.

Integration tests will need to be annotated with the Integration annotation and should not extend GroovyTestCase or any JUnit 3 super class.

4 Configuration

It may seem odd that in a framework that embraces "convention-over-configuration" that we tackle this topic now. With Grails' default settings you can actually develop an application without doing any configuration whatsoever, as the quick start demonstrates, but it's important to learn where and how to override the conventions when you need to. Later sections of the user guide will mention what configuration settings you can use, but not how to set them. The assumption is that you have at least read the first section of this chapter!

4.1 Basic Configuration

Configuration in Grails is generally split across 2 areas: build configuration and runtime configuration.

Build configuration is generally done via Gradle and the build.gradle file. Runtime configuration is by default specified in YAML in the grails-app/conf/application.yml file.

If you prefer to use Grails 2.0-style Groovy configuration then you can create an additional grails-app/conf/application.groovy file to specify configuration using Groovy's ConfigSlurper syntax.

For Groovy configuration the following variables are available to the configuration script:

VariableDescription
userHomeLocation of the home directory for the account that is running the Grails application.
grailsHomeLocation of the directory where you installed Grails. If the GRAILS_HOME environment variable is set, it is used.
appNameThe application name as it appears in application.properties.
appVersionThe application version as it appears in application.properties.

For example:

my.tmp.dir = "${userHome}/.grails/tmp"

If you want to read runtime configuration settings, i.e. those defined in application.yml, use the grailsApplication object, which is available as a variable in controllers and tag libraries:

class MyController {
    def hello() {
        def recipient = grailsApplication.config.getProperty('foo.bar.hello')

render "Hello ${recipient}" } }

The config property of the grailsApplication object is an instance of the Config interface and provides a number of useful methods to read the configuration of the application.

Notice that the Config instance is a merged configuration based on Spring's PropertySource concept and reads configuration from the environment, system properties and the local application configuration merging them into a single object.

and can be easily injected into services and other Grails artifacts:

import grails.core.*

class MyService { GrailsApplication grailsApplication

String greeting() { def recipient = grailsApplication.config.getProperty('foo.bar.hello') return "Hello ${recipient}" } }

Finally, you can also use Spring's Value annotation to dependency injection configuration values:

import org.springframework.beans.factory.annotation.*

class MyController { @Value('${foo.bar.hello}') String recipient

def hello() { render "Hello ${recipient}" } }

In Groovy code you must use single quotes around the string for the value of the Value annotation otherwise it is interpreted as a GString not a Spring expression.

As you can see, when accessing configuration settings you use the same dot notation as when you define them.

4.1.1 Built in options

Grails has a set of core settings that are worth knowing about. Their defaults are suitable for most projects, but it's important to understand what they do because you may need one or more of them later.

Runtime settings

On the runtime front, i.e. grails-app/conf/application.yml, there are quite a few more core settings:

  • grails.enable.native2ascii - Set this to false if you do not require native2ascii conversion of Grails i18n properties files (default: true).
  • grails.views.default.codec - Sets the default encoding regime for GSPs - can be one of 'none', 'html', or 'base64' (default: 'none'). To reduce risk of XSS attacks, set this to 'html'.
  • grails.views.gsp.encoding - The file encoding used for GSP source files (default: 'utf-8').
  • grails.mime.file.extensions - Whether to use the file extension to dictate the mime type in Content Negotiation (default: true).
  • grails.mime.types - A map of supported mime types used for Content Negotiation.
  • grails.serverURL - A string specifying the server URL portion of absolute links, including server name e.g. grails.serverURL="http://my.yourportal.com". See createLink. Also used by redirects.
  • grails.views.gsp.sitemesh.preprocess - Determines whether SiteMesh preprocessing happens. Disabling this slows down page rendering, but if you need SiteMesh to parse the generated HTML from a GSP view then disabling it is the right option. Don't worry if you don't understand this advanced property: leave it set to true.
  • grails.reload.excludes and grails.reload.includes - Configuring these directives determines the reload behavior for project specific source files. Each directive takes a list of strings that are the class names for project source files that should be excluded from reloading behavior or included accordingly when running the application in development with the run-app command. If the grails.reload.includes directive is configured, then only the classes in that list will be reloaded.

4.1.2 Logging

By default logging in Grails 3.0 is handled by the Logback logging framework and can be configured with the grails-app/conf/logback.groovy file.

If you prefer XML you can replace the logback.groovy file with a logback.xml file instead.

For more information on configuring logging refer to the Logback documentation on the subject.

4.1.3 GORM

Grails provides the following GORM configuration options:
  • grails.gorm.failOnError - If set to true, causes the save() method on domain classes to throw a grails.validation.ValidationException if validation fails during a save. This option may also be assigned a list of Strings representing package names. If the value is a list of Strings then the failOnError behavior will only be applied to domain classes in those packages (including sub-packages). See the save method docs for more information.

For example, to enable failOnError for all domain classes:

grails:
    gorm:
        failOnError: true

and to enable failOnError for domain classes by package:

grails:
    gorm:
        failOnError:
            - com.companyname.somepackage
            - com.companyname.someotherpackage
  • grails.gorm.autoFlush - If set to true, causes the merge, save and delete methods to flush the session, replacing the need to explicitly flush using save(flush: true).

4.2 The Application Class

Every new Grails application features an Application class witin the the grails-app/init directory.

The Application class subclasses the GrailsAutoConfiguration class and features a static void main method, meaning it can be run as a regular application.

4.2.1 Executing the Application Class

There are several ways to execute the Application class, if you are using an IDE then you can simply right click on the class and run it directly from your IDE which will start your Grails application.

This is also useful for debugging since you can debug directly from the IDE without having to connect a remote debugger when using the run-app --debug-jvm command from the command line.

You can also package your application into a runnable WAR file, for example:

$ grails package
$ java -jar build/libs/myapp-0.1.war

This is useful if you plan to deploy your application using a container-less approach.

4.2.2 Customizing the Application Class

There are several ways in which you can customize the Application class.

Customizing Scanning

By default Grails will scan all known source directories for controllers, domain class etc., however if there are packages in other JAR files you wish to scan you can do so by overriding the packageNames() method of the Application class:

class Application extends GrailsAutoConfiguration {
    @Override
    Collection<String> packageNames() {
        super.packageNames() + ['my.additional.package']
    }

… }

Registering Additional Beans

The Application class can also be used as a source for Spring bean definitions, simply define a method annotated with the Bean and the returned object will become a Spring bean. The name of the method is used as the bean name:

class Application extends GrailsAutoConfiguration {
    @Bean
    MyType myBean() {
        return new MyType()
    }

… }

4.2.3 The Application LifeCycle

The Application class also implements the GrailsApplicationLifeCycle interface which all plugins implement.

This means that the Application class can be used to perform the same functions as a plugin. You can override the regular plugins hooks such as doWithSpring, doWithApplicationContext and so on by overriding the appropriate method:

class Application extends GrailsAutoConfiguration {
    @Override
    Closure doWithSpring() {
        {->
            mySpringBean(MyType)
        }
    }

… }

4.3 Environments

Per Environment Configuration

Grails supports the concept of per environment configuration. The application.yml and application.groovy files in the grails-app/conf directory can use per-environment configuration using either YAML or the syntax provided by ConfigSlurper. As an example consider the following default application.yml definition provided by Grails:

environments:
    development:
        dataSource:
            dbCreate: create-drop
            url: jdbc:h2:mem:devDb;MVCC=TRUE;LOCK_TIMEOUT=10000;DB_CLOSE_ON_EXIT=FALSE
    test:
        dataSource:
            dbCreate: update
            url: jdbc:h2:mem:testDb;MVCC=TRUE;LOCK_TIMEOUT=10000;DB_CLOSE_ON_EXIT=FALSE
    production:
        dataSource:
            dbCreate: update
            url: jdbc:h2:prodDb;MVCC=TRUE;LOCK_TIMEOUT=10000;DB_CLOSE_ON_EXIT=FALSE
        properties:
           jmxEnabled: true
           initialSize: 5
        ...

The above can expression in Groovy syntax in application.groovy as follows:

dataSource {
    pooled = false
    driverClassName = "org.h2.Driver"
    username = "sa"
    password = ""
}
environments {
    development {
        dataSource {
            dbCreate = "create-drop"
            url = "jdbc:h2:mem:devDb"
        }
    }
    test {
        dataSource {
            dbCreate = "update"
            url = "jdbc:h2:mem:testDb"
        }
    }
    production {
        dataSource {
            dbCreate = "update"
            url = "jdbc:h2:prodDb"
        }
    }
}

Notice how the common configuration is provided at the top level and then an environments block specifies per environment settings for the dbCreate and url properties of the DataSource.

Packaging and Running for Different Environments

Grails' command line has built in capabilities to execute any command within the context of a specific environment. The format is:

grails [environment] [command name]

In addition, there are 3 preset environments known to Grails: dev, prod, and test for development, production and test. For example to create a WAR for the test environment you wound run:

grails test war

To target other environments you can pass a grails.env variable to any command:

grails -Dgrails.env=UAT run-app

Programmatic Environment Detection

Within your code, such as in a Gant script or a bootstrap class you can detect the environment using the Environment class:

import grails.util.Environment

...

switch (Environment.current) { case Environment.DEVELOPMENT: configureForDevelopment() break case Environment.PRODUCTION: configureForProduction() break }

Per Environment Bootstrapping

It's often desirable to run code when your application starts up on a per-environment basis. To do so you can use the grails-app/conf/BootStrap.groovy file's support for per-environment execution:

def init = { ServletContext ctx ->
    environments {
        production {
            ctx.setAttribute("env", "prod")
        }
        development {
            ctx.setAttribute("env", "dev")
        }
    }
    ctx.setAttribute("foo", "bar")
}

Generic Per Environment Execution

The previous BootStrap example uses the grails.util.Environment class internally to execute. You can also use this class yourself to execute your own environment specific logic:

Environment.executeForCurrentEnvironment {
    production {
        // do something in production
    }
    development {
        // do something only in development
    }
}

4.4 The DataSource

Since Grails is built on Java technology setting up a data source requires some knowledge of JDBC (the technology that doesn't stand for Java Database Connectivity).

If you use a database other than H2 you need a JDBC driver. For example for MySQL you would need Connector/J

Drivers typically come in the form of a JAR archive. It's best to use the dependency resolution to resolve the jar if it's available in a Maven repository, for example you could add a dependency for the MySQL driver like this:

dependencies {
        runtime 'mysql:mysql-connector-java:5.1.29'
    }

If you can't use dependency resolution then just put the JAR in your project's lib directory.

Once you have the JAR resolved you need to get familiar Grails' DataSource descriptor file located at grails-app/conf/DataSource.groovy. This file contains the dataSource definition which includes the following settings:

  • driverClassName - The class name of the JDBC driver
  • username - The username used to establish a JDBC connection
  • password - The password used to establish a JDBC connection
  • url - The JDBC URL of the database
  • dbCreate - Whether to auto-generate the database from the domain model - one of 'create-drop', 'create', 'update' or 'validate'
  • pooled - Whether to use a pool of connections (defaults to true)
  • logSql - Enable SQL logging to stdout
  • formatSql - Format logged SQL
  • dialect - A String or Class that represents the Hibernate dialect used to communicate with the database. See the org.hibernate.dialect package for available dialects.
  • readOnly - If true makes the DataSource read-only, which results in the connection pool calling setReadOnly(true) on each Connection
  • transactional - If false leaves the DataSource's transactionManager bean outside the chained BE1PC transaction manager implementation. This only applies to additional datasources.
  • persistenceInterceptor - The default datasource is automatically wired up to the persistence interceptor, other datasources are not wired up automatically unless this is set to true
  • properties - Extra properties to set on the DataSource bean. See the Tomcat Pool documentation. There is also a Javadoc format documentation of the properties.
  • jmxExport - If false, will disable registration of JMX MBeans for all DataSources. By default JMX MBeans are added for DataSources with jmxEnabled = true in properties.

A typical configuration for MySQL may be something like:

dataSource {
    pooled = true
    dbCreate = "update"
    url = "jdbc:mysql://localhost:3306/my_database"
    driverClassName = "com.mysql.jdbc.Driver"
    dialect = org.hibernate.dialect.MySQL5InnoDBDialect
    username = "username"
    password = "password"
    properties {
       jmxEnabled = true
       initialSize = 5
       maxActive = 50
       minIdle = 5
       maxIdle = 25
       maxWait = 10000
       maxAge = 10 * 60000
       timeBetweenEvictionRunsMillis = 5000
       minEvictableIdleTimeMillis = 60000
       validationQuery = "SELECT 1"
       validationQueryTimeout = 3
       validationInterval = 15000
       testOnBorrow = true
       testWhileIdle = true
       testOnReturn = false
       jdbcInterceptors = "ConnectionState;StatementCache(max=200)"
       defaultTransactionIsolation = java.sql.Connection.TRANSACTION_READ_COMMITTED
    }
}

When configuring the DataSource do not include the type or the def keyword before any of the configuration settings as Groovy will treat these as local variable definitions and they will not be processed. For example the following is invalid:

dataSource {
    boolean pooled = true // type declaration results in ignored local variable
    …
}

Example of advanced configuration using extra properties:

dataSource {
    pooled = true
    dbCreate = "update"
    url = "jdbc:mysql://localhost:3306/my_database"
    driverClassName = "com.mysql.jdbc.Driver"
    dialect = org.hibernate.dialect.MySQL5InnoDBDialect
    username = "username"
    password = "password"
    properties {
       // Documentation for Tomcat JDBC Pool
       // http://tomcat.apache.org/tomcat-7.0-doc/jdbc-pool.html#Common_Attributes
       // https://tomcat.apache.org/tomcat-7.0-doc/api/org/apache/tomcat/jdbc/pool/PoolConfiguration.html
       jmxEnabled = true
       initialSize = 5
       maxActive = 50
       minIdle = 5
       maxIdle = 25
       maxWait = 10000
       maxAge = 10 * 60000
       timeBetweenEvictionRunsMillis = 5000
       minEvictableIdleTimeMillis = 60000
       validationQuery = "SELECT 1"
       validationQueryTimeout = 3
       validationInterval = 15000
       testOnBorrow = true
       testWhileIdle = true
       testOnReturn = false
       ignoreExceptionOnPreLoad = true
       // http://tomcat.apache.org/tomcat-7.0-doc/jdbc-pool.html#JDBC_interceptors
       jdbcInterceptors = "ConnectionState;StatementCache(max=200)"
       defaultTransactionIsolation = java.sql.Connection.TRANSACTION_READ_COMMITTED // safe default
       // controls for leaked connections 
       abandonWhenPercentageFull = 100 // settings are active only when pool is full
       removeAbandonedTimeout = 120
       removeAbandoned = true
       // use JMX console to change this setting at runtime
       logAbandoned = false // causes stacktrace recording overhead, use only for debugging
       // JDBC driver properties
       // Mysql as example
       dbProperties {
           // Mysql specific driver properties
           // http://dev.mysql.com/doc/connector-j/en/connector-j-reference-configuration-properties.html
           // let Tomcat JDBC Pool handle reconnecting
           autoReconnect=false
           // truncation behaviour 
           jdbcCompliantTruncation=false
           // mysql 0-date conversion
           zeroDateTimeBehavior='convertToNull'
           // Tomcat JDBC Pool's StatementCache is used instead, so disable mysql driver's cache
           cachePrepStmts=false
           cacheCallableStmts=false
           // Tomcat JDBC Pool's StatementFinalizer keeps track
           dontTrackOpenResources=true
           // performance optimization: reduce number of SQLExceptions thrown in mysql driver code
           holdResultsOpenOverStatementClose=true
           // enable MySQL query cache - using server prep stmts will disable query caching
           useServerPrepStmts=false
           // metadata caching
           cacheServerConfiguration=true
           cacheResultSetMetadata=true
           metadataCacheSize=100
           // timeouts for TCP/IP
           connectTimeout=15000
           socketTimeout=120000
           // timer tuning (disable)
           maintainTimeStats=false
           enableQueryTimeouts=false
           // misc tuning
           noDatetimeStringSync=true
       }
    }
}

More on dbCreate

Hibernate can automatically create the database tables required for your domain model. You have some control over when and how it does this through the dbCreate property, which can take these values:

  • create - Drops the existing schema and creates the schema on startup, dropping existing tables, indexes, etc. first.
  • create-drop - Same as create, but also drops the tables when the application shuts down cleanly.
  • update - Creates missing tables and indexes, and updates the current schema without dropping any tables or data. Note that this can't properly handle many schema changes like column renames (you're left with the old column containing the existing data).
  • validate - Makes no changes to your database. Compares the configuration with the existing database schema and reports warnings.
  • any other value - does nothing

You can also remove the dbCreate setting completely, which is recommended once your schema is relatively stable and definitely when your application and database are deployed in production. Database changes are then managed through proper migrations, either with SQL scripts or a migration tool like Liquibase (the Database Migration plugin uses Liquibase and is tightly integrated with Grails and GORM).

4.4.1 DataSources and Environments

The previous example configuration assumes you want the same config for all environments: production, test, development etc.

Grails' DataSource definition is "environment aware", however, so you can do:

dataSource {
    pooled = true
    driverClassName = "com.mysql.jdbc.Driver"
    dialect = org.hibernate.dialect.MySQL5InnoDBDialect
    // other common settings here
}

environments { production { dataSource { url = "jdbc:mysql://liveip.com/liveDb" // other environment-specific settings here } } }

4.4.2 Automatic Database Migration

The dbCreate property of the DataSource definition is important as it dictates what Grails should do at runtime with regards to automatically generating the database tables from GORM classes. The options are described in the DataSource section:
  • create
  • create-drop
  • update
  • validate
  • no value

In development mode dbCreate is by default set to "create-drop", but at some point in development (and certainly once you go to production) you'll need to stop dropping and re-creating the database every time you start up your server.

It's tempting to switch to update so you retain existing data and only update the schema when your code changes, but Hibernate's update support is very conservative. It won't make any changes that could result in data loss, and doesn't detect renamed columns or tables, so you'll be left with the old one and will also have the new one.

Grails supports migrations with Flyway or Liquibase using the same mechanism provided by Spring Boot.

4.4.3 Transaction-aware DataSource Proxy

The actual dataSource bean is wrapped in a transaction-aware proxy so you will be given the connection that's being used by the current transaction or Hibernate Session if one is active.

If this were not the case, then retrieving a connection from the dataSource would be a new connection, and you wouldn't be able to see changes that haven't been committed yet (assuming you have a sensible transaction isolation setting, e.g. READ_COMMITTED or better).

The "real" unproxied dataSource is still available to you if you need access to it; its bean name is dataSourceUnproxied.

You can access this bean like any other Spring bean, i.e. using dependency injection:

class MyService {

def dataSourceUnproxied … }

or by pulling it from the ApplicationContext:

def dataSourceUnproxied = ctx.dataSourceUnproxied

4.4.4 Database Console

The H2 database console is a convenient feature of H2 that provides a web-based interface to any database that you have a JDBC driver for, and it's very useful to view the database you're developing against. It's especially useful when running against an in-memory database.

You can access the console by navigating to http://localhost:8080/appname/dbconsole in a browser. The URI can be configured using the grails.dbconsole.urlRoot attribute in Config.groovy and defaults to '/dbconsole'.

The console is enabled by default in development mode and can be disabled or enabled in other environments by using the grails.dbconsole.enabled attribute in Config.groovy. For example you could enable the console in production using

environments {
    production {
        grails.serverURL = "http://www.changeme.com"
        grails.dbconsole.enabled = true
        grails.dbconsole.urlRoot = '/admin/dbconsole'
    }
    development {
        grails.serverURL = "http://localhost:8080/${appName}"
    }
    test {
        grails.serverURL = "http://localhost:8080/${appName}"
    }
}

If you enable the console in production be sure to guard access to it using a trusted security framework.

Configuration

By default the console is configured for an H2 database which will work with the default settings if you haven't configured an external database - you just need to change the JDBC URL to jdbc:h2:mem:devDB. If you've configured an external database (e.g. MySQL, Oracle, etc.) then you can use the Saved Settings dropdown to choose a settings template and fill in the url and username/password information from your DataSource.groovy.

4.4.5 Multiple Datasources

By default all domain classes share a single DataSource and a single database, but you have the option to partition your domain classes into two or more DataSources.

Configuring Additional DataSources

The default DataSource configuration in grails-app/conf/DataSource.groovy looks something like this:

---
dataSource:
    pooled: true
    jmxExport: true
    driverClassName: org.h2.Driver
    username: sa
    password:

environments: development: dataSource: dbCreate: create-drop url: jdbc:h2:mem:devDb;MVCC=TRUE;LOCK_TIMEOUT=10000;DB_CLOSE_ON_EXIT=FALSE test: dataSource: dbCreate: update url: jdbc:h2:mem:testDb;MVCC=TRUE;LOCK_TIMEOUT=10000;DB_CLOSE_ON_EXIT=FALSE production: dataSource: dbCreate: update url: jdbc:h2:prodDb;MVCC=TRUE;LOCK_TIMEOUT=10000;DB_CLOSE_ON_EXIT=FALSE properties: jmxEnabled: true initialSize: 5

This configures a single DataSource with the Spring bean named dataSource. To configure extra DataSources, add a dataSources block (at the top level, in an environment block, or both, just like the standard DataSource definition) with a custom name. For example, this configuration adds a second DataSource, using MySQL in the development environment and Oracle in production:

---
dataSources:
    dataSource:
        pooled: true
        jmxExport: true
        driverClassName: org.h2.Driver
        username: sa
        password:
    lookup:
        dialect: org.hibernate.dialect.MySQLInnoDBDialect
        driverClassName: com.mysql.jdbc.Driver
        username: lookup
        password: secret
        url: jdbc:mysql://localhost/lookup
        dbCreate: update

environments: development: dataSources: dataSource: dbCreate: create-drop url: jdbc:h2:mem:devDb;MVCC=TRUE;LOCK_TIMEOUT=10000;DB_CLOSE_ON_EXIT=FALSE test: dataSources: dataSource: dbCreate: update url: jdbc:h2:mem:testDb;MVCC=TRUE;LOCK_TIMEOUT=10000;DB_CLOSE_ON_EXIT=FALSE production: dataSources: dataSource: dbCreate: update url: jdbc:h2:prodDb;MVCC=TRUE;LOCK_TIMEOUT=10000;DB_CLOSE_ON_EXIT=FALSE properties: jmxEnabled: true initialSize: 5 … lookup: dialect: org.hibernate.dialect.Oracle10gDialect driverClassName: oracle.jdbc.driver.OracleDriver username: lookup password: secret url: jdbc:oracle:thin:@localhost:1521:lookup dbCreate: update

You can use the same or different databases as long as they're supported by Hibernate.

Configuring Domain Classes

If a domain class has no DataSource configuration, it defaults to the standard 'dataSource'. Set the datasource property in the mapping block to configure a non-default DataSource. For example, if you want to use the ZipCode domain to use the 'lookup' DataSource, configure it like this;

class ZipCode {

String code

static mapping = { datasource 'lookup' } }

A domain class can also use two or more DataSources. Use the datasources property with a list of names to configure more than one, for example:

class ZipCode {

String code

static mapping = { datasources(['lookup', 'auditing']) } }

If a domain class uses the default DataSource and one or more others, use the special name 'DEFAULT' to indicate the default DataSource:

class ZipCode {

String code

static mapping = { datasources(['lookup', 'DEFAULT']) } }

If a domain class uses all configured DataSources use the special value 'ALL':

class ZipCode {

String code

static mapping = { datasource 'ALL' } }

Namespaces and GORM Methods

If a domain class uses more than one DataSource then you can use the namespace implied by each DataSource name to make GORM calls for a particular DataSource. For example, consider this class which uses two DataSources:

class ZipCode {

String code

static mapping = { datasources(['lookup', 'auditing']) } }

The first DataSource specified is the default when not using an explicit namespace, so in this case we default to 'lookup'. But you can call GORM methods on the 'auditing' DataSource with the DataSource name, for example:

def zipCode = ZipCode.auditing.get(42)
…
zipCode.auditing.save()

As you can see, you add the DataSource to the method call in both the static case and the instance case.

Hibernate Mapped Domain Classes

You can also partition annotated Java classes into separate datasources. Classes using the default datasource are registered in grails-app/conf/hibernate/hibernate.cfg.xml. To specify that an annotated class uses a non-default datasource, create a hibernate.cfg.xml file for that datasource with the file name prefixed with the datasource name.

For example if the Book class is in the default datasource, you would register that in grails-app/conf/hibernate/hibernate.cfg.xml:

<?xml version='1.0' encoding='UTF-8'?>
<!DOCTYPE hibernate-configuration PUBLIC
          '-//Hibernate/Hibernate Configuration DTD 3.0//EN'
          'http://hibernate.sourceforge.net/hibernate-configuration-3.0.dtd'>
<hibernate-configuration>
   <session-factory>
      <mapping class='org.example.Book'/>
   </session-factory>
</hibernate-configuration>

and if the Library class is in the "ds2" datasource, you would register that in grails-app/conf/hibernate/ds2_hibernate.cfg.xml:

<?xml version='1.0' encoding='UTF-8'?>
<!DOCTYPE hibernate-configuration PUBLIC
          '-//Hibernate/Hibernate Configuration DTD 3.0//EN'
          'http://hibernate.sourceforge.net/hibernate-configuration-3.0.dtd'>
<hibernate-configuration>
   <session-factory>
      <mapping class='org.example.Library'/>
   </session-factory>
</hibernate-configuration>

The process is the same for classes mapped with hbm.xml files - just list them in the appropriate hibernate.cfg.xml file.

Services

Like Domain classes, by default Services use the default DataSource and PlatformTransactionManager. To configure a Service to use a different DataSource, use the static datasource property, for example:

class DataService {

static datasource = 'lookup'

void someMethod(...) { … } }

A transactional service can only use a single DataSource, so be sure to only make changes for domain classes whose DataSource is the same as the Service.

Note that the datasource specified in a service has no bearing on which datasources are used for domain classes; that's determined by their declared datasources in the domain classes themselves. It's used to declare which transaction manager to use.

What you'll see is that if you have a Foo domain class in dataSource1 and a Bar domain class in dataSource2, and WahooService uses dataSource1, a service method that saves a new Foo and a new Bar will only be transactional for Foo since they share the datasource. The transaction won't affect the Bar instance. If you want both to be transactional you'd need to use two services and XA datasources for two-phase commit, e.g. with the Atomikos plugin.

Transactions across multiple datasources

Grails uses the Best Efforts 1PC pattern for handling transactions across multiple datasources.

The Best Efforts 1PC pattern is fairly general but can fail in some circumstances that the developer must be aware of. This is a non-XA pattern that involves a synchronized single-phase commit of a number of resources. Because the 2PC is not used, it can never be as safe as an XA transaction, but is often good enough if the participants are aware of the compromises.

The basic idea is to delay the commit of all resources as late as possible in a transaction so that the only thing that can go wrong is an infrastructure failure (not a business-processing error). Systems that rely on Best Efforts 1PC reason that infrastructure failures are rare enough that they can afford to take the risk in return for higher throughput. If business-processing services are also designed to be idempotent, then little can go wrong in practice.

The BE1PC implementation was added in Grails 2.3.6. . Before this change additional datasources didn't take part in transactions initiated in Grails. The transactions in additional datasources were basically in auto commit mode. In some cases this might be the wanted behavior. One reason might be performance: on the start of each new transaction, the BE1PC transaction manager creates a new transaction to each datasource. It's possible to leave an additional datasource out of the BE1PC transaction manager by setting transactional = false in the respective configuration block of the additional dataSource. Datasources with readOnly = true will also be left out of the chained transaction manager (since 2.3.7).

By default, the BE1PC implementation will add all beans implementing the Spring PlatformTransactionManager interface to the chained BE1PC transaction manager. For example, a possible JMSTransactionManager bean in the Grails application context would be added to the Grails BE1PC transaction manager's chain of transaction managers.

You can exclude transaction manager beans from the BE1PC implementation with the this configuration option:

grails.transaction.chainedTransactionManagerPostProcessor.blacklistPattern = '.*'
The exclude matching is done on the name of the transaction manager bean. The transaction managers of datasources with transactional = false or readOnly = true will be skipped and using this configuration option is not required in that case.

XA and Two-phase Commit

When the Best Efforts 1PC pattern isn't suitable for handling transactions across multiple transactional resources (not only datasources), there are several options available for adding XA/2PC support to Grails applications.

The Spring transactions documentation contains information about integrating the JTA/XA transaction manager of different application servers. In this case, you can configure a bean with the name transactionManager manually in resources.groovy or resources.xml file.

There is also Atomikos plugin available for XA support in Grails applications.

4.5 Versioning

Detecting Versions at Runtime

You can detect the application version using Grails' support for application metadata using the GrailsApplication class. For example within controllers there is an implicit grailsApplication variable that can be used:

def version = grailsApplication.metadata.getApplicationVersion()

You can retrieve the version of Grails that is running with:

def grailsVersion = grailsApplication.metadata.getGrailsVersion()

or the GrailsUtil class:

import grails.util.GrailsUtil
…
def grailsVersion = GrailsUtil.grailsVersion

4.6 Project Documentation

Since Grails 1.2, the documentation engine that powers the creation of this documentation has been available for your own Grails projects.

The documentation engine uses a variation on the Textile syntax to automatically create project documentation with smart linking, formatting etc.

Creating project documentation

To use the engine you need to follow a few conventions. First, you need to create a src/docs/guide directory where your documentation source files will go. Then, you need to create the source docs themselves. Each chapter should have its own gdoc file as should all numbered sub-sections. You will end up with something like:

+ src/docs/guide/introduction.gdoc
+ src/docs/guide/introduction/changes.gdoc
+ src/docs/guide/gettingStarted.gdoc
+ src/docs/guide/configuration.gdoc
+ src/docs/guide/configuration/build.gdoc
+ src/docs/guide/configuration/build/controllers.gdoc

Note that you can have all your gdoc files in the top-level directory if you want, but you can also put sub-sections in sub-directories named after the parent section - as the above example shows.

Once you have your source files, you still need to tell the documentation engine what the structure of your user guide is going to be. To do that, you add a src/docs/guide/toc.yml file that contains the structure and titles for each section. This file is in YAML format and basically represents the structure of the user guide in tree form. For example, the above files could be represented as:

introduction:
  title: Introduction
  changes: Change Log
gettingStarted: Getting Started
configuration:
  title: Configuration
  build:
    title: Build Config
    controllers: Specifying Controllers

The format is pretty straightforward. Any section that has sub-sections is represented with the corresponding filename (minus the .gdoc extension) followed by a colon. The next line should contain title: plus the title of the section as seen by the end user. Every sub-section then has its own line after the title. Leaf nodes, i.e. those without any sub-sections, declare their title on the same line as the section name but after the colon.

That's it. You can easily add, remove, and move sections within the toc.yml to restructure the generated user guide. You should also make sure that all section names, i.e. the gdoc filenames, should be unique since they are used for creating internal links and for the HTML filenames. Don't worry though, the documentation engine will warn you of duplicate section names.

Creating reference items

Reference items appear in the Quick Reference section of the documentation. Each reference item belongs to a category and a category is a directory located in the src/docs/ref directory. For example, suppose you have defined a new controller method called renderPDF. That belongs to the Controllers category so you would create a gdoc text file at the following location:

+ src/docs/ref/Controllers/renderPDF.gdoc

Configuring Output Properties

There are various properties you can set within your grails-app/conf/Config.groovy file that customize the output of the documentation such as:

  • grails.doc.title - The title of the documentation
  • grails.doc.subtitle - The subtitle of the documentation
  • grails.doc.authors - The authors of the documentation
  • grails.doc.license - The license of the software
  • grails.doc.copyright - The copyright message to display
  • grails.doc.footer - The footer to use

Other properties such as the version are pulled from your project itself. If a title is not specified, the application name is used.

You can also customise the look of the documentation and provide images by setting a few other options:

  • grails.doc.css - The location of a directory containing custom CSS files (type java.io.File)
  • grails.doc.js - The location of a directory containing custom JavaScript files (type java.io.File)
  • grails.doc.style - The location of a directory containing custom HTML templates for the guide (type java.io.File)
  • grails.doc.images - The location of a directory containing image files for use in the style templates and within the documentation pages themselves (type java.io.File)

One of the simplest ways to customise the look of the generated guide is to provide a value for grails.doc.css and then put a custom.css file in the corresponding directory. Grails will automatically include this CSS file in the guide. You can also place a custom-pdf.css file in that directory. This allows you to override the styles for the PDF version of the guide.

Generating Documentation

Once you have created some documentation (refer to the syntax guide in the next chapter) you can generate an HTML version of the documentation using the command:

grails doc

This command will output an docs/manual/index.html which can be opened in a browser to view your documentation.

Documentation Syntax

As mentioned the syntax is largely similar to Textile or Confluence style wiki markup. The following sections walk you through the syntax basics.

Basic Formatting

Monospace: monospace

@monospace@

Italic: italic

_italic_

Bold: bold

*bold*

Image:

!http://grails.org/images/new/grailslogo_topNav.png!

You can also link to internal images like so:

!someFolder/my_diagram.png!

This will link to an image stored locally within your project. There is currently no default location for doc images, but you can specify one with the grails.doc.images setting in Config.groovy like so:

grails.doc.images = new File("src/docs/images")

In this example, you would put the my_diagram.png file in the directory 'src/docs/images/someFolder'.

Linking

There are several ways to create links with the documentation generator. A basic external link can either be defined using confluence or textile style markup:

[Pivotal|http://www.pivotal.io/oss]

or

"Pivotal":http://www.pivotal.io/oss

For links to other sections inside the user guide you can use the guide: prefix with the name of the section you want to link to:

[Intro|guide:introduction]

The section name comes from the corresponding gdoc filename. The documentation engine will warn you if any links to sections in your guide break.

To link to reference items you can use a special syntax:

[renderPDF|controllers]

In this case the category of the reference item is on the right hand side of the | and the name of the reference item on the left.

Finally, to link to external APIs you can use the api: prefix. For example:

[String|api:java.lang.String]

The documentation engine will automatically create the appropriate javadoc link in this case. To add additional APIs to the engine you can configure them in grails-app/conf/Config.groovy. For example:

grails.doc.api.org.hibernate=
            "http://docs.jboss.org/hibernate/stable/core/javadocs"

The above example configures classes within the org.hibernate package to link to the Hibernate website's API docs.

Lists and Headings

Headings can be created by specifying the letter 'h' followed by a number and then a dot:

h3.<space>Heading3
h4.<space>Heading4

Unordered lists are defined with the use of the * character:

* item 1
** subitem 1
** subitem 2
* item 2

Numbered lists can be defined with the # character:

# item 1

Tables can be created using the table macro:

NameNumber
Albert46
Wilma1348
James12

{table}
 *Name* | *Number*
 Albert | 46
 Wilma | 1348
 James | 12
{table}

Code and Notes

You can define code blocks with the code macro:

class Book {
    String title
}

{code}
class Book {
    String title
}
{code}

The example above provides syntax highlighting for Java and Groovy code, but you can also highlight XML markup:

<hello>world</hello>

{code:xml}
<hello>world</hello>
{code}

There are also a couple of macros for displaying notes and warnings:

Note:

This is a note!

{note}
This is a note!
{note}

Warning:

This is a warning!

{warning}
This is a warning!
{warning}

4.7 Dependency Resolution

Dependency resolution is handled by the Gradle build tool, all dependencies are defined in the build.gradle file. Refer to the Gradle user guide for more information.

5 The Command Line

Grails 3.0's command line system differs greatly from previous versions of Grails and features APIs for invoking Gradle for build related tasks, as well as performing code generation.

When you type:

grails [command name]

Grails searches the profile repository based on the profile of the current application. If the profile is for a web application then commmands a read from the web profile and the base profile which it inherits from.

Since command behavior is profile specific the web profile my provide different behavior for the run-app command then say a profile for running batch applications.

When you type the following command:

grails run-app

It results in a search for the following files:

  • PROJECT_HOME/scripts/RunApp.groovy
  • PROFILE_REPOSITORY_PATH/profiles/web/commands/run-app.groovy (if the web profile is active)
  • PROFILE_REPOSITORY_PATH/profiles/web/commands/run-app.yml (for YAML defined commands)

To get a list of all commands and some help about the available commands type:

grails help

which outputs usage instructions and the list of commands Grails is aware of:

grails [environment]* [target] [arguments]*'

| Examples: $ grails dev run-app $ grails create-app books

| Available Commands (type grails help 'command-name' for more info): | Command Name Command Description ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- clean Cleans a Grails application's compiled sources compile Compiles a Grails application ...

Refer to the Command Line reference in the Quick Reference menu of the reference guide for more information about individual commands

non-interactive mode

When you run a script manually and it prompts you for information, you can answer the questions and continue running the script. But when you run a script as part of an automated process, for example a continuous integration build server, there's no way to "answer" the questions. So you can pass the --non-interactive switch to the script command to tell Grails to accept the default answer for any questions, for example whether to install a missing plugin.

For example:

grails war --non-interactive

5.1 Interactive Mode

Interactive mode is the a feature of the Grails command line which keeps the JVM running and allows for quicker execution of commands. To activate interactive mode type 'grails' at the command line and then use TAB completion to get a list of commands:

If you need to open a file whilst within interactive mode you can use the open command which will TAB complete file paths:

Even better, the open command understands the logical aliases 'test-report' and 'dep-report', which will open the most recent test and dependency reports respectively. In other words, to open the test report in a browser simply execute open test-report. You can even open multiple files at once: open test-report test/unit/MyTests.groovy will open the HTML test report in your browser and the MyTests.groovy source file in your text editor.

TAB completion also works for class names after the create-* commands:

If you need to run an external process whilst interactive mode is running you can do so by starting the command with a !:

Note that with ! (bang) commands, you get file path auto completion - ideal for external commands that operate on the file system such as 'ls', 'cat', 'git', etc.

To exit interactive mode enter the exit command. Note that if the Grails application has been run with run-app normally it will terminate when the interactive mode console exits because the JVM will be terminated. An exception to this would be if the application were running in forked mode which means the application is running in a different JVM. In that case the application will be left running after the interactive mode console terminates. If you want to exit interactive mode and stop an application that is running in forked mode, use the quit command. The quit command will stop the running application and then close interactive mode.

5.2 The Command Line and Profiles

When you create a Grails application with the create-app command by default the "web" profile is used:

grails create-app myapp

You can specify a different profile with the profile argument:

grails create-app myapp --profile=web-plugin

Profiles encapsulate the project commands, templates and plugins that are designed to work for a given profile. They are stored in the Grails Profile Repository on Github.

This repository is checked out locally and stored in the USER_HOME/.grails/repository directory.

Understanding a Profile's Structure

A profile is a simple directory that contains a profile.yml file and directorys containing the "commands", "skeleton" and "templates" defined by the profile. Example:

web
    * commands
        * create-controller.yml
        * run-app.groovy    
        …
    * skeleton
        * grails-app
            * controllers
            …
        * build.gradle
    * templates
        * artifacts
            * Controller.groovy
    * profile.yml

The above example is a snippet of structure of the 'web' profile. The profile.yml file is defined as follows:

description: Profile for Web applications
extends: base

As you can see it contains the description of the profile and a definition of which profiles this profile extends, since one profile can extend from another.

When the create-app command runs it takes the skeleton of the parent profiles and copies the skeletons into a new project structure. Child profiles overwrite files from the parent profile so if the parent defines a build.gradle then the child profile will override the parent.

Defining Profile Commands

A profile can define new commands that apply only to that profile using YAML or Groovy scripts. Below is an example of the create-controller command defined in YAML:

description: 
    - Creates a controller
    - usage: 'create-controller [controller name]'
    - completer: org.grails.cli.interactive.completers.DomainClassCompleter
    - argument: "Controller Name"
      description: "The name of the controller"     
steps:
 - command: render
   template: templates/artifacts/Controller.groovy
   destination: grails-app/controllers/artifact.package.path/artifact.nameController.groovy
 - command: render
   template: templates/testing/Controller.groovy
   destination: src/test/groovy/artifact.package.path/artifact.nameControllerSpec.groovy
 - command: mkdir
   location: grails-app/views/artifact.propertyName

Commands defined in YAML must define one or many steps. Each step is a command in itself. The available step types are:

  • render - To render a template to a given destination (as seen in the previous example)
  • mkdir - To make a directory specified by the location parameter
  • execute - To execute a command specified by the class parameter. Must be a class that implements the Command interface.
  • gradle - To execute one or many Gradle tasks specified by the tasks parameter.

For example to invoke a Gradle task, you can define the following YAML:

description: Creates a WAR file for deployment to a container (like Tomcat)
minArguments: 0
usage: |
 war
steps:
 - command: gradle
   tasks:
     - war

If you need more flexiblity than what the declarative YAML approach provides you can create Groovy script commands. Each Command script is extends from the GroovyScriptCommmand class and hence has all of the methods of that class available to it.

The following is an example of the create-script command written in Groovy:

description( "Creates a Grails script" ) {
  usage "grails create-script [SCRIPT NAME]"
  argument name:'Script Name', description:"The name of the script to create"
  flag name:'force', description:"Whether to overwrite existing files"
}

def scriptName = args[0] def model = model(scriptName) def overwrite = flag('force') ? true : false

render template: template('artifacts/Script.groovy'), destination: file("src/main/scripts/${model.lowerCaseName}.groovy"), model: model, overwrite: overwrite

For more information on creating Groovy commands see the following section on creating custom Grails scripts.

5.3 Creating Custom Scripts

You can create your own Command scripts by running the create-script command from the root of your project. For example the following command:

grails create-script hello-world

Will create a script called src/main/scripts/hello-world.groovy. Each Command script is extends from the GroovyScriptCommmand class and hence has all of the methods of that class available to it.

In general Grails scripts should be used for scripting the Gradle based build system and code generation. Scripts cannot load application classes and in fact should not since Gradle is required to construct the application classpath.

See below for an example script that prints 'Hello World':

description "Example description", "grails hello-world"

println "Hello World"

The description method is used to define the output seen by grails help and to aid users of the script. The following is a more complete example of providing a description taken from the generate-all command:

description( "Generates a controller that performs CRUD operations and the associated views" ) {
  usage "grails generate-all [DOMAIN CLASS]"
  flag name:'force', description:"Whether to overwrite existing files"
  argument name:'Domain Class', description:'The name of the domain class'
}

As you can see this description profiles usage instructions, a flag and an argument. This allows the command to be used as follows:

grails generate-all MyClass --force

5.4 Re-using Grails scripts

Grails ships with a lot of command line functionality out of the box that you may find useful in your own scripts (See the command line reference in the reference guide for info on all the commands).

Any script you create an invoke another Grails script simply by invoking a method:

testApp()

The above will invoke the test-app command. You can also pass arguments using the method arguments:

testApp('--debug-jvm')

Invoking Gradle

Instead of invoking another Grails CLI command you can invoke Gradle directory using the gradle property.

gradle.compileGroovy()

Invoking Ant

You can also invoke Ant tasks from scripts which can help if you need to writing code generation and automation tasks:

ant.mkdir(dir:"path")

Template Generation

Plugins and applications that need to define template generation tasks can do so using scripts. A example of this is the Scaffolding plugin which defines the generate-all and generate-controllers commands.

Every Grails script implements the TemplateRenderer interface which makes it trivial to render templates to the users project workspace.

The following is an example of the create-script command written in Groovy:

description( "Creates a Grails script" ) {
  usage "grails create-script [SCRIPT NAME]"
  argument name:'Script Name', description:"The name of the script to create"
  flag name:'force', description:"Whether to overwrite existing files"
}

def scriptName = args[0] def model = model(scriptName) def overwrite = flag('force') ? true : false

render template: template('artifacts/Script.groovy'), destination: file("src/main/scripts/${model.lowerCaseName}.groovy"), model: model, overwrite: overwrite

5.5 Building with Gradle

Grails 3.0 uses the Gradle Build System for build related tasks such as compilation, runnings tests and producing binary distrubutions of your project. It is recommended to use Gradle 2.2 or above with Grails 3.0.

The build is defined by the build.gradle file which specifies the version of your project, the dependencies of the project and the repositories where to find those dependencies (amongst other things).

When you invoke the grails command the version of Gradle that ships with Grails 3.0 (currently 2.3) is invoked by the grails process via the Gradle Tooling API:

# Equivalent to 'gradle classes'
$ grails compile

You can invoke Gradle directly using the gradle command and use your own local version of Gradle, however you will need Gradle 2.2 or above to work with Grails 3.0:

$ gradle assemble

5.5.1 Defining Dependencies with Gradle

Dependencies for your project are defined in the dependencies block. In general you can follow the Gradle documentation on dependency management to understand how to configure additional dependencies.

The default dependencies for the "web" profile can be seen below:

dependencies {
  compile 'org.springframework.boot:spring-boot-starter-logging'
  compile('org.springframework.boot:spring-boot-starter-actuator')
  compile 'org.springframework.boot:spring-boot-autoconfigure'
  compile 'org.springframework.boot:spring-boot-starter-tomcat'
  compile 'org.grails:grails-dependencies'
  compile 'org.grails:grails-web-boot'

compile 'org.grails.plugins:hibernate' compile 'org.grails.plugins:cache' compile 'org.hibernate:hibernate-ehcache'

runtime 'org.grails.plugins:asset-pipeline' runtime 'org.grails.plugins:scaffolding'

testCompile "org.grails:grails-plugin-testing' testCompile "org.grails.plugins:geb'

// Note: It is recommended to update to a more robust driver (Chrome, Firefox etc.) testRuntime 'org.seleniumhq.selenium:selenium-htmlunit-driver:2.44.0'

console 'org.grails:grails-console' }

Note that version numbers are not present in the majority of the dependencies. This is thanks to the dependency management plugin which configures a Maven BOM that defines the default dependency versions for certain commonly used dependencies and plugins:

dependencyManagement {
    imports {
        mavenBom 'org.grails:grails-bom:' + grailsVersion
    }
    applyMavenExclusions false
}

5.5.2 Working with Gradle Tasks

As mentioned previously the grails command uses an embedded version of Gradle and certain Grails commands that existed in previous versions of Grails map onto their Gradle equivalents. The following table shows which Grails command invoke which Gradle task:

Grails CommandGradle Task
cleanclean
compileclasses
packageassemble
run-apprun
test-apptest
warassemble

You can invoke any of these Grails commands using their Gradle equivalents if you prefer:

$ gradle test

Note however that you will need to use a version of Gradle compatible with Grails 3.0 (Gradle 2.2 or above). If you wish to invoke a Gradle task using the version of Gradle used by Grails you can do so with the grails command:

$ grails gradle compileGroovy

However, it is recommended you do this via interactive mode, as it greatly speeds up execution and provides TAB completion for the available Gradle tasks:

$ grails 
| Enter a command name to run. Use TAB for completion:
 grails> gradle compileGroovy
 ...

To find out what Gradle tasks are available without using interactive mode TAB completion you can use the Gradle tasks task:

gradle tasks

5.5.3 Grails plugins for Gradle

When you create a new project with the create-app command, a default build.gradle is created. The default build.gradle configures the build with a set of Gradle plugins that allow Gradle to build the Grails project:

plugins {
    id "io.spring.dependency-management" version "0.3.1.RELEASE"
}

apply plugin: "spring-boot" apply plugin: "war" apply plugin: "asset-pipeline" apply plugin: "org.grails.grails-web" apply plugin: "org.grails.grails-gsp" apply plugin: "maven"

The default plugins are as follows:

  • dependency-management - The dependency management plugin allows Gradle to read Maven BOM files that define the default dependency versions used by Grails.
  • spring-boot - The Spring Boot Gradle plugin enhances the default packaging tasks provided by Gradle to allow for the creation of runnable JAR/WAR files.
  • war - The WAR plugin changes the packaging so that Gradle creates as WAR file from you application. You can comment out this plugin if you wish to create only a runnable JAR file for standalone deployment.
  • asset-pipeline - The asset pipeline plugin enables the compilation of static assets (JavaScript, CSS etc.)
  • maven - The maven plugin allows installing your application into a local maven repository

Many of these are built in plugins provided by Gradle or third party plugins. The Gradle plugins that Grails provides are as follows:

  • org.grails.grails-core - The primary Grails plugin for Gradle, included by all other plugins and designed to operate with all profiles.
  • org.grails.grails-plugin - A plugin for Gradle for building Grails plugins.
  • org.grails.grails-web - The Grails Web gradle plugin configures Gradle to understand the Grails conventions and directory structure.
  • org.grails.grails-gsp - The Grails GSP plugin adds precompilation of GSP files for production deployments.
  • org.grails.grails-doc - A plugin for Gradle for using Grails 2.0's documentation engine.

6 Object Relational Mapping (GORM)

Domain classes are core to any business application. They hold state about business processes and hopefully also implement behavior. They are linked together through relationships; one-to-one, one-to-many, or many-to-many.

GORM is Grails' object relational mapping (ORM) implementation. Under the hood it uses Hibernate 3 (a very popular and flexible open source ORM solution) and thanks to the dynamic nature of Groovy with its static and dynamic typing, along with the convention of Grails, there is far less configuration involved in creating Grails domain classes.

You can also write Grails domain classes in Java. See the section on Hibernate Integration for how to write domain classes in Java but still use dynamic persistent methods. Below is a preview of GORM in action:

def book = Book.findByTitle("Groovy in Action")

book .addToAuthors(name:"Dierk Koenig") .addToAuthors(name:"Guillaume LaForge") .save()

6.1 Quick Start Guide

A domain class can be created with the create-domain-class command:

grails create-domain-class helloworld.Person

If no package is specified with the create-domain-class script, Grails automatically uses the application name as the package name.

This will create a class at the location grails-app/domain/helloworld/Person.groovy such as the one below:

package helloworld

class Person { }

If you have the dbCreate property set to "update", "create" or "create-drop" on your DataSource, Grails will automatically generate/modify the database tables for you.

You can customize the class by adding properties:

class Person {
    String name
    Integer age
    Date lastVisit
}

Once you have a domain class try and manipulate it with the shell or console by typing:

grails console

This loads an interactive GUI where you can run Groovy commands with access to the Spring ApplicationContext, GORM, etc.

6.1.1 Basic CRUD

Try performing some basic CRUD (Create/Read/Update/Delete) operations.

Create

To create a domain class use Map constructor to set its properties and call save:

def p = new Person(name: "Fred", age: 40, lastVisit: new Date())
p.save()

The save method will persist your class to the database using the underlying Hibernate ORM layer.

Read

Grails transparently adds an implicit id property to your domain class which you can use for retrieval:

def p = Person.get(1)
assert 1 == p.id

This uses the get method that expects a database identifier to read the Person object back from the database. You can also load an object in a read-only state by using the read method:

def p = Person.read(1)

In this case the underlying Hibernate engine will not do any dirty checking and the object will not be persisted. Note that if you explicitly call the save method then the object is placed back into a read-write state.

In addition, you can also load a proxy for an instance by using the load method:

def p = Person.load(1)

This incurs no database access until a method other than getId() is called. Hibernate then initializes the proxied instance, or throws an exception if no record is found for the specified id.

Update

To update an instance, change some properties and then call save again:

def p = Person.get(1)
p.name = "Bob"
p.save()

Delete

To delete an instance use the delete method:

def p = Person.get(1)
p.delete()

6.2 Domain Modelling in GORM

When building Grails applications you have to consider the problem domain you are trying to solve. For example if you were building an Amazon-style bookstore you would be thinking about books, authors, customers and publishers to name a few.

These are modeled in GORM as Groovy classes, so a Book class may have a title, a release date, an ISBN number and so on. The next few sections show how to model the domain in GORM.

To create a domain class you run the create-domain-class command as follows:

grails create-domain-class org.bookstore.Book

The result will be a class at grails-app/domain/org/bookstore/Book.groovy:

package org.bookstore

class Book { }

This class will map automatically to a table in the database called book (the same name as the class). This behaviour is customizable through the ORM Domain Specific Language

Now that you have a domain class you can define its properties as Java types. For example:

package org.bookstore

class Book { String title Date releaseDate String ISBN }

Each property is mapped to a column in the database, where the convention for column names is all lower case separated by underscores. For example releaseDate maps onto a column release_date. The SQL types are auto-detected from the Java types, but can be customized with Constraints or the ORM DSL.

6.2.1 Association in GORM

Relationships define how domain classes interact with each other. Unless specified explicitly at both ends, a relationship exists only in the direction it is defined.

6.2.1.1 Many-to-one and one-to-one

A many-to-one relationship is the simplest kind, and is defined with a property of the type of another domain class. Consider this example:

Example A

class Face {
    Nose nose
}

class Nose {
}

In this case we have a unidirectional many-to-one relationship from Face to Nose. To make this relationship bidirectional define the other side as follows (and see the section on controlling the ends of the association just below):

Example B

class Face {
    Nose nose
}

class Nose {
    static belongsTo = [face:Face]
}

In this case we use the belongsTo setting to say that Nose "belongs to" Face. The result of this is that we can create a Face, attach a Nose instance to it and when we save or delete the Face instance, GORM will save or delete the Nose. In other words, saves and deletes will cascade from Face to the associated Nose:

new Face(nose:new Nose()).save()

The example above will save both face and nose. Note that the inverse is not true and will result in an error due to a transient Face:

new Nose(face:new Face()).save() // will cause an error

Now if we delete the Face instance, the Nose will go too:

def f = Face.get(1)
f.delete() // both Face and Nose deleted

To make the relationship a true one-to-one, use the hasOne property on the owning side, e.g. Face:

Example C

class Face {
    static hasOne = [nose:Nose]
}

class Nose {
    Face face
}

Note that using this property puts the foreign key on the inverse table to the example A, so in this case the foreign key column is stored in the nose table inside a column called face_id. Also, hasOne only works with bidirectional relationships.

Finally, it's a good idea to add a unique constraint on one side of the one-to-one relationship:

class Face {
    static hasOne = [nose:Nose]

static constraints = { nose unique: true } }

class Nose {
    Face face
}

Controlling the ends of the association

Occasionally you may find yourself with domain classes that have multiple properties of the same type. They may even be self-referential, i.e. the association property has the same type as the domain class it's in. Such situations can cause problems because Grails may guess incorrectly the type of the association. Consider this simple class:

class Person {
    String name
    Person parent

static belongsTo = [ supervisor: Person ]

static constraints = { supervisor nullable: true } }

As far as Grails is concerned, the parent and supervisor properties are two directions of the same association. So when you set the parent property on a Person instance, Grails will automatically set the supervisor property on the other Person instance. This may be what you want, but if you look at the class, what we in fact have are two unidirectional relationships.

To guide Grails to the correct mapping, you can tell it that a particular association is unidirectional through the mappedBy property:

class Person {
    String name
    Person parent

static belongsTo = [ supervisor: Person ]

static mappedBy = [ supervisor: "none", parent: "none" ]

static constraints = { supervisor nullable: true } }

You can also replace "none" with any property name of the target class. And of course this works for normal domain classes too, not just self-referential ones. Nor is the mappedBy property limited to many-to-one and one-to-one associations: it also works for one-to-many and many-to-many associations as you'll see in the next section.

If you have a property called "none" on your domain class, this approach won't work currently! The "none" property will be treated as the reverse direction of the association (or the "back reference"). Fortunately, "none" is not a common domain class property name.

6.2.1.2 One-to-many

A one-to-many relationship is when one class, example Author, has many instances of another class, example Book. With Grails you define such a relationship with the hasMany setting:

class Author {
    static hasMany = [books: Book]

String name }

class Book {
    String title
}

In this case we have a unidirectional one-to-many. Grails will, by default, map this kind of relationship with a join table.

The ORM DSL allows mapping unidirectional relationships using a foreign key association instead

Grails will automatically inject a property of type java.util.Set into the domain class based on the hasMany setting. This can be used to iterate over the collection:

def a = Author.get(1)

for (book in a.books) { println book.title }

The default fetch strategy used by Grails is "lazy", which means that the collection will be lazily initialized on first access. This can lead to the n+1 problem if you are not careful.

If you need "eager" fetching you can use the ORM DSL or specify eager fetching as part of a query

The default cascading behaviour is to cascade saves and updates, but not deletes unless a belongsTo is also specified:

class Author {
    static hasMany = [books: Book]

String name }

class Book {
    static belongsTo = [author: Author]
    String title
}

If you have two properties of the same type on the many side of a one-to-many you have to use mappedBy to specify which the collection is mapped:

class Airport {
    static hasMany = [flights: Flight]
    static mappedBy = [flights: "departureAirport"]
}

class Flight {
    Airport departureAirport
    Airport destinationAirport
}

This is also true if you have multiple collections that map to different properties on the many side:

class Airport {
    static hasMany = [outboundFlights: Flight, inboundFlights: Flight]
    static mappedBy = [outboundFlights: "departureAirport",
                       inboundFlights: "destinationAirport"]
}

class Flight {
    Airport departureAirport
    Airport destinationAirport
}

6.2.1.3 Many-to-many

Grails supports many-to-many relationships by defining a hasMany on both sides of the relationship and having a belongsTo on the owned side of the relationship:

class Book {
    static belongsTo = Author
    static hasMany = [authors:Author]
    String title
}

class Author {
    static hasMany = [books:Book]
    String name
}

Grails maps a many-to-many using a join table at the database level. The owning side of the relationship, in this case Author, takes responsibility for persisting the relationship and is the only side that can cascade saves across.

For example this will work and cascade saves:

new Author(name:"Stephen King")
        .addToBooks(new Book(title:"The Stand"))
        .addToBooks(new Book(title:"The Shining"))
        .save()

However this will only save the Book and not the authors!

new Book(name:"Groovy in Action")
        .addToAuthors(new Author(name:"Dierk Koenig"))
        .addToAuthors(new Author(name:"Guillaume Laforge"))
        .save()

This is the expected behaviour as, just like Hibernate, only one side of a many-to-many can take responsibility for managing the relationship.

Grails' Scaffolding feature does not currently support many-to-many relationship and hence you must write the code to manage the relationship yourself

6.2.1.4 Basic Collection Types

As well as associations between different domain classes, GORM also supports mapping of basic collection types. For example, the following class creates a nicknames association that is a Set of String instances:

class Person {
    static hasMany = [nicknames: String]
}

GORM will map an association like the above using a join table. You can alter various aspects of how the join table is mapped using the joinTable argument:

class Person {

static hasMany = [nicknames: String]

static mapping = { hasMany joinTable: [name: 'bunch_o_nicknames', key: 'person_id', column: 'nickname', type: "text"] } }

The example above will map to a table that looks like the following:

bunch_o_nicknames Table

---------------------------------------------
| person_id         |     nickname          |
---------------------------------------------
|   1               |      Fred             |
---------------------------------------------

6.2.2 Composition in GORM

As well as association, Grails supports the notion of composition. In this case instead of mapping classes onto separate tables a class can be "embedded" within the current table. For example:

class Person {
    Address homeAddress
    Address workAddress
    static embedded = ['homeAddress', 'workAddress']
}

class Address { String number String code }

The resulting mapping would looking like this:

If you define the Address class in a separate Groovy file in the grails-app/domain directory you will also get an address table. If you don't want this to happen use Groovy's ability to define multiple classes per file and include the Address class below the Person class in the grails-app/domain/Person.groovy file

6.2.3 Inheritance in GORM

GORM supports inheritance both from abstract base classes and concrete persistent GORM entities. For example:

class Content {
     String author
}

class BlogEntry extends Content {
    URL url
}

class Book extends Content {
    String ISBN
}

class PodCast extends Content {
    byte[] audioStream
}

In the above example we have a parent Content class and then various child classes with more specific behaviour.

Considerations

At the database level Grails by default uses table-per-hierarchy mapping with a discriminator column called class so the parent class (Content) and its subclasses (BlogEntry, Book etc.), share the same table.

Table-per-hierarchy mapping has a down side in that you cannot have non-nullable properties with inheritance mapping. An alternative is to use table-per-subclass which can be enabled with the ORM DSL

However, excessive use of inheritance and table-per-subclass can result in poor query performance due to the use of outer join queries. In general our advice is if you're going to use inheritance, don't abuse it and don't make your inheritance hierarchy too deep.

Polymorphic Queries

The upshot of inheritance is that you get the ability to polymorphically query. For example using the list method on the Content super class will return all subclasses of Content:

def content = Content.list() // list all blog entries, books and podcasts
content = Content.findAllByAuthor('Joe Bloggs') // find all by author

def podCasts = PodCast.list() // list only podcasts

6.2.4 Sets, Lists and Maps

Sets of Objects

By default when you define a relationship with GORM it is a java.util.Set which is an unordered collection that cannot contain duplicates. In other words when you have:

class Author {
    static hasMany = [books: Book]
}

The books property that GORM injects is a java.util.Set. Sets guarantee uniqueness but not order, which may not be what you want. To have custom ordering you configure the Set as a SortedSet:

class Author {

SortedSet books

static hasMany = [books: Book] }

In this case a java.util.SortedSet implementation is used which means you must implement java.lang.Comparable in your Book class:

class Book implements Comparable {

String title Date releaseDate = new Date()

int compareTo(obj) { releaseDate.compareTo(obj.releaseDate) } }

The result of the above class is that the Book instances in the books collection of the Author class will be ordered by their release date.

Lists of Objects

To keep objects in the order which they were added and to be able to reference them by index like an array you can define your collection type as a List:

class Author {

List books

static hasMany = [books: Book] }

In this case when you add new elements to the books collection the order is retained in a sequential list indexed from 0 so you can do:

author.books[0] // get the first book

The way this works at the database level is Hibernate creates a books_idx column where it saves the index of the elements in the collection to retain this order at the database level.

When using a List, elements must be added to the collection before being saved, otherwise Hibernate will throw an exception (org.hibernate.HibernateException: null index column for collection):

// This won't work!
def book = new Book(title: 'The Shining')
book.save()
author.addToBooks(book)

// Do it this way instead. def book = new Book(title: 'Misery') author.addToBooks(book) author.save()

Bags of Objects

If ordering and uniqueness aren't a concern (or if you manage these explicitly) then you can use the Hibernate Bag type to represent mapped collections.

The only change required for this is to define the collection type as a Collection:

class Author {

Collection books

static hasMany = [books: Book] }

Since uniqueness and order aren't managed by Hibernate, adding to or removing from collections mapped as a Bag don't trigger a load of all existing instances from the database, so this approach will perform better and require less memory than using a Set or a List.

Maps of Objects

If you want a simple map of string/value pairs GORM can map this with the following:

class Author {
    Map books // map of ISBN:book names
}

def a = new Author() a.books = ["1590597583":"Grails Book"] a.save()

In this case the key and value of the map MUST be strings.

If you want a Map of objects then you can do this:

class Book {

Map authors

static hasMany = [authors: Author] }

def a = new Author(name:"Stephen King")

def book = new Book() book.authors = [stephen:a] book.save()

The static hasMany property defines the type of the elements within the Map. The keys for the map must be strings.

A Note on Collection Types and Performance

The Java Set type doesn't allow duplicates. To ensure uniqueness when adding an entry to a Set association Hibernate has to load the entire associations from the database. If you have a large numbers of entries in the association this can be costly in terms of performance.

The same behavior is required for List types, since Hibernate needs to load the entire association to maintain order. Therefore it is recommended that if you anticipate a large numbers of records in the association that you make the association bidirectional so that the link can be created on the inverse side. For example consider the following code:

def book = new Book(title:"New Grails Book")
def author = Author.get(1)
book.author = author
book.save()

In this example the association link is being created by the child (Book) and hence it is not necessary to manipulate the collection directly resulting in fewer queries and more efficient code. Given an Author with a large number of associated Book instances if you were to write code like the following you would see an impact on performance:

def book = new Book(title:"New Grails Book")
def author = Author.get(1)
author.addToBooks(book)
author.save()

You could also model the collection as a Hibernate Bag as described above.

6.3 Persistence Basics

A key thing to remember about Grails is that under the surface Grails is using Hibernate for persistence. If you are coming from a background of using ActiveRecord or iBatis/MyBatis, Hibernate's "session" model may feel a little strange.

Grails automatically binds a Hibernate session to the currently executing request. This lets you use the save and delete methods as well as other GORM methods transparently.

Transactional Write-Behind

A useful feature of Hibernate over direct JDBC calls and even other frameworks is that when you call save or delete it does not necessarily perform any SQL operations at that point. Hibernate batches up SQL statements and executes them as late as possible, often at the end of the request when flushing and closing the session. This is typically done for you automatically by Grails, which manages your Hibernate session.

Hibernate caches database updates where possible, only actually pushing the changes when it knows that a flush is required, or when a flush is triggered programmatically. One common case where Hibernate will flush cached updates is when performing queries since the cached information might be included in the query results. But as long as you're doing non-conflicting saves, updates, and deletes, they'll be batched until the session is flushed. This can be a significant performance boost for applications that do a lot of database writes.

Note that flushing is not the same as committing a transaction. If your actions are performed in the context of a transaction, flushing will execute SQL updates but the database will save the changes in its transaction queue and only finalize the updates when the transaction commits.

6.3.1 Saving and Updating

An example of using the save method can be seen below:

def p = Person.get(1)
p.save()

This save will be not be pushed to the database immediately - it will be pushed when the next flush occurs. But there are occasions when you want to control when those statements are executed or, in Hibernate terminology, when the session is "flushed". To do so you can use the flush argument to the save method:

def p = Person.get(1)
p.save(flush: true)

Note that in this case all pending SQL statements including previous saves, deletes, etc. will be synchronized with the database. This also lets you catch any exceptions, which is typically useful in highly concurrent scenarios involving optimistic locking:

def p = Person.get(1)
try {
    p.save(flush: true)
}
catch (org.springframework.dao.DataIntegrityViolationException e) {
    // deal with exception
}

Another thing to bear in mind is that Grails validates a domain instance every time you save it. If that validation fails the domain instance will not be persisted to the database. By default, save() will simply return null in this case, but if you would prefer it to throw an exception you can use the failOnError argument:

def p = Person.get(1)
try {
    p.save(failOnError: true)
}
catch (ValidationException e) {
    // deal with exception
}

You can even change the default behaviour with a setting in Config.groovy, as described in the section on configuration. Just remember that when you are saving domain instances that have been bound with data provided by the user, the likelihood of validation exceptions is quite high and you won't want those exceptions propagating to the end user.

You can find out more about the subtleties of saving data in this article - a must read!

6.3.2 Deleting Objects

An example of the delete method can be seen below:

def p = Person.get(1)
p.delete()

As with saves, Hibernate will use transactional write-behind to perform the delete; to perform the delete in-place you can use the flush argument:

def p = Person.get(1)
p.delete(flush: true)

Using the flush argument lets you catch any errors that occur during a delete. A common error that may occur is if you violate a database constraint, although this is normally down to a programming or schema error. The following example shows how to catch a DataIntegrityViolationException that is thrown when you violate the database constraints:

def p = Person.get(1)

try { p.delete(flush: true) } catch (org.springframework.dao.DataIntegrityViolationException e) { flash.message = "Could not delete person ${p.name}" redirect(action: "show", id: p.id) }

Note that Grails does not supply a deleteAll method as deleting data is discouraged and can often be avoided through boolean flags/logic.

If you really need to batch delete data you can use the executeUpdate method to do batch DML statements:

Customer.executeUpdate("delete Customer c where c.name = :oldName",
                       [oldName: "Fred"])

6.3.3 Understanding Cascading Updates and Deletes

It is critical that you understand how cascading updates and deletes work when using GORM. The key part to remember is the belongsTo setting which controls which class "owns" a relationship.

Whether it is a one-to-one, one-to-many or many-to-many, defining belongsTo will result in updates cascading from the owning class to its dependant (the other side of the relationship), and for many-/one-to-one and one-to-many relationships deletes will also cascade.

If you do not define belongsTo then no cascades will happen and you will have to manually save each object (except in the case of the one-to-many, in which case saves will cascade automatically if a new instance is in a hasMany collection).

Here is an example:

class Airport {
    String name
    static hasMany = [flights: Flight]
}

class Flight {
    String number
    static belongsTo = [airport: Airport]
}

If I now create an Airport and add some Flights to it I can save the Airport and have the updates cascaded down to each flight, hence saving the whole object graph:

new Airport(name: "Gatwick")
        .addToFlights(new Flight(number: "BA3430"))
        .addToFlights(new Flight(number: "EZ0938"))
        .save()

Conversely if I later delete the Airport all Flights associated with it will also be deleted:

def airport = Airport.findByName("Gatwick")
airport.delete()

However, if I were to remove belongsTo then the above cascading deletion code would not work. To understand this better take a look at the summaries below that describe the default behaviour of GORM with regards to specific associations. Also read part 2 of the GORM Gotchas series of articles to get a deeper understanding of relationships and cascading.

Bidirectional one-to-many with belongsTo

class A { static hasMany = [bees: B] }

class B { static belongsTo = [a: A] }

In the case of a bidirectional one-to-many where the many side defines a belongsTo then the cascade strategy is set to "ALL" for the one side and "NONE" for the many side.

Unidirectional one-to-many

class A { static hasMany = [bees: B] }

class B {  }

In the case of a unidirectional one-to-many where the many side defines no belongsTo then the cascade strategy is set to "SAVE-UPDATE".

Bidirectional one-to-many, no belongsTo

class A { static hasMany = [bees: B] }

class B { A a }

In the case of a bidirectional one-to-many where the many side does not define a belongsTo then the cascade strategy is set to "SAVE-UPDATE" for the one side and "NONE" for the many side.

Unidirectional one-to-one with belongsTo

class A {  }

class B { static belongsTo = [a: A] }

In the case of a unidirectional one-to-one association that defines a belongsTo then the cascade strategy is set to "ALL" for the owning side of the relationship (A->B) and "NONE" from the side that defines the belongsTo (B->A)

Note that if you need further control over cascading behaviour, you can use the ORM DSL.

6.3.4 Eager and Lazy Fetching

Associations in GORM are by default lazy. This is best explained by example:

class Airport {
    String name
    static hasMany = [flights: Flight]
}

class Flight {
    String number
    Location destination
    static belongsTo = [airport: Airport]
}

class Location {
    String city
    String country
}

Given the above domain classes and the following code:

def airport = Airport.findByName("Gatwick")
for (flight in airport.flights) {
    println flight.destination.city
}

GORM will execute a single SQL query to fetch the Airport instance, another to get its flights, and then 1 extra query for each iteration over the flights association to get the current flight's destination. In other words you get N+1 queries (if you exclude the original one to get the airport).

Configuring Eager Fetching

An alternative approach that avoids the N+1 queries is to use eager fetching, which can be specified as follows:

class Airport {
    String name
    static hasMany = [flights: Flight]
    static mapping = {
        flights lazy: false
    }
}

In this case the flights association will be loaded at the same time as its Airport instance, although a second query will be executed to fetch the collection. You can also use fetch: 'join' instead of lazy: false , in which case GORM will only execute a single query to get the airports and their flights. This works well for single-ended associations, but you need to be careful with one-to-manys. Queries will work as you'd expect right up to the moment you add a limit to the number of results you want. At that point, you will likely end up with fewer results than you were expecting. The reason for this is quite technical but ultimately the problem arises from GORM using a left outer join.

So, the recommendation is currently to use fetch: 'join' for single-ended associations and lazy: false for one-to-manys.

Be careful how and where you use eager loading because you could load your entire database into memory with too many eager associations. You can find more information on the mapping options in the section on the ORM DSL.

Using Batch Fetching

Although eager fetching is appropriate for some cases, it is not always desirable. If you made everything eager you could quite possibly load your entire database into memory resulting in performance and memory problems. An alternative to eager fetching is to use batch fetching. You can configure Hibernate to lazily fetch results in "batches". For example:

class Airport {
    String name
    static hasMany = [flights: Flight]
    static mapping = {
        flights batchSize: 10
    }
}

In this case, due to the batchSize argument, when you iterate over the flights association, Hibernate will fetch results in batches of 10. For example if you had an Airport that had 30 flights, if you didn't configure batch fetching you would get 1 query to fetch the Airport and then 30 queries to fetch each flight. With batch fetching you get 1 query to fetch the Airport and 3 queries to fetch each Flight in batches of 10. In other words, batch fetching is an optimization of the lazy fetching strategy. Batch fetching can also be configured at the class level as follows:

class Flight {
    …
    static mapping = {
        batchSize 10
    }
}

Check out part 3 of the GORM Gotchas series for more in-depth coverage of this tricky topic.

6.3.5 Pessimistic and Optimistic Locking

Optimistic Locking

By default GORM classes are configured for optimistic locking. Optimistic locking is a feature of Hibernate which involves storing a version value in a special version column in the database that is incremented after each update.

The version column gets read into a version property that contains the current versioned state of persistent instance which you can access:

def airport = Airport.get(10)

println airport.version

When you perform updates Hibernate will automatically check the version property against the version column in the database and if they differ will throw a StaleObjectException. This will roll back the transaction if one is active.

This is useful as it allows a certain level of atomicity without resorting to pessimistic locking that has an inherit performance penalty. The downside is that you have to deal with this exception if you have highly concurrent writes. This requires flushing the session:

def airport = Airport.get(10)

try { airport.name = "Heathrow" airport.save(flush: true) } catch (org.springframework.dao.OptimisticLockingFailureException e) { // deal with exception }

The way you deal with the exception depends on the application. You could attempt a programmatic merge of the data or go back to the user and ask them to resolve the conflict.

Alternatively, if it becomes a problem you can resort to pessimistic locking.

The version will only be updated after flushing the session.

Pessimistic Locking

Pessimistic locking is equivalent to doing a SQL "SELECT * FOR UPDATE" statement and locking a row in the database. This has the implication that other read operations will be blocking until the lock is released.

In Grails pessimistic locking is performed on an existing instance with the lock method:

def airport = Airport.get(10)
airport.lock() // lock for update
airport.name = "Heathrow"
airport.save()

Grails will automatically deal with releasing the lock for you once the transaction has been committed. However, in the above case what we are doing is "upgrading" from a regular SELECT to a SELECT..FOR UPDATE and another thread could still have updated the record in between the call to get() and the call to lock().

To get around this problem you can use the static lock method that takes an id just like get:

def airport = Airport.lock(10) // lock for update
airport.name = "Heathrow"
airport.save()

In this case only SELECT..FOR UPDATE is issued.

As well as the lock method you can also obtain a pessimistic locking using queries. For example using a dynamic finder:

def airport = Airport.findByName("Heathrow", [lock: true])

Or using criteria:

def airport = Airport.createCriteria().get {
    eq('name', 'Heathrow')
    lock true
}

6.3.6 Modification Checking

Once you have loaded and possibly modified a persistent domain class instance, it isn't straightforward to retrieve the original values. If you try to reload the instance using get Hibernate will return the current modified instance from its Session cache. Reloading using another query would trigger a flush which could cause problems if your data isn't ready to be flushed yet. So GORM provides some methods to retrieve the original values that Hibernate caches when it loads the instance (which it uses for dirty checking).

isDirty

You can use the isDirty method to check if any field has been modified:

def airport = Airport.get(10)
assert !airport.isDirty()

airport.properties = params if (airport.isDirty()) { // do something based on changed state }

isDirty() does not currently check collection associations, but it does check all other persistent properties and associations.

You can also check if individual fields have been modified:

def airport = Airport.get(10)
assert !airport.isDirty()

airport.properties = params if (airport.isDirty('name')) { // do something based on changed name }

getDirtyPropertyNames

You can use the getDirtyPropertyNames method to retrieve the names of modified fields; this may be empty but will not be null:

def airport = Airport.get(10)
assert !airport.isDirty()

airport.properties = params def modifiedFieldNames = airport.getDirtyPropertyNames() for (fieldName in modifiedFieldNames) { // do something based on changed value }

getPersistentValue

You can use the getPersistentValue method to retrieve the value of a modified field:

def airport = Airport.get(10)
assert !airport.isDirty()

airport.properties = params def modifiedFieldNames = airport.getDirtyPropertyNames() for (fieldName in modifiedFieldNames) { def currentValue = airport."$fieldName" def originalValue = airport.getPersistentValue(fieldName) if (currentValue != originalValue) { // do something based on changed value } }

6.4 Querying with GORM

GORM supports a number of powerful ways to query from dynamic finders, to criteria to Hibernate's object oriented query language HQL. Depending on the complexity of the query you have the following options in order of flexibility and power:
  • Dynamic Finders
  • Where Queries
  • Criteria Queries
  • Hibernate Query Language (HQL)

In addition, Groovy's ability to manipulate collections with GPath and methods like sort, findAll and so on combined with GORM results in a powerful combination.

However, let's start with the basics.

Listing instances

Use the list method to obtain all instances of a given class:

def books = Book.list()

The list method supports arguments to perform pagination:

def books = Book.list(offset:10, max:20)

as well as sorting:

def books = Book.list(sort:"title", order:"asc")

Here, the sort argument is the name of the domain class property that you wish to sort on, and the order argument is either asc for ascending or desc for descending.

Retrieval by Database Identifier

The second basic form of retrieval is by database identifier using the get method:

def book = Book.get(23)

You can also obtain a list of instances for a set of identifiers using getAll:

def books = Book.getAll(23, 93, 81)

6.4.1 Dynamic Finders

GORM supports the concept of dynamic finders. A dynamic finder looks like a static method invocation, but the methods themselves don't actually exist in any form at the code level.

Instead, a method is auto-magically generated using code synthesis at runtime, based on the properties of a given class. Take for example the Book class:

class Book {
    String title
    Date releaseDate
    Author author
}

class Author {
    String name
}

The Book class has properties such as title, releaseDate and author. These can be used by the findBy and findAllBy methods in the form of "method expressions":

def book = Book.findByTitle("The Stand")

book = Book.findByTitleLike("Harry Pot%")

book = Book.findByReleaseDateBetween(firstDate, secondDate)

book = Book.findByReleaseDateGreaterThan(someDate)

book = Book.findByTitleLikeOrReleaseDateLessThan("%Something%", someDate)

Method Expressions

A method expression in GORM is made up of the prefix such as findBy followed by an expression that combines one or more properties. The basic form is:

Book.findBy([Property][Comparator][Boolean Operator])?[Property][Comparator]

The tokens marked with a '?' are optional. Each comparator changes the nature of the query. For example:

def book = Book.findByTitle("The Stand")

book = Book.findByTitleLike("Harry Pot%")

In the above example the first query is equivalent to equality whilst the latter, due to the Like comparator, is equivalent to a SQL like expression.

The possible comparators include:

  • InList - In the list of given values
  • LessThan - less than a given value
  • LessThanEquals - less than or equal a give value
  • GreaterThan - greater than a given value
  • GreaterThanEquals - greater than or equal a given value
  • Like - Equivalent to a SQL like expression
  • Ilike - Similar to a Like, except case insensitive
  • NotEqual - Negates equality
  • InRange - Between the from and to values of a Groovy Range
  • Rlike - Performs a Regexp LIKE in MySQL or Oracle otherwise falls back to Like
  • Between - Between two values (requires two arguments)
  • IsNotNull - Not a null value (doesn't take an argument)
  • IsNull - Is a null value (doesn't take an argument)

Notice that the last three require different numbers of method arguments compared to the rest, as demonstrated in the following example:

def now = new Date()
def lastWeek = now - 7
def book = Book.findByReleaseDateBetween(lastWeek, now)

books = Book.findAllByReleaseDateIsNull() books = Book.findAllByReleaseDateIsNotNull()

Boolean logic (AND/OR)

Method expressions can also use a boolean operator to combine two or more criteria:

def books = Book.findAllByTitleLikeAndReleaseDateGreaterThan(
                      "%Java%", new Date() - 30)

In this case we're using And in the middle of the query to make sure both conditions are satisfied, but you could equally use Or:

def books = Book.findAllByTitleLikeOrReleaseDateGreaterThan(
                      "%Java%", new Date() - 30)

You can combine as many criteria as you like, but they must all be combined with And or all Or. If you need to combine And and Or or if the number of criteria creates a very long method name, just convert the query to a Criteria or HQL query.

Querying Associations

Associations can also be used within queries:

def author = Author.findByName("Stephen King")

def books = author ? Book.findAllByAuthor(author) : []

In this case if the Author instance is not null we use it in a query to obtain all the Book instances for the given Author.

Pagination and Sorting

The same pagination and sorting parameters available on the list method can also be used with dynamic finders by supplying a map as the final parameter:

def books = Book.findAllByTitleLike("Harry Pot%",
               [max: 3, offset: 2, sort: "title", order: "desc"])

6.4.2 Where Queries

The where method, introduced in Grails 2.0, builds on the support for Detached Criteria by providing an enhanced, compile-time checked query DSL for common queries. The where method is more flexible than dynamic finders, less verbose than criteria and provides a powerful mechanism to compose queries.

Basic Querying

The where method accepts a closure that looks very similar to Groovy's regular collection methods. The closure should define the logical criteria in regular Groovy syntax, for example:

def query = Person.where {
   firstName == "Bart"
}
Person bart = query.find()

The returned object is a DetachedCriteria instance, which means it is not associated with any particular database connection or session. This means you can use the where method to define common queries at the class level:

class Person {
    static simpsons = where {
         lastName == "Simpson"
    }
    …
}
…
Person.simpsons.each {
    println it.firstname
}

Query execution is lazy and only happens upon usage of the DetachedCriteria instance. If you want to execute a where-style query immediately there are variations of the findAll and find methods to accomplish this:

def results = Person.findAll {
     lastName == "Simpson"
}
def results = Person.findAll(sort:"firstName") {
     lastName == "Simpson"
}
Person p = Person.find { firstName == "Bart" }

Each Groovy operator maps onto a regular criteria method. The following table provides a map of Groovy operators to methods:

OperatorCriteria MethodDescription
==eqEqual to
!=neNot equal to
>gtGreater than
<ltLess than
>=geGreater than or equal to
<=leLess than or equal to
ininListContained within the given list
==~likeLike a given string
=~ilikeCase insensitive like

It is possible use regular Groovy comparison operators and logic to formulate complex queries:

def query = Person.where {
    (lastName != "Simpson" && firstName != "Fred") || (firstName == "Bart" && age > 9)
}
def results = query.list(sort:"firstName")

The Groovy regex matching operators map onto like and ilike queries unless the expression on the right hand side is a Pattern object, in which case they map onto an rlike query:

def query = Person.where {
     firstName ==~ ~/B.+/
}

Note that rlike queries are only supported if the underlying database supports regular expressions

A between criteria query can be done by combining the in keyword with a range:

def query = Person.where {
     age in 18..65
}

Finally, you can do isNull and isNotNull style queries by using null with regular comparison operators:

def query = Person.where {
     middleName == null
}

Query Composition

Since the return value of the where method is a DetachedCriteria instance you can compose new queries from the original query:

def query = Person.where {
     lastName == "Simpson"
}
def bartQuery = query.where {
     firstName == "Bart"
}
Person p = bartQuery.find()

Note that you cannot pass a closure defined as a variable into the where method unless it has been explicitly cast to a DetachedCriteria instance. In other words the following will produce an error:

def callable = {
    lastName == "Simpson"
}
def query = Person.where(callable)

The above must be written as follows:

import grails.gorm.DetachedCriteria

def callable = { lastName == "Simpson" } as DetachedCriteria<Person> def query = Person.where(callable)

As you can see the closure definition is cast (using the Groovy as keyword) to a DetachedCriteria instance targeted at the Person class.

Conjunction, Disjunction and Negation

As mentioned previously you can combine regular Groovy logical operators (|| and &&) to form conjunctions and disjunctions:

def query = Person.where {
    (lastName != "Simpson" && firstName != "Fred") || (firstName == "Bart" && age > 9)
}

You can also negate a logical comparison using !:

def query = Person.where {
    firstName == "Fred" && !(lastName == 'Simpson')
}

Property Comparison Queries

If you use a property name on both the left hand and right side of a comparison expression then the appropriate property comparison criteria is automatically used:

def query = Person.where {
   firstName == lastName
}

The following table described how each comparison operator maps onto each criteria property comparison method:

OperatorCriteria MethodDescription
==eqPropertyEqual to
!=nePropertyNot equal to
>gtPropertyGreater than
<ltPropertyLess than
>=gePropertyGreater than or equal to
<=lePropertyLess than or equal to

Querying Associations

Associations can be queried by using the dot operator to specify the property name of the association to be queried:

def query = Pet.where {
    owner.firstName == "Joe" || owner.firstName == "Fred"
}

You can group multiple criterion inside a closure method call where the name of the method matches the association name:

def query = Person.where {
    pets { name == "Jack" || name == "Joe" }
}

This technique can be combined with other top-level criteria:

def query = Person.where {
     pets { name == "Jack" } || firstName == "Ed"
}

For collection associations it is possible to apply queries to the size of the collection:

def query = Person.where {
       pets.size() == 2
}

The following table shows which operator maps onto which criteria method for each size() comparison:

OperatorCriteria MethodDescription
==sizeEqThe collection size is equal to
!=sizeNeThe collection size is not equal to
>sizeGtThe collection size is greater than
<sizeLtThe collection size is less than
>=sizeGeThe collection size is greater than or equal to
<=sizeLeThe collection size is less than or equal to

Subqueries

It is possible to execute subqueries within where queries. For example to find all the people older than the average age the following query can be used:

final query = Person.where {
  age > avg(age)
}

The following table lists the possible subqueries:

MethodDescription
avgThe average of all values
sumThe sum of all values
maxThe maximum value
minThe minimum value
countThe count of all values
propertyRetrieves a property of the resulting entities

You can apply additional criteria to any subquery by using the of method and passing in a closure containing the criteria:

def query = Person.where {
  age > avg(age).of { lastName == "Simpson" } && firstName == "Homer"
}

Since the property subquery returns multiple results, the criterion used compares all results. For example the following query will find all people younger than people with the surname "Simpson":

Person.where {
    age < property(age).of { lastName == "Simpson" }
}

Other Functions

There are several functions available to you within the context of a query. These are summarized in the table below:

MethodDescription
secondThe second of a date property
minuteThe minute of a date property
hourThe hour of a date property
dayThe day of the month of a date property
monthThe month of a date property
yearThe year of a date property
lowerConverts a string property to upper case
upperConverts a string property to lower case
lengthThe length of a string property
trimTrims a string property

Currently functions can only be applied to properties or associations of domain classes. You cannot, for example, use a function on a result of a subquery.

For example the following query can be used to find all pet's born in 2011:

def query = Pet.where {
    year(birthDate) == 2011
}

You can also apply functions to associations:

def query = Person.where {
    year(pets.birthDate) == 2009
}

Batch Updates and Deletes

Since each where method call returns a DetachedCriteria instance, you can use where queries to execute batch operations such as batch updates and deletes. For example, the following query will update all people with the surname "Simpson" to have the surname "Bloggs":

def query = Person.where {
    lastName == 'Simpson'
}
int total = query.updateAll(lastName:"Bloggs")

Note that one limitation with regards to batch operations is that join queries (queries that query associations) are not allowed.

To batch delete records you can use the deleteAll method:

def query = Person.where {
    lastName == 'Simpson'
}
int total = query.deleteAll()

6.4.3 Criteria

Criteria is an advanced way to query that uses a Groovy builder to construct potentially complex queries. It is a much better approach than building up query strings using a StringBuffer.

Criteria can be used either with the createCriteria or withCriteria methods. The builder uses Hibernate's Criteria API. The nodes on this builder map the static methods found in the Restrictions class of the Hibernate Criteria API. For example:

def c = Account.createCriteria()
def results = c {
    between("balance", 500, 1000)
    eq("branch", "London")
    or {
        like("holderFirstName", "Fred%")
        like("holderFirstName", "Barney%")
    }
    maxResults(10)
    order("holderLastName", "desc")
}

This criteria will select up to 10 Account objects in a List matching the following criteria:

  • balance is between 500 and 1000
  • branch is 'London'
  • holderFirstName starts with 'Fred' or 'Barney'

The results will be sorted in descending order by holderLastName.

If no records are found with the above criteria, an empty List is returned.

Conjunctions and Disjunctions

As demonstrated in the previous example you can group criteria in a logical OR using an or { } block:

or {
    between("balance", 500, 1000)
    eq("branch", "London")
}

This also works with logical AND:

and {
    between("balance", 500, 1000)
    eq("branch", "London")
}

And you can also negate using logical NOT:

not {
    between("balance", 500, 1000)
    eq("branch", "London")
}

All top level conditions are implied to be AND'd together.

Querying Associations

Associations can be queried by having a node that matches the property name. For example say the Account class had many Transaction objects:

class Account {
    …
    static hasMany = [transactions: Transaction]
    …
}

We can query this association by using the property name transactions as a builder node:

def c = Account.createCriteria()
def now = new Date()
def results = c.list {
    transactions {
        between('date', now - 10, now)
    }
}

The above code will find all the Account instances that have performed transactions within the last 10 days. You can also nest such association queries within logical blocks:

def c = Account.createCriteria()
def now = new Date()
def results = c.list {
    or {
        between('created', now - 10, now)
        transactions {
            between('date', now - 10, now)
        }
    }
}

Here we find all accounts that have either performed transactions in the last 10 days OR have been recently created in the last 10 days.

Querying with Projections

Projections may be used to customise the results. Define a "projections" node within the criteria builder tree to use projections. There are equivalent methods within the projections node to the methods found in the Hibernate Projections class:

def c = Account.createCriteria()

def numberOfBranches = c.get { projections { countDistinct('branch') } }

When multiple fields are specified in the projection, a List of values will be returned. A single value will be returned otherwise.

SQL Projections

The criteria DSL provides access to Hibernate's SQL projection API.

// Box is a domain class…
class Box {
    int width
    int height
}

// Use SQL projections to retrieve the perimeter and area of all of the Box instances…
def c = Box.createCriteria()

def results = c.list { projections { sqlProjection '(2 * (width + height)) as perimeter, (width * height) as area', ['perimeter', 'area'], [INTEGER, INTEGER] } }

The first argument to the sqlProjection method is the SQL which defines the projections. The second argument is a list of Strings which represent column aliases corresponding to the projected values expressed in the SQL. The third argument is a list of org.hibernate.type.Type instances which correspond to the projected values expressed in the SQL. The API supports all org.hibernate.type.Type objects but constants like INTEGER, LONG, FLOAT etc. are provided by the DSL which correspond to all of the types defined in org.hibernate.type.StandardBasicTypes.

Consider that the following table represents the data in the BOX table.

widthheight
27
28
29
49

The query above would return results like this:

[[18, 14], [20, 16], [22, 18], [26, 36]]

Each of the inner lists contains the 2 projected values for each Box, perimeter and area.

Note that if there are other references in scope wherever your criteria query is expressed that have names that conflict with any of the type constants described above, the code in your criteria will refer to those references, not the type constants provided by the DSL. In the unlikely event of that happening you can disambiguate the conflict by referring to the fully qualified Hibernate type. For example StandardBasicTypes.INTEGER instead of INTEGER.

If only 1 value is being projected, the alias and the type do not need to be included in a list.

def results = c.list {
    projections {
      sqlProjection 'sum(width * height) as totalArea', 'totalArea', INTEGER
    }
}

That query would return a single result with the value of 84 as the total area of all of the Box instances.

The DSL supports grouped projections with the sqlGroupProjection method.

def results = c.list {
    projections {
        sqlGroupProjection 'width, sum(height) as combinedHeightsForThisWidth', 'width', ['width', 'combinedHeightsForThisWidth'], [INTEGER, INTEGER]
    }
}

The first argument to the sqlGroupProjection method is the SQL which defines the projections. The second argument represents the group by clause that should be part of the query. That string may be single column name or a comma separated list of column names. The third argument is a list of Strings which represent column aliases corresponding to the projected values expressed in the SQL. The fourth argument is a list of org.hibernate.type.Type instances which correspond to the projected values expressed in the SQL.

The query above is projecting the combined heights of boxes grouped by width and would return results that look like this:

[[2, 24], [4, 9]]

Each of the inner lists contains 2 values. The first value is a box width and the second value is the sum of the heights of all of the boxes which have that width.

Using SQL Restrictions

You can access Hibernate's SQL Restrictions capabilities.

def c = Person.createCriteria()

def peopleWithShortFirstNames = c.list { sqlRestriction "char_length(first_name) <= 4" }

SQL Restrictions may be parameterized to deal with SQL injection vulnerabilities related to dynamic restrictions.

def c = Person.createCriteria()

def peopleWithShortFirstNames = c.list { sqlRestriction "char_length(first_name) < ? AND char_length(first_name) > ?", [maxValue, minValue] }

Note that the parameter there is SQL. The first_name attribute referenced in the example refers to the persistence model, not the object model like in HQL queries. The Person property named firstName is mapped to the first_name column in the database and you must refer to that in the sqlRestriction string.

Also note that the SQL used here is not necessarily portable across databases.

Using Scrollable Results

You can use Hibernate's ScrollableResults feature by calling the scroll method:

def results = crit.scroll {
    maxResults(10)
}
def f = results.first()
def l = results.last()
def n = results.next()
def p = results.previous()

def future = results.scroll(10) def accountNumber = results.getLong('number')

To quote the documentation of Hibernate ScrollableResults:

A result iterator that allows moving around within the results by arbitrary increments. The Query / ScrollableResults pattern is very similar to the JDBC PreparedStatement / ResultSet pattern and the semantics of methods of this interface are similar to the similarly named methods on ResultSet.

Contrary to JDBC, columns of results are numbered from zero.

Setting properties in the Criteria instance

If a node within the builder tree doesn't match a particular criterion it will attempt to set a property on the Criteria object itself. This allows full access to all the properties in this class. This example calls setMaxResults and setFirstResult on the Criteria instance:

import org.hibernate.FetchMode as FM
…
def results = c.list {
    maxResults(10)
    firstResult(50)
    fetchMode("aRelationship", FM.JOIN)
}

Querying with Eager Fetching

In the section on Eager and Lazy Fetching we discussed how to declaratively specify fetching to avoid the N+1 SELECT problem. However, this can also be achieved using a criteria query:

def criteria = Task.createCriteria()
def tasks = criteria.list{
    eq "assignee.id", task.assignee.id
    join 'assignee'
    join 'project'
    order 'priority', 'asc'
}

Notice the usage of the join method: it tells the criteria API to use a JOIN to fetch the named associations with the Task instances. It's probably best not to use this for one-to-many associations though, because you will most likely end up with duplicate results. Instead, use the 'select' fetch mode:

import org.hibernate.FetchMode as FM
…
def results = Airport.withCriteria {
    eq "region", "EMEA"
    fetchMode "flights", FM.SELECT
}
Although this approach triggers a second query to get the flights association, you will get reliable results - even with the maxResults option.

fetchMode and join are general settings of the query and can only be specified at the top-level, i.e. you cannot use them inside projections or association constraints.

An important point to bear in mind is that if you include associations in the query constraints, those associations will automatically be eagerly loaded. For example, in this query:

def results = Airport.withCriteria {
    eq "region", "EMEA"
    flights {
        like "number", "BA%"
    }
}
the flights collection would be loaded eagerly via a join even though the fetch mode has not been explicitly set.

Method Reference

If you invoke the builder with no method name such as:

c { … }

The build defaults to listing all the results and hence the above is equivalent to:

c.list { … }

MethodDescription
listThis is the default method. It returns all matching rows.
getReturns a unique result set, i.e. just one row. The criteria has to be formed that way, that it only queries one row. This method is not to be confused with a limit to just the first row.
scrollReturns a scrollable result set.
listDistinctIf subqueries or associations are used, one may end up with the same row multiple times in the result set, this allows listing only distinct entities and is equivalent to DISTINCT_ROOT_ENTITY of the CriteriaSpecification class.
countReturns the number of matching rows.

Combining Criteria

You can combine multiple criteria closures in the following way:

def emeaCriteria = {
    eq "region", "EMEA"
}

def results = Airport.withCriteria { emeaCriteria.delegate = delegate emeaCriteria() flights { like "number", "BA%" } }

This technique requires that each criteria must refer to the same domain class (i.e. Airport). A more flexible approach is to use Detached Criteria, as described in the following section.

6.4.4 Detached Criteria

Detached Criteria are criteria queries that are not associated with any given database session/connection. Supported since Grails 2.0, Detached Criteria queries have many uses including allowing you to create common reusable criteria queries, execute subqueries and execute batch updates/deletes.

Building Detached Criteria Queries

The primary point of entry for using the Detached Criteria is the grails.gorm.DetachedCriteria class which accepts a domain class as the only argument to its constructor:

import grails.gorm.*
…
def criteria = new DetachedCriteria(Person)

Once you have obtained a reference to a detached criteria instance you can execute where queries or criteria queries to build up the appropriate query. To build a normal criteria query you can use the build method:

def criteria = new DetachedCriteria(Person).build {
    eq 'lastName', 'Simpson'
}

Note that methods on the DetachedCriteria instance do not mutate the original object but instead return a new query. In other words, you have to use the return value of the build method to obtain the mutated criteria object:

def criteria = new DetachedCriteria(Person).build {
    eq 'lastName', 'Simpson'
}
def bartQuery = criteria.build {
    eq 'firstName', 'Bart'
}

Executing Detached Criteria Queries

Unlike regular criteria, Detached Criteria are lazy, in that no query is executed at the point of definition. Once a Detached Criteria query has been constructed then there are a number of useful query methods which are summarized in the table below:

MethodDescription
listList all matching entities
getReturn a single matching result
countCount all matching records
existsReturn true if any matching records exist
deleteAllDelete all matching records
updateAll(Map)Update all matching records with the given properties

As an example the following code will list the first 4 matching records sorted by the firstName property:

def criteria = new DetachedCriteria(Person).build {
    eq 'lastName', 'Simpson'
}
def results = criteria.list(max:4, sort:"firstName")

You can also supply additional criteria to the list method:

def results = criteria.list(max:4, sort:"firstName") {
    gt 'age', 30
}

To retrieve a single result you can use the get or find methods (which are synonyms):

Person p = criteria.find() // or criteria.get()

The DetachedCriteria class itself also implements the Iterable interface which means that it can be treated like a list:

def criteria = new DetachedCriteria(Person).build {
    eq 'lastName', 'Simpson'
}
criteria.each {
    println it.firstName
}

In this case the query is only executed when the each method is called. The same applies to all other Groovy collection iteration methods.

You can also execute dynamic finders on DetachedCriteria just like on domain classes. For example:

def criteria = new DetachedCriteria(Person).build {
    eq 'lastName', 'Simpson'
}
def bart = criteria.findByFirstName("Bart")

Using Detached Criteria for Subqueries

Within the context of a regular criteria query you can use DetachedCriteria to execute subquery. For example if you want to find all people who are older than the average age the following query will accomplish that:

def results = Person.withCriteria {
     gt "age", new DetachedCriteria(Person).build {
         projections {
             avg "age"
         }
     }
     order "firstName"
 }

Notice that in this case the subquery class is the same as the original criteria query class (i.e. Person) and hence the query can be shortened to:

def results = Person.withCriteria {
     gt "age", {
         projections {
             avg "age"
         }
     }
     order "firstName"
 }

If the subquery class differs from the original criteria query then you will have to use the original syntax.

In the previous example the projection ensured that only a single result was returned (the average age). If your subquery returns multiple results then there are different criteria methods that need to be used to compare the result. For example to find all the people older than the ages 18 to 65 a gtAll query can be used:

def results = Person.withCriteria {
    gtAll "age", {
        projections {
            property "age"
        }
        between 'age', 18, 65
    }

order "firstName" }

The following table summarizes criteria methods for operating on subqueries that return multiple results:

MethodDescription
gtAllgreater than all subquery results
geAllgreater than or equal to all subquery results
ltAllless than all subquery results
leAllless than or equal to all subquery results
eqAllequal to all subquery results
neAllnot equal to all subquery results

Batch Operations with Detached Criteria

The DetachedCriteria class can be used to execute batch operations such as batch updates and deletes. For example, the following query will update all people with the surname "Simpson" to have the surname "Bloggs":

def criteria = new DetachedCriteria(Person).build {
    eq 'lastName', 'Simpson'
}
int total = criteria.updateAll(lastName:"Bloggs")

Note that one limitation with regards to batch operations is that join queries (queries that query associations) are not allowed within the DetachedCriteria instance.

To batch delete records you can use the deleteAll method:

def criteria = new DetachedCriteria(Person).build {
    eq 'lastName', 'Simpson'
}
int total = criteria.deleteAll()

6.4.5 Hibernate Query Language (HQL)

GORM classes also support Hibernate's query language HQL, a very complete reference for which can be found in the Hibernate documentation of the Hibernate documentation.

GORM provides a number of methods that work with HQL including find, findAll and executeQuery. An example of a query can be seen below:

def results =
      Book.findAll("from Book as b where b.title like 'Lord of the%'")

Positional and Named Parameters

In this case the value passed to the query is hard coded, however you can equally use positional parameters:

def results =
      Book.findAll("from Book as b where b.title like ?", ["The Shi%"])

def author = Author.findByName("Stephen King")
def books = Book.findAll("from Book as book where book.author = ?",
                         [author])

Or even named parameters:

def results =
      Book.findAll("from Book as b " +
                   "where b.title like :search or b.author like :search",
                   [search: "The Shi%"])

def author = Author.findByName("Stephen King")
def books = Book.findAll("from Book as book where book.author = :author",
                         [author: author])

Multiline Queries

Use the line continuation character to separate the query across multiple lines:

def results = Book.findAll("\
from Book as b, \
     Author as a \
where b.author = a and a.surname = ?", ['Smith'])

Triple-quoted Groovy multiline Strings will NOT work with HQL queries.

Pagination and Sorting

You can also perform pagination and sorting whilst using HQL queries. To do so simply specify the pagination options as a Map at the end of the method call and include an "ORDER BY" clause in the HQL:

def results =
      Book.findAll("from Book as b where " +
                   "b.title like 'Lord of the%' " +
                   "order by b.title asc",
                   [max: 10, offset: 20])

6.5 Advanced GORM Features

The following sections cover more advanced usages of GORM including caching, custom mapping and events.

6.5.1 Events and Auto Timestamping

GORM supports the registration of events as methods that get fired when certain events occurs such as deletes, inserts and updates. The following is a list of supported events:
  • beforeInsert - Executed before an object is initially persisted to the database. If you return false, the insert will be cancelled.
  • beforeUpdate - Executed before an object is updated. If you return false, the update will be cancelled.
  • beforeDelete - Executed before an object is deleted. If you return false, the delete will be cancelled.
  • beforeValidate - Executed before an object is validated
  • afterInsert - Executed after an object is persisted to the database
  • afterUpdate - Executed after an object has been updated
  • afterDelete - Executed after an object has been deleted
  • onLoad - Executed when an object is loaded from the database

To add an event simply register the relevant method with your domain class.

Do not attempt to flush the session within an event (such as with obj.save(flush:true)). Since events are fired during flushing this will cause a StackOverflowError.

Event types

The beforeInsert event

Fired before an object is saved to the database

class Person {
   private static final Date NULL_DATE = new Date(0)

String firstName String lastName Date signupDate = NULL_DATE

def beforeInsert() { if (signupDate == NULL_DATE) { signupDate = new Date() } } }

The beforeUpdate event

Fired before an existing object is updated

class Person {

def securityService

String firstName String lastName String lastUpdatedBy

static constraints = { lastUpdatedBy nullable: true }

def beforeUpdate() { lastUpdatedBy = securityService.currentAuthenticatedUsername() } }

The beforeDelete event

Fired before an object is deleted.

class Person {
   String name

def beforeDelete() { ActivityTrace.withNewSession { new ActivityTrace(eventName: "Person Deleted", data: name).save() } } }

Notice the usage of withNewSession method above. Since events are triggered whilst Hibernate is flushing using persistence methods like save() and delete() won't result in objects being saved unless you run your operations with a new Session.

Fortunately the withNewSession method lets you share the same transactional JDBC connection even though you're using a different underlying Session.

The beforeValidate event

Fired before an object is validated.

class Person {
   String name

static constraints = { name size: 5..45 }

def beforeValidate() { name = name?.trim() } }

The beforeValidate method is run before any validators are run.

Validation may run more often than you think. It is triggered by the validate() and save() methods as you'd expect, but it is also typically triggered just before the view is rendered as well. So when writing beforeValidate() implementations, make sure that they can handle being called multiple times with the same property values.

GORM supports an overloaded version of beforeValidate which accepts a List parameter which may include the names of the properties which are about to be validated. This version of beforeValidate will be called when the validate method has been invoked and passed a List of property names as an argument.

class Person {
   String name
   String town
   Integer age

static constraints = { name size: 5..45 age range: 4..99 }

def beforeValidate(List propertiesBeingValidated) { // do pre validation work based on propertiesBeingValidated } }

def p = new Person(name: 'Jacob Brown', age: 10) p.validate(['age', 'name'])

Note that when validate is triggered indirectly because of a call to the save method that the validate method is being invoked with no arguments, not a List that includes all of the property names.

Either or both versions of beforeValidate may be defined in a domain class. GORM will prefer the List version if a List is passed to validate but will fall back on the no-arg version if the List version does not exist. Likewise, GORM will prefer the no-arg version if no arguments are passed to validate but will fall back on the List version if the no-arg version does not exist. In that case, null is passed to beforeValidate.

The onLoad/beforeLoad event

Fired immediately before an object is loaded from the database:

class Person {
   String name
   Date dateCreated
   Date lastUpdated

def onLoad() { log.debug "Loading ${id}" } }

beforeLoad() is effectively a synonym for onLoad(), so only declare one or the other.

The afterLoad event

Fired immediately after an object is loaded from the database:

class Person {
   String name
   Date dateCreated
   Date lastUpdated

def afterLoad() { name = "I'm loaded" } }

Custom Event Listeners

As of Grails 2.0 there is a new API for plugins and applications to register and listen for persistence events. This API is not tied to Hibernate and also works for other persistence plugins such as the MongoDB plugin for GORM.

To use this API you need to subclass AbstractPersistenceEventListener (in package org.grails.datastore.mapping.engine.event ) and implement the methods onPersistenceEvent and supportsEventType. You also must provide a reference to the datastore to the listener. The simplest possible implementation can be seen below:

public MyPersistenceListener(final Datastore datastore) {
    super(datastore)
}

@Override protected void onPersistenceEvent(final AbstractPersistenceEvent event) { switch(event.eventType) { case PreInsert: println "PRE INSERT ${event.entityObject}" break case PostInsert: println "POST INSERT ${event.entityObject}" break case PreUpdate: println "PRE UPDATE ${event.entityObject}" break; case PostUpdate: println "POST UPDATE ${event.entityObject}" break; case PreDelete: println "PRE DELETE ${event.entityObject}" break; case PostDelete: println "POST DELETE ${event.entityObject}" break; case PreLoad: println "PRE LOAD ${event.entityObject}" break; case PostLoad: println "POST LOAD ${event.entityObject}" break; } }

@Override public boolean supportsEventType(Class<? extends ApplicationEvent> eventType) { return true }

The AbstractPersistenceEvent class has many subclasses (PreInsertEvent, PostInsertEvent etc.) that provide further information specific to the event. A cancel() method is also provided on the event which allows you to veto an insert, update or delete operation.

Once you have created your event listener you need to register it with the ApplicationContext. This can be done in BootStrap.groovy:

def init = {
    application.mainContext.eventTriggeringInterceptor.datastores.each { k, datastore ->
        applicationContext.addApplicationListener new MyPersistenceListener(datastore)
    }
}

or use this in a plugin:

def doWithApplicationContext = { applicationContext ->
    application.mainContext.eventTriggeringInterceptor.datastores.each { k, datastore ->
        applicationContext.addApplicationListener new MyPersistenceListener(datastore)
    }
}

Hibernate Events

It is generally encouraged to use the non-Hibernate specific API described above, but if you need access to more detailed Hibernate events then you can define custom Hibernate-specific event listeners.

You can also register event handler classes in an application's grails-app/conf/spring/resources.groovy or in the doWithSpring closure in a plugin descriptor by registering a Spring bean named hibernateEventListeners. This bean has one property, listenerMap which specifies the listeners to register for various Hibernate events.

The values of the Map are instances of classes that implement one or more Hibernate listener interfaces. You can use one class that implements all of the required interfaces, or one concrete class per interface, or any combination. The valid Map keys and corresponding interfaces are listed here:

NameInterface
auto-flushAutoFlushEventListener
mergeMergeEventListener
createPersistEventListener
create-onflushPersistEventListener
deleteDeleteEventListener
dirty-checkDirtyCheckEventListener
evictEvictEventListener
flushFlushEventListener
flush-entityFlushEntityEventListener
loadLoadEventListener
load-collectionInitializeCollectionEventListener
lockLockEventListener
refreshRefreshEventListener
replicateReplicateEventListener
save-updateSaveOrUpdateEventListener
saveSaveOrUpdateEventListener
updateSaveOrUpdateEventListener
pre-loadPreLoadEventListener
pre-updatePreUpdateEventListener
pre-deletePreDeleteEventListener
pre-insertPreInsertEventListener
pre-collection-recreatePreCollectionRecreateEventListener
pre-collection-removePreCollectionRemoveEventListener
pre-collection-updatePreCollectionUpdateEventListener
post-loadPostLoadEventListener
post-updatePostUpdateEventListener
post-deletePostDeleteEventListener
post-insertPostInsertEventListener
post-commit-updatePostUpdateEventListener
post-commit-deletePostDeleteEventListener
post-commit-insertPostInsertEventListener
post-collection-recreatePostCollectionRecreateEventListener
post-collection-removePostCollectionRemoveEventListener
post-collection-updatePostCollectionUpdateEventListener

For example, you could register a class AuditEventListener which implements PostInsertEventListener, PostUpdateEventListener, and PostDeleteEventListener using the following in an application:

beans = {

auditListener(AuditEventListener)

hibernateEventListeners(HibernateEventListeners) { listenerMap = ['post-insert': auditListener, 'post-update': auditListener, 'post-delete': auditListener] } }

or use this in a plugin:

def doWithSpring = {

auditListener(AuditEventListener)

hibernateEventListeners(HibernateEventListeners) { listenerMap = ['post-insert': auditListener, 'post-update': auditListener, 'post-delete': auditListener] } }

Automatic timestamping

If you define a dateCreated property it will be set to the current date for you when you create new instances. Likewise, if you define a lastUpdated property it will be automatically be updated for you when you change persistent instances.

If this is not the behaviour you want you can disable this feature with:

class Person {
   Date dateCreated
   Date lastUpdated
   static mapping = {
      autoTimestamp false
   }
}

If you have nullable: false constraints on either dateCreated or lastUpdated, your domain instances will fail validation - probably not what you want. Omit constraints from these properties unless you disable automatic timestamping.

6.5.2 Custom ORM Mapping

Grails domain classes can be mapped onto many legacy schemas with an Object Relational Mapping DSL (domain specific language). The following sections takes you through what is possible with the ORM DSL.

None of this is necessary if you are happy to stick to the conventions defined by GORM for table names, column names and so on. You only needs this functionality if you need to tailor the way GORM maps onto legacy schemas or configures caching

Custom mappings are defined using a static mapping block defined within your domain class:

class Person {
    …
    static mapping = {
        version false
        autoTimestamp false
    }
}

You can also configure global mappings in Config.groovy (or an external config file) using this setting:

grails.gorm.default.mapping = {
    version false
    autoTimestamp false
}

It has the same syntax as the standard mapping block but it applies to all your domain classes! You can then override these defaults within the mapping block of a domain class.

6.5.2.1 Table and Column Names

Table names

The database table name which the class maps to can be customized using the table method:

class Person {
    …
    static mapping = {
        table 'people'
    }
}

In this case the class would be mapped to a table called people instead of the default name of person.

Column names

It is also possible to customize the mapping for individual columns onto the database. For example to change the name you can do:

class Person {

String firstName

static mapping = { table 'people' firstName column: 'First_Name' } }

Here firstName is a dynamic method within the mapping Closure that has a single Map parameter. Since its name corresponds to a domain class persistent field, the parameter values (in this case just "column") are used to configure the mapping for that property.

Column type

GORM supports configuration of Hibernate types with the DSL using the type attribute. This includes specifying user types that implement the Hibernate org.hibernate.usertype.UserType interface, which allows complete customization of how a type is persisted. As an example if you had a PostCodeType you could use it as follows:

class Address {

String number String postCode

static mapping = { postCode type: PostCodeType } }

Alternatively if you just wanted to map it to one of Hibernate's basic types other than the default chosen by Grails you could use:

class Address {

String number String postCode

static mapping = { postCode type: 'text' } }

This would make the postCode column map to the default large-text type for the database you're using (for example TEXT or CLOB).

See the Hibernate documentation regarding Basic Types for further information.

Many-to-One/One-to-One Mappings

In the case of associations it is also possible to configure the foreign keys used to map associations. In the case of a many-to-one or one-to-one association this is exactly the same as any regular column. For example consider the following:

class Person {

String firstName Address address

static mapping = { table 'people' firstName column: 'First_Name' address column: 'Person_Address_Id' } }

By default the address association would map to a foreign key column called address_id. By using the above mapping we have changed the name of the foreign key column to Person_Adress_Id.

One-to-Many Mapping

With a bidirectional one-to-many you can change the foreign key column used by changing the column name on the many side of the association as per the example in the previous section on one-to-one associations. However, with unidirectional associations the foreign key needs to be specified on the association itself. For example given a unidirectional one-to-many relationship between Person and Address the following code will change the foreign key in the address table:

class Person {

String firstName

static hasMany = [addresses: Address]

static mapping = { table 'people' firstName column: 'First_Name' addresses column: 'Person_Address_Id' } }

If you don't want the column to be in the address table, but instead some intermediate join table you can use the joinTable parameter:

class Person {

String firstName

static hasMany = [addresses: Address]

static mapping = { table 'people' firstName column: 'First_Name' addresses joinTable: [name: 'Person_Addresses', key: 'Person_Id', column: 'Address_Id'] } }

Many-to-Many Mapping

Grails, by default maps a many-to-many association using a join table. For example consider this many-to-many association:

class Group {
    …
    static hasMany = [people: Person]
}

class Person {
    …
    static belongsTo = Group
    static hasMany = [groups: Group]
}

In this case Grails will create a join table called group_person containing foreign keys called person_id and group_id referencing the person and group tables. To change the column names you can specify a column within the mappings for each class.

class Group {
   …
   static mapping = {
       people column: 'Group_Person_Id'
   }
}
class Person {
   …
   static mapping = {
       groups column: 'Group_Group_Id'
   }
}

You can also specify the name of the join table to use:

class Group {
   …
   static mapping = {
       people column: 'Group_Person_Id',
              joinTable: 'PERSON_GROUP_ASSOCIATIONS'
   }
}
class Person {
   …
   static mapping = {
       groups column: 'Group_Group_Id',
              joinTable: 'PERSON_GROUP_ASSOCIATIONS'
   }
}

6.5.2.2 Caching Strategy

Setting up caching

Hibernate features a second-level cache with a customizable cache provider. This needs to be configured in the grails-app/conf/DataSource.groovy file as follows:

hibernate {
    cache.use_second_level_cache=true
    cache.use_query_cache=true
    cache.provider_class='org.hibernate.cache.EhCacheProvider'
}

You can customize any of these settings, for example to use a distributed caching mechanism.

For further reading on caching and in particular Hibernate's second-level cache, refer to the Hibernate documentation on the subject.

Caching instances

Call the cache method in your mapping block to enable caching with the default settings:

class Person {
    …
    static mapping = {
        table 'people'
        cache true
    }
}

This will configure a 'read-write' cache that includes both lazy and non-lazy properties. You can customize this further:

class Person {
    …
    static mapping = {
        table 'people'
        cache usage: 'read-only', include: 'non-lazy'
    }
}

Caching associations

As well as the ability to use Hibernate's second level cache to cache instances you can also cache collections (associations) of objects. For example:

class Person {

String firstName

static hasMany = [addresses: Address]

static mapping = { table 'people' version false addresses column: 'Address', cache: true } }

class Address {
    String number
    String postCode
}

This will enable a 'read-write' caching mechanism on the addresses collection. You can also use:

cache: 'read-write' // or 'read-only' or 'transactional'

to further configure the cache usage.

Caching Queries

You can cache queries such as dynamic finders and criteria. To do so using a dynamic finder you can pass the cache argument:

def person = Person.findByFirstName("Fred", [cache: true])

In order for the results of the query to be cached, you must enable caching in your mapping as discussed in the previous section.

You can also cache criteria queries:

def people = Person.withCriteria {
    like('firstName', 'Fr%')
    cache true
}

Cache usages

Below is a description of the different cache settings and their usages:

  • read-only - If your application needs to read but never modify instances of a persistent class, a read-only cache may be used.
  • read-write - If the application needs to update data, a read-write cache might be appropriate.
  • nonstrict-read-write - If the application only occasionally needs to update data (i.e. if it is very unlikely that two transactions would try to update the same item simultaneously) and strict transaction isolation is not required, a nonstrict-read-write cache might be appropriate.
  • transactional - The transactional cache strategy provides support for fully transactional cache providers such as JBoss TreeCache. Such a cache may only be used in a JTA environment and you must specify hibernate.transaction.manager_lookup_class in the grails-app/conf/DataSource.groovy file's hibernate config.

6.5.2.3 Inheritance Strategies

By default GORM classes use table-per-hierarchy inheritance mapping. This has the disadvantage that columns cannot have a NOT-NULL constraint applied to them at the database level. If you would prefer to use a table-per-subclass inheritance strategy you can do so as follows:

class Payment {
    Integer amount

static mapping = { tablePerHierarchy false } }

class CreditCardPayment extends Payment { String cardNumber }

The mapping of the root Payment class specifies that it will not be using table-per-hierarchy mapping for all child classes.

6.5.2.4 Custom Database Identity

You can customize how GORM generates identifiers for the database using the DSL. By default GORM relies on the native database mechanism for generating ids. This is by far the best approach, but there are still many schemas that have different approaches to identity.

To deal with this Hibernate defines the concept of an id generator. You can customize the id generator and the column it maps to as follows:

class Person {
    …
    static mapping = {
        table 'people'
        version false
        id generator: 'hilo',
           params: [table: 'hi_value',
                    column: 'next_value',
                    max_lo: 100]
    }
}

In this case we're using one of Hibernate's built in 'hilo' generators that uses a separate table to generate ids.

For more information on the different Hibernate generators refer to the Hibernate reference documentation

Although you don't typically specify the id field (Grails adds it for you) you can still configure its mapping like the other properties. For example to customise the column for the id property you can do:

class Person {
    …
    static mapping = {
        table 'people'
        version false
        id column: 'person_id'
    }
}

6.5.2.5 Composite Primary Keys

GORM supports the concept of composite identifiers (identifiers composed from 2 or more properties). It is not an approach we recommend, but is available to you if you need it:

import org.apache.commons.lang.builder.HashCodeBuilder

class Person implements Serializable {

String firstName String lastName

boolean equals(other) { if (!(other instanceof Person)) { return false }

other.firstName == firstName && other.lastName == lastName }

int hashCode() { def builder = new HashCodeBuilder() builder.append firstName builder.append lastName builder.toHashCode() }

static mapping = { id composite: ['firstName', 'lastName'] } }

The above will create a composite id of the firstName and lastName properties of the Person class. To retrieve an instance by id you use a prototype of the object itself:

def p = Person.get(new Person(firstName: "Fred", lastName: "Flintstone"))
println p.firstName

Domain classes mapped with composite primary keys must implement the Serializable interface and override the equals and hashCode methods, using the properties in the composite key for the calculations. The example above uses a HashCodeBuilder for convenience but it's fine to implement it yourself.

Another important consideration when using composite primary keys is associations. If for example you have a many-to-one association where the foreign keys are stored in the associated table then 2 columns will be present in the associated table.

For example consider the following domain class:

class Address {
    Person person
}

In this case the address table will have an additional two columns called person_first_name and person_last_name. If you wish the change the mapping of these columns then you can do so using the following technique:

class Address {
    Person person
    static mapping = {
        columns {
		    person {
                column name: "FirstName"
                column name: "LastName"
			}
        }
    }
}

6.5.2.6 Database Indices

To get the best performance out of your queries it is often necessary to tailor the table index definitions. How you tailor them is domain specific and a matter of monitoring usage patterns of your queries. With GORM's DSL you can specify which columns are used in which indexes:

class Person {
    String firstName
    String address
    static mapping = {
        table 'people'
        version false
        id column: 'person_id'
        firstName column: 'First_Name', index: 'Name_Idx'
        address column: 'Address', index: 'Name_Idx,Address_Index'
    }
}

Note that you cannot have any spaces in the value of the index attribute; in this example index:'Name_Idx, Address_Index' will cause an error.

6.5.2.7 Optimistic Locking and Versioning

As discussed in the section on Optimistic and Pessimistic Locking, by default GORM uses optimistic locking and automatically injects a version property into every class which is in turn mapped to a version column at the database level.

If you're mapping to a legacy schema that doesn't have version columns (or there's some other reason why you don't want/need this feature) you can disable this with the version method:

class Person {
    …
    static mapping = {
        table 'people'
        version false
    }
}

If you disable optimistic locking you are essentially on your own with regards to concurrent updates and are open to the risk of users losing data (due to data overriding) unless you use pessimistic locking

Version columns types

By default Grails maps the version property as a Long that gets incremented by one each time an instance is updated. But Hibernate also supports using a Timestamp, for example:

import java.sql.Timestamp

class Person {

… Timestamp version

static mapping = { table 'people' } }

There's a slight risk that two updates occurring at nearly the same time on a fast server can end up with the same timestamp value but this risk is very low. One benefit of using a Timestamp instead of a Long is that you combine the optimistic locking and last-updated semantics into a single column.

6.5.2.8 Eager and Lazy Fetching

Lazy Collections

As discussed in the section on Eager and Lazy fetching, GORM collections are lazily loaded by default but you can change this behaviour with the ORM DSL. There are several options available to you, but the most common ones are:

  • lazy: false
  • fetch: 'join'

and they're used like this:

class Person {

String firstName Pet pet

static hasMany = [addresses: Address]

static mapping = { addresses lazy: false pet fetch: 'join' } }

class Address {
    String street
    String postCode
}

class Pet {
    String name
}

The first option, lazy: false , ensures that when a Person instance is loaded, its addresses collection is loaded at the same time with a second SELECT. The second option is basically the same, except the collection is loaded with a JOIN rather than another SELECT. Typically you want to reduce the number of queries, so fetch: 'join' is the more appropriate option. On the other hand, it could feasibly be the more expensive approach if your domain model and data result in more and larger results than would otherwise be necessary.

For more advanced users, the other settings available are:

  1. batchSize: N
  2. lazy: false, batchSize: N

where N is an integer. These let you fetch results in batches, with one query per batch. As a simple example, consider this mapping for Person:

class Person {

String firstName Pet pet

static mapping = { pet batchSize: 5 } }

If a query returns multiple Person instances, then when we access the first pet property, Hibernate will fetch that Pet plus the four next ones. You can get the same behaviour with eager loading by combining batchSize with the lazy: false option. You can find out more about these options in the Hibernate user guide and this primer on fetching strategies. Note that ORM DSL does not currently support the "subselect" fetching strategy.

Lazy Single-Ended Associations

In GORM, one-to-one and many-to-one associations are by default lazy. Non-lazy single ended associations can be problematic when you load many entities because each non-lazy association will result in an extra SELECT statement. If the associated entities also have non-lazy associations, the number of queries grows significantly!

Use the same technique as for lazy collections to make a one-to-one or many-to-one association non-lazy/eager:

class Person {
    String firstName
}

class Address {

String street String postCode

static belongsTo = [person: Person]

static mapping = { person lazy: false } }

Here we configure GORM to load the associated Person instance (through the person property) whenever an Address is loaded.

Lazy Single-Ended Associations and Proxies

Hibernate uses runtime-generated proxies to facilitate single-ended lazy associations; Hibernate dynamically subclasses the entity class to create the proxy.

Consider the previous example but with a lazily-loaded person association: Hibernate will set the person property to a proxy that is a subclass of Person. When you call any of the getters (except for the id property) or setters on that proxy, Hibernate will load the entity from the database.

Unfortunately this technique can produce surprising results. Consider the following example classes:

class Pet {
    String name
}

class Dog extends Pet {
}

class Person {
    String name
    Pet pet
}

and assume that we have a single Person instance with a Dog as the pet. The following code will work as you would expect:

def person = Person.get(1)
assert person.pet instanceof Dog
assert Pet.get(person.petId) instanceof Dog

But this won't:

def person = Person.get(1)
assert person.pet instanceof Dog
assert Pet.list()[0] instanceof Dog

The second assertion fails, and to add to the confusion, this will work:

assert Pet.list()[0] instanceof Dog

What's going on here? It's down to a combination of how proxies work and the guarantees that the Hibernate session makes. When you load the Person instance, Hibernate creates a proxy for its pet relation and attaches it to the session. Once that happens, whenever you retrieve that Pet instance with a query, a get(), or the pet relation within the same session , Hibernate gives you the proxy.

Fortunately for us, GORM automatically unwraps the proxy when you use get() and findBy*(), or when you directly access the relation. That means you don't have to worry at all about proxies in the majority of cases. But GORM doesn't do that for objects returned with a query that returns a list, such as list() and findAllBy*(). However, if Hibernate hasn't attached the proxy to the session, those queries will return the real instances - hence why the last example works.

You can protect yourself to a degree from this problem by using the instanceOf method by GORM:

def person = Person.get(1)
assert Pet.list()[0].instanceOf(Dog)

However, it won't help here if casting is involved. For example, the following code will throw a ClassCastException because the first pet in the list is a proxy instance with a class that is neither Dog nor a sub-class of Dog:

def person = Person.get(1)
Dog pet = Pet.list()[0]

Of course, it's best not to use static types in this situation. If you use an untyped variable for the pet instead, you can access any Dog properties or methods on the instance without any problems.

These days it's rare that you will come across this issue, but it's best to be aware of it just in case. At least you will know why such an error occurs and be able to work around it.

6.5.2.9 Custom Cascade Behaviour

As described in the section on cascading updates, the primary mechanism to control the way updates and deletes cascade from one association to another is the static belongsTo property.

However, the ORM DSL gives you complete access to Hibernate's transitive persistence capabilities using the cascade attribute.

Valid settings for the cascade attribute include:

  • merge - merges the state of a detached association
  • save-update - cascades only saves and updates to an association
  • delete - cascades only deletes to an association
  • lock - useful if a pessimistic lock should be cascaded to its associations
  • refresh - cascades refreshes to an association
  • evict - cascades evictions (equivalent to discard() in GORM) to associations if set
  • all - cascade all operations to associations
  • all-delete-orphan - Applies only to one-to-many associations and indicates that when a child is removed from an association then it should be automatically deleted. Children are also deleted when the parent is.

It is advisable to read the section in the Hibernate documentation on transitive persistence to obtain a better understanding of the different cascade styles and recommendations for their usage

To specify the cascade attribute simply define one or more (comma-separated) of the aforementioned settings as its value:

class Person {

String firstName

static hasMany = [addresses: Address]

static mapping = { addresses cascade: "all-delete-orphan" } }

class Address {
    String street
    String postCode
}

6.5.2.10 Custom Hibernate Types

You saw in an earlier section that you can use composition (with the embedded property) to break a table into multiple objects. You can achieve a similar effect with Hibernate's custom user types. These are not domain classes themselves, but plain Java or Groovy classes. Each of these types also has a corresponding "meta-type" class that implements org.hibernate.usertype.UserType.

The Hibernate reference manual has some information on custom types, but here we will focus on how to map them in Grails. Let's start by taking a look at a simple domain class that uses an old-fashioned (pre-Java 1.5) type-safe enum class:

class Book {

String title String author Rating rating

static mapping = { rating type: RatingUserType } }

All we have done is declare the rating field the enum type and set the property's type in the custom mapping to the corresponding UserType implementation. That's all you have to do to start using your custom type. If you want, you can also use the other column settings such as "column" to change the column name and "index" to add it to an index.

Custom types aren't limited to just a single column - they can be mapped to as many columns as you want. In such cases you explicitly define in the mapping what columns to use, since Hibernate can only use the property name for a single column. Fortunately, Grails lets you map multiple columns to a property using this syntax:

class Book {

String title Name author Rating rating

static mapping = { author type: NameUserType, { column name: "first_name" column name: "last_name" } rating type: RatingUserType } }

The above example will create "first_name" and "last_name" columns for the author property. You'll be pleased to know that you can also use some of the normal column/property mapping attributes in the column definitions. For example:

column name: "first_name", index: "my_idx", unique: true

The column definitions do not support the following attributes: type, cascade, lazy, cache, and joinTable.

One thing to bear in mind with custom types is that they define the SQL types for the corresponding database columns. That helps take the burden of configuring them yourself, but what happens if you have a legacy database that uses a different SQL type for one of the columns? In that case, override the column's SQL type using the sqlType attribute:

class Book {

String title Name author Rating rating

static mapping = { author type: NameUserType, { column name: "first_name", sqlType: "text" column name: "last_name", sqlType: "text" } rating type: RatingUserType, sqlType: "text" } }

Mind you, the SQL type you specify needs to still work with the custom type. So overriding a default of "varchar" with "text" is fine, but overriding "text" with "yes_no" isn't going to work.

6.5.2.11 Derived Properties

A derived property is one that takes its value from a SQL expression, often but not necessarily based on the value of one or more other persistent properties. Consider a Product class like this:

class Product {
    Float price
    Float taxRate
    Float tax
}

If the tax property is derived based on the value of price and taxRate properties then is probably no need to persist the tax property. The SQL used to derive the value of a derived property may be expressed in the ORM DSL like this:

class Product {
    Float price
    Float taxRate
    Float tax

static mapping = { tax formula: 'PRICE * TAX_RATE' } }

Note that the formula expressed in the ORM DSL is SQL so references to other properties should relate to the persistence model not the object model, which is why the example refers to PRICE and TAX_RATE instead of price and taxRate.

With that in place, when a Product is retrieved with something like Product.get(42), the SQL that is generated to support that will look something like this:

select
    product0_.id as id1_0_,
    product0_.version as version1_0_,
    product0_.price as price1_0_,
    product0_.tax_rate as tax4_1_0_,
    product0_.PRICE * product0_.TAX_RATE as formula1_0_
from
    product product0_
where
    product0_.id=?

Since the tax property is derived at runtime and not stored in the database it might seem that the same effect could be achieved by adding a method like getTax() to the Product class that simply returns the product of the taxRate and price properties. With an approach like that you would give up the ability query the database based on the value of the tax property. Using a derived property allows exactly that. To retrieve all Product objects that have a tax value greater than 21.12 you could execute a query like this:

Product.findAllByTaxGreaterThan(21.12)

Derived properties may be referenced in the Criteria API:

Product.withCriteria {
    gt 'tax', 21.12f
}

The SQL that is generated to support either of those would look something like this:

select
    this_.id as id1_0_,
    this_.version as version1_0_,
    this_.price as price1_0_,
    this_.tax_rate as tax4_1_0_,
    this_.PRICE * this_.TAX_RATE as formula1_0_
from
    product this_
where
    this_.PRICE * this_.TAX_RATE>?

Because the value of a derived property is generated in the database and depends on the execution of SQL code, derived properties may not have GORM constraints applied to them. If constraints are specified for a derived property, they will be ignored.

6.5.2.12 Custom Naming Strategy

By default Grails uses Hibernate's ImprovedNamingStrategy to convert domain class Class and field names to SQL table and column names by converting from camel-cased Strings to ones that use underscores as word separators. You can customize these on a per-class basis in the mapping closure but if there's a consistent pattern you can specify a different NamingStrategy class to use.

Configure the class name to be used in grails-app/conf/DataSource.groovy in the hibernate section, e.g.

dataSource {
    pooled = true
    dbCreate = "create-drop"
    …
}

hibernate { cache.use_second_level_cache = true … naming_strategy = com.myco.myproj.CustomNamingStrategy }

You can also specify the name of the class and it will be loaded for you:

hibernate {
    …
    naming_strategy = 'com.myco.myproj.CustomNamingStrategy'
}

A third option is to provide an instance if there is some configuration required beyond calling the default constructor:

hibernate {
    …
    def strategy = new com.myco.myproj.CustomNamingStrategy()
    // configure as needed
    naming_strategy = strategy
}

You can use an existing class or write your own, for example one that prefixes table names and column names:

package com.myco.myproj

import org.hibernate.cfg.ImprovedNamingStrategy import org.hibernate.util.StringHelper

class CustomNamingStrategy extends ImprovedNamingStrategy {

String classToTableName(String className) { "table_" + StringHelper.unqualify(className) }

String propertyToColumnName(String propertyName) { "col_" + StringHelper.unqualify(propertyName) } }

6.5.3 Default Sort Order

You can sort objects using query arguments such as those found in the list method:

def airports = Airport.list(sort:'name')

However, you can also declare the default sort order for a collection in the mapping:

class Airport {
    …
    static mapping = {
        sort "name"
    }
}

The above means that all collections of Airport instances will by default be sorted by the airport name. If you also want to change the sort order , use this syntax:

class Airport {
    …
    static mapping = {
        sort name: "desc"
    }
}

Finally, you can configure sorting at the association level:

class Airport {
    …
    static hasMany = [flights: Flight]

static mapping = { flights sort: 'number', order: 'desc' } }

In this case, the flights collection will always be sorted in descending order of flight number.

These mappings will not work for default unidirectional one-to-many or many-to-many relationships because they involve a join table. See this issue for more details. Consider using a SortedSet or queries with sort parameters to fetch the data you need.

6.6 Programmatic Transactions

Grails is built on Spring and uses Spring's Transaction abstraction for dealing with programmatic transactions. However, GORM classes have been enhanced to make this simpler with the withTransaction method. This method has a single parameter, a Closure, which has a single parameter which is a Spring TransactionStatus instance.

Here's an example of using withTransaction in a controller methods:

def transferFunds() {
    Account.withTransaction { status ->
        def source = Account.get(params.from)
        def dest = Account.get(params.to)

def amount = params.amount.toInteger() if (source.active) { if (dest.active) { source.balance -= amount dest.amount += amount } else { status.setRollbackOnly() } } } }

In this example we rollback the transaction if the destination account is not active. Also, if an unchecked Exception or Error (but not a checked Exception, even though Groovy doesn't require that you catch checked exceptions) is thrown during the process the transaction will automatically be rolled back.

You can also use "save points" to rollback a transaction to a particular point in time if you don't want to rollback the entire transaction. This can be achieved through the use of Spring's SavePointManager interface.

The withTransaction method deals with the begin/commit/rollback logic for you within the scope of the block.

6.7 GORM and Constraints

Although constraints are covered in the Validation section, it is important to mention them here as some of the constraints can affect the way in which the database schema is generated.

Where feasible, Grails uses a domain class's constraints to influence the database columns generated for the corresponding domain class properties.

Consider the following example. Suppose we have a domain model with the following properties:

String name
String description

By default, in MySQL, Grails would define these columns as

ColumnData Type
namevarchar(255)
descriptionvarchar(255)

But perhaps the business rules for this domain class state that a description can be up to 1000 characters in length. If that were the case, we would likely define the column as follows if we were creating the table with an SQL script.

ColumnData Type
descriptionTEXT

Chances are we would also want to have some application-based validation to make sure we don't exceed that 1000 character limit before we persist any records. In Grails, we achieve this validation with constraints. We would add the following constraint declaration to the domain class.

static constraints = {
    description maxSize: 1000
}

This constraint would provide both the application-based validation we want and it would also cause the schema to be generated as shown above. Below is a description of the other constraints that influence schema generation.

Constraints Affecting String Properties

If either the maxSize or the size constraint is defined, Grails sets the maximum column length based on the constraint value.

In general, it's not advisable to use both constraints on the same domain class property. However, if both the maxSize constraint and the size constraint are defined, then Grails sets the column length to the minimum of the maxSize constraint and the upper bound of the size constraint. (Grails uses the minimum of the two, because any length that exceeds that minimum will result in a validation error.)

If the inList constraint is defined (and the maxSize and the size constraints are not defined), then Grails sets the maximum column length based on the length of the longest string in the list of valid values. For example, given a list including values "Java", "Groovy", and "C++", Grails would set the column length to 6 (i.e., the number of characters in the string "Groovy").

Constraints Affecting Numeric Properties

If the max, min, or range constraint is defined, Grails attempts to set the column precision based on the constraint value. (The success of this attempted influence is largely dependent on how Hibernate interacts with the underlying DBMS.)

In general, it's not advisable to combine the pair min/max and range constraints together on the same domain class property. However, if both of these constraints is defined, then Grails uses the minimum precision value from the constraints. (Grails uses the minimum of the two, because any length that exceeds that minimum precision will result in a validation error.)

If the scale constraint is defined, then Grails attempts to set the column scale based on the constraint value. This rule only applies to floating point numbers (i.e., java.lang.Float, java.Lang.Double, java.lang.BigDecimal, or subclasses of java.lang.BigDecimal). The success of this attempted influence is largely dependent on how Hibernate interacts with the underlying DBMS.

The constraints define the minimum/maximum numeric values, and Grails derives the maximum number of digits for use in the precision. Keep in mind that specifying only one of min/max constraints will not affect schema generation (since there could be large negative value of property with max:100, for example), unless the specified constraint value requires more digits than default Hibernate column precision is (19 at the moment). For example:

someFloatValue max: 1000000, scale: 3

would yield:

someFloatValue DECIMAL(19, 3) // precision is default

but

someFloatValue max: 12345678901234567890, scale: 5

would yield:

someFloatValue DECIMAL(25, 5) // precision = digits in max + scale

and

someFloatValue max: 100, min: -100000

would yield:

someFloatValue DECIMAL(8, 2) // precision = digits in min + default scale

7 The Web Layer

7.1 Controllers

A controller handles requests and creates or prepares the response. A controller can generate the response directly or delegate to a view. To create a controller, simply create a class whose name ends with Controller in the grails-app/controllers directory (in a subdirectory if it's in a package).

The default URL Mapping configuration ensures that the first part of your controller name is mapped to a URI and each action defined within your controller maps to URIs within the controller name URI.

7.1.1 Understanding Controllers and Actions

Creating a controller

Controllers can be created with the create-controller or generate-controller command. For example try running the following command from the root of a Grails project:

grails create-controller book

The command will create a controller at the location grails-app/controllers/myapp/BookController.groovy:

package myapp

class BookController {

def index() { } }

where "myapp" will be the name of your application, the default package name if one isn't specified.

BookController by default maps to the /book URI (relative to your application root).

The create-controller and generate-controller commands are just for convenience and you can just as easily create controllers using your favorite text editor or IDE

Creating Actions

A controller can have multiple public action methods; each one maps to a URI:

class BookController {

def list() {

// do controller logic // create model

return model } }

This example maps to the /book/list URI by default thanks to the property being named list.

Public Methods as Actions

In earlier versions of Grails actions were implemented with Closures. This is still supported, but the preferred approach is to use methods.

Leveraging methods instead of Closure properties has some advantages:

  • Memory efficient
  • Allow use of stateless controllers (singleton scope)
  • You can override actions from subclasses and call the overridden superclass method with super.actionName()
  • Methods can be intercepted with standard proxying mechanisms, something that is complicated to do with Closures since they're fields.

If you prefer the Closure syntax or have older controller classes created in earlier versions of Grails and still want the advantages of using methods, you can set the grails.compile.artefacts.closures.convert property to true in BuildConfig.groovy:

grails.compile.artefacts.closures.convert = true

and a compile-time AST transformation will convert your Closures to methods in the generated bytecode.

If a controller class extends some other class which is not defined under the grails-app/controllers/ directory, methods inherited from that class are not converted to controller actions. If the intent is to expose those inherited methods as controller actions the methods may be overridden in the subclass and the subclass method may invoke the method in the super class.

The Default Action

A controller has the concept of a default URI that maps to the root URI of the controller, for example /book for BookController. The action that is called when the default URI is requested is dictated by the following rules:

  • If there is only one action, it's the default
  • If you have an action named index, it's the default
  • Alternatively you can set it explicitly with the defaultAction property:

static defaultAction = "list"

7.1.2 Controllers and Scopes

Available Scopes

Scopes are hash-like objects where you can store variables. The following scopes are available to controllers:

  • servletContext - Also known as application scope, this scope lets you share state across the entire web application. The servletContext is an instance of ServletContext
  • session - The session allows associating state with a given user and typically uses cookies to associate a session with a client. The session object is an instance of HttpSession
  • request - The request object allows the storage of objects for the current request only. The request object is an instance of HttpServletRequest
  • params - Mutable map of incoming request query string or POST parameters
  • flash - See below

Accessing Scopes

Scopes can be accessed using the variable names above in combination with Groovy's array index operator, even on classes provided by the Servlet API such as the HttpServletRequest:

class BookController {
    def find() {
        def findBy = params["findBy"]
        def appContext = request["foo"]
        def loggedUser = session["logged_user"]
    }
}

You can also access values within scopes using the de-reference operator, making the syntax even more clear:

class BookController {
    def find() {
        def findBy = params.findBy
        def appContext = request.foo
        def loggedUser = session.logged_user
    }
}

This is one of the ways that Grails unifies access to the different scopes.

Using Flash Scope

Grails supports the concept of flash scope as a temporary store to make attributes available for this request and the next request only. Afterwards the attributes are cleared. This is useful for setting a message directly before redirecting, for example:

def delete() {
    def b = Book.get(params.id)
    if (!b) {
        flash.message = "User not found for id ${params.id}"
        redirect(action:list)
    }
    … // remaining code
}

When the list action is requested, the message value will be in scope and can be used to display an information message. It will be removed from the flash scope after this second request.

Note that the attribute name can be anything you want, and the values are often strings used to display messages, but can be any object type.

Scoped Controllers

Supported controller scopes are:

  • prototype (default) - A new controller will be created for each request (recommended for actions as Closure properties)
  • session - One controller is created for the scope of a user session
  • singleton - Only one instance of the controller ever exists (recommended for actions as methods)

To enable one of the scopes, add a static scope property to your class with one of the valid scope values listed above, for example

static scope = "singleton"

You can define the default strategy under in Config.groovy with the grails.controllers.defaultScope key, for example:

grails.controllers.defaultScope = "singleton"

Newly created applications have the grails.controllers.defaultScope property set in grails-app/conf/Config.groovy with a value of "singleton". You may change this value to any of the supported scopes listed above. If the property is not assigned a value at all, controllers will default to "prototype" scope.

Use scoped controllers wisely. For instance, we don't recommend having any properties in a singleton-scoped controller since they will be shared for all requests.

7.1.3 Models and Views

Returning the Model

A model is a Map that the view uses when rendering. The keys within that Map correspond to variable names accessible by the view. There are a couple of ways to return a model. First, you can explicitly return a Map instance:

def show() {
    [book: Book.get(params.id)]
}

The above does not reflect what you should use with the scaffolding views - see the scaffolding section for more details.

A more advanced approach is to return an instance of the Spring ModelAndView class:

import org.springframework.web.servlet.ModelAndView

def index() { // get some books just for the index page, perhaps your favorites def favoriteBooks = ...

// forward to the list view to show them return new ModelAndView("/book/list", [ bookList : favoriteBooks ]) }

One thing to bear in mind is that certain variable names can not be used in your model:

  • attributes
  • application

Currently, no error will be reported if you do use them, but this will hopefully change in a future version of Grails.

Selecting the View

In both of the previous two examples there was no code that specified which view to render. So how does Grails know which one to pick? The answer lies in the conventions. Grails will look for a view at the location grails-app/views/book/show.gsp for this show action:

class BookController {
    def show() {
         [book: Book.get(params.id)]
    }
}

To render a different view, use the render method:

def show() {
    def map = [book: Book.get(params.id)]
    render(view: "display", model: map)
}

In this case Grails will attempt to render a view at the location grails-app/views/book/display.gsp. Notice that Grails automatically qualifies the view location with the book directory of the grails-app/views directory. This is convenient, but to access shared views you need instead you can use an absolute path instead of a relative one:

def show() {
    def map = [book: Book.get(params.id)]
    render(view: "/shared/display", model: map)
}

In this case Grails will attempt to render a view at the location grails-app/views/shared/display.gsp.

Grails also supports JSPs as views, so if a GSP isn't found in the expected location but a JSP is, it will be used instead.

Selecting Views For Namespaced Controllers

If a controller defines a namespace for itself with the namespace property that will affect the root directory in which Grails will look for views which are specified with a relative path. The default root directory for views rendered by a namespaced controller is grails-app/views/<namespace name>/<controller name>/. If the view is not found in the namespaced directory then Grails will fallback to looking for the view in the non-namespaced directory.

See the example below.

class ReportingController {
    static namespace = 'business'

def humanResources() { // This will render grails-app/views/business/reporting/humanResources.gsp // if it exists.

// If grails-app/views/business/reporting/humanResources.gsp does not // exist the fallback will be grails-app/views/reporting/humanResources.gsp.

// The namespaced GSP will take precedence over the non-namespaced GSP.

[numberOfEmployees: 9] }

def accountsReceivable() { // This will render grails-app/views/business/reporting/accounting.gsp // if it exists.

// If grails-app/views/business/reporting/accounting.gsp does not // exist the fallback will be grails-app/views/reporting/accounting.gsp.

// The namespaced GSP will take precedence over the non-namespaced GSP.

render view: 'numberCrunch', model: [numberOfEmployees: 13] } }

Rendering a Response

Sometimes it's easier (for example with Ajax applications) to render snippets of text or code to the response directly from the controller. For this, the highly flexible render method can be used:

render "Hello World!"

The above code writes the text "Hello World!" to the response. Other examples include:

// write some markup
render {
   for (b in books) {
      div(id: b.id, b.title)
   }
}

// render a specific view
render(view: 'show')

// render a template for each item in a collection
render(template: 'book_template', collection: Book.list())

// render some text with encoding and content type
render(text: "<xml>some xml</xml>", contentType: "text/xml", encoding: "UTF-8")

If you plan on using Groovy's MarkupBuilder to generate HTML for use with the render method be careful of naming clashes between HTML elements and Grails tags, for example:

import groovy.xml.MarkupBuilder
…
def login() {
    def writer = new StringWriter()
    def builder = new MarkupBuilder(writer)
    builder.html {
        head {
            title 'Log in'
        }
        body {
            h1 'Hello'
            form {
            }
        }
    }

def html = writer.toString() render html }

This will actually call the form tag (which will return some text that will be ignored by the MarkupBuilder). To correctly output a <form> element, use the following:

def login() {
    // …
    body {
        h1 'Hello'
        builder.form {
        }
    }
    // …
}

7.1.4 Redirects and Chaining

Redirects

Actions can be redirected using the redirect controller method:

class OverviewController {

def login() {}

def find() { if (!session.user) redirect(action: 'login') return } … } }

Internally the redirect method uses the HttpServletResponse object's sendRedirect method.

The redirect method expects one of:

  • Another closure within the same controller class:

// Call the login action within the same class
redirect(action: login)
  • The name of an action (and controller name if the redirect isn't to an action in the current controller):

// Also redirects to the index action in the home controller
redirect(controller: 'home', action: 'index')
  • A URI for a resource relative the application context path:

// Redirect to an explicit URI
redirect(uri: "/login.html")
  • Or a full URL:

// Redirect to a URL
redirect(url: "http://grails.org")

Parameters can optionally be passed from one action to the next using the params argument of the method:

redirect(action: 'myaction', params: [myparam: "myvalue"])

These parameters are made available through the params dynamic property that accesses request parameters. If a parameter is specified with the same name as a request parameter, the request parameter is overridden and the controller parameter is used.

Since the params object is a Map, you can use it to pass the current request parameters from one action to the next:

redirect(action: "next", params: params)

Finally, you can also include a fragment in the target URI:

redirect(controller: "test", action: "show", fragment: "profile")

which will (depending on the URL mappings) redirect to something like "/myapp/test/show#profile".

Chaining

Actions can also be chained. Chaining allows the model to be retained from one action to the next. For example calling the first action in this action:

class ExampleChainController {

def first() { chain(action: second, model: [one: 1]) }

def second () { chain(action: third, model: [two: 2]) }

def third() { [three: 3]) } }

results in the model:

[one: 1, two: 2, three: 3]

The model can be accessed in subsequent controller actions in the chain using the chainModel map. This dynamic property only exists in actions following the call to the chain method:

class ChainController {

def nextInChain() { def model = chainModel.myModel … } }

Like the redirect method you can also pass parameters to the chain method:

chain(action: "action1", model: [one: 1], params: [myparam: "param1"])

7.1.5 Controller Interceptors

Often it is useful to intercept processing based on either request, session or application state. This can be achieved with action interceptors. There are currently two types of interceptors: before and after.

If your interceptor is likely to apply to more than one controller, you are almost certainly better off writing a standalone Interceptor. Standaline Interceptors can be applied to multiple controllers or URIs without the need to change the logic of each controller

Before Interception

The beforeInterceptor intercepts processing before the action is executed. If it returns false then the intercepted action will not be executed. The interceptor can be defined for all actions in a controller as follows:

def beforeInterceptor = {
    println "Tracing action ${actionUri}"
}

The above is declared inside the body of the controller definition. It will be executed before all actions and does not interfere with processing. A common use case is very simplistic authentication:

def beforeInterceptor = [action: this.&auth, except: 'login']

// defined with private scope, so it's not considered an action private auth() { if (!session.user) { redirect(action: 'login') return false } }

def login() { // display login page }

The above code defines a method called auth. A private method is used so that it is not exposed as an action to the outside world. The beforeInterceptor then defines an interceptor that is used on all actions except the login action and it executes the auth method. The auth method is referenced using Groovy's method pointer syntax. Within the method it detects whether there is a user in the session, and if not it redirects to the login action and returns false, causing the intercepted action to not be processed.

After Interception

Use the afterInterceptor property to define an interceptor that is executed after an action:

def afterInterceptor = { model ->
    println "Tracing action ${actionUri}"
}

The after interceptor takes the resulting model as an argument and can hence manipulate the model or response.

An after interceptor may also modify the Spring MVC ModelAndView object prior to rendering. In this case, the above example becomes:

def afterInterceptor = { model, modelAndView ->
    println "Current view is ${modelAndView.viewName}"
    if (model.someVar) modelAndView.viewName = "/mycontroller/someotherview"
    println "View is now ${modelAndView.viewName}"
}

This allows the view to be changed based on the model returned by the current action. Note that the modelAndView may be null if the action being intercepted called redirect or render.

Interception Conditions

Rails users will be familiar with the authentication example and how the 'except' condition was used when executing the interceptor (interceptors are called 'filters' in Rails; this terminology conflicts with Servlet filter terminology in Java):

def beforeInterceptor = [action: this.&auth, except: 'login']

This executes the interceptor for all actions except the specified action. A list of actions can also be defined as follows:

def beforeInterceptor = [action: this.&auth, except: ['login', 'register']]

The other supported condition is 'only', this executes the interceptor for only the specified action(s):

def beforeInterceptor = [action: this.&auth, only: ['secure']]

7.1.6 Data Binding

Data binding is the act of "binding" incoming request parameters onto the properties of an object or an entire graph of objects. Data binding should deal with all necessary type conversion since request parameters, which are typically delivered by a form submission, are always strings whilst the properties of a Groovy or Java object may well not be.

Map Based Binding

The data binder is capable of converting and assigning values in a Map to properties of an object. The binder will associate entries in the Map to properties of the object using the keys in the Map that have values which correspond to property names on the object. The following code demonstrates the basics:

// grails-app/domain/Person.groovy
class Person {
    String firstName
    String lastName
    Integer age
}

def bindingMap = [firstName: 'Peter', lastName: 'Gabriel', age: 63]

def person = new Person(bindingMap)

assert person.firstName == 'Peter' assert person.lastName == 'Gabriel' assert person.age == 63

To update properties of a domain object you may assign a Map to the properties property of the domain class:

def bindingMap = [firstName: 'Peter', lastName: 'Gabriel', age: 63]

def person = Person.get(someId) person.properties = bindingMap

assert person.firstName == 'Peter' assert person.lastName == 'Gabriel' assert person.age == 63

The binder can populate a full graph of objects using Maps of Maps.

class Person {
    String firstName
    String lastName
    Integer age
    Address homeAddress
}

class Address { String county String country }

def bindingMap = [firstName: 'Peter', lastName: 'Gabriel', age: 63, homeAddress: [county: 'Surrey', country: 'England'] ]

def person = new Person(bindingMap)

assert person.firstName == 'Peter' assert person.lastName == 'Gabriel' assert person.age == 63 assert person.homeAddress.county == 'Surrey' assert person.homeAddress.country == 'England'

Binding To Collections And Maps

The data binder can populate and update Collections and Maps. The following code shows a simple example of populating a List of objects in a domain class:

class Band {
    String name
    static hasMany = [albums: Album]
    List albums
}

class Album { String title Integer numberOfTracks }

def bindingMap = [name: 'Genesis', 
                  'albums[0]': [title: 'Foxtrot', numberOfTracks: 6], 
                  'albums[1]': [title: 'Nursery Cryme', numberOfTracks: 7]]

def band = new Band(bindingMap)

assert band.name == 'Genesis' assert band.albums.size() == 2 assert band.albums[0].title == 'Foxtrot' assert band.albums[0].numberOfTracks == 6 assert band.albums[1].title == 'Nursery Cryme' assert band.albums[1].numberOfTracks == 7

That code would work in the same way if albums were an array instead of a List.

Note that when binding to a Set the structure of the Map being bound to the Set is the same as that of a Map being bound to a List but since a Set is unordered, the indexes don't necessarily correspond to the order of elements in the Set. In the code example above, if albums were a Set instead of a List, the bindingMap could look exactly the same but 'Foxtrot' might be the first album in the Set or it might be the second. When updating existing elements in a Set the Map being assigned to the Set must have id elements in it which represent the element in the Set being updated, as in the following example:

/*
 * The value of the indexes 0 and 1 in albums[0] and albums[1] are arbitrary
 * values that can be anything as long as they are unique within the Map.
 * They do not correspond to the order of elements in albums because albums
 * is a Set.
 */
def bindingMap = ['albums[0]': [id: 9, title: 'The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway']
                  'albums[1]': [id: 4, title: 'Selling England By The Pound']]

def band = Band.get(someBandId)

/* * This will find the Album in albums that has an id of 9 and will set its title * to 'The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway' and will find the Album in albums that has * an id of 4 and set its title to 'Selling England By The Pound'. In both * cases if the Album cannot be found in albums then the album will be retrieved * from the database by id, the Album will be added to albums and will be updated * with the values described above. If a Album with the specified id cannot be * found in the database, then a binding error will be created and associated * with the band object. More on binding errors later. */ band.properties = bindingMap

When binding to a Map the structure of the binding Map is the same as the structure of a Map used for binding to a List or a Set and the index inside of square brackets corresponds to the key in the Map being bound to. See the following code:

class Album {
    String title
    static hasMany = [players: Player]
    Map players
}

class Player { String name }

def bindingMap = [title: 'The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway',
                  'players[guitar]': [name: 'Steve Hackett'],
                  'players[vocals]': [name: 'Peter Gabriel'],
                  'players[keyboards]': [name: 'Tony Banks']]

def album = new Album(bindingMap)

assert album.title == 'The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway' assert album.players.size() == 3 assert album.players.guitar.name == 'Steve Hackett' assert album.players.vocals.name == 'Peter Gabriel' assert album.players.keyboards.name == 'Tony Banks'

When updating an existing Map, if the key specified in the binding Map does not exist in the Map being bound to then a new value will be created and added to the Map with the specified key as in the following example:

def bindingMap = [title: 'The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway',
                  'players[guitar]': [name: 'Steve Hackett'],
                  'players[vocals]': [name: 'Peter Gabriel']
                  'players[keyboards]': [name: 'Tony Banks']]

def album = new Album(bindingMap)

assert album.title == 'The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway' assert album.players.size() == 3 assert album.players.guitar == 'Steve Hackett' assert album.players.vocals == 'Peter Gabriel' assert album.players.keyboards == 'Tony Banks'

def updatedBindingMap = ['players[drums]': [name: 'Phil Collins'], 'players[keyboards]': [name: 'Anthony George Banks']]

album.properties = updatedBindingMap

assert album.title == 'The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway' assert album.players.size() == 4 assert album.players.guitar.name == 'Steve Hackett' assert album.players.vocals.name == 'Peter Gabriel' assert album.players.keyboards.name == 'Anthony George Banks' assert album.players.drums.name == 'Phil Collins'

Binding Request Data to the Model

The params object that is available in a controller has special behavior that helps convert dotted request parameter names into nested Maps that the data binder can work with. For example, if a request includes request parameters named person.homeAddress.country and person.homeAddress.city with values 'USA' and 'St. Louis' respectively, params would include entries like these:

[person: [homeAddress: [country: 'USA', city: 'St. Louis']]]

There are two ways to bind request parameters onto the properties of a domain class. The first involves using a domain classes' Map constructor:

def save() {
    def b = new Book(params)
    b.save()
}

The data binding happens within the code new Book(params). By passing the params object to the domain class constructor Grails automatically recognizes that you are trying to bind from request parameters. So if we had an incoming request like:

/book/save?title=The%20Stand&author=Stephen%20King

Then the title and author request parameters would automatically be set on the domain class. You can use the properties property to perform data binding onto an existing instance:

def save() {
    def b = Book.get(params.id)
    b.properties = params
    b.save()
}

This has the same effect as using the implicit constructor.

When binding an empty String (a String with no characters in it, not even spaces), the data binder will convert the empty String to null. This simplifies the most common case where the intent is to treat an empty form field as having the value null since there isn't a way to actually submit a null as a request parameter. When this behavior is not desirable the application may assign the value directly.

The mass property binding mechanism will by default automatically trim all Strings at binding time. To disable this behavior set the grails.databinding.trimStrings property to false in grails-app/conf/Config.groovy.

// the default value is true
grails.databinding.trimStrings = false

// ...

The mass property binding mechanism will by default automatically convert all empty Strings to null at binding time. To disable this behavior set the grails.databinding.convertEmptyStringsToNull property to false in grials-app/conf/Config.groovy.

// the default value is true
grails.databinding.convertEmptyStringsToNull = false

// ...

The order of events is that the String trimming happens and then null conversion happens so if trimStrings is true and convertEmptyStringsToNull is true, not only will empty Strings be converted to null but also blank Strings. A blank String is any String such that the trim() method returns an empty String.

These forms of data binding in Grails are very convenient, but also indiscriminate. In other words, they will bind all non-transient, typed instance properties of the target object, including ones that you may not want bound. Just because the form in your UI doesn't submit all the properties, an attacker can still send malign data via a raw HTTP request. Fortunately, Grails also makes it easy to protect against such attacks - see the section titled "Data Binding and Security concerns" for more information.

Data binding and Single-ended Associations

If you have a one-to-one or many-to-one association you can use Grails' data binding capability to update these relationships too. For example if you have an incoming request such as:

/book/save?author.id=20

Grails will automatically detect the .id suffix on the request parameter and look up the Author instance for the given id when doing data binding such as:

def b = new Book(params)

An association property can be set to null by passing the literal String "null". For example:

/book/save?author.id=null

Data Binding and Many-ended Associations

If you have a one-to-many or many-to-many association there are different techniques for data binding depending of the association type.

If you have a Set based association (the default for a hasMany) then the simplest way to populate an association is to send a list of identifiers. For example consider the usage of <g:select> below:

<g:select name="books"
          from="${Book.list()}"
          size="5" multiple="yes" optionKey="id"
          value="${author?.books}" />

This produces a select box that lets you select multiple values. In this case if you submit the form Grails will automatically use the identifiers from the select box to populate the books association.

However, if you have a scenario where you want to update the properties of the associated objects the this technique won't work. Instead you use the subscript operator:

<g:textField name="books[0].title" value="the Stand" />
<g:textField name="books[1].title" value="the Shining" />

However, with Set based association it is critical that you render the mark-up in the same order that you plan to do the update in. This is because a Set has no concept of order, so although we're referring to books0 and books1 it is not guaranteed that the order of the association will be correct on the server side unless you apply some explicit sorting yourself.

This is not a problem if you use List based associations, since a List has a defined order and an index you can refer to. This is also true of Map based associations.

Note also that if the association you are binding to has a size of two and you refer to an element that is outside the size of association:

<g:textField name="books[0].title" value="the Stand" />
<g:textField name="books[1].title" value="the Shining" />
<g:textField name="books[2].title" value="Red Madder" />

Then Grails will automatically create a new instance for you at the defined position.

You can bind existing instances of the associated type to a List using the same .id syntax as you would use with a single-ended association. For example:

<g:select name="books[0].id" from="${bookList}"
          value="${author?.books[0]?.id}" />

<g:select name="books[1].id" from="${bookList}" value="${author?.books[1]?.id}" />

<g:select name="books[2].id" from="${bookList}" value="${author?.books[2]?.id}" />

Would allow individual entries in the books List to be selected separately.

Entries at particular indexes can be removed in the same way too. For example:

<g:select name="books[0].id"
          from="${Book.list()}"
          value="${author?.books[0]?.id}"
          noSelection="['null': '']"/>

Will render a select box that will remove the association at books0 if the empty option is chosen.

Binding to a Map property works the same way except that the list index in the parameter name is replaced by the map key:

<g:select name="images[cover].id"
          from="${Image.list()}"
          value="${book?.images[cover]?.id}"
          noSelection="['null': '']"/>

This would bind the selected image into the Map property images under a key of "cover".

When binding to Maps, Arrays and Collections the data binder will automatically grow the size of the collections as necessary. The default limit to how large the binder will grow a collection is 256. If the data binder encounters an entry that requires the collection be grown beyond that limit, the entry is ignored. The limit may be configured by assigning a value to the grails.databinding.autoGrowCollectionLimit property in Config.groovy.

// grails-app/conf/Config.groovy

// the default value is 256 grails.databinding.autoGrowCollectionLimit = 128

// ...

Data binding with Multiple domain classes

It is possible to bind data to multiple domain objects from the params object.

For example so you have an incoming request to:

/book/save?book.title=The%20Stand&author.name=Stephen%20King

You'll notice the difference with the above request is that each parameter has a prefix such as author. or book. which is used to isolate which parameters belong to which type. Grails' params object is like a multi-dimensional hash and you can index into it to isolate only a subset of the parameters to bind.

def b = new Book(params.book)

Notice how we use the prefix before the first dot of the book.title parameter to isolate only parameters below this level to bind. We could do the same with an Author domain class:

def a = new Author(params.author)

Data Binding and Action Arguments

Controller action arguments are subject to request parameter data binding. There are 2 categories of controller action arguments. The first category is command objects. Complex types are treated as command objects. See the Command Objects section of the user guide for details. The other category is basic object types. Supported types are the 8 primitives, their corresponding type wrappers and java.lang.String. The default behavior is to map request parameters to action arguments by name:

class AccountingController {

// accountNumber will be initialized with the value of params.accountNumber // accountType will be initialized with params.accountType def displayInvoice(String accountNumber, int accountType) { // … } }

For primitive arguments and arguments which are instances of any of the primitive type wrapper classes a type conversion has to be carried out before the request parameter value can be bound to the action argument. The type conversion happens automatically. In a case like the example shown above, the params.accountType request parameter has to be converted to an int. If type conversion fails for any reason, the argument will have its default value per normal Java behavior (null for type wrapper references, false for booleans and zero for numbers) and a corresponding error will be added to the errors property of the defining controller.

/accounting/displayInvoice?accountNumber=B59786&accountType=bogusValue

Since "bogusValue" cannot be converted to type int, the value of accountType will be zero, the controller's errors.hasErrors() will be true, the controller's errors.errorCount will be equal to 1 and the controller's errors.getFieldError('accountType') will contain the corresponding error.

If the argument name does not match the name of the request parameter then the @grails.web.RequestParameter annotation may be applied to an argument to express the name of the request parameter which should be bound to that argument:

import grails.web.RequestParameter

class AccountingController {

// mainAccountNumber will be initialized with the value of params.accountNumber // accountType will be initialized with params.accountType def displayInvoice(@RequestParameter('accountNumber') String mainAccountNumber, int accountType) { // … } }

Data binding and type conversion errors

Sometimes when performing data binding it is not possible to convert a particular String into a particular target type. This results in a type conversion error. Grails will retain type conversion errors inside the errors property of a Grails domain class. For example:

class Book {
    …
    URL publisherURL
}

Here we have a domain class Book that uses the java.net.URL class to represent URLs. Given an incoming request such as:

/book/save?publisherURL=a-bad-url

it is not possible to bind the string a-bad-url to the publisherURL property as a type mismatch error occurs. You can check for these like this:

def b = new Book(params)

if (b.hasErrors()) { println "The value ${b.errors.getFieldError('publisherURL').rejectedValue}" + " is not a valid URL!" }

Although we have not yet covered error codes (for more information see the section on Validation), for type conversion errors you would want a message from the grails-app/i18n/messages.properties file to use for the error. You can use a generic error message handler such as:

typeMismatch.java.net.URL=The field {0} is not a valid URL

Or a more specific one:

typeMismatch.Book.publisherURL=The publisher URL you specified is not a valid URL

The BindUsing Annotation

The BindUsing annotation may be used to define a custom binding mechanism for a particular field in a class. Any time data binding is being applied to the field the closure value of the annotation will be invoked with 2 arguments. The first argument is the object that data binding is being applied to and the second argument is DataBindingSource which is the data source for the data binding. The value returned from the closure will be bound to the property. The following example would result in the upper case version of the name value in the source being applied to the name field during data binding.

import org.grails.databinding.BindUsing

class SomeClass { @BindUsing({obj, source ->

//source is DataSourceBinding which is similar to a Map //and defines getAt operation but source.name cannot be used here. //In order to get name from source use getAt instead as shown below.

source['name']?.toUpperCase() }) String name }

Note that data binding is only possible when the name of the request parameter matches with the field name in the class. Here, name from request parameters matches with name from SomeClass.

The BindUsing annotation may be used to define a custom binding mechanism for all of the fields on a particular class. When the annotation is applied to a class, the value assigned to the annotation should be a class which implements the BindingHelper interface. An instance of that class will be used any time a value is bound to a property in the class that this annotation has been applied to.

@BindUsing(SomeClassWhichImplementsBindingHelper)
class SomeClass {
    String someProperty
    Integer someOtherProperty
}

Custom Data Converters

The binder will do a lot of type conversion automatically. Some applications may want to define their own mechanism for converting values and a simple way to do this is to write a class which implements ValueConverter and register an instance of that class as a bean in the Spring application context.

package com.myapp.converters

import org.grails.databinding.converters.ValueConverter

/** * A custom converter which will convert String of the * form 'city:state' into an Address object. */ class AddressValueConverter implements ValueConverter {

boolean canConvert(value) { value instanceof String }

def convert(value) { def pieces = value.split(':') new com.myapp.Address(city: pieces[0], state: pieces[1]) }

Class<?> getTargetType() { com.myapp.Address } }

An instance of that class needs to be registered as a bean in the Spring application context. The bean name is not important. All beans that implemented ValueConverter will be automatically plugged in to the data binding process.

// grails-app/conf/spring/resources.groovy

beans = {

addressConverter com.myapp.converters.AddressValueConverter

// ...

}

class Person {
    String firstName
    Address homeAddress
}

class Address { String city String state }

def person = new Person() person.properties = [firstName: 'Jeff', homeAddress: "O'Fallon:Missouri"] assert person.firstName == 'Jeff' assert person.homeAddress.city = "O'Fallon" assert person.homeAddress.state = 'Missouri'

Date Formats For Data Binding

A custom date format may be specified to be used when binding a String to a Date value by applying the BindingFormat annotation to a Date field.

import org.grails.databinding.BindingFormat

class Person { @BindingFormat('MMddyyyy') Date birthDate }

A global setting may be configured in Config.groovy to define date formats which will be used application wide when binding to Date.

// grails-app/conf/Config.groovy

grails.databinding.dateFormats = ['MMddyyyy', 'yyyy-MM-dd HH:mm:ss.S', "yyyy-MM-dd'T'hh:mm:ss'Z'"]

The formats specified in grails.databinding.dateFormats will be attempted in the order in which they are included in the List. If a property is marked with @BindingFormat, the @BindingFormat will take precedence over the values specified in grails.databinding.dateFormats.

The default formats that are used are "yyyy-MM-dd HH:mm:ss.S" and "yyyy-MM-dd'T'hh:mm:ss'Z'".

Custom Formatted Converters

You may supply your own handler for the BindingFormat annotation by writing a class which implements the FormattedValueConverter interface and registering an instance of that class as a bean in the Spring application context. Below is an example of a trivial custom String formatter that might convert the case of a String based on the value assigned to the BindingFormat annotation.

package com.myapp.converters

import org.grails.databinding.converters.FormattedValueConverter

class FormattedStringValueConverter implements FormattedValueConverter { def convert(value, String format) { if('UPPERCASE' == format) { value = value.toUpperCase() } else if('LOWERCASE' == format) { value = value.toLowerCase() } value }

Class getTargetType() { // specifies the type to which this converter may be applied String } }

An instance of that class needs to be registered as a bean in the Spring application context. The bean name is not important. All beans that implemented FormattedValueConverter will be automatically plugged in to the data binding process.

// grails-app/conf/spring/resources.groovy

beans = {

formattedStringConverter com.myapp.converters.FormattedStringValueConverter

// ...

}

With that in place the BindingFormat annotation may be applied to String fields to inform the data binder to take advantage of the custom converter.

import org.grails.databinding.BindingFormat

class Person { @BindingFormat('UPPERCASE') String someUpperCaseString

@BindingFormat('LOWERCASE') String someLowerCaseString

String someOtherString }

Localized Binding Formats

The BindingFormat annotation supports localized format strings by using the optional code attribute. If a value is assigned to the code attribute that value will be used as the message code to retrieve the binding format string from the messageSource bean in the Spring application context and that lookup will be localized.

import org.grails.databinding.BindingFormat

class Person { @BindingFormat(code='date.formats.birthdays') Date birthDate }

# grails-app/conf/i18n/messages.properties
date.formats.birthdays=MMddyyyy

# grails-app/conf/i18n/messages_es.properties
date.formats.birthdays=ddMMyyyy

Structured Data Binding Editors

A structured data binding editor is a helper class which can bind structured request parameters to a property. The common use case for structured binding is binding to a Date object which might be constructed from several smaller pieces of information contained in several request parameters with names like birthday_month, birthday_date and birthday_year. The structured editor would retrieve all of those individual pieces of information and use them to construct a Date.

The framework provides a structured editor for binding to Date objects. An application may register its own structured editors for whatever types are appropriate. Consider the following classes:

// src/groovy/databinding/Gadget.groovy
package databinding

class Gadget { Shape expandedShape Shape compressedShape }

// src/groovy/databinding/Shape.groovy
package databinding

class Shape { int area }

A Gadget has 2 Shape fields. A Shape has an area property. It may be that the application wants to accept request parameters like width and height and use those to calculate the area of a Shape at binding time. A structured binding editor is well suited for that.

The way to register a structured editor with the data binding process is to add an instance of the org.grails.databinding.TypedStructuredBindingEditor interface to the Spring application context. The easiest way to implement the TypedStructuredBindingEditor interface is to extend the org.grails.databinding.converters.AbstractStructuredBindingEditor abstract class and override the getPropertyValue method as shown below:

// src/groovy/databinding/converters/StructuredShapeEditor.groovy
package databinding.converters

import databinding.Shape

import org.grails.databinding.converters.AbstractStructuredBindingEditor

class StructuredShapeEditor extends AbstractStructuredBindingEditor<Shape> {

public Shape getPropertyValue(Map values) { // retrieve the individual values from the Map def width = values.width as int def height = values.height as int

// use the values to calculate the area of the Shape def area = width * height

// create and return a Shape with the appropriate area new Shape(area: area) } }

An instance of that class needs to be registered with the Spring application context:

// grails-app/conf/spring/resources.groovy
beans = {
    shapeEditor databinding.converters.StructuredShapeEditor

// … }

When the data binder binds to an instance of the Gadget class it will check to see if there are request parameters with names compressedShape and expandedShape which have a value of "struct" and if they do exist, that will trigger the use of the StructuredShapeEditor. The individual components of the structure need to have parameter names of the form propertyName_structuredElementName. In the case of the Gadget class above that would mean that the compressedShape request parameter should have a value of "struct" and the compressedShape_width and compressedShape_height parameters should have values which represent the width and the height of the compressed Shape. Similarly, the expandedShape request parameter should have a value of "struct" and the expandedShape_width and expandedShape_height parameters should have values which represent the width and the height of the expanded Shape.

// grails-app/controllers/demo/DemoController.groovy
class DemoController {

def createGadget(Gadget gadget) { /*

/demo/createGadget?expandedShape=struct&expandedShape_width=80&expandedShape_height=30 &compressedShape=struct&compressedShape_width=10&compressedShape_height=3

*/

// with the request parameters shown above gadget.expandedShape.area would be 2400 // and gadget.compressedShape.area would be 30

// ...

} }

Typically the request parameters with "struct" as their value would be represented by hidden form fields.

Data Binding Event Listeners

The DataBindingListener interface provides a mechanism for listeners to be notified of data binding events. The interface looks like this:

package org.grails.databinding.events;

import org.grails.databinding.errors.BindingError;

public interface DataBindingListener {

/** * @return true if the listener is interested in events for the specified type. */ boolean supports(Class<?> clazz);

/** * Called when data binding is about to start. * * @param target The object data binding is being imposed upon * @param errors the Spring Errors instance (a org.springframework.validation.BindingResult) * @return true if data binding should continue */ Boolean beforeBinding(Object target, Object errors);

/** * Called when data binding is about to imposed on a property * * @param target The object data binding is being imposed upon * @param propertyName The name of the property being bound to * @param value The value of the property being bound * @param errors the Spring Errors instance (a org.springframework.validation.BindingResult) * @return true if data binding should continue, otherwise return false */ Boolean beforeBinding(Object target, String propertyName, Object value, Object errors);

/** * Called after data binding has been imposed on a property * * @param target The object data binding is being imposed upon * @param propertyName The name of the property that was bound to * @param errors the Spring Errors instance (a org.springframework.validation.BindingResult) */ void afterBinding(Object target, String propertyName, Object errors);

/** * Called after data binding has finished. * * @param target The object data binding is being imposed upon * @param errors the Spring Errors instance (a org.springframework.validation.BindingResult) */ void afterBinding(Object target, Object errors);

/** * Called when an error occurs binding to a property * @param error encapsulates information about the binding error * @param errors the Spring Errors instance (a org.springframework.validation.BindingResult) * @see BindingError */ void bindingError(BindingError error, Object errors); }

Any bean in the Spring application context which implements that interface will automatically be registered with the data binder. The DataBindingListenerAdapter class implements the DataBindingListener interface and provides default implementations for all of the methods in the interface so this class is well suited for subclassing so your listener class only needs to provide implementations for the methods your listener is interested in.

The Grails data binder has limited support for the older BindEventListener style listeners. BindEventListener looks like this:

package org.codehaus.groovy.grails.web.binding;

import org.springframework.beans.MutablePropertyValues; import org.springframework.beans.TypeConverter;

public interface BindEventListener {

/** * @param target The target to bind to * @param source The source of the binding, typically a Map * @param typeConverter The type converter to be used */ void doBind(Object target, MutablePropertyValues source, TypeConverter typeConverter); }

Support for BindEventListener is disabled by default. To enable support assign a value of true to the grails.databinding.enableSpringEventAdapter property in grails-app/conf/Config.groovy.

// grails-app/conf/Config.groovy
grails.databinding.enableSpringEventAdapter=true

...

With enableSpringEventAdapter set to true instances of BindEventListener which are in the Spring application context will automatically be registered with the data binder. Notice that the MutablePropertyValues and TypeConverter arguments to the doBind method in BindEventListener are Spring specific classes and are not relevant to the current data binder. The event adapter will pass null values for those arguments. The only real value passed into the doBind method will be the object being bound to. This limited support is provided for backward compatibility and will be useful for a subset of scenarios. Developers are encouraged to migrate their BindEventListener beans to the newer DataBindingListener model.

Using The Data Binder Directly

There are situations where an application may want to use the data binder directly. For example, to do binding in a Service on some arbitrary object which is not a domain class. The following will not work because the properties property is read only.

// src/groovy/bindingdemo/Widget.groovy
package bindingdemo

class Widget { String name Integer size }

// grails-app/services/bindingdemo/WidgetService.groovy
package bindingdemo

class WidgetService {

def updateWidget(Widget widget, Map data) { // this will throw an exception because // properties is read-only widget.properties = data } }

An instance of the data binder is in the Spring application context with a bean name of grailsWebDataBinder. That bean implements the DataBinder interface. The following code demonstrates using the data binder directly.

// grails-app/services/bindingdmeo/WidgetService
package bindingdemo

import org.grails.databinding.SimpleMapDataBindingSource

class WidgetService {

// this bean will be autowired into the service def grailsWebDataBinder

def updateWidget(Widget widget, Map data) { grailsWebDataBinder.bind widget, data as SimpleMapDataBindingSource }

}

See the DataBinder documentation for more information about overloaded versions of the bind method.

Data Binding and Security Concerns

When batch updating properties from request parameters you need to be careful not to allow clients to bind malicious data to domain classes and be persisted in the database. You can limit what properties are bound to a given domain class using the subscript operator:

def p = Person.get(1)

p.properties['firstName','lastName'] = params

In this case only the firstName and lastName properties will be bound.

Another way to do this is is to use Command Objects as the target of data binding instead of domain classes. Alternatively there is also the flexible bindData method.

The bindData method allows the same data binding capability, but to arbitrary objects:

def p = new Person()
bindData(p, params)

The bindData method also lets you exclude certain parameters that you don't want updated:

def p = new Person()
bindData(p, params, [exclude: 'dateOfBirth'])

Or include only certain properties:

def p = new Person()
bindData(p, params, [include: ['firstName', 'lastName']])

Note that if an empty List is provided as a value for the include parameter then all fields will be subject to binding if they are not explicitly excluded.

7.1.7 XML and JSON Responses

Using the render method to output XML

Grails supports a few different ways to produce XML and JSON responses. The first is the render method.

The render method can be passed a block of code to do mark-up building in XML:

def list() {

def results = Book.list()

render(contentType: "text/xml") { books { for (b in results) { book(title: b.title) } } } }

The result of this code would be something like:

<books>
    <book title="The Stand" />
    <book title="The Shining" />
</books>

Be careful to avoid naming conflicts when using mark-up building. For example this code would produce an error:

def list() {

def books = Book.list() // naming conflict here

render(contentType: "text/xml") { books { for (b in results) { book(title: b.title) } } } }

This is because there is local variable books which Groovy attempts to invoke as a method.

Using the render method to output JSON

The render method can also be used to output JSON:

def list() {

def results = Book.list()

render(contentType: "application/json") { books = array { for (b in results) { book title: b.title } } } }

In this case the result would be something along the lines of:

[
    {"title":"The Stand"},
    {"title":"The Shining"}
]

The same dangers with naming conflicts described above for XML also apply to JSON building.

Automatic XML Marshalling

Grails also supports automatic marshalling of domain classes to XML using special converters.

To start off with, import the grails.converters package into your controller:

import grails.converters.*

Now you can use the following highly readable syntax to automatically convert domain classes to XML:

render Book.list() as XML

The resulting output would look something like the following::

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="ISO-8859-1"?>
<list>
  <book id="1">
    <author>Stephen King</author>
    <title>The Stand</title>
  </book>
  <book id="2">
    <author>Stephen King</author>
    <title>The Shining</title>
  </book>
</list>

For more information on XML marshalling see the section on REST

Automatic JSON Marshalling

Grails also supports automatic marshalling to JSON using the same mechanism. Simply substitute XML with JSON:

render Book.list() as JSON

The resulting output would look something like the following:

[
    {"id":1,
     "class":"Book",
     "author":"Stephen King",
     "title":"The Stand"},
    {"id":2,
     "class":"Book",
     "author":"Stephen King",
     "releaseDate":new Date(1194127343161),
     "title":"The Shining"}
 ]

7.1.8 More on JSONBuilder

The previous section on on XML and JSON responses covered simplistic examples of rendering XML and JSON responses. Whilst the XML builder used by Grails is the standard XmlSlurper found in Groovy, the JSON builder is a custom implementation specific to Grails.

JSONBuilder and Grails versions

JSONBuilder behaves different depending on the version of Grails you use. For version below 1.2 the deprecated grails.web.JSONBuilder class is used. This section covers the usage of the Grails 1.2 JSONBuilder

For backwards compatibility the old JSONBuilder class is used with the render method for older applications; to use the newer/better JSONBuilder class set the following in Config.groovy:

grails.json.legacy.builder = false

Rendering Simple Objects

To render a simple JSON object just set properties within the context of the Closure:

render(contentType: "application/json") {
    hello = "world"
}

The above will produce the JSON:

{"hello":"world"}

Rendering JSON Arrays

To render a list of objects simple assign a list:

render(contentType: "application/json") {
    categories = ['a', 'b', 'c']
}

This will produce:

{"categories":["a","b","c"]}

You can also render lists of complex objects, for example:

render(contentType: "application/json") {
    categories = [ { a = "A" }, { b = "B" } ]
}

This will produce:

{"categories":[ {"a":"A"} , {"b":"B"}] }

Use the special element method to return a list as the root:

render(contentType: "application/json") {
    element 1
    element 2
    element 3
}

The above code produces:

[1,2,3]

Rendering Complex Objects

Rendering complex objects can be done with Closures. For example:

render(contentType: "application/json") {
    categories = ['a', 'b', 'c']
    title = "Hello JSON"
    information = {
        pages = 10
    }
}

The above will produce the JSON:

{"categories":["a","b","c"],"title":"Hello JSON","information":{"pages":10}}

Arrays of Complex Objects

As mentioned previously you can nest complex objects within arrays using Closures:

render(contentType: "application/json") {
    categories = [ { a = "A" }, { b = "B" } ]
}

You can use the array method to build them up dynamically:

def results = Book.list()
render(contentType: "application/json") {
    books = array {
        for (b in results) {
            book title: b.title
        }
    }
}

Direct JSONBuilder API Access

If you don't have access to the render method, but still want to produce JSON you can use the API directly:

def builder = new JSONBuilder()

def result = builder.build { categories = ['a', 'b', 'c'] title = "Hello JSON" information = { pages = 10 } }

// prints the JSON text println result.toString()

def sw = new StringWriter() result.render sw

7.1.9 Uploading Files

Programmatic File Uploads

Grails supports file uploads using Spring's MultipartHttpServletRequest interface. The first step for file uploading is to create a multipart form like this:

Upload Form: <br />
    <g:uploadForm action="upload">
        <input type="file" name="myFile" />
        <input type="submit" />
    </g:uploadForm>

The uploadForm tag conveniently adds the enctype="multipart/form-data" attribute to the standard <g:form> tag.

There are then a number of ways to handle the file upload. One is to work with the Spring MultipartFile instance directly:

def upload() {
    def f = request.getFile('myFile')
    if (f.empty) {
        flash.message = 'file cannot be empty'
        render(view: 'uploadForm')
        return
    }

f.transferTo(new File('/some/local/dir/myfile.txt')) response.sendError(200, 'Done') }

This is convenient for doing transfers to other destinations and manipulating the file directly as you can obtain an InputStream and so on with the MultipartFile interface.

File Uploads through Data Binding

File uploads can also be performed using data binding. Consider this Image domain class:

class Image {
    byte[] myFile

static constraints = { // Limit upload file size to 2MB myFile maxSize: 1024 * 1024 * 2 } }

If you create an image using the params object in the constructor as in the example below, Grails will automatically bind the file's contents as a byte to the myFile property:

def img = new Image(params)

It's important that you set the size or maxSize constraints, otherwise your database may be created with a small column size that can't handle reasonably sized files. For example, both H2 and MySQL default to a blob size of 255 bytes for byte properties.

It is also possible to set the contents of the file as a string by changing the type of the myFile property on the image to a String type:

class Image {
   String myFile
}

7.1.10 Command Objects

Grails controllers support the concept of command objects. A command object is a class that is used in conjunction with data binding, usually to allow validation of data that may not fit into an existing domain class.

Note: A class is only considered to be a command object when it is used as a parameter of an action.

Declaring Command Objects

Command object classes are defined just like any other class.

class LoginCommand implements grails.validation.Validateable {
    String username
    String password

static constraints = { username(blank: false, minSize: 6) password(blank: false, minSize: 6) } }

In this example, the command object class implements the Validateable trait. The Validateable trait allows the definition of constraints just like in domain classes. If the command object is defined in the same source file as the controller that is using it, Grails will automatically make it Validateable. It is not required that command object classes be validateable.

By default, all Validateable object properties are nullable: false which matches the behavior of GORM domain objects. If you want a Validateable that has nullable: true properties by default, you can specify this by defining a defaultNullable method in the class:

class AuthorSearchCommand implements grails.validation.Validateable {
    String  name
    Integer age

static boolean defaultNullable() { true } }

In this example, both name and age will allow null values during validation.

Using Command Objects

To use command objects, controller actions may optionally specify any number of command object parameters. The parameter types must be supplied so that Grails knows what objects to create and initialize.

Before the controller action is executed Grails will automatically create an instance of the command object class and populate its properties by binding the request parameters. If the command object class is marked with Validateable then the command object will be validated. For example:

class LoginController {

def login(LoginCommand cmd) { if (cmd.hasErrors()) { redirect(action: 'loginForm') return }

// work with the command object data } }

If the command object's type is that of a domain class and there is an id request parameter then instead of invoking the domain class constructor to create a new instance a call will be made to the static get method on the domain class and the value of the id parameter will be passed as an argument. Whatever is returned from that call to get is what will be passed into the controller action. This means that if there is an id request parameter and no corresponding record is found in the database then the value of the command object will be null. If an error occurs retrieving the instance from the database then null will be passed as an argument to the controller action and an error will be added the controller's errors property. If the command object's type is a domain class and there is no id request parameter or there is an id request parameter and its value is empty then null will be passed into the controller action unless the HTTP request method is "POST", in which case a new instance of the domain class will be created by invoking the domain class constructor. For all of the cases where the domain class instance is non-null, data binding is only performed if the HTTP request method is "POST", "PUT" or "PATCH".

Command Objects And Request Parameter Names

Normally request parameter names will be mapped directly to property names in the command object. Nested parameter names may be used to bind down the object graph in an intuitive way. In the example below a request parameter named name will be bound to the name property of the Person instance and a request parameter named address.city will be bound to the city property of the address property in the Person.

class StoreController {
    def buy(Person buyer) {
        // …
    }
}

class Person { String name Address address }

class Address { String city }

A problem may arise if a controller action accepts multiple command objects which happen to contain the same property name. Consider the following example.

class StoreController {
    def buy(Person buyer, Product product) {
        // …
    }
}

class Person { String name Address address }

class Address { String city }

class Product { String name }

If there is a request parameter named name it isn't clear if that should represent the name of the Product or the name of the Person. Another version of the problem can come up if a controller action accepts 2 command objects of the same type as shown below.

class StoreController {
    def buy(Person buyer, Person seller, Product product) {
        // …
    }
}

class Person { String name Address address }

class Address { String city }

class Product { String name }

To help deal with this the framework imposes special rules for mapping parameter names to command object types. The command object data binding will treat all parameters that begin with the controller action parameter name as belonging to the corresponding command object. For example, the product.name request parameter will be bound to the name property in the product argument, the buyer.name request parameter will be bound to the name property in the buyer argument the seller.address.city request parameter will be bound to the city property of the address property of the seller argument, etc...

Command Objects and Dependency Injection

Command objects can participate in dependency injection. This is useful if your command object has some custom validation logic which uses a Grails service:

class LoginCommand implements grails.validation.Validateable {

def loginService

String username String password

static constraints = { username validator: { val, obj -> obj.loginService.canLogin(obj.username, obj.password) } } }

In this example the command object interacts with the loginService bean which is injected by name from the Spring ApplicationContext.

Binding The Request Body To Command Objects

When a request is made to a controller action which accepts a command object and the request contains a body, Grails will attempt to parse the body of the request based on the request content type and use the body to do data binding on the command object. See the following example.

// grails-app/controllers/bindingdemo/DemoController.groovy
package bindingdemo

class DemoController {

def createWidget(Widget w) { render "Name: ${w?.name}, Size: ${w?.size}" } }

class Widget { String name Integer size }

$ curl -H "Content-Type: application/json" -d '{"name":"Some Widget","size":"42"}' localhost:8080/myapp/demo/createWidget
 Name: Some Widget, Size: 42
~ $
$ curl -H "Content-Type: application/xml" -d '<widget><name>Some Other Widget</name><size>2112</size></widget>' localhost:8080/bodybind/demo/createWidget
 Name: Some Other Widget, Size: 2112
~ $

Note that the body of the request is being parsed to make that work. Any attempt to read the body of the request after that will fail since the corresponding input stream will be empty. The controller action can either use a command object or it can parse the body of the request on its own (either directly, or by referring to something like request.JSON), but cannot do both.

// grails-app/controllers/bindingdemo/DemoController.groovy
package bindingdemo

class DemoController {

def createWidget(Widget w) { // this will fail because it requires reading the body, // which has already been read. def json = request.JSON

// ...

} }

7.1.11 Handling Duplicate Form Submissions

Grails has built-in support for handling duplicate form submissions using the "Synchronizer Token Pattern". To get started you define a token on the form tag:

<g:form useToken="true" ...>

Then in your controller code you can use the withForm method to handle valid and invalid requests:

withForm {
   // good request
}.invalidToken {
   // bad request
}

If you only provide the withForm method and not the chained invalidToken method then by default Grails will store the invalid token in a flash.invalidToken variable and redirect the request back to the original page. This can then be checked in the view:

<g:if test="${flash.invalidToken}">
  Don't click the button twice!
</g:if>

The withForm tag makes use of the session and hence requires session affinity or clustered sessions if used in a cluster.

7.1.12 Simple Type Converters

Type Conversion Methods

If you prefer to avoid the overhead of Data Binding and simply want to convert incoming parameters (typically Strings) into another more appropriate type the params object has a number of convenience methods for each type:

def total = params.int('total')

The above example uses the int method, and there are also methods for boolean, long, char, short and so on. Each of these methods is null-safe and safe from any parsing errors, so you don't have to perform any additional checks on the parameters.

Each of the conversion methods allows a default value to be passed as an optional second argument. The default value will be returned if a corresponding entry cannot be found in the map or if an error occurs during the conversion. Example:

def total = params.int('total', 42)

These same type conversion methods are also available on the attrs parameter of GSP tags.

Handling Multi Parameters

A common use case is dealing with multiple request parameters of the same name. For example you could get a query string such as ?name=Bob&name=Judy.

In this case dealing with one parameter and dealing with many has different semantics since Groovy's iteration mechanics for String iterate over each character. To avoid this problem the params object provides a list method that always returns a list:

for (name in params.list('name')) {
    println name
}

7.1.13 Declarative Controller Exception Handling

Grails controllers support a simple mechanism for declarative exception handling. If a controller declares a method that accepts a single argument and the argument type is java.lang.Exception or some subclass of java.lang.Exception, that method will be invoked any time an action in that controller throws an exception of that type. See the following example.

// grails-app/controllers/demo/DemoController.groovy
package demo

class DemoController {

def someAction() { // do some work }

def handleSQLException(SQLException e) { render 'A SQLException Was Handled' }

def handleBatchUpdateException(BatchUpdateException e) { redirect controller: 'logging', action: 'batchProblem' }

def handleNumberFormatException(NumberFormatException nfe) { [problemDescription: 'A Number Was Invalid'] } }

That controller will behave as if it were written something like this...

// grails-app/controllers/demo/DemoController.groovy
package demo

class DemoController {

def someAction() { try { // do some work } catch (BatchUpdateException e) { return handleBatchUpdateException(e) } catch (SQLException e) { return handleSQLException(e) } catch (NumberFormatException e) { return handleNumberFormatException(e) } }

def handleSQLException(SQLException e) { render 'A SQLException Was Handled' }

def handleBatchUpdateException(BatchUpdateException e) { redirect controller: 'logging', action: 'batchProblem' }

def handleNumberFormatException(NumberFormatException nfe) { [problemDescription: 'A Number Was Invalid'] } }

The exception handler method names can be any valid method name. The name is not what makes the method an exception handler, the Exception argument type is the important part.

The exception handler methods can do anything that a controller action can do including invoking render, redirect, returning a model, etc.

One way to share exception handler methods across multiple controllers is to use inheritance. Exception handler methods are inherited into subclasses so an application could define the exception handlers in an abstract class that multiple controllers extend from. Another way to share exception handler methods across multiple controllers is to use a trait, as shown below...

// src/groovy/com/demo/DatabaseExceptionHandler.groovy
package com.demo

trait DatabaseExceptionHandler { def handleSQLException(SQLException e) { // handle SQLException }

def handleBatchUpdateException(BatchUpdateException e) { // handle BatchUpdateException } }

// grails-app/controllers/com/demo/DemoController.groovy
package com.demo

class DemoController implements DatabaseExceptionHandler {

// all of the exception handler methods defined // in DatabaseExceptionHandler will be added to // this class at compile time }

Exception handler methods must be present at compile time. Specifically, exception handler methods which are runtime metaprogrammed onto a controller class are not supported.

7.2 Groovy Server Pages

Groovy Servers Pages (or GSP for short) is Grails' view technology. It is designed to be familiar for users of technologies such as ASP and JSP, but to be far more flexible and intuitive.

GSPs live in the grails-app/views directory and are typically rendered automatically (by convention) or with the render method such as:

render(view: "index")

A GSP is typically a mix of mark-up and GSP tags which aid in view rendering.

Although it is possible to have Groovy logic embedded in your GSP and doing this will be covered in this document, the practice is strongly discouraged. Mixing mark-up and code is a bad thing and most GSP pages contain no code and needn't do so.

A GSP typically has a "model" which is a set of variables that are used for view rendering. The model is passed to the GSP view from a controller. For example consider the following controller action:

def show() {
    [book: Book.get(params.id)]
}

This action will look up a Book instance and create a model that contains a key called book. This key can then be referenced within the GSP view using the name book:

${book.title}

Embedding data received from user input has the risk of making your application vulnerable to an Cross Site Scripting (XSS) attack. Please read the documentation on XSS prevention for information on how to prevent XSS attacks.

7.2.1 GSP Basics

In the next view sections we'll go through the basics of GSP and what is available to you. First off let's cover some basic syntax that users of JSP and ASP should be familiar with.

GSP supports the usage of <% %> scriptlet blocks to embed Groovy code (again this is discouraged):

<html>
   <body>
     <% out << "Hello GSP!" %>
   </body>
</html>

You can also use the <%= %> syntax to output values:

<html>
   <body>
     <%="Hello GSP!" %>
   </body>
</html>

GSP also supports JSP-style server-side comments (which are not rendered in the HTML response) as the following example demonstrates:

<html>
   <body>
     <%-- This is my comment --%>
     <%="Hello GSP!" %>
   </body>
</html>

Embedding data received from user input has the risk of making your application vulnerable to an Cross Site Scripting (XSS) attack. Please read the documentation on XSS prevention for information on how to prevent XSS attacks.

7.2.1.1 Variables and Scopes

Within the <% %> brackets you can declare variables:

<% now = new Date() %>

and then access those variables later in the page:

<%=now%>

Within the scope of a GSP there are a number of pre-defined variables, including:

7.2.1.2 Logic and Iteration

Using the <% %> syntax you can embed loops and so on using this syntax:

<html>
   <body>
      <% [1,2,3,4].each { num -> %>
         <p><%="Hello ${num}!" %></p>
      <%}%>
   </body>
</html>

As well as logical branching:

<html>
   <body>
      <% if (params.hello == 'true')%>
      <%="Hello!"%>
      <% else %>
      <%="Goodbye!"%>
   </body>
</html>

7.2.1.3 Page Directives

GSP also supports a few JSP-style page directives.

The import directive lets you import classes into the page. However, it is rarely needed due to Groovy's default imports and GSP Tags:

<%@ page import="java.awt.*" %>

GSP also supports the contentType directive:

<%@ page contentType="application/json" %>

The contentType directive allows using GSP to render other formats.

7.2.1.4 Expressions

In GSP the <%= %> syntax introduced earlier is rarely used due to the support for GSP expressions. A GSP expression is similar to a JSP EL expression or a Groovy GString and takes the form ${expr}:

<html>
  <body>
    Hello ${params.name}
  </body>
</html>

However, unlike JSP EL you can have any Groovy expression within the ${..} block.

Embedding data received from user input has the risk of making your application vulnerable to an Cross Site Scripting (XSS) attack. Please read the documentation on XSS prevention for information on how to prevent XSS attacks.

7.2.2 GSP Tags

Now that the less attractive JSP heritage has been set aside, the following sections cover GSP's built-in tags, which are the preferred way to define GSP pages.

The section on Tag Libraries covers how to add your own custom tag libraries.

All built-in GSP tags start with the prefix g:. Unlike JSP, you don't specify any tag library imports. If a tag starts with g: it is automatically assumed to be a GSP tag. An example GSP tag would look like:

<g:example />

GSP tags can also have a body such as:

<g:example>
   Hello world
</g:example>

Expressions can be passed into GSP tag attributes, if an expression is not used it will be assumed to be a String value:

<g:example attr="${new Date()}">
   Hello world
</g:example>

Maps can also be passed into GSP tag attributes, which are often used for a named parameter style syntax:

<g:example attr="${new Date()}" attr2="[one:1, two:2, three:3]">
   Hello world
</g:example>

Note that within the values of attributes you must use single quotes for Strings:

<g:example attr="${new Date()}" attr2="[one:'one', two:'two']">
   Hello world
</g:example>

With the basic syntax out the way, the next sections look at the tags that are built into Grails by default.

7.2.2.1 Variables and Scopes

Variables can be defined within a GSP using the set tag:

<g:set var="now" value="${new Date()}" />

Here we assign a variable called now to the result of a GSP expression (which simply constructs a new java.util.Date instance). You can also use the body of the <g:set> tag to define a variable:

<g:set var="myHTML">
   Some re-usable code on: ${new Date()}
</g:set>

The assigned value can also be a bean from the applicationContext:

<g:set var="bookService" bean="bookService" />

Variables can also be placed in one of the following scopes:

  • page - Scoped to the current page (default)
  • request - Scoped to the current request
  • flash - Placed within flash scope and hence available for the next request
  • session - Scoped for the user session
  • application - Application-wide scope.

To specify the scope, use the scope attribute:

<g:set var="now" value="${new Date()}" scope="request" />

7.2.2.2 Logic and Iteration

GSP also supports logical and iterative tags out of the box. For logic there are if, else and elseif tags for use with branching:

<g:if test="${session.role == 'admin'}">
   <%-- show administrative functions --%>
</g:if>
<g:else>
   <%-- show basic functions --%>
</g:else>

Use the each and while tags for iteration:

<g:each in="${[1,2,3]}" var="num">
   <p>Number ${num}</p>
</g:each>

<g:set var="num" value="${1}" /> <g:while test="${num < 5 }"> <p>Number ${num++}</p> </g:while>

7.2.2.3 Search and Filtering

If you have collections of objects you often need to sort and filter them. Use the findAll and grep tags for these tasks:

Stephen King's Books:
<g:findAll in="${books}" expr="it.author == 'Stephen King'">
     <p>Title: ${it.title}</p>
</g:findAll>

The expr attribute contains a Groovy expression that can be used as a filter. The grep tag does a similar job, for example filtering by class:

<g:grep in="${books}" filter="NonFictionBooks.class">
     <p>Title: ${it.title}</p>
</g:grep>

Or using a regular expression:

<g:grep in="${books.title}" filter="~/.*?Groovy.*?/">
     <p>Title: ${it}</p>
</g:grep>

The above example is also interesting due to its usage of GPath. GPath is an XPath-like language in Groovy. The books variable is a collection of Book instances. Since each Book has a title, you can obtain a list of Book titles using the expression books.title. Groovy will auto-magically iterate the collection, obtain each title, and return a new list!

7.2.2.4 Links and Resources

GSP also features tags to help you manage linking to controllers and actions. The link tag lets you specify controller and action name pairing and it will automatically work out the link based on the URL Mappings, even if you change them! For example:

<g:link action="show" id="1">Book 1</g:link>

<g:link action="show" id="${currentBook.id}">${currentBook.name}</g:link>

<g:link controller="book">Book Home</g:link>

<g:link controller="book" action="list">Book List</g:link>

<g:link url="[action: 'list', controller: 'book']">Book List</g:link>

<g:link params="[sort: 'title', order: 'asc', author: currentBook.author]" action="list">Book List</g:link>

7.2.2.5 Forms and Fields

Form Basics

GSP supports many different tags for working with HTML forms and fields, the most basic of which is the form tag. This is a controller/action aware version of the regular HTML form tag. The url attribute lets you specify which controller and action to map to:

<g:form name="myForm" url="[controller:'book',action:'list']">...</g:form>

In this case we create a form called myForm that submits to the BookController's list action. Beyond that all of the usual HTML attributes apply.

Form Fields

In addition to easy construction of forms, GSP supports custom tags for dealing with different types of fields, including:

  • textField - For input fields of type 'text'
  • passwordField - For input fields of type 'password'
  • checkBox - For input fields of type 'checkbox'
  • radio - For input fields of type 'radio'
  • hiddenField - For input fields of type 'hidden'
  • select - For dealing with HTML select boxes

Each of these allows GSP expressions for the value:

<g:textField name="myField" value="${myValue}" />

GSP also contains extended helper versions of the above tags such as radioGroup (for creating groups of radio tags), localeSelect, currencySelect and timeZoneSelect (for selecting locales, currencies and time zones respectively).

Multiple Submit Buttons

The age old problem of dealing with multiple submit buttons is also handled elegantly with Grails using the actionSubmit tag. It is just like a regular submit, but lets you specify an alternative action to submit to:

<g:actionSubmit value="Some update label" action="update" />

7.2.2.6 Tags as Method Calls

One major different between GSP tags and other tagging technologies is that GSP tags can be called as either regular tags or as method calls from controllers, tag libraries or GSP views.

Tags as method calls from GSPs

Tags return their results as a String-like object (a StreamCharBuffer which has all of the same methods as String) instead of writing directly to the response when called as methods. For example:

Static Resource: ${createLinkTo(dir: "images", file: "logo.jpg")}

This is particularly useful for using a tag within an attribute:

<img src="${createLinkTo(dir: 'images', file: 'logo.jpg')}" />

In view technologies that don't support this feature you have to nest tags within tags, which becomes messy quickly and often has an adverse effect of WYSIWYG tools such as Dreamweaver that attempt to render the mark-up as it is not well-formed:

<img src="<g:createLinkTo dir="images" file="logo.jpg" />" />

Tags as method calls from Controllers and Tag Libraries

You can also invoke tags from controllers and tag libraries. Tags within the default g: namespace can be invoked without the prefix and a StreamCharBuffer result is returned:

def imageLocation = createLinkTo(dir:"images", file:"logo.jpg").toString()

Prefix the namespace to avoid naming conflicts:

def imageLocation = g.createLinkTo(dir:"images", file:"logo.jpg").toString()

For tags that use a custom namespace, use that prefix for the method call. For example (from the FCK Editor plugin):

def editor = fckeditor.editor(name: "text", width: "100%", height: "400")

7.2.3 Views and Templates

Grails also has the concept of templates. These are useful for partitioning your views into maintainable chunks, and combined with Layouts provide a highly re-usable mechanism for structured views.

Template Basics

Grails uses the convention of placing an underscore before the name of a view to identify it as a template. For example, you might have a template that renders Books located at grails-app/views/book/_bookTemplate.gsp:

<div class="book" id="${book?.id}">
   <div>Title: ${book?.title}</div>
   <div>Author: ${book?.author?.name}</div>
</div>

Use the render tag to render this template from one of the views in grails-app/views/book:

<g:render template="bookTemplate" model="[book: myBook]" />

Notice how we pass into a model to use using the model attribute of the render tag. If you have multiple Book instances you can also render the template for each Book using the render tag with a collection attribute:

<g:render template="bookTemplate" var="book" collection="${bookList}" />

Shared Templates

In the previous example we had a template that was specific to the BookController and its views at grails-app/views/book. However, you may want to share templates across your application.

In this case you can place them in the root views directory at grails-app/views or any subdirectory below that location, and then with the template attribute use an absolute location starting with / instead of a relative location. For example if you had a template called grails-app/views/shared/_mySharedTemplate.gsp, you would reference it as:

<g:render template="/shared/mySharedTemplate" />

You can also use this technique to reference templates in any directory from any view or controller:

<g:render template="/book/bookTemplate" model="[book: myBook]" />

The Template Namespace

Since templates are used so frequently there is template namespace, called tmpl, available that makes using templates easier. Consider for example the following usage pattern:

<g:render template="bookTemplate" model="[book:myBook]" />

This can be expressed with the tmpl namespace as follows:

<tmpl:bookTemplate book="${myBook}" />

Templates in Controllers and Tag Libraries

You can also render templates from controllers using the render controller method. This is useful for JavaScript heavy applications where you generate small HTML or data responses to partially update the current page instead of performing new request:

def bookData() {
    def b = Book.get(params.id)
    render(template:"bookTemplate", model:[book:b])
}

The render controller method writes directly to the response, which is the most common behaviour. To instead obtain the result of template as a String you can use the render tag:

def bookData() {
    def b = Book.get(params.id)
    String content = g.render(template:"bookTemplate", model:[book:b])
    render content
}

Notice the usage of the g namespace which tells Grails we want to use the tag as method call instead of the render method.

7.2.4 Layouts with Sitemesh

Creating Layouts

Grails leverages Sitemesh, a decorator engine, to support view layouts. Layouts are located in the grails-app/views/layouts directory. A typical layout can be seen below:

<html>
    <head>
        <title><g:layoutTitle default="An example decorator" /></title>
        <g:layoutHead />
    </head>
    <body onload="${pageProperty(name:'body.onload')}">
        <div class="menu"><!--my common menu goes here--></menu>
            <div class="body">
                <g:layoutBody />
            </div>
        </div>
    </body>
</html>

The key elements are the layoutHead, layoutTitle and layoutBody tag invocations:

  • layoutTitle - outputs the target page's title
  • layoutHead - outputs the target page's head tag contents
  • layoutBody - outputs the target page's body tag contents

The previous example also demonstrates the pageProperty tag which can be used to inspect and return aspects of the target page.

Triggering Layouts

There are a few ways to trigger a layout. The simplest is to add a meta tag to the view:

<html>
    <head>
        <title>An Example Page</title>
        <meta name="layout" content="main" />
    </head>
    <body>This is my content!</body>
</html>

In this case a layout called grails-app/views/layouts/main.gsp will be used to layout the page. If we were to use the layout from the previous section the output would resemble this:

<html>
    <head>
        <title>An Example Page</title>
    </head>
    <body onload="">
        <div class="menu"><!--my common menu goes here--></div>
        <div class="body">
            This is my content!
        </div>
    </body>
</html>

Specifying A Layout In A Controller

Another way to specify a layout is to specify the name of the layout by assigning a value to the "layout" property in a controller. For example, if you have a controller such as:

class BookController {
    static layout = 'customer'

def list() { … } }

You can create a layout called grails-app/views/layouts/customer.gsp which will be applied to all views that the BookController delegates to. The value of the "layout" property may contain a directory structure relative to the grails-app/views/layouts/ directory. For example:

class BookController {
    static layout = 'custom/customer'

def list() { … } }

Views rendered from that controller would be decorated with the grails-app/views/layouts/custom/customer.gsp template.

Layout by Convention

Another way to associate layouts is to use "layout by convention". For example, if you have this controller:

class BookController {
    def list() { … }
}

You can create a layout called grails-app/views/layouts/book.gsp, which will be applied to all views that the BookController delegates to.

Alternatively, you can create a layout called grails-app/views/layouts/book/list.gsp which will only be applied to the list action within the BookController.

If you have both the above mentioned layouts in place the layout specific to the action will take precedence when the list action is executed.

If a layout may not be located using any of those conventions, the convention of last resort is to look for the application default layout which is grails-app/views/layouts/application.gsp. The name of the application default layout may be changed by defining a property in grails-app/conf/Config.groovy as follows:

grails.sitemesh.default.layout = 'myLayoutName'

With that property in place, the application default layout will be grails-app/views/layouts/myLayoutName.gsp.

Inline Layouts

Grails' also supports Sitemesh's concept of inline layouts with the applyLayout tag. This can be used to apply a layout to a template, URL or arbitrary section of content. This lets you even further modularize your view structure by "decorating" your template includes.

Some examples of usage can be seen below:

<g:applyLayout name="myLayout" template="bookTemplate" collection="${books}" />

<g:applyLayout name="myLayout" url="http://www.google.com" />

<g:applyLayout name="myLayout"> The content to apply a layout to </g:applyLayout>

Server-Side Includes

While the applyLayout tag is useful for applying layouts to external content, if you simply want to include external content in the current page you use the include tag:

<g:include controller="book" action="list" />

You can even combine the include tag and the applyLayout tag for added flexibility:

<g:applyLayout name="myLayout">
   <g:include controller="book" action="list" />
</g:applyLayout>

Finally, you can also call the include tag from a controller or tag library as a method:

def content = include(controller:"book", action:"list")

The resulting content will be provided via the return value of the include tag.

7.2.5 Static Resources

Grails 2.0 integrates with the Asset Pipeline plugin to provide sophisticated static asset management. This plugin is installed by default in new Grails applications.

The basic way to include a link to a static asset in your application is to use the resource tag. This simple approach creates a URI pointing to the file.

However modern applications with dependencies on multiple JavaScript and CSS libraries and frameworks (as well as dependencies on multiple Grails plugins) require something more powerful.

The issues that the Asset-Pipeline plugin tackles are:

  • Reduced Dependence - The plugin has compression, minification, and cache-digests built in.
  • Easy Debugging - Makes for easy debugging by keeping files separate in development mode.
  • Asset Bundling using require directives.
  • Web application performance tuning is difficult.
  • The need for a standard way to expose static assets in plugins and applications.
  • The need for extensible processing to make languages like LESS or Coffee first class citizens.

The asset-pipeline allows you to define your javascript or css requirements right at the top of the file and they get compiled on War creation.

Take a look at the documentation for the asset-pipeline to get started.

7.2.6 Sitemesh Content Blocks

Although it is useful to decorate an entire page sometimes you may find the need to decorate independent sections of your site. To do this you can use content blocks. To get started, partition the page to be decorated using the <content> tag:

<content tag="navbar">
… draw the navbar here…
</content>

<content tag="header"> … draw the header here… </content>

<content tag="footer"> … draw the footer here… </content>

<content tag="body"> … draw the body here… </content>

Then within the layout you can reference these components and apply individual layouts to each:

<html>
    <body>
        <div id="header">
            <g:applyLayout name="headerLayout">
                <g:pageProperty name="page.header" />
            </g:applyLayout>
        </div>
        <div id="nav">
            <g:applyLayout name="navLayout">
                <g:pageProperty name="page.navbar" />
            </g:applyLayout>
        </div>
        <div id="body">
            <g:applyLayout name="bodyLayout">
                <g:pageProperty name="page.body" />
            </g:applyLayout>
        </div>
        <div id="footer">
            <g:applyLayout name="footerLayout">
                <g:pageProperty name="page.footer" />
            </g:applyLayout>
        </div>
    </body>
</html>

7.2.7 Making Changes to a Deployed Application

One of the main issues with deploying a Grails application (or typically any servlet-based one) is that any change to the views requires that you redeploy your whole application. If all you want to do is fix a typo on a page, or change an image link, it can seem like a lot of unnecessary work. For such simple requirements, Grails does have a solution: the grails.gsp.view.dir configuration setting.

How does this work? The first step is to decide where the GSP files should go. Let's say we want to keep them unpacked in a /var/www/grails/my-app directory. We add these two lines to grails-app/conf/Config.groovy :

grails.gsp.enable.reload = true
grails.gsp.view.dir = "/var/www/grails/my-app/"
The first line tells Grails that modified GSP files should be reloaded at runtime. If you don't have this setting, you can make as many changes as you like but they won't be reflected in the running application until you restart. The second line tells Grails where to load the views and layouts from.

The trailing slash on the grails.gsp.view.dir value is important! Without it, Grails will look for views in the parent directory.

Setting "grails.gsp.view.dir" is optional. If it's not specified, you can update files directly to the application server's deployed war directory. Depending on the application server, these files might get overwritten when the server is restarted. Most application servers support "exploded war deployment" which is recommended in this case.

With those settings in place, all you need to do is copy the views from your web application to the external directory. On a Unix-like system, this would look something like this:

mkdir -p /var/www/grails/my-app/grails-app/views
cp -R grails-app/views/* /var/www/grails/my-app/grails-app/views
The key point here is that you must retain the view directory structure, including the grails-app/views bit. So you end up with the path /var/www/grails/my-app/grails-app/views/... .

One thing to bear in mind with this technique is that every time you modify a GSP, it uses up permgen space. So at some point you will eventually hit "out of permgen space" errors unless you restart the server. So this technique is not recommended for frequent or large changes to the views.

There are also some System properties to control GSP reloading:

NameDescriptionDefault
grails.gsp.enable.reloadalternative system property for enabling the GSP reload mode without changing Config.groovy 
grails.gsp.reload.intervalinterval between checking the lastmodified time of the gsp source file, unit is milliseconds5000
grails.gsp.reload.granularitythe number of milliseconds leeway to give before deciding a file is out of date. this is needed because different roundings usually cause a 1000ms difference in lastmodified times1000

GSP reloading is supported for precompiled GSPs since Grails 1.3.5 .

7.2.8 GSP Debugging

Viewing the generated source code

  • Adding "?showSource=true" or "&showSource=true" to the url shows the generated Groovy source code for the view instead of rendering it. It won't show the source code of included templates. This only works in development mode
  • The saving of all generated source code can be activated by setting the property "grails.views.gsp.keepgenerateddir" (in Config.groovy) . It must point to a directory that exists and is writable.
  • During "grails war" gsp pre-compilation, the generated source code is stored in grails.project.work.dir/gspcompile (usually in ~/.grails/(grails_version)/projects/(project name)/gspcompile).

Debugging GSP code with a debugger

Viewing information about templates used to render a single url

GSP templates are reused in large web applications by using the g:render taglib. Several small templates can be used to render a single page. It might be hard to find out what GSP template actually renders the html seen in the result. The debug templates -feature adds html comments to the output. The comments contain debug information about gsp templates used to render the page.

Usage is simple: append "?debugTemplates" or "&debugTemplates" to the url and view the source of the result in your browser. "debugTemplates" is restricted to development mode. It won't work in production.

Here is an example of comments added by debugTemplates :

<!-- GSP #2 START template: /home/.../views/_carousel.gsp
     precompiled: false lastmodified: … -->
.
.
.
<!-- GSP #2 END template: /home/.../views/_carousel.gsp
     rendering time: 115 ms -->

Each comment block has a unique id so that you can find the start & end of each template call.

7.3 Tag Libraries

Like Java Server Pages (JSP), GSP supports the concept of custom tag libraries. Unlike JSP, Grails' tag library mechanism is simple, elegant and completely reloadable at runtime.

Quite simply, to create a tag library create a Groovy class that ends with the convention TagLib and place it within the grails-app/taglib directory:

class SimpleTagLib {

}

Now to create a tag create a Closure property that takes two arguments: the tag attributes and the body content:

class SimpleTagLib {
    def simple = { attrs, body ->

} }

The attrs argument is a Map of the attributes of the tag, whilst the body argument is a Closure that returns the body content when invoked:

class SimpleTagLib {
    def emoticon = { attrs, body ->
       out << body() << (attrs.happy == 'true' ? " :-)" : " :-(")
    }
}

As demonstrated above there is an implicit out variable that refers to the output Writer which you can use to append content to the response. Then you can reference the tag inside your GSP; no imports are necessary:

<g:emoticon happy="true">Hi John</g:emoticon>

To help IDEs like Spring Tool Suite (STS) and others autocomplete tag attributes, you should add Javadoc comments to your tag closures with @attr descriptions. Since taglibs use Groovy code it can be difficult to reliably detect all usable attributes.

For example:

class SimpleTagLib {

/** * Renders the body with an emoticon. * * @attr happy whether to show a happy emoticon ('true') or * a sad emoticon ('false') */ def emoticon = { attrs, body -> out << body() << (attrs.happy == 'true' ? " :-)" : " :-(") } }

and any mandatory attributes should include the REQUIRED keyword, e.g.

class SimpleTagLib {

/** * Creates a new password field. * * @attr name REQUIRED the field name * @attr value the field value */ def passwordField = { attrs -> attrs.type = "password" attrs.tagName = "passwordField" fieldImpl(out, attrs) } }

7.3.1 Variables and Scopes

Within the scope of a tag library there are a number of pre-defined variables including:
  • actionName - The currently executing action name
  • controllerName - The currently executing controller name
  • flash - The flash object
  • grailsApplication - The GrailsApplication instance
  • out - The response writer for writing to the output stream
  • pageScope - A reference to the pageScope object used for GSP rendering (i.e. the binding)
  • params - The params object for retrieving request parameters
  • pluginContextPath - The context path to the plugin that contains the tag library
  • request - The HttpServletRequest instance
  • response - The HttpServletResponse instance
  • servletContext - The javax.servlet.ServletContext instance
  • session - The HttpSession instance

7.3.2 Simple Tags

As demonstrated in the previous example it is easy to write simple tags that have no body and just output content. Another example is a dateFormat style tag:

def dateFormat = { attrs, body ->
    out << new java.text.SimpleDateFormat(attrs.format).format(attrs.date)
}

The above uses Java's SimpleDateFormat class to format a date and then write it to the response. The tag can then be used within a GSP as follows:

<g:dateFormat format="dd-MM-yyyy" date="${new Date()}" />

With simple tags sometimes you need to write HTML mark-up to the response. One approach would be to embed the content directly:

def formatBook = { attrs, body ->
    out << "<div id="${attrs.book.id}">"
    out << "Title : ${attrs.book.title}"
    out << "</div>"
}

Although this approach may be tempting it is not very clean. A better approach would be to reuse the render tag:

def formatBook = { attrs, body ->
    out << render(template: "bookTemplate", model: [book: attrs.book])
}

And then have a separate GSP template that does the actual rendering.

7.3.3 Logical Tags

You can also create logical tags where the body of the tag is only output once a set of conditions have been met. An example of this may be a set of security tags:

def isAdmin = { attrs, body ->
    def user = attrs.user
    if (user && checkUserPrivs(user)) {
        out << body()
    }
}

The tag above checks if the user is an administrator and only outputs the body content if he/she has the correct set of access privileges:

<g:isAdmin user="${myUser}">
    // some restricted content
</g:isAdmin>

7.3.4 Iterative Tags

Iterative tags are easy too, since you can invoke the body multiple times:

def repeat = { attrs, body ->
    attrs.times?.toInteger()?.times { num ->
        out << body(num)
    }
}

In this example we check for a times attribute and if it exists convert it to a number, then use Groovy's times method to iterate the specified number of times:

<g:repeat times="3">
<p>Repeat this 3 times! Current repeat = ${it}</p>
</g:repeat>

Notice how in this example we use the implicit it variable to refer to the current number. This works because when we invoked the body we passed in the current value inside the iteration:

out << body(num)

That value is then passed as the default variable it to the tag. However, if you have nested tags this can lead to conflicts, so you should instead name the variables that the body uses:

def repeat = { attrs, body ->
    def var = attrs.var ?: "num"
    attrs.times?.toInteger()?.times { num ->
        out << body((var):num)
    }
}

Here we check if there is a var attribute and if there is use that as the name to pass into the body invocation on this line:

out << body((var):num)

Note the usage of the parenthesis around the variable name. If you omit these Groovy assumes you are using a String key and not referring to the variable itself.

Now we can change the usage of the tag as follows:

<g:repeat times="3" var="j">
<p>Repeat this 3 times! Current repeat = ${j}</p>
</g:repeat>

Notice how we use the var attribute to define the name of the variable j and then we are able to reference that variable within the body of the tag.

7.3.5 Tag Namespaces

By default, tags are added to the default Grails namespace and are used with the g: prefix in GSP pages. However, you can specify a different namespace by adding a static property to your TagLib class:

class SimpleTagLib {
    static namespace = "my"

def example = { attrs -> … } }

Here we have specified a namespace of my and hence the tags in this tag lib must then be referenced from GSP pages like this:

<my:example name="..." />

where the prefix is the same as the value of the static namespace property. Namespaces are particularly useful for plugins.

Tags within namespaces can be invoked as methods using the namespace as a prefix to the method call:

out << my.example(name:"foo")

This works from GSP, controllers or tag libraries

7.3.6 Using JSP Tag Libraries

In addition to the simplified tag library mechanism provided by GSP, you can also use JSP tags from GSP. To do so simply declare the JSP to use with the taglib directive:

<%@ taglib prefix="fmt" uri="http://java.sun.com/jsp/jstl/fmt" %>

Besides this you have to configure Grails to scan for the JSP tld files. This is configured with the grails.gsp.tldScanPattern setting. It accepts a comma separated String value. Spring's PathMatchingResourcePatternResolver is used to resolve the patterns.

For example you could scan for all available tld files by adding this to Config.groovy:

grails.gsp.tldScanPattern='classpath*:/META-INF/*.tld,/WEB-INF/tld/*.tld'

JSTL standard library is no more added as a dependency by default. In case you are using JSTL, you should also add these dependencies to BuildConfig.groovy:

runtime 'javax.servlet:jstl:1.1.2'
        runtime 'taglibs:standard:1.1.2'

Then you can use JSP tags like any other tag:

<fmt:formatNumber value="${10}" pattern=".00"/>

With the added bonus that you can invoke JSP tags like methods:

${fmt.formatNumber(value:10, pattern:".00")}

7.3.7 Tag return value

A taglib can be used in a GSP as an ordinary tag or it might be used as a function in other taglibs or GSP expressions.

Internally Grails intercepts calls to taglib closures. The "out" that is available in a taglib is mapped to a java.io.Writer implementation that writes to a buffer that "captures" the output of the taglib call. This buffer is the return value of a tag library call when it's used as a function.

If the tag is listed in the library's static returnObjectForTags array, then its return value will written to the output when it's used as a normal tag. The return value of the tag lib closure will be returned as-is if it's used as a function in GSP expressions or other taglibs.

If the tag is not included in the returnObjectForTags array, then its return value will be discarded. Using "out" to write output in returnObjectForTags is not supported.

Example:

class ObjectReturningTagLib {
	static namespace = "cms"
	static returnObjectForTags = ['content']

def content = { attrs, body -> CmsContent.findByCode(attrs.code)?.content } }

Given this example cmd.content(code:'something') call in another taglib or GSP expression would return the value "CmsContent.content" directly to the caller without wrapping the return value in a buffer. It might be worth doing so also because of performance optimization reasons. There is no need to wrap the tag return value in an output buffer in such cases.

7.4 URL Mappings

Throughout the documentation so far the convention used for URLs has been the default of /controller/action/id. However, this convention is not hard wired into Grails and is in fact controlled by a URL Mappings class located at grails-app/conf/UrlMappings.groovy.

The UrlMappings class contains a single property called mappings that has been assigned a block of code:

class UrlMappings {
    static mappings = {
    }
}

7.4.1 Mapping to Controllers and Actions

To create a simple mapping simply use a relative URL as the method name and specify named parameters for the controller and action to map to:

"/product"(controller: "product", action: "list")

In this case we've mapped the URL /product to the list action of the ProductController. Omit the action definition to map to the default action of the controller:

"/product"(controller: "product")

An alternative syntax is to assign the controller and action to use within a block passed to the method:

"/product" {
    controller = "product"
    action = "list"
}

Which syntax you use is largely dependent on personal preference.

If you have mappings that all fall under a particular path you can group mappings with the group method:

group "/product", {
    "/apple"(controller:"product", id:"apple")
    "/htc"(controller:"product", id:"htc")
}

To rewrite one URI onto another explicit URI (rather than a controller/action pair) do something like this:

"/hello"(uri: "/hello.dispatch")

Rewriting specific URIs is often useful when integrating with other frameworks.

7.4.2 Mapping to REST resources

Since Grails 2.3, it possible to create RESTful URL mappings that map onto controllers by convention. The syntax to do so is as follows:

"/books"(resources:'book')

You define a base URI and the name of the controller to map to using the resources parameter. The above mapping will result in the following URLs:

HTTP MethodURIGrails Action
GET/booksindex
GET/books/createcreate
POST/bookssave
GET/books/${id}show
GET/books/${id}/editedit
PUT/books/${id}update
DELETE/books/${id}delete

If you wish to include or exclude any of the generated URL mappings you can do so with the includes or excludes parameter, which accepts the name of the Grails action to include or exclude:

"/books"(resources:'book', excludes:['delete', 'update'])

or

"/books"(resources:'book', includes:['index', 'show'])

Single resources

A single resource is a resource for which there is only one (possibly per user) in the system. You can create a single resource using the resource parameter (as oppose to resources):

"/book"(resource:'book')

This results in the following URL mappings:

HTTP MethodURIGrails Action
GET/book/createcreate
POST/booksave
GET/bookshow
GET/book/editedit
PUT/bookupdate
DELETE/bookdelete

The main difference is that the id is not included in the URL mapping.

Nested Resources

You can nest resource mappings to generate child resources. For example:

"/books"(resources:'book') {
  "/authors"(resources:"author")
}

The above will result in the following URL mappings:

HTTP MethodURLGrails Action
GET/books/${bookId}/authorsindex
GET/books/${bookId}/authors/createcreate
POST/books/${bookId}/authorssave
GET/books/${bookId}/authors/${id}show
GET/books/${bookId}/authors/edit/${id}edit
PUT/books/${bookId}/authors/${id}update
DELETE/books/${bookId}/authors/${id}delete

You can also nest regular URL mappings within a resource mapping:

"/books"(resources: "book") {
    "/publisher"(controller:"publisher")
}

This will result in the following URL being available:

HTTP MethodURLGrails Action
GET/books/1/publisherindex

Linking to RESTful Mappings

You can link to any URL mapping created with the g:link tag provided by Grails simply by referencing the controller and action to link to:

<g:link controller="book" action="index">My Link</g:link>

As a convenience you can also pass a domain instance to the resource attribute of the link tag:

<g:link resource="${book}">My Link</g:link>

This will automatically produce the correct link (in this case "/books/1" for an id of "1").

The case of nested resources is a little different as they typically required two identifiers (the id of the resource and the one it is nested within). For example given the nested resources:

"/books"(resources:'book') {
  "/authors"(resources:"author")
}

If you wished to link to the show action of the author controller, you would write:

// Results in /books/1/authors/2
<g:link controller="author" action="show" method="GET" params="[bookId:1]" id="2">The Author</g:link>

However, to make this more concise there is a resource attribute to the link tag which can be used instead:

// Results in /books/1/authors/2
<g:link resource="book/author" action="show" bookId="1" id="2">My Link</g:link>

The resource attribute accepts a path to the resource separated by a slash (in this case "book/author"). The attributes of the tag can be used to specify the necessary bookId parameter.

7.4.3 Redirects In URL Mappings

Since Grails 2.3, it is possible to define URL mappings which specify a redirect. When a URL mapping specifies a redirect, any time that mapping matches an incoming request, a redirect is initiated with information provided by the mapping.

When a URL mapping specifies a redirect the mapping must either supply a String representing a URI to redirect to or must provide a Map representing the target of the redirect. That Map is structured just like the Map that may be passed as an argument to the redirect method in a controller.

"/viewBooks"(redirect: '/books/list')
"/viewAuthors"(redirect: [controller: 'author', action: 'list'])
"/viewPublishers"(redirect: [controller: 'publisher', action: 'list', permanent: true])

Request parameters that were part of the original request will be included in the redirect.

7.4.4 Embedded Variables

Simple Variables

The previous section demonstrated how to map simple URLs with concrete "tokens". In URL mapping speak tokens are the sequence of characters between each slash, '/'. A concrete token is one which is well defined such as as /product. However, in many circumstances you don't know what the value of a particular token will be until runtime. In this case you can use variable placeholders within the URL for example:

static mappings = {
  "/product/$id"(controller: "product")
}

In this case by embedding a $id variable as the second token Grails will automatically map the second token into a parameter (available via the params object) called id. For example given the URL /product/MacBook, the following code will render "MacBook" to the response:

class ProductController {
     def index() { render params.id }
}

You can of course construct more complex examples of mappings. For example the traditional blog URL format could be mapped as follows:

static mappings = {
   "/$blog/$year/$month/$day/$id"(controller: "blog", action: "show")
}

The above mapping would let you do things like:

/graemerocher/2007/01/10/my_funky_blog_entry

The individual tokens in the URL would again be mapped into the params object with values available for year, month, day, id and so on.

Dynamic Controller and Action Names

Variables can also be used to dynamically construct the controller and action name. In fact the default Grails URL mappings use this technique:

static mappings = {
    "/$controller/$action?/$id?"()
}

Here the name of the controller, action and id are implicitly obtained from the variables controller, action and id embedded within the URL.

You can also resolve the controller name and action name to execute dynamically using a closure:

static mappings = {
    "/$controller" {
        action = { params.goHere }
    }
}

Optional Variables

Another characteristic of the default mapping is the ability to append a ? at the end of a variable to make it an optional token. In a further example this technique could be applied to the blog URL mapping to have more flexible linking:

static mappings = {
    "/$blog/$year?/$month?/$day?/$id?"(controller:"blog", action:"show")
}

With this mapping all of these URLs would match with only the relevant parameters being populated in the params object:


/graemerocher/2007/01/10/my_funky_blog_entry
/graemerocher/2007/01/10
/graemerocher/2007/01
/graemerocher/2007
/graemerocher

Optional File Extensions

If you wish to capture the extension of a particular path, then a special case mapping exists:

"/$controller/$action?/$id?(.$format)?"()

By adding the (.$format)? mapping you can access the file extension using the response.format property in a controller:

def index() {
    render "extension is ${response.format}"
}

Arbitrary Variables

You can also pass arbitrary parameters from the URL mapping into the controller by just setting them in the block passed to the mapping:

"/holiday/win" {
     id = "Marrakech"
     year = 2007
}

This variables will be available within the params object passed to the controller.

Dynamically Resolved Variables

The hard coded arbitrary variables are useful, but sometimes you need to calculate the name of the variable based on runtime factors. This is also possible by assigning a block to the variable name:

"/holiday/win" {
     id = { params.id }
     isEligible = { session.user != null } // must be logged in
}

In the above case the code within the blocks is resolved when the URL is actually matched and hence can be used in combination with all sorts of logic.

7.4.5 Mapping to Views

You can resolve a URL to a view without a controller or action involved. For example to map the root URL / to a GSP at the location grails-app/views/index.gsp you could use:

static mappings = {
    "/"(view: "/index")  // map the root URL
}

Alternatively if you need a view that is specific to a given controller you could use:

static mappings = {
   "/help"(controller: "site", view: "help") // to a view for a controller
}

7.4.6 Mapping to Response Codes

Grails also lets you map HTTP response codes to controllers, actions or views. Just use a method name that matches the response code you are interested in:

static mappings = {
   "403"(controller: "errors", action: "forbidden")
   "404"(controller: "errors", action: "notFound")
   "500"(controller: "errors", action: "serverError")
}

Or you can specify custom error pages:

static mappings = {
   "403"(view: "/errors/forbidden")
   "404"(view: "/errors/notFound")
   "500"(view: "/errors/serverError")
}

Declarative Error Handling

In addition you can configure handlers for individual exceptions:

static mappings = {
   "403"(view: "/errors/forbidden")
   "404"(view: "/errors/notFound")
   "500"(controller: "errors", action: "illegalArgument",
         exception: IllegalArgumentException)
   "500"(controller: "errors", action: "nullPointer",
         exception: NullPointerException)
   "500"(controller: "errors", action: "customException",
         exception: MyException)
   "500"(view: "/errors/serverError")
}

With this configuration, an IllegalArgumentException will be handled by the illegalArgument action in ErrorsController, a NullPointerException will be handled by the nullPointer action, and a MyException will be handled by the customException action. Other exceptions will be handled by the catch-all rule and use the /errors/serverError view.

You can access the exception from your custom error handing view or controller action using the request's exception attribute like so:

class ErrorController {
    def handleError() {
        def exception = request.exception
        // perform desired processing to handle the exception
    }
}

If your error-handling controller action throws an exception as well, you'll end up with a StackOverflowException.

7.4.7 Mapping to HTTP methods

URL mappings can also be configured to map based on the HTTP method (GET, POST, PUT or DELETE). This is very useful for RESTful APIs and for restricting mappings based on HTTP method.

As an example the following mappings provide a RESTful API URL mappings for the ProductController:

static mappings = {
   "/product/$id"(controller:"product", action: "update", method: "PUT") 
}

7.4.8 Mapping Wildcards

Grails' URL mappings mechanism also supports wildcard mappings. For example consider the following mapping:

static mappings = {
    "/images/*.jpg"(controller: "image")
}

This mapping will match all paths to images such as /image/logo.jpg. Of course you can achieve the same effect with a variable:

static mappings = {
    "/images/$name.jpg"(controller: "image")
}

However, you can also use double wildcards to match more than one level below:

static mappings = {
    "/images/**.jpg"(controller: "image")
}

In this cases the mapping will match /image/logo.jpg as well as /image/other/logo.jpg. Even better you can use a double wildcard variable:

static mappings = {
    // will match /image/logo.jpg and /image/other/logo.jpg
    "/images/$name**.jpg"(controller: "image")
}

In this case it will store the path matched by the wildcard inside a name parameter obtainable from the params object:

def name = params.name
println name // prints "logo" or "other/logo"

If you use wildcard URL mappings then you may want to exclude certain URIs from Grails' URL mapping process. To do this you can provide an excludes setting inside the UrlMappings.groovy class:

class UrlMappings {
    static excludes = ["/images/*", "/css/*"]
    static mappings = {
        …
    }
}

In this case Grails won't attempt to match any URIs that start with /images or /css.

7.4.9 Automatic Link Re-Writing

Another great feature of URL mappings is that they automatically customize the behaviour of the link tag so that changing the mappings don't require you to go and change all of your links.

This is done through a URL re-writing technique that reverse engineers the links from the URL mappings. So given a mapping such as the blog one from an earlier section:

static mappings = {
   "/$blog/$year?/$month?/$day?/$id?"(controller:"blog", action:"show")
}

If you use the link tag as follows:

<g:link controller="blog" action="show"
        params="[blog:'fred', year:2007]">
    My Blog
</g:link>

<g:link controller="blog" action="show" params="[blog:'fred', year:2007, month:10]"> My Blog - October 2007 Posts </g:link>

Grails will automatically re-write the URL in the correct format:

<a href="/fred/2007">My Blog</a>
<a href="/fred/2007/10">My Blog - October 2007 Posts</a>

7.4.10 Applying Constraints

URL Mappings also support Grails' unified validation constraints mechanism, which lets you further "constrain" how a URL is matched. For example, if we revisit the blog sample code from earlier, the mapping currently looks like this:

static mappings = {
   "/$blog/$year?/$month?/$day?/$id?"(controller:"blog", action:"show")
}

This allows URLs such as:

/graemerocher/2007/01/10/my_funky_blog_entry

However, it would also allow:

/graemerocher/not_a_year/not_a_month/not_a_day/my_funky_blog_entry

This is problematic as it forces you to do some clever parsing in the controller code. Luckily, URL Mappings can be constrained to further validate the URL tokens:

"/$blog/$year?/$month?/$day?/$id?" {
     controller = "blog"
     action = "show"
     constraints {
          year(matches:/\d{4}/)
          month(matches:/\d{2}/)
          day(matches:/\d{2}/)
     }
}

In this case the constraints ensure that the year, month and day parameters match a particular valid pattern thus relieving you of that burden later on.

7.4.11 Named URL Mappings

URL Mappings also support named mappings, that is mappings which have a name associated with them. The name may be used to refer to a specific mapping when links are generated.

The syntax for defining a named mapping is as follows:

static mappings = {
   name <mapping name>: <url pattern> {
      // …
   }
}

For example:

static mappings = {
    name personList: "/showPeople" {
        controller = 'person'
        action = 'list'
    }
    name accountDetails: "/details/$acctNumber" {
        controller = 'product'
        action = 'accountDetails'
    }
}

The mapping may be referenced in a link tag in a GSP.

<g:link mapping="personList">List People</g:link>

That would result in:

<a href="/showPeople">List People</a>

Parameters may be specified using the params attribute.

<g:link mapping="accountDetails" params="[acctNumber:'8675309']">
    Show Account
</g:link>

That would result in:

<a href="/details/8675309">Show Account</a>

Alternatively you may reference a named mapping using the link namespace.

<link:personList>List People</link:personList>

That would result in:

<a href="/showPeople">List People</a>

The link namespace approach allows parameters to be specified as attributes.

<link:accountDetails acctNumber="8675309">Show Account</link:accountDetails>

That would result in:

<a href="/details/8675309">Show Account</a>

To specify attributes that should be applied to the generated href, specify a Map value to the attrs attribute. These attributes will be applied directly to the href, not passed through to be used as request parameters.

<link:accountDetails attrs="[class: 'fancy']" acctNumber="8675309">
    Show Account
</link:accountDetails>

That would result in:

<a href="/details/8675309" class="fancy">Show Account</a>

7.4.12 Customizing URL Formats

The default URL Mapping mechanism supports camel case names in the URLs. The default URL for accessing an action named addNumbers in a controller named MathHelperController would be something like /mathHelper/addNumbers. Grails allows for the customization of this pattern and provides an implementation which replaces the camel case convention with a hyphenated convention that would support URLs like /math-helper/add-numbers. To enable hyphenated URLs assign a value of "hyphenated" to the grails.web.url.converter property in grails-app/conf/Config.groovy.

// grails-app/conf/Config.groovy

grails.web.url.converter = 'hyphenated'

Arbitrary strategies may be plugged in by providing a class which implements the UrlConverter interface and adding an instance of that class to the Spring application context with the bean name of grails.web.UrlConverter.BEAN_NAME. If Grails finds a bean in the context with that name, it will be used as the default converter and there is no need to assign a value to the grails.web.url.converter config property.

// src/groovy/com/myapplication/MyUrlConverterImpl.groovy

package com.myapplication

class MyUrlConverterImpl implements grails.web.UrlConverter {

String toUrlElement(String propertyOrClassName) { // return some representation of a property or class name that should be used in URLs… } }

// grails-app/conf/spring/resources.groovy

beans = { "${grails.web.UrlConverter.BEAN_NAME}"(com.myapplication.MyUrlConverterImpl) }

7.4.13 Namespaced Controllers

If an application defines multiple controllers with the same name in different packages, the controllers must be defined in a namespace. The way to define a namespace for a controller is to define a static property named namespace in the controller and assign a String to the property that represents the namespace.

// grails-app/controllers/com/app/reporting/AdminController.groovy
package com.app.reporting

class AdminController {

static namespace = 'reports'

// … }

// grails-app/controllers/com/app/security/AdminController.groovy
package com.app.security

class AdminController {

static namespace = 'users'

// … }

When defining url mappings which should be associated with a namespaced controller, the namespace variable needs to be part of the URL mapping.

// grails-app/conf/UrlMappings.groovy
class UrlMappings {

static mappings = { '/userAdmin' { controller = 'admin' namespace = 'users' }

'/reportAdmin' { controller = 'admin' namespace = 'reports' }

"/$namespace/$controller/$action?"() } }

Reverse URL mappings also require that the namespace be specified.

<g:link controller="admin" namespace="reports">Click For Report Admin</g:link>
<g:link controller="admin" namespace="users">Click For User Admin</g:link>

When resolving a URL mapping (forward or reverse) to a namespaced controller, a mapping will only match if the namespace has been provided. If the application provides several controllers with the same name in different packages, at most 1 of them may be defined without a namespace property. If there are multiple controllers with the same name that do not define a namespace property, the framework will not know how to distinguish between them for forward or reverse mapping resolutions.

It is allowed for an application to use a plugin which provides a controller with the same name as a controller provided by the application and for neither of the controllers to define a namespace property as long as the controllers are in separate packages. For example, an application may include a controller named com.accounting.ReportingController and the application may use a plugin which provides a controller named com.humanresources.ReportingController. The only issue with that is the URL mapping for the controller provided by the plugin needs to be explicit in specifying that the mapping applies to the ReportingController which is provided by the plugin.

See the following example.

static mappings = {
    "/accountingReports" {
        controller = "reporting"
    }
    "/humanResourceReports" {
        controller = "reporting"
        plugin = "humanResources"
    }
}

With that mapping in place, a request to /accountingReports will be handled by the ReportingController which is defined in the application. A request to /humanResourceReports will be handled by the ReportingController which is provided by the humanResources plugin.

There could be any number of ReportingController controllers provided by any number of plugins but no plugin may provide more than one ReportingController even if they are defined in separate packages.

Assigning a value to the plugin variable in the mapping is only required if there are multiple controllers with the same name available at runtime provided by the application and/or plugins. If the humanResources plugin provides a ReportingController and there is no other ReportingController available at runtime, the following mapping would work.

static mappings = {
    "/humanResourceReports" {
        controller = "reporting"
    }
}

It is best practice to be explicit about the fact that the controller is being provided by a plugin.

7.5 Interceptors

Although Grails controllers support fine grained interceptors, these are only really useful when applied to a few controllers and become difficult to manage with larger applications.

To solve this you can create standalone Interceptors using the create-interceptor command:

$ grails create-interceptor MyInterceptor

The above command will create an Interceptor in the grails-app/controllers directory with the following default contents:

class MyInterceptor {

boolean before() { true }

boolean after() { true }

void afterView() { // no-op }

}

Interceptors vs Filters

In versions of Grails prior to Grails 3.0, Grails supported the notion of filters. These are still supported for backwards compatibility but are considered deprecated.

The new interceptors concept in Grails 3.0 is superior in a number of ways, most significantly interceptors can using Groovy's CompileStatic annotation to optimize performance (something which is often critical as interceptors can be executed for every request.)

7.5.1 Defining Interceptors

By default interceptors will match the controller name they apply to be convention. For example if you have an interceptor called BookInterceptor then all requests the actions of the BookController will trigger the interceptor.

An Interceptor implements the Interceptor trait and provides 3 methods that can be used to intercept requests:

/**
     * Executed before a matched action
     *
     * @return Whether the action should continue and execute
     */
    boolean before() { true }

/** * Executed after the action executes but prior to view rendering * * @return True if view rendering should continue, false otherwise */ boolean after() { true }

/** * Executed after view rendering completes */ void afterView() {}

As described above the before method is executed prior to an action and can cancel the execution of the action by returning false.

The after method is executed after an action executes and can halt view rendering if it returns false. The after method can also modify the view or model using the view and model properties respectively:

boolean after() {
  model.foo = "bar" // add a new model attribute called 'foo'
  view = 'alternate' // render a different view called 'alternate'
  true
}

The afterView method is executed after view rendering completes and if an exception occurs, the exception is available using the throwable property of the Interceptor trait.

7.5.2 Matching Requests with Inteceptors

As mention in the previous section, by default an interceptor will match only requests to the associated controller by convention. However you can configure the interceptor to match any request using the match or matchAll methods defined in the Interceptor API.

The matching methods return a Matcher instance which can be used to configure how the interceptor matches the request.

For example the following interceptor will match all requests except those to the login controller:

class AuthInterceptor {
  AuthInterceptor() {
    matchAll()
    .excludes(controller:"login")
  }

boolean before() { // perform authentication } }

You can also perform matching using named argument:

class LoggingInterceptor {
  LoggingInterceptor() {
    match(controller:"book", action:"show") // using strings
    match(controller: ~/(author|publisher)/) // using regex
  }

boolean before() { … } }

All named arguments accept either a String or a Regex expression. The possible named arguments are:

  • namespace - The namespace of the controller
  • controller - The name of the controller
  • action - The name of the action
  • method - The HTTP method
  • uri - The URI of the request (cannot be used in combination with other arguments)

7.5.3 Ordering Interceptor Execution

Interceptors can be ordered by defining an order property that defines a priority.

For example:

class AuthInterceptor {

int order = HIGHEST_PRECEDENCE

… }

The default value of the order property is 0.

The values HIGHEST_PRECEDENCE and LOWEST_PRECEDENCE can be used to define filters that should should run first or last respectively.

Note that if you write an interceptor that is to be used by others it is better increment or decrement the HIGHEST_PRECEDENCE and LOWEST_PRECEDENCE to allow other interceptors to be inserted before or after the interceptor you are authoring:

int order = HIGHEST_PRECEDENCE + 50

// or

int order = LOWEST_PRECEDENCE - 50

To find out the computed order of interceptors you can add a debug logger to logback.groovy as follows:

logger 'grails.artefact.Interceptor', DEBUG, ['STDOUT'], false

You can override any interceptors default order by using bean override configuration in grails-app/conf/application.yml:

beans:
  authInterceptor:
    order: 50

Or in grails-app/conf/application.groovy:

beans {
  authInterceptor {
    order = 50
  }
}

Thus giving you complete control over interceptor execution order.

7.6 Content Negotiation

Grails has built in support for Content negotiation using either the HTTP Accept header, an explicit format request parameter or the extension of a mapped URI.

Configuring Mime Types

Before you can start dealing with content negotiation you need to tell Grails what content types you wish to support. By default Grails comes configured with a number of different content types within grails-app/conf/Config.groovy using the grails.mime.types setting:

grails.mime.types = [ // the first one is the default format
    all:           '*/*', // 'all' maps to '*' or the first available format in withFormat
    atom:          'application/atom+xml',
    css:           'text/css',
    csv:           'text/csv',
    form:          'application/x-www-form-urlencoded',
    html:          ['text/html','application/xhtml+xml'],
    js:            'text/javascript',
    json:          ['application/json', 'text/json'],
    multipartForm: 'multipart/form-data',
    rss:           'application/rss+xml',
    text:          'text/plain',
    hal:           ['application/hal+json','application/hal+xml'],
    xml:           ['text/xml', 'application/xml']
]

The above bit of configuration allows Grails to detect to format of a request containing either the 'text/xml' or 'application/xml' media types as simply 'xml'. You can add your own types by simply adding new entries into the map. The first one is the default format.

Content Negotiation using the format parameter

Let's say a controller action can return a resource in a variety of formats: HTML, XML, and JSON. What format will the client get? The easiest and most reliable way for the client to control this is through a format URL parameter.

So if you, as a browser or some other client, want a resource as XML, you can use a URL like this:

http://my.domain.org/books?format=xml

The result of this on the server side is a format property on the response object with the value xml . You could code your controller action to return XML based on this property, but you can also make use of the controller-specific withFormat() method:

import grails.converters.JSON
import grails.converters.XML

class BookController {

def list() { def books = Book.list()

withFormat { html bookList: books json { render books as JSON } xml { render books as XML } '*' { render books as JSON } } } }

In this example, Grails will only execute the block inside withFormat() that matches the requested content type. So if the preferred format is html then Grails will execute the html() call only. Each 'block' can either be a map model for the corresponding view (as we are doing for 'html' in the above example) or a closure. The closure can contain any standard action code, for example it can return a model or render content directly.

When no format matches explicitly, a (wildcard) block can be used to handle all other formats.

There is a special format, "all", that is handled differently from the explicit formats. If "all" is specified (normally this happens through the Accept header - see below), then the first block of withFormat() is executed when there isn't a (wildcard) block available.

You should not add an explicit "all" block. In this example, a format of "all" will trigger the html handler (html is the first block and there is no * block).

withFormat {
            html bookList: books
            json { render books as JSON }
            xml { render books as XML }
        }

When using withFormat make sure it is the last call in your controller action as the return value of the withFormat method is used by the action to dictate what happens next.

Using the Accept header

Every incoming HTTP request has a special Accept header that defines what media types (or mime types) a client can "accept". In older browsers this is typically:

*/*

which simply means anything. However, newer browsers send more interesting values such as this one sent by Firefox:

text/xml, application/xml, application/xhtml+xml, text/html;q=0.9, 
    text/plain;q=0.8, image/png, */*;q=0.5

This particular accept header is unhelpful because it indicates that XML is the preferred response format whereas the user is really expecting HTML. That's why Grails ignores the accept header by default for browsers. However, non-browser clients are typically more specific in their requirements and can send accept headers such as

application/json

As mentioned the default configuration in Grails is to ignore the accept header for browsers. This is done by the configuration setting grails.mime.disable.accept.header.userAgents, which is configured to detect the major rendering engines and ignore their ACCEPT headers. This allows Grails' content negotiation to continue to work for non-browser clients:

grails.mime.disable.accept.header.userAgents = ['Gecko', 'WebKit', 'Presto', 'Trident']

For example, if it sees the accept header above ('application/json') it will set format to json as you'd expect. And of course this works with the withFormat() method in just the same way as when the format URL parameter is set (although the URL parameter takes precedence).

An accept header of '*/*' results in a value of all for the format property.

If the accept header is used but contains no registered content types, Grails will assume a broken browser is making the request and will set the HTML format - note that this is different from how the other content negotiation modes work as those would activate the "all" format!

Request format vs. Response format

As of Grails 2.0, there is a separate notion of the request format and the response format. The request format is dictated by the CONTENT_TYPE header and is typically used to detect if the incoming request can be parsed into XML or JSON, whilst the response format uses the file extension, format parameter or ACCEPT header to attempt to deliver an appropriate response to the client.

The withFormat available on controllers deals specifically with the response format. If you wish to add logic that deals with the request format then you can do so using a separate withFormat method available on the request:

request.withFormat {
    xml {
        // read XML
    }
    json {
        // read JSON
    }
}

Content Negotiation with the format Request Parameter

If fiddling with request headers if not your favorite activity you can override the format used by specifying a format request parameter:

/book/list?format=xml

You can also define this parameter in the URL Mappings definition:

"/book/list"(controller:"book", action:"list") {
    format = "xml"
}

Content Negotiation with URI Extensions

Grails also supports content negotiation using URI extensions. For example given the following URI:

/book/list.xml

This works as a result of the default URL Mapping definition which is:

"/$controller/$action?/$id?(.$format)?"{

Note the inclusion of the format variable in the path. If you do not wish to use content negotiation via the file extension then simply remove this part of the URL mapping:

"/$controller/$action?/$id?"{

Testing Content Negotiation

To test content negotiation in a unit or integration test (see the section on Testing) you can either manipulate the incoming request headers:

void testJavascriptOutput() {
    def controller = new TestController()
    controller.request.addHeader "Accept",
              "text/javascript, text/html, application/xml, text/xml, */*"

controller.testAction() assertEquals "alert('hello')", controller.response.contentAsString }

Or you can set the format parameter to achieve a similar effect:

void testJavascriptOutput() {
    def controller = new TestController()
    controller.params.format = 'js'

controller.testAction() assertEquals "alert('hello')", controller.response.contentAsString }

8 Traits

Overview

Grails provides a number of traits which provide access to properties and behavior that may be accessed from various Grails artefacts as well as arbitrary Groovy classes which are part of a Grails project. Many of these traits are automatically added to Grails artefact classes (like controllers and taglibs, for example) and are easy to add to other classes.

8.1 Traits Provided

Traits Provided By Grails

Grails artefacts are automatically augmented with certain traits at compile time.

Domain Class Traits

Controller Traits

Interceptor Trait

Tag Library Trait

Service Trait

Below is a list of other traits provided by the framework. The javadocs provide more detail about methods and properties related to each trait.

TraitBrief Description
grails.web.api.WebAttributesCommon Web Attributes
grails.web.api.ServletAttributesServlet API Attributes
grails.web.databinding.DataBinderData Binding API
grails.artefact.controller.support.RequestForwarderRequest Forwarding API
grails.artefact.controller.support.ResponseRedirectorResponse Redirecting API
grails.artefact.controller.support.ResponseRendererResponse Rendering API
grails.validation.ValidateableValidation API

8.1.1 WebAttributes Trait Example

WebAttributes is one of the traits provided by the framework. Any Groovy class may implement this trait to inherit all of the properties and behaviors provided by the trait.

// src/main/groovy/demo/Helper.groovy
package demo

import grails.web.api.WebAttributes

class Helper implements WebAttributes {

List<String> getControllerNames() { // There is no need to pass grailsApplication as an argument // or otherwise inject the grailsApplication property. The // WebAttributes trait provides access to grailsApplication. grailsApplication.getArtefacts('Controller')*.name } }

The traits are compatible with static compilation...

// src/main/groovy/demo/Helper.groovy
package demo

import grails.web.api.WebAttributes import groovy.transform.CompileStatic

@CompileStatic class Helper implements WebAttributes {

List<String> getControllerNames() { // There is no need to pass grailsApplication as an argument // or otherwise inject the grailsApplication property. The // WebAttributes trait provides access to grailsApplication. grailsApplication.getArtefacts('Controller')*.name } }

9 Web Services

Web Services are all about providing a web API onto your web application and are typically implemented in either REST or SOAP

9.1 REST

REST is not really a technology in itself, but more an architectural pattern. REST is very simple and just involves using plain XML or JSON as a communication medium, combined with URL patterns that are "representational" of the underlying system, and HTTP methods such as GET, PUT, POST and DELETE.

Each HTTP method maps to an action type. For example GET for retrieving data, POST for creating data, PUT for updating and so on.

Grails includes flexible features that make it easy to create RESTful APIs. Creating a RESTful resource can be as simple as one line of code, as demonstrated in the next section.

9.1.1 Domain classes as REST resources

The easiest way to create a RESTful API in Grails is to expose a domain class as a REST resource. This can be done by adding the grails.rest.Resource transformation to any domain class:

import grails.rest.*

@Resource(uri='/books') class Book {

String title

static constraints = { title blank:false } }

Simply by adding the Resource transformation and specifying a URI, your domain class will automatically be available as a REST resource in either XML or JSON formats. The transformation will automatically register the necessary RESTful URL mapping and create a controller called BookController.

You can try it out by adding some test data to BootStrap.groovy:

def init = { servletContext ->

new Book(title:"The Stand").save() new Book(title:"The Shining").save() }

And then hitting the URL http://localhost:8080/myapp/books/1, which will render the response like:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<book id="1">
    <title>The Stand</title>
</book>

If you change the URL to http://localhost:8080/myapp/books/1.json you will get a JSON response such as:

{"id":1,"title":"The Stand"}

If you wish to change the default to return JSON instead of XML, you can do this by setting the formats attribute of the Resource transformation:

import grails.rest.*

@Resource(uri='/books', formats=['json', 'xml']) class Book { … }

With the above example JSON will be prioritized. The list that is passed should contain the names of the formats that the resource should expose. The names of formats are defined in the grails.mime.types setting of Config.groovy:

grails.mime.types = [
    …
    json:          ['application/json', 'text/json'],
    …
    xml:           ['text/xml', 'application/xml']
]

See the section on Configuring Mime Types in the user guide for more information.

Instead of using the file extension in the URI, you can also obtain a JSON response using the ACCEPT header. Here's an example using the Unix curl tool:

$ curl -i -H "Accept: application/json" localhost:8080/myapp/books/1
{"id":1,"title":"The Stand"}

This works thanks to Grails' Content Negotiation features.

You can create a new resource by issuing a POST request:

$ curl -i -X POST -H "Content-Type: application/json" -d '{"title":"Along Came A Spider"}' localhost:8080/myapp/books
HTTP/1.1 201 Created
Server: Apache-Coyote/1.1
...

Updating can be done with a PUT request:

$ curl -i -X PUT -H "Content-Type: application/json" -d '{"title":"Along Came A Spider"}' localhost:8080/myapp/books/1
HTTP/1.1 200 OK
Server: Apache-Coyote/1.1
...

Finally a resource can be deleted with DELETE request:

$ curl -i -X DELETE localhost:8080/myapp/books/1
HTTP/1.1 204 No Content
Server: Apache-Coyote/1.1
...

As you can see, the Resource transformation enables all of the HTTP method verbs on the resource. You can enable only read-only capabilities by setting the readOnly attribute to true:

import grails.rest.*

@Resource(uri='/books', readOnly=true) class Book { … }

In this case POST, PUT and DELETE requests will be forbidden.

9.1.2 Mapping to REST resources

If you prefer to keep the declaration of the URL mapping in your UrlMappings.groovy file then simply removing the uri attribute of the Resource transformation and adding the following line to UrlMappings.groovy will suffice:

"/books"(resources:"book")

Extending your API to include more end points then becomes trivial:

"/books"(resources:"book") {
    "/publisher"(controller:"publisher", method:"GET")
}

The above example will expose the URI /books/1/publisher.

A more detailed explanation on creating RESTful URL mappings can be found in the URL Mappings section of the user guide.

9.1.3 Linking to REST resources

The link tag offers an easy way to link to any domain class resource:

<g:link resource="${book}">My Link</g:link>

However, currently you cannot use g:link to link to the DELETE action and most browsers do not support sending the DELETE method directly.

The best way to accomplish this is to use a form submit:

<form action="/book/2" method="post">
 	<input type="hidden" name="_method" value="DELETE"/>
 </form>

Grails supports overriding the request method via the hidden _method parameter. This is for browser compatibility purposes. This is useful when using restful resource mappings to create powerful web interfaces. To make a link fire this type of event, perhaps capture all click events for links with a `data-method` attribute and issue a form submit via javascript.

9.1.4 Versioning REST resources

A common requirement with a REST API is to expose different versions at the same time. There are a few ways this can be achieved in Grails.

Versioning using the URI

A common approach is to use the URI to version APIs (although this approach is discouraged in favour of Hypermedia). For example, you can define the following URL mappings:

"/books/v1"(resources:"book", namespace:'v1')
"/books/v2"(resources:"book", namespace:'v2')

That will match the following controllers:

package myapp.v1

class BookController { static namespace = 'v1' }

package myapp.v2

class BookController { static namespace = 'v2' }

This approach has the disadvantage of requiring two different URI namespaces for your API.

Versioning with the Accept-Version header

As an alternative Grails supports the passing of an Accept-Version header from clients. For example you can define the following URL mappings:

"/books"(version:'1.0', resources:"book", namespace:'v1')
"/books"(version:'2.0', resources:"book", namespace:'v2')

Then in the client simply pass which version you need using the Accept-Version header:

$ curl -i -H "Accept-Version: 1.0" -X GET http://localhost:8080/myapp/books

Versioning using Hypermedia / Mime Types

Another approach to versioning is to use Mime Type definitions to declare the version of your custom media types (see the section on "Hypermedia as the Engine of Application State" for more information about Hypermedia concepts). For example, in Config.groovy you can declare a custom Mime Type for your resource that includes a version parameter (the 'v' parameter):

grails.mime.types = [
    all: '*/*',
    book: "application/vnd.books.org.book+json;v=1.0",
    bookv2: "application/vnd.books.org.book+json;v=2.0",
    …
}

It is critical that place your new mime types after the 'all' Mime Type because if the Content Type of the request cannot be established then the first entry in the map is used for the response. If you have your new Mime Type at the top then Grails will always try and send back your new Mime Type if the requested Mime Type cannot be established.

Then override the renderer (see the section on "Customizing Response Rendering" for more information on custom renderers) to send back the custom Mime Type in grails-app/conf/spring/resourses.groovy:

import grails.rest.render.json.*
import grails.web.mime.*

beans = { bookRendererV1(JsonRenderer, myapp.v1.Book, new MimeType("application/vnd.books.org.book+json", [v:"1.0"])) bookRendererV2(JsonRenderer, myapp.v2.Book, new MimeType("application/vnd.books.org.book+json", [v:"2.0"])) }

Then update the list of acceptable response formats in your controller:

class BookController extends RestfulController {
    static responseFormats = ['json', 'xml', 'book', 'bookv2']

// … }

Then using the Accept header you can specify which version you need using the Mime Type:

$ curl -i -H "Accept: application/vnd.books.org.book+json;v=1.0" -X GET http://localhost:8080/myapp/books

9.1.5 Implementing REST controllers

The Resource transformation is a quick way to get started, but typically you'll want to customize the controller logic, the rendering of the response or extend the API to include additional actions.

9.1.5.1 Extending the RestfulController super class

The easiest way to get started doing so is to create a new controller for your resource that extends the grails.rest.RestfulController super class. For example:

class BookController extends RestfulController {
    static responseFormats = ['json', 'xml']
    BookController() {
        super(Book)
    }
}

To customize any logic you can just override the appropriate action. The following table provides the names of the action names and the URIs they map to:

HTTP MethodURIController Action
GET/booksindex
GET/books/createcreate
POST/bookssave
GET/books/${id}show
GET/books/${id}/editedit
PUT/books/${id}update
DELETE/books/${id}delete

Note that the create and edit actions are only needed if the controller exposes an HTML interface.

As an example, if you have a nested resource then you would typically want to query both the parent and the child identifiers. For example, given the following URL mapping:

"/authors"(resources:'author') {
    "/books"(resources:'book')
}

You could implement the nested controller as follows:

class BookController extends RestfulController {
    static responseFormats = ['json', 'xml']
    BookController() {
        super(Book)
    }

@Override protected Book queryForResource(Serializable id) { Book.where { id == id && author.id = params.authorId }.find() }

}

The example above subclasses RestfulController and overrides the protected queryForResource method to customize the query for the resource to take into account the parent resource.

Customizing Data Binding In A RestfulController Subclass

The RestfulController class contains code which does data binding for actions like save and update. The class defines a getObjectToBind() method which returns a value which will be used as the source for data binding. For example, the update action does something like this...

class RestfulController<T> {

def update() { T instance = // retrieve instance from the database...

instance.properties = getObjectToBind()

// … }

// … }

By default the getObjectToBind() method returns the request object. When the request object is used as the binding source, if the request has a body then the body will be parsed and its contents will be used to do the data binding, otherwise the request parameters will be used to do the data binding. Subclasses of RestfulController may override the getObjectToBind() method and return anything that is a valid binding source, including a Map or a DataBindingSource. For most use cases binding the request is appropriate but the getObjectToBind() method allows for changing that behavior where desired.

Using custom subclass of RestfulController with Resource annotation

You can also customize the behaviour of the controller that backs the Resource annotation.

The class must provide a constructor that takes a domain class as it's argument. The second constructor is required for supporting Resource annotation with readOnly=true.

This is a template that can be used for subclassed RestfulController classes used in Resource annotations:

class SubclassRestfulController<T> extends RestfulController<T> {
    SubclassRestfulController(Class<T> domainClass) {
        this(domainClass, false)
    }

SubclassRestfulController(Class<T> domainClass, boolean readOnly) { super(domainClass, readOnly) } }

You can specify the super class of the controller that backs the Resource annotation with the superClass attribute.

import grails.rest.*

@Resource(uri='/books', superClass=SubclassRestfulController) class Book {

String title

static constraints = { title blank:false } }

9.1.5.2 Implementing REST Controllers Step by Step

If you don't want to take advantage of the features provided by the RestfulController super class, then you can implement each HTTP verb yourself manually. The first step is to create a controller:

$ grails create-controller book

Then add some useful imports and enable readOnly by default:

import grails.transaction.*
import static org.springframework.http.HttpStatus.*
import static org.springframework.http.HttpMethod.*

@Transactional(readOnly = true) class BookController { … }

Recall that each HTTP verb matches a particular Grails action according to the following conventions:

HTTP MethodURIController Action
GET/booksindex
GET/books/${id}show
GET/books/createcreate
GET/books/${id}/editedit
POST/bookssave
PUT/books/${id}update
DELETE/books/${id}delete

The 'create' and 'edit' actions are already required if you plan to implement an HTML interface for the REST resource. They are there in order to render appropriate HTML forms to create and edit a resource. If this is not a requirement they can be discarded.

The key to implementing REST actions is the respond method introduced in Grails 2.3. The respond method tries to produce the most appropriate response for the requested content type (JSON, XML, HTML etc.)

Implementing the 'index' action

For example, to implement the index action, simply call the respond method passing the list of objects to respond with:

def index(Integer max) {
    params.max = Math.min(max ?: 10, 100)
    respond Book.list(params), model:[bookCount: Book.count()]
}

Note that in the above example we also use the model argument of the respond method to supply the total count. This is only required if you plan to support pagination via some user interface.

The respond method will, using Content Negotiation, attempt to reply with the most appropriate response given the content type requested by the client (via the ACCEPT header or file extension).

If the content type is established to be HTML then a model will be produced such that the action above would be the equivalent of writing:

def index(Integer max) {
    params.max = Math.min(max ?: 10, 100)
    [bookList: Book.list(params), bookCount: Book.count()]
}

By providing an index.gsp file you can render an appropriate view for the given model. If the content type is something other than HTML then the respond method will attempt to lookup an appropriate grails.rest.render.Renderer instance that is capable of rendering the passed object. This is done by inspecting the grails.rest.render.RendererRegistry.

By default there are already renderers configured for JSON and XML, to find out how to register a custom renderer see the section on "Customizing Response Rendering".

Implementing the 'show' action

The show action, which is used to display and individual resource by id, can be implemented in one line of Groovy code (excluding the method signature):

def show(Book book) {
    respond book
}

By specifying the domain instance as a parameter to the action Grails will automatically attempt to lookup the domain instance using the id parameter of the request. If the domain instance doesn't exist, then null will be passed into the action. The respond method will return a 404 error if null is passed otherwise once again it will attempt to render an appropriate response. If the format is HTML then an appropriate model will produced. The following action is functionally equivalent to the above action:

def show(Book book) {
    if(book == null) {
        render status:404
    }
    else {
        return [book: book]
    }
}

Implementing the 'save' action

The save action creates new resource representations. To start off, simply define an action that accepts a resource as the first argument and mark it as Transactional with the grails.transaction.Transactional transform:

@Transactional
def save(Book book) {
    …
}

Then the first thing to do is check whether the resource has any validation errors and if so respond with the errors:

if(book.hasErrors()) {
    respond book.errors, view:'create' 
}
else {
    …
}

In the case of HTML the 'create' view will be rendered again so the user can correct the invalid input. In the case of other formats (JSON, XML etc.), the errors object itself will be rendered in the appropriate format and a status code of 422 (UNPROCESSABLE_ENTITY) returned.

If there are no errors then the resource can be saved and an appropriate response sent:

book.save flush:true
    withFormat {
        html { 
            flash.message = message(code: 'default.created.message', args: [message(code: 'book.label', default: 'Book'), book.id])
            redirect book 
        }
        '*' { render status: CREATED }
    }

In the case of HTML a redirect is issued to the originating resource and for other formats a status code of 201 (CREATED) is returned.

Implementing the 'update' action

The update action updates an existing resource representations and is largely similar to the save action. First define the method signature:

@Transactional
def update(Book book) {
    …
}

If the resource exists then Grails will load the resource, otherwise null we passed. In the case of null, you should return a 404:

if(book == null) {
        render status: NOT_FOUND
    }
    else {
        …
    }

Then once again check for errors validation errors and if so respond with the errors:

if(book.hasErrors()) {
    respond book.errors, view:'edit' 
}
else {
    …
}

In the case of HTML the 'edit' view will be rendered again so the user can correct the invalid input. In the case of other formats (JSON, XML etc.) the errors object itself will be rendered in the appropriate format and a status code of 422 (UNPROCESSABLE_ENTITY) returned.

If there are no errors then the resource can be saved and an appropriate response sent:

book.save flush:true
withFormat {
    html { 
        flash.message = message(code: 'default.updated.message', args: [message(code: 'book.label', default: 'Book'), book.id])
        redirect book 
    }
    '*' { render status: OK }
}

In the case of HTML a redirect is issued to the originating resource and for other formats a status code of 200 (OK) is returned.

Implementing the 'delete' action

The delete action deletes an existing resource. The implementation is largely similar to the update action, expect the delete() method is called instead:

book.delete flush:true
withFormat {
    html { 
        flash.message = message(code: 'default.deleted.message', args: [message(code: 'Book.label', default: 'Book'), book.id])
        redirect action:"index", method:"GET" 
    }
    '*'{ render status: NO_CONTENT } 
}

Notice that for an HTML response a redirect is issued back to the index action, whilst for other content types a response code 204 (NO_CONTENT) is returned.

9.1.5.3 Generating a REST controller using scaffolding

To see some of these concepts in action and help you get going the Scaffolding plugin, version 2.0 and above, can generate a REST ready controller for you, simply run the command:

$ grails generate-controller [Domain Class Name]

9.1.6 Customizing Response Rendering

There are several ways to customize response rendering in Grails.

9.1.6.1 Customizing the Default Renderers

The default renderers for XML and JSON can be found in the grails.rest.render.xml and grails.rest.render.json packages respectively. These use the Grails converters (grails.converters.XML and grails.converters.JSON) by default for response rendering.

You can easily customize response rendering using these default renderers. A common change you may want to make is to include or exclude certain properties from rendering.

Including or Excluding Properties from Rendering

As mentioned previously, Grails maintains a registry of grails.rest.render.Renderer instances. There are some default configured renderers and the ability to register or override renderers for a given domain class or even for a collection of domain classes. To include a particular property from rendering you need to register a custom renderer by defining a bean in grails-app/conf/spring/resources.groovy:

import grails.rest.render.xml.*

beans = { bookRenderer(XmlRenderer, Book) { includes = ['title'] } }

The bean name is not important (Grails will scan the application context for all registered renderer beans), but for organizational and readability purposes it is recommended you name it something meaningful.

To exclude a property, the excludes property of the XmlRenderer class can be used:

import grails.rest.render.xml.*

beans = { bookRenderer(XmlRenderer, Book) { excludes = ['isbn'] } }

Customizing the Converters

As mentioned previously, the default renders use the grails.converters package under the covers. In other words, under the covers they essentially do the following:

import grails.converters.*

… render book as XML

// or render book as JSON

Why the separation between converters and renderers? Well a renderer has more flexibility to use whatever rendering technology you chose. When implementing a custom renderer you could use Jackson, Gson or any Java library to implement the renderer. Converters on the other hand are very much tied to Grails' own marshalling implementation.

9.1.6.2 Registering Custom Objects Marshallers

Grails' Converters feature the notion of an ObjectMarshaller and each type can have a registered ObjectMarshaller. You can register custom ObjectMarshaller instances to completely customize response rendering. For example, you can define the following in BootStrap.init:

XML.registerObjectMarshaller Book, { Book book, XML xml ->
  xml.attribute 'id', book.id
  xml.build {
    title(book.title)
  }
}

You can customize the formatting of an individual value this way too. For example the JodaTime plugin does the following to support rendering of JodaTime dates in JSON output:

JSON.registerObjectMarshaller(DateTime) {
    return it?.toString("yyyy-MM-dd'T'HH:mm:ss'Z'")
}

In the case of JSON it's often simple to use a map to customize output:

JSON.registerObjectMarshaller(Book) {
  def map= [:]
  map['titl'] = it.title
  map['auth'] = it.author
  return map
}

Registering Custom Marshallers via Spring

Note that if you have many custom marshallers it is recommended you split the registration of these into a separate class:

class CustomMarshallerRegistrar {

@javax.annotation.PostConstruct void registerMarshallers() { JSON.registerObjectMarshaller(DateTime) { return it?.toString("yyyy-MM-dd'T'HH:mm:ss'Z'") } } }

Then define this class as Spring bean in grails-app/conf/spring/resources.groovy:

beans = {
    myCustomMarshallerRegistrar(CustomMarshallerRegistrar)
}

The PostConstruct annotation will get triggered on startup of your application.

9.1.6.3 Using Named Configurations for Object Marshallers

It is also possible to register named configurations. For example:

XML.createNamedConfig('publicApi') {
  it.registerObjectMarshaller(Book) { Book book, XML xml ->
    // do public API
  }
}
XML.createNamedConfig('adminApi') {
  it.registerObjectMarshaller(Book) { Book book, XML xml ->
    // do admin API
  }
}

Then when you use either the render or respond methods you can wrap the call in a named configuration if necessary to customize rendering per request:

XML.use( isAdmin ? 'adminApi' : 'publicApi') {
    render book as XML
}

or

XML.use( isAdmin ? 'adminApi' : 'publicApi') {
    respond book 
}

9.1.6.4 Implementing the ObjectMarshaller Interface

For more complex marshallers it is recommended you implement the ObjectMarshaller interface. For example given a domain class:

class Book {
    String title
}

By default the output when using:

render book as XML

Would look like:

<book id="1">
   <title>The Stand</title>
</book>

To write a custom marshaller you can do the following:

class BookMarshaller implements ObjectMarshaller<XML> {

public boolean supports(Object object) { return object instanceof Book }

public void marshalObject(Object object, XML converter) { Book book = (Book)object converter.chars book.title } }

And then register the marshaller with:

XML.registerObjectMarshaller(new BookMarshaller())

With the custom ObjectMarshaller in place, the output is now:

<book>The Stand</book>

Customizing the Name of the Root Element

If you wish the customize the name of the surrounding element, you can implement NameAwareMarshaller:

class BookMarshaller implements ObjectMarshaller<XML>,NameAwareMarshaller {

...

String getElementName(Object o) { return 'custom-book' }

}

With the above change the output would now be:

<custom-book>The Stand</custom-book>

Outputting Markup Using the Converters API or Builder

With the passed Converter object you can explicitly code to the Converters API to stream markup to the response:

public void marshalObject(Object object, XML converter) {
  Book book = (Book)object

converter.attribute 'id', book.id.toString() converter.attribute 'date-released', book.dateReleased.toString()

converter.startNode 'title' converter.chars book.title converter.end()

}

The above code results in:

<book id="1" date-released="...">
   <title>The Stand</title>
</book>

You can also use a builder notation to achieve a similar result (although the builder notation does not work for CompileStatic):

public void marshalObject(Object object, XML converter) {
  Book b = (Book)object

converter.build { book(id: b.id) { title b.title } } }

Using the convertAnother Method to Recursively Convert Objects

To create more complex responses you can use the convertAnother method to convert associations and other objects:

public void marshalObject(Object object, XML converter) {
  Book book = (Book)object

converter.startNode 'title' converter.chars book.title converter.end()

if (book.authors) { converter.startNode 'authors' for(author in book.authors) { converter.convertAnother author } converter.end() } }

9.1.6.5 Implementing a Custom Renderer

If you want even more control of the rendering or prefer to use your own marshalling techniques then you can implement your own Renderer instance. For example below is a simple implementation that customizes the rendering of the Book class:

package myapp
import grails.rest.render.*
import grails.web.mime.MimeType

class BookXmlRenderer extends AbstractRenderer<Book> { BookXmlRenderer() { super(Book, [MimeType.XML,MimeType.TEXT_XML] as MimeType[]) }

void render(Book object, RenderContext context) { context.contentType = MimeType.XML.name

def xml = new groovy.xml.MarkupBuilder(context.writer) xml.book(id: object.id, title:object.title) } }

The AbstractRenderer super class has a constructor that takes the class that it renders and the MimeType(s) that are accepted (via the ACCEPT header or file extension) for the renderer.

To configure this renderer, simply add it is a bean to grails-app/conf/spring/resources.groovy:

beans = {
    bookRenderer(myapp.BookXmlRenderer)
}

The result will be that all Book instances will be rendered in the following format:

<book id="1" title="The Stand"/>

Note that if you change the rendering to a completely different format like the above, then you also need to change the binding if you plan to support POST and PUT requests. Grails will not automatically know how to bind data from a custom XML format to a domain class otherwise. See the section on "Customizing Binding of Resources" for further information.

Container Renderers

A grails.rest.render.ContainerRenderer is a renderer that renders responses for containers of objects (lists, maps, collections etc.). The interface is largely the same as the Renderer interface except for the addition of the getComponentType() method, which should return the "contained" type. For example:

class BookListRenderer implements ContainerRenderer<List, Book> {
    Class<List> getTargetType() { List }
    Class<Book> getComponentType() { Book }
    MimeType[] getMimeTypes() { [ MimeType.XML] as MimeType[] }
    void render(List object, RenderContext context) {
        ....
    }
}

9.1.6.6 Using GSP to Customize Rendering

You can also customize rendering on a per action basis using Groovy Server Pages (GSP). For example given the show action mentioned previously:

def show(Book book) {
    respond book
}

You could supply a show.xml.gsp file to customize the rendering of the XML:

<%@page contentType="application/xml"%>
<book id="${book.id}" title="${book.title}"/>

9.1.7 Hypermedia as the Engine of Application State

HATEOS, an abbreviation for Hypermedia as the Engine of Application State, is a common pattern applied to REST architectures that uses hypermedia and linking to define the REST API.

Hypermedia (also called Mime or Media Types) are used to describe the state of a REST resource, and links tell clients how to transition to the next state. The format of the response is typically JSON or XML, although standard formats such as Atom and/or HAL are frequently used.

9.1.7.1 HAL Support

HAL is a standard exchange format commonly used when developing REST APIs that follow HATEOAS principals. An example HAL document representing a list of orders can be seen below:

{
    "_links": {
        "self": { "href": "/orders" },
        "next": { "href": "/orders?page=2" },
        "find": {
            "href": "/orders{?id}",
            "templated": true
        },
        "admin": [{
            "href": "/admins/2",
            "title": "Fred"
        }, {
            "href": "/admins/5",
            "title": "Kate"
        }]
    },
    "currentlyProcessing": 14,
    "shippedToday": 20,
    "_embedded": {
        "order": [{
            "_links": {
                "self": { "href": "/orders/123" },
                "basket": { "href": "/baskets/98712" },
                "customer": { "href": "/customers/7809" }
            },
            "total": 30.00,
            "currency": "USD",
            "status": "shipped"
        }, {
            "_links": {
                "self": { "href": "/orders/124" },
                "basket": { "href": "/baskets/97213" },
                "customer": { "href": "/customers/12369" }
            },
            "total": 20.00,
            "currency": "USD",
            "status": "processing"
        }]
    }
}

Exposing Resources Using HAL

To return HAL instead of regular JSON for a resource you can simply override the renderer in grails-app/conf/spring/resources.groovy with an instance of grails.rest.render.hal.HalJsonRenderer (or HalXmlRenderer for the XML variation):

import grails.rest.render.hal.*
beans = {
    halBookRenderer(HalJsonRenderer, rest.test.Book)
}

With the bean in place requesting the HAL content type will return HAL:

$ curl -i -H "Accept: application/hal+json" http://localhost:8080/myapp/books/1

HTTP/1.1 200 OK Server: Apache-Coyote/1.1 Content-Type: application/hal+json;charset=ISO-8859-1

{ "_links": { "self": { "href": "http://localhost:8080/myapp/books/1", "hreflang": "en", "type": "application/hal+json" } }, "title": ""The Stand"" }

To use HAL XML format simply change the renderer:

import grails.rest.render.hal.*
beans = {
    halBookRenderer(HalXmlRenderer, rest.test.Book)
}

Rendering Collections Using HAL

To return HAL instead of regular JSON for a list of resources you can simply override the renderer in grails-app/conf/spring/resources.groovy with an instance of grails.rest.render.hal.HalJsonCollectionRenderer:

import grails.rest.render.hal.*
beans = {
    halBookCollectionRenderer(HalJsonCollectionRenderer, rest.test.Book)
}

With the bean in place requesting the HAL content type will return HAL:

$ curl -i -H "Accept: application/hal+json" http://localhost:8080/myapp/books
HTTP/1.1 200 OK
Server: Apache-Coyote/1.1
Content-Type: application/hal+json;charset=UTF-8
Transfer-Encoding: chunked
Date: Thu, 17 Oct 2013 02:34:14 GMT

{ "_links": { "self": { "href": "http://localhost:8080/myapp/books", "hreflang": "en", "type": "application/hal+json" } }, "_embedded": { "book": [ { "_links": { "self": { "href": "http://localhost:8080/myapp/books/1", "hreflang": "en", "type": "application/hal+json" } }, "title": "The Stand" }, { "_links": { "self": { "href": "http://localhost:8080/myapp/books/2", "hreflang": "en", "type": "application/hal+json" } }, "title": "Infinite Jest" }, { "_links": { "self": { "href": "http://localhost:8080/myapp/books/3", "hreflang": "en", "type": "application/hal+json" } }, "title": "Walden" } ] } }

Notice that the key associated with the list of Book objects in the rendered JSON is book which is derived from the type of objects in the collection, namely Book. In order to customize the value of this key assign a value to the collectionName property on the HalJsonCollectionRenderer bean as shown below:

import grails.rest.render.hal.*
beans = {
    halBookCollectionRenderer(HalCollectionJsonRenderer, rest.test.Book) {
        collectionName = 'publications'
    }
}

With that in place the rendered HAL will look like the following:

$ curl -i -H "Accept: application/hal+json" http://localhost:8080/myapp/books
HTTP/1.1 200 OK
Server: Apache-Coyote/1.1
Content-Type: application/hal+json;charset=UTF-8
Transfer-Encoding: chunked
Date: Thu, 17 Oct 2013 02:34:14 GMT

{ "_links": { "self": { "href": "http://localhost:8080/myapp/books", "hreflang": "en", "type": "application/hal+json" } }, "_embedded": { "publications": [ { "_links": { "self": { "href": "http://localhost:8080/myapp/books/1", "hreflang": "en", "type": "application/hal+json" } }, "title": "The Stand" }, { "_links": { "self": { "href": "http://localhost:8080/myapp/books/2", "hreflang": "en", "type": "application/hal+json" } }, "title": "Infinite Jest" }, { "_links": { "self": { "href": "http://localhost:8080/myapp/books/3", "hreflang": "en", "type": "application/hal+json" } }, "title": "Walden" } ] } }

Using Custom Media / Mime Types

If you wish to use a custom Mime Type then you first need to declare the Mime Types in grails-app/conf/Config.groovy:

grails.mime.types = [
    all:      "*/*",
    book:     "application/vnd.books.org.book+json",
    bookList: "application/vnd.books.org.booklist+json",
    …
]

It is critical that place your new mime types after the 'all' Mime Type because if the Content Type of the request cannot be established then the first entry in the map is used for the response. If you have your new Mime Type at the top then Grails will always try and send back your new Mime Type if the requested Mime Type cannot be established.

Then override the renderer to return HAL using the custom Mime Types:

import grails.rest.render.hal.*
import grails.web.mime.*

beans = { halBookRenderer(HalJsonRenderer, rest.test.Book, new MimeType("application/vnd.books.org.book+json", [v:"1.0"])) halBookListRenderer(HalJsonCollectionRenderer, rest.test.Book, new MimeType("application/vnd.books.org.booklist+json", [v:"1.0"])) }

In the above example the first bean defines a HAL renderer for a single book instance that returns a Mime Type of application/vnd.books.org.book+json. The second bean defines the Mime Type used to render a collection of books (in this case application/vnd.books.org.booklist+json).

application/vnd.books.org.booklist+json is an example of a media-range (http://www.w3.org/Protocols/rfc2616/rfc2616.html - Header Field Definitions). This example uses entity (book) and operation (list) to form the media-range values but in reality, it may not be necessary to create a separate Mime type for each operation. Further, it may not be necessary to create Mime types at the entity level. See the section on "Versioning REST resources" for further information about how to define your own Mime types.

With this in place issuing a request for the new Mime Type returns the necessary HAL:

$ curl -i -H "Accept: application/vnd.books.org.book+json" http://localhost:8080/myapp/books/1

HTTP/1.1 200 OK Server: Apache-Coyote/1.1 Content-Type: application/vnd.books.org.book+json;charset=ISO-8859-1

{ "_links": { "self": { "href": "http://localhost:8080/myapp/books/1", "hreflang": "en", "type": "application/vnd.books.org.book+json" } }, "title": ""The Stand"" }

Customizing Link Rendering

An important aspect of HATEOAS is the usage of links that describe the transitions the client can use to interact with the REST API. By default the HalJsonRenderer will automatically create links for you for associations and to the resource itself (using the "self" relationship).

However you can customize link rendering using the link method that is added to all domain classes annotated with grails.rest.Resource or any class annotated with grails.rest.Linkable. For example, the show action can be modified as follows to provide a new link in the resulting output:

def show(Book book) {
    book.link rel:'publisher', href: g.link(resource:"publisher", params:[bookId: book.id])
    respond book
}

Which will result in output such as:

{
  "_links": {
    "self": {
      "href": "http://localhost:8080/myapp/books/1",
      "hreflang": "en",
      "type": "application/vnd.books.org.book+json"
    }
    "publisher": {
        "href": "http://localhost:8080/myapp/books/1/publisher",
        "hreflang": "en"
    }
  },
  "title": ""The Stand""
}

The link method can be passed named arguments that match the properties of the grails.rest.Link class.

9.1.7.2 Atom Support

Atom is another standard interchange format used to implement REST APIs. An example of Atom output can be seen below:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
<feed xmlns="http://www.w3.org/2005/Atom">

<title>Example Feed</title> <link href="http://example.org/"/> <updated>2003-12-13T18:30:02Z</updated> <author> <name>John Doe</name> </author> <id>urn:uuid:60a76c80-d399-11d9-b93C-0003939e0af6</id>

<entry> <title>Atom-Powered Robots Run Amok</title> <link href="http://example.org/2003/12/13/atom03"/> <id>urn:uuid:1225c695-cfb8-4ebb-aaaa-80da344efa6a</id> <updated>2003-12-13T18:30:02Z</updated> <summary>Some text.</summary> </entry>

</feed>

To use Atom rendering again simply define a custom renderer:

import grails.rest.render.atom.*
beans = {
    halBookRenderer(AtomRenderer, rest.test.Book)
    halBookListRenderer(AtomCollectionRenderer, rest.test.Book)
}

9.1.7.3 Vnd.Error Support

Vnd.Error is a standardised way of expressing an error response.

By default when a validation error occurs when attempting to POST new resources then the errors object will be sent back allow with a 422 respond code:

$ curl -i -H "Accept: application/json"  -H "Content-Type: application/json" -X POST -d "" http://localhost:8080/myapp/books

HTTP/1.1 422 Unprocessable Entity Server: Apache-Coyote/1.1 Content-Type: application/json;charset=ISO-8859-1

{"errors":[{"object":"rest.test.Book", "field":"title", "rejected-value":null, "message":"Property [title] of class [class rest.test.Book] cannot be null"}]}

If you wish to change the format to Vnd.Error then simply register grails.rest.render.errors.VndErrorJsonRenderer bean in grails-app/conf/spring/resources.groovy:

beans = {
    vndJsonErrorRenderer(grails.rest.render.errors.VndErrorJsonRenderer)
    // for Vnd.Error XML format
    vndXmlErrorRenderer(grails.rest.render.errors.VndErrorXmlRenderer)
}

Then if you alter the client request to accept Vnd.Error you get an appropriate response:

$ curl -i -H "Accept: application/vnd.error+json,application/json" -H "Content-Type: application/json" -X POST -d "" http://localhost:8080/myapp/books
HTTP/1.1 200 OK
Server: Apache-Coyote/1.1
Content-Type: application/vnd.error+json;charset=ISO-8859-1

[ { "logref": ""book.nullable"", "message": "Property [title] of class [class rest.test.Book] cannot be null", "_links": { "resource": { "href": "http://localhost:8080/rest-test/books" } } } ]

9.1.8 Customizing Binding of Resources

The framework provides a sophisticated but simple mechanism for binding REST requests to domain objects and command objects. One way to take advantage of this is to bind the request property in a controller the properties of a domain class. Given the following XML as the body of the request, the createBook action will create a new Book and assign "The Stand" to the title property and "Stephen King" to the authorName property.

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<book>
    <title>The Stand</title>
    <authorName>Stephen King</authorName>
</book>

class BookController {

def createBook() { def book = new Book() book.properties = request

// … } }

If the root element of the XML document contains an id attribute, the id value will be used to retrieve the corresponding persistent instance from the database and then the rest of the document will be bound to the instance. If no corresponding record is found in the database, the command object reference will be null.

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<book>
    <title>The Stand</title>
    <authorName>Stephen King</authorName>
</book>

Command objects will automatically be bound with the body of the request:

class BookController {
    def createBook(BookCommand book) {

// … } }

class BookCommand { String title String authorName }

If the command object type is a domain class and the root element of the XML document contains an id attribute, the id value will be used to retrieve the corresponding persistent instance from the database and then the rest of the document will be bound to the instance. If no corresponding record is found in the database, the command object reference will be null.

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<book id="42">
    <title>Walden</title>
    <authorName>Henry David Thoreau</authorName>
</book>

class BookController {
    def updateBook(Book book) {
        // The book will have been retrieved from the database and updated
        // by doing something like this:
        //
        // book == Book.get('42')
        // if(book != null) {
        //    book.properties = request
        // }
        //
        // the code above represents what the framework will
        // have done. There is no need to write that code.

// ...

} }

The data binding depends on an instance of the DataBindingSource interface created by an instance of the DataBindingSourceCreator interface. The specific implementation of DataBindingSourceCreator will be selected based on the contentType of the request. Several implementations are provided to handle common content types. The default implementations will be fine for most use cases. The following table lists the content types which are supported by the core framework and which DataBindingSourceCreator implementations are used for each. All of the implementation classes are in the org.grails.databinding.bindingsource package.

Content Type(s)Bean NameDataBindingSourceCreator Impl.
application/xml, text/xmlxmlDataBindingSourceCreatorXmlDataBindingSourceCreator
application/json, text/jsonjsonDataBindingSourceCreatorJsonDataBindingSourceCreator
application/hal+jsonhalJsonDataBindingSourceCreatorHalJsonDataBindingSourceCreator
application/hal+xmlhalXmlDataBindingSourceCreatorHalXmlDataBindingSourceCreator

In order to provide your own DataBindingSourceCreator for any of those content types, write a class which implements DataBindingSourceCreator and register an instance of that class in the Spring application context. If you are replacing one of the existing helpers, use the corresponding bean name from above. If you are providing a helper for a content type other than those accounted for by the core framework, the bean name may be anything that you like but you should take care not to conflict with one of the bean names above.

The DataBindingSourceCreator interface defines just 2 methods:

package org.grails.databinding.bindingsource

import grails.web.mime.MimeType import grails.databinding.DataBindingSource

/** * A factory for DataBindingSource instances * * @since 2.3 * @see DataBindingSourceRegistry * @see DataBindingSource * */ interface DataBindingSourceCreator {

/** * return All of the {link MimeType} supported by this helper */ MimeType[] getMimeTypes()

/** * Creates a DataBindingSource suitable for binding bindingSource to bindingTarget * * @param mimeType a mime type * @param bindingTarget the target of the data binding * @param bindingSource the value being bound * @return a DataBindingSource */ DataBindingSource createDataBindingSource(MimeType mimeType, Object bindingTarget, Object bindingSource) }

AbstractRequestBodyDataBindingSourceCreator is an abstract class designed to be extended to simplify writing custom DataBindingSourceCreator classes. Classes which extend AbstractRequestbodyDatabindingSourceCreator need to implement a method named createBindingSource which accepts an InputStream as an argument and returns a DataBindingSource as well as implementing the getMimeTypes method described in the DataBindingSourceCreator interface above. The InputStream argument to createBindingSource provides access to the body of the request.

The code below shows a simple implementation.

// MyCustomDataBindingSourceCreator.groovy in
// src/groovy/com/demo/myapp/databinding
package com.demo.myapp.databinding

import grails.web.mime.MimeType import grails.databinding.DataBindingSource import org...databinding.SimpleMapDataBindingSource import org...databinding.bindingsource.AbstractRequestBodyDataBindingSourceCreator

/** * A custom DataBindingSourceCreator capable of parsing key value pairs out of * a request body containing a comma separated list of key:value pairs like: * * name:Herman,age:99,town:STL * */ class MyCustomDataBindingSourceCreator extends AbstractRequestBodyDataBindingSourceCreator {

@Override public MimeType[] getMimeTypes() { [new MimeType('text/custom+demo+csv')] as MimeType[] }

@Override protected DataBindingSource createBindingSource(InputStream inputStream) { def map = [:]

def reader = new InputStreamReader(inputStream)

// this is an obviously naive parser and is intended // for demonstration purposes only.

reader.eachLine { line -> def keyValuePairs = line.split(',') keyValuePairs.each { keyValuePair -> if(keyValuePair?.trim()) { def keyValuePieces = keyValuePair.split(':') def key = keyValuePieces[0].trim() def value = keyValuePieces[1].trim() map[key] = value } } }

// create and return a DataBindingSource which contains the parsed data new SimpleMapDataBindingSource(map) } }

An instance of MyCustomDataSourceCreator needs to be registered in the spring application context.

// grails-app/conf/spring/resources.groovy
beans = {

myCustomCreator com.demo.myapp.databinding.MyCustomDataBindingSourceCreator

// … }

With that in place the framework will use the myCustomCreator bean any time a DataBindingSourceCreator is needed to deal with a request which has a contentType of "text/custom+demo+csv".

9.2 SOAP

Grails does not feature SOAP support out-of-the-box, but there are several plugins that can help for both producing SOAP servers and calling SOAP web services.

SOAP Clients

To call SOAP web services there are generally 2 approaches taken, one is to use a tool to generate client stubs, the other is to manually construct the SOAP calls. The former can be easier to use, but the latter provides more flexibility / control.

The CXF client plugin uses the CXF framework, which includes a wsdl2java tool for generating a client. There is nothing Groovy/Grails specific here in the generated code as it simply provides a Java API which you can invoke to call SOAP web services.

See the documentation on the CXF client plugin for further information.

Alternatively, if you prefer more control over your SOAP calls the WS-Lite library is an excellent choice and features a Grails plugin. You have more control over the SOAP requests sent, and since Groovy has fantastic support for building and parsing XML it can be very productive approach.

Below is an example of a SOAP call with wslite:

withSoap(serviceURL: 'http://www.holidaywebservice.com/Holidays/US/Dates/USHolidayDates.asmx') {
    def response = send {
        body {
            GetMothersDay(xmlns: 'http://www.27seconds.com/Holidays/US/Dates/') {
                year(2011)
            }
        }
    }
    println response.GetMothersDayResponse.GetMothersDayResult.text()
}

It is not recommended that you use the GroovyWS library, it pulls in many dependencies which increases the likelihood of conflicts. The WSlite library provides a far simpler and easier to use solution.

SOAP Servers

Again, Grails does not have direct support for exposing SOAP web services, however if you wish to expose a SOAP service from your application then the CXF plugin (not to be confused with the cxf-client plugin), provides an easy way to do so.

Typically it involves taking a Grails service and adding 'expose'-style configuration, such as the below:

static expose = EndpointType.JAX_WS_WSDL
  //your path (preferred) or url to wsdl
  static wsdl = 'org/grails/cxf/test/soap/CustomerService.wsdl'

Please refer to the documentation of the plugin for more information.

9.3 RSS and Atom

No direct support is provided for RSS or Atom within Grails. You could construct RSS or ATOM feeds with the render method's XML capability. There is however a Feeds plugin available for Grails that provides a RSS and Atom builder using the popular ROME library. An example of its usage can be seen below:

def feed() {
    render(feedType: "rss", feedVersion: "2.0") {
        title = "My test feed"
        link = "http://your.test.server/yourController/feed"

for (article in Article.list()) { entry(article.title) { link = "http://your.test.server/article/${article.id}" article.content // return the content } } } }

10 Asynchronous Programming

With modern hardware featuring multiple cores, many programming languages have been adding asynchronous, parallel programming APIs, Groovy being no exception.

The excellent GPars project features a whole range of different APIs for asynchronous programming techniques including actors, promises, STM and data flow concurrency.

Added Grails 2.3, the Async features of Grails aim to simplify concurrent programming within the framework and include the concept of Promises and a unified event model.

10.1 Promises

A Promise is a concept being embraced by many concurrency frameworks. They are similar to java.util.concurrent.Future instances, but include a more user friendly exception handling model, useful features like chaining and the ability to attach listeners.

Promise Basics

In Grails the grails.async.Promises class provides the entry point to the Promise API:

import static grails.async.Promises.*

To create promises you can use the task method, which returns an instance of the grails.async.Promise interface:

def p1 = task { 2 * 2 }
def p2 = task { 4 * 4 }
def p3 = task { 8 * 8 }
assert [4,16,64] == waitAll(p1, p2, p3)

The waitAll method waits synchronously, blocking the current thread, for all of the concurrent tasks to complete and returns the results.

If you prefer not to block the current thread you can use the onComplete method:

onComplete([p1,p2,p3]) { List results ->
   assert [4,16,64] == results
}

The waitAll method will throw an exception if an error occurs executing one of the promises. The originating exception will be thrown. The onComplete method, however, will simply not execute the passed closure if an exception occurs. You can register an onError listener if you wish to handle exceptions without blocking:

onError([p1,p2,p3]) { Throwable t ->
   println "An error occured ${t.message}"
}

If you have just a single long running promise then the grails.async.Promise interface provides a similar API on the promise itself. For example:

import static java.util.concurrent.TimeUnit.*
import static grails.async.Promises.*

Promise p = task { // Long running task } p.onError { Throwable err -> println "An error occured ${err.message}" } p.onComplete { result -> println "Promise returned $result" } // block until result is called def result = p.get() // block for the specified time def result = p.get(1,MINUTES)

Promise Chaining

It is possible to chain several promises and wait for the chain to complete using the then method:

final polish = { … }
final transform = { … }
final save = { … }
final notify = { … }

Promise promise = task { // long running task } promise.then polish then transform then save then { // notify end result }

If an exception occurs at any point in the chain it will be propagated back to the caller and the next step in the chain will not be called.

Promise Lists and Maps

Grails' async API also features the concept of a promise lists and maps. These are represented by the grails.async.PromiseList and grails.async.PromiseMap classes respectively.

The easiest way to create a promise list or map is via the tasks method of the Promises class:

import static grails.async.Promises.*

def promiseList = tasks([{ 2 * 2 }, { 4 * 4}, { 8 * 8 }])

assert [4,16,64] == promiseList.get()

The tasks method, when passed a list of closures, returns a PromiseList. You can also construct a PromiseList manually:

import grails.async.*

def list = new PromiseList() list << { 2 * 2 } list << { 4 * 4 } list << { 8 * 8 } list.onComplete { List results -> assert [4,16,64] == results }

The PromiseList class does not implement the java.util.List interface, but instead returns a java.util.List from the get() method

Working with PromiseMap instances is largely similar. Again you can either use the tasks method:

import static grails.async.Promises.*

def promiseList = tasks one:{ 2 * 2 }, two:{ 4 * 4}, three:{ 8 * 8 }

assert [one:4,two:16,three:64] == promiseList.get()

Or construct a PromiseMap manually:

import grails.async.*

def map = new PromiseMap() map['one'] = { 2 * 2 } map['two'] = { 4 * 4 } map['three'] = { 8 * 8 } map.onComplete { Map results -> assert [one:4,two:16,three:64] == results }

Promise Factories

The Promises class uses a grails.async.PromiseFactory instance to create Promise instances.

The default implementation uses the GPars concurrency library and is called org.grails.async.factory.gpars.GparsPromiseFactory, however it is possible to swap implementations by setting the Promises.promiseFactory variable.

One common use case for this is unit testing, typically you do not want promises to execute asynchronously during unit tests, as this makes tests harder to write. For this purpose Grails ships with a org.grails.async.factory.SynchronousPromiseFactory instance that makes it easier to test promises:

import org.grails.async.factory.*
import grails.async.*

Promises.promiseFactory = new SynchronousPromiseFactory()

Using the PromiseFactory mechanism is theoretically possible to plug in other concurrency libraries into the Grails framework.

DelegateAsync Transformation

It is quite common to require both synchronous and asynchronous versions of the same API. Developing both can result in a maintenance problem as typically the asynchronous API would simply delegate to the synchronous version.

The DelegateAsync transformation is designed to mitigate this problem by transforming any synchronous API into an asynchronous one.

For example, consider the following service:

class BookService {	
    List<Book> findBooks(String title) {
      // implementation
    }
}

The findBooks method executes synchronously in the same thread as the caller. To make an asynchronous version of this API you can define another class as follows:

import grails.async.*

class AsyncBookService { @DelegateAsync BookService bookService }

The DelegateAsync transformation will automatically add a new method that looks like the following to the AsyncBookService class:

Promise<List<Book>> findBooks(String title) {
    Promises.task {
       bookService.findBooks(title)
    }
}

As you see the transform adds equivalent methods that return a Promise and execute asynchronously.

The AsyncBookService can then be injected into other controllers and services and used as follows:

AsyncBookService asyncBookService
def findBooks(String title) {
    asyncBookService.findBooks(title)
       .onComplete { List results ->
          println "Books = ${results}"				
       }
}

10.2 Events

Grails 3.0 introduces a new Events API based on Reactor.

All services and controllers in Grails 3.0 implement the Events trait.

The Events trait allows the ability to consume and publish events that are handled by Reactor.

The default Reactor configuration utilises a thread pool backed event bus. You can however configure Reactor within application.yml, for example:

reactor
    dispatchers:
        default: myExecutor
        myExecutor:
            type: threadPoolExecutor
            size: 5
            backlog: 2048

10.2.1 Consuming Events

There are several ways to consume an event. As mentioned previously services and controllers implement the Events trait.

The Events trait provides several methods to register event consumers. For example:

on("myEvent") {
    println "Event fired!"
}

Note that if you wish a class (other than a controller or service) to be an event consumer you simply have to implement the Events trait and ensure the class is registered as a Spring bean.

10.2.2 Event Notification

The Events trait also provides methods for notifying of events. For example:

notify "myEvent", "myData"
sendAndReceive "myEvent", "myData", {
    println "Got response!"
}

10.3 Asynchronous GORM

Since Grails 2.3, GORM features an asynchronous programming model that works across all supported datastores (Hibernate, MongoDB etc.).

Async Namespace

The Asynchronous GORM API is available on every domain class via the async namespace.

For example, the following code listing reads 3 objects from the database asynchronously:

import static grails.async.Promises.*

def p1 = Person.async.get(1L) def p2 = Person.async.get(2L) def p3 = Person.async.get(3L) def results = waitAll(p1, p2, p3)

Using the async namespace, all the regular GORM methods are available (even dynamic finders), but instead of executing synchronously, the query is run in the background and a Promise instance is returned.

The following code listing shows a few common examples of GORM queries executed asynchronously:

import static grails.async.Promises.*

Person.async.list().onComplete { List results -> println "Got people = ${results}" } def p = Person.async.getAll(1L, 2L, 3L) List results = p.get()

def p1 = Person.async.findByFirstName("Homer") def p2 = Person.async.findByFirstName("Bart") def p3 = Person.async.findByFirstName("Barney") results = waitAll(p1, p2, p3)

Async and the Session

When using GORM async each promise is executed in a different thread. Since the Hibernate session is not concurrency safe, a new session is bound per thread.

This is an important consideration when using GORM async (particularly with Hibernate as the persistence engine). The objects returned from asynchronous queries will be detached entities.

This means you cannot save objects returned from asynchronous queries without first merging them back into session. For example the following will not work:

def promise = Person.async.findByFirstName("Homer")
def person = promise.get()
person.firstName = "Bart"
person.save()

Instead you need to merge the object with the session bound to the calling thread. The above code needs to be written as:

def promise = Person.async.findByFirstName("Homer")
def person = promise.get()
person.merge()
person.firstName = "Bart"

Note that merge() is called first because it may refresh the object from the cache or database, which would result in the change being lost. In general it is not recommended to read and write objects in different threads and you should avoid this technique unless absolutely necessary.

Finally, another issue with detached objects is that association lazy loading will not work and you will encounter LazyInitializationException errors if you do so. If you plan to access the associated objects of those returned from asynchronous queries you should use eager queries (which is recommended anyway to avoid N+1 problems).

Multiple Asynchronous GORM calls

As discussed in the previous section you should avoid reading and writing objects in different threads as merging tends to be inefficient.

However, if you wish to do more complex GORM work asynchronously then the GORM async namespace provides a task method that makes this possible. For example:

def promise = Person.async.task {
    withTransaction {
       def person = findByFirstName("Homer")
       person.firstName = "Bart"
       person.save(flush:true)    
    }
}

Person updatedPerson = promise.get()

Note that the GORM task method differs from the static Promises.task method in that it deals with binding a new session to the asynchronous thread for you. If you do not use the GORM version and do asynchronous work with GORM then you need to do this manually. Example:

import static grails.async.Promises.*

def promise = task { Person.withNewSession { // your logic here } }

Async DetachedCriteria

The DetachedCriteria class also supports the async namespace. For example you can do the following:

DetachedCriteria query = Person.where {
    lastName == "Simpson"
}

def promise = query.async.list()

10.4 Asynchronous Request Handling

If you are deploying to a Servlet 3.0 container such as Tomcat 7 and above then it is possible to deal with responses asynchronously.

In general for controller actions that execute quickly there is little benefit in handling requests asynchronously. However, for long running controller actions it is extremely beneficial.

The reason being that with an asynchronous / non-blocking response, the one thread == one request == one response relationship is broken. The container can keep a client response open and active, and at the same time return the thread back to the container to deal with another request, improving scalability.

For example, if you have 70 available container threads and an action takes a minute to complete, if the actions are not executed in a non-blocking fashion the likelihood of all 70 threads being occupied and the container not being able to respond is quite high and you should consider asynchronous request processing.

Since Grails 2.3, Grails features a simplified API for creating asynchronous responses built on the Promise mechanism discussed previously.

The implementation is based on Servlet 3.0 async so to enable the async features you need to set your servlet target version to 3.0 in BuildConfig.groovy:

grails.servlet.version = "3.0"

Async Models

A typical activity in a Grails controller is to produce a model (a map of key/value pairs) that can be rendered by a view.

If the model takes a while to produce then the server could arrive at a blocking state, impacting scalability. You tell Grails to build the model asynchronously by returning a grails.async.PromiseMap via the Promises.tasks method:

import static grails.async.Promises.*
…
def index() {
   tasks books: Book.async.list(),
         totalBooks: Book.async.count(),
         otherValue: {
           // do hard work
         }
}

Grails will handle the response asynchronously, waiting for the promises to complete before rendering the view. The equivalent synchronous action of the above is:

def index() {
    def otherValue = …
	[ books: Book.list() , 
	  totalBooks: Book.count(),
	  otherValue: otherValue  ]
}

You can even render different view by passing the PromiseMap to the model attribute of the render method:

import static grails.async.Promises.*
…
def index() {
   render view:"myView", model: tasks( one:{ 2 * 2 },
                                       two:{ 3 * 3 } )
}

Async Response Rendering

You can also write to the response asynchronously using promises in Grails 2.3 and above:

import static grails.async.Promises.*
class StockController {

def stock(String ticker) { task { ticker = ticker ?: 'GOOG' def url = new URL("http://download.finance.yahoo.com/d/quotes.csv?s=${ticker}&f=nsl1op&e=.csv") Double price = url.text.split(',')[-1] as Double render "ticker: $ticker, price: $price" } } }

The above example using Yahoo Finance to query stock prices, executing asynchronously and only rendering the response once the result has been obtained. This is done by returning a Promise instance from the controller action.

If the Yahoo URL is unresponsive the original request thread will not be blocked and the container will not become unresponsive.

10.5 Servlet 3.0 Async

In addition to the higher level async features discussed earlier in the section, you can access the raw Servlet 3.0 asynchronous API from a Grails application.

Servlet 3.0 Asynchronous Rendering

You can render content (templates, binary data etc.) in an asynchronous manner by calling the startAsync method which returns an instance of the Servlet 3.0 AsyncContext. Once you have a reference to the AsyncContext you can use Grails' regular render method to render content:

def index() {
    def ctx = startAsync()
    ctx.start {
        new Book(title:"The Stand").save()
        render template:"books", model:[books:Book.list()]
        ctx.complete()
    }
}

Note that you must call the complete() method to terminate the connection.

Resuming an Async Request

You resume processing of an async request (for example to delegate to view rendering) by using the dispatch method of the AsyncContext class:

def index() {
    def ctx = startAsync()
    ctx.start {
        // do working
        …
        // render view
        ctx.dispatch()
    }
}

11 Validation

Grails validation capability is built on Spring's Validator API and data binding capabilities. However Grails takes this further and provides a unified way to define validation "constraints" with its constraints mechanism.

Constraints in Grails are a way to declaratively specify validation rules. Most commonly they are applied to domain classes, however URL Mappings and Command Objects also support constraints.

11.1 Declaring Constraints

Within a domain class constraints are defined with the constraints property that is assigned a code block:

class User {
    String login
    String password
    String email
    Integer age

static constraints = { … } }

You then use method calls that match the property name for which the constraint applies in combination with named parameters to specify constraints:

class User {
    ...

static constraints = { login size: 5..15, blank: false, unique: true password size: 5..15, blank: false email email: true, blank: false age min: 18 } }

In this example we've declared that the login property must be between 5 and 15 characters long, it cannot be blank and must be unique. We've also applied other constraints to the password, email and age properties.

By default, all domain class properties are not nullable (i.e. they have an implicit nullable: false constraint).

A complete reference for the available constraints can be found in the Quick Reference section under the Constraints heading.

Note that constraints are only evaluated once which may be relevant for a constraint that relies on a value like an instance of java.util.Date.

class User {
    ...

static constraints = { // this Date object is created when the constraints are evaluated, not // each time an instance of the User class is validated. birthDate max: new Date() } }

A word of warning - referencing domain class properties from constraints

It's very easy to attempt to reference instance variables from the static constraints block, but this isn't legal in Groovy (or Java). If you do so, you will get a MissingPropertyException for your trouble. For example, you may try

class Response {
    Survey survey
    Answer answer

static constraints = { survey blank: false answer blank: false, inList: survey.answers } }

See how the inList constraint references the instance property survey? That won't work. Instead, use a custom validator:

class Response {
    …
    static constraints = {
        survey blank: false
        answer blank: false, validator: { val, obj -> val in obj.survey.answers }
    }
}

In this example, the obj argument to the custom validator is the domain instance that is being validated, so we can access its survey property and return a boolean to indicate whether the new value for the answer property, val, is valid.

11.2 Validating Constraints

Validation Basics

Call the validate method to validate a domain class instance:

def user = new User(params)

if (user.validate()) { // do something with user } else { user.errors.allErrors.each { println it } }

The errors property on domain classes is an instance of the Spring Errors interface. The Errors interface provides methods to navigate the validation errors and also retrieve the original values.

Validation Phases

Within Grails there are two phases of validation, the first one being data binding which occurs when you bind request parameters onto an instance such as:

def user = new User(params)

At this point you may already have errors in the errors property due to type conversion (such as converting Strings to Dates). You can check these and obtain the original input value using the Errors API:

if (user.hasErrors()) {
    if (user.errors.hasFieldErrors("login")) {
        println user.errors.getFieldError("login").rejectedValue
    }
}

The second phase of validation happens when you call validate or save. This is when Grails will validate the bound values against the constraints you defined. For example, by default the save method calls validate before executing, allowing you to write code like:

if (user.save()) {
    return user
}
else {
    user.errors.allErrors.each {
        println it
    }
}

11.3 Sharing Constraints Between Classes

A common pattern in Grails is to use command objects for validating user-submitted data and then copy the properties of the command object to the relevant domain classes. This often means that your command objects and domain classes share properties and their constraints. You could manually copy and paste the constraints between the two, but that's a very error-prone approach. Instead, make use of Grails' global constraints and import mechanism.

Global Constraints

In addition to defining constraints in domain classes, command objects and other validateable classes, you can also define them in grails-app/conf/Config.groovy:

grails.gorm.default.constraints = {
    '*'(nullable: true, size: 1..20)
    myShared(nullable: false, blank: false)
}

These constraints are not attached to any particular classes, but they can be easily referenced from any validateable class:

class User {
    ...

static constraints = { login shared: "myShared" } }

Note the use of the shared argument, whose value is the name of one of the constraints defined in grails.gorm.default.constraints. Despite the name of the configuration setting, you can reference these shared constraints from any validateable class, such as command objects.

The '*' constraint is a special case: it means that the associated constraints ('nullable' and 'size' in the above example) will be applied to all properties in all validateable classes. These defaults can be overridden by the constraints declared in a validateable class.

Importing Constraints

Grails 2 introduced an alternative approach to sharing constraints that allows you to import a set of constraints from one class into another.

Let's say you have a domain class like so:

class User {
    String firstName
    String lastName
    String passwordHash

static constraints = { firstName blank: false, nullable: false lastName blank: false, nullable: false passwordHash blank: false, nullable: false } }

You then want to create a command object, UserCommand, that shares some of the properties of the domain class and the corresponding constraints. You do this with the importFrom() method:

class UserCommand {
    String firstName
    String lastName
    String password
    String confirmPassword

static constraints = { importFrom User

password blank: false, nullable: false confirmPassword blank: false, nullable: false } }

This will import all the constraints from the User domain class and apply them to UserCommand. The import will ignore any constraints in the source class (User) that don't have corresponding properties in the importing class (UserCommand). In the above example, only the 'firstName' and 'lastName' constraints will be imported into UserCommand because those are the only properties shared by the two classes.

If you want more control over which constraints are imported, use the include and exclude arguments. Both of these accept a list of simple or regular expression strings that are matched against the property names in the source constraints. So for example, if you only wanted to import the 'lastName' constraint you would use:

static constraints = {
    importFrom User, include: ["lastName"]
    …
}

or if you wanted all constraints that ended with 'Name':

static constraints = {
    importFrom User, include: [/.*Name/]
    …
}

Of course, exclude does the reverse, specifying which constraints should not be imported.

11.4 Validation on the Client

Displaying Errors

Typically if you get a validation error you redirect back to the view for rendering. Once there you need some way of displaying errors. Grails supports a rich set of tags for dealing with errors. To render the errors as a list you can use renderErrors:

<g:renderErrors bean="${user}" />

If you need more control you can use hasErrors and eachError:

<g:hasErrors bean="${user}">
  <ul>
   <g:eachError var="err" bean="${user}">
       <li>${err}</li>
   </g:eachError>
  </ul>
</g:hasErrors>

Highlighting Errors

It is often useful to highlight using a red box or some indicator when a field has been incorrectly input. This can also be done with the hasErrors by invoking it as a method. For example:

<div class='value ${hasErrors(bean:user,field:'login','errors')}'>
   <input type="text" name="login" value="${fieldValue(bean:user,field:'login')}"/>
</div>

This code checks if the login field of the user bean has any errors and if so it adds an errors CSS class to the div, allowing you to use CSS rules to highlight the div.

Retrieving Input Values

Each error is actually an instance of the FieldError class in Spring, which retains the original input value within it. This is useful as you can use the error object to restore the value input by the user using the fieldValue tag:

<input type="text" name="login" value="${fieldValue(bean:user,field:'login')}"/>

This code will check for an existing FieldError in the User bean and if there is obtain the originally input value for the login field.

11.5 Validation and Internationalization

Another important thing to note about errors in Grails is that error messages are not hard coded anywhere. The FieldError class in Spring resolves messages from message bundles using Grails' i18n support.

Constraints and Message Codes

The codes themselves are dictated by a convention. For example consider the constraints we looked at earlier:

package com.mycompany.myapp

class User { ...

static constraints = { login size: 5..15, blank: false, unique: true password size: 5..15, blank: false email email: true, blank: false age min: 18 } }

If a constraint is violated Grails will by convention look for a message code of the form:

[Class Name].[Property Name].[Constraint Code]

In the case of the blank constraint this would be user.login.blank so you would need a message such as the following in your grails-app/i18n/messages.properties file:

user.login.blank=Your login name must be specified!

The class name is looked for both with and without a package, with the packaged version taking precedence. So for example, com.mycompany.myapp.User.login.blank will be used before user.login.blank. This allows for cases where your domain class message codes clash with a plugin's.

For a reference on what codes are for which constraints refer to the reference guide for each constraint.

Displaying Messages

The renderErrors tag will automatically look up messages for you using the message tag. If you need more control of rendering you can handle this yourself:

<g:hasErrors bean="${user}">
  <ul>
   <g:eachError var="err" bean="${user}">
       <li><g:message error="${err}" /></li>
   </g:eachError>
  </ul>
</g:hasErrors>

In this example within the body of the eachError tag we use the message tag in combination with its error argument to read the message for the given error.

11.6 Applying Validation to Other Classes

Domain classes and command objects support validation by default. Other classes may be made validateable by defining the static constraints property in the class (as described above) and then telling the framework about them. It is important that the application register the validateable classes with the framework. Simply defining the constraints property is not sufficient.

The Validateable Trait

Classes which define the static constraints property and implement the Validateable trait will be validateable. Consider this example:

// src/groovy/com/mycompany/myapp/User.groovy
package com.mycompany.myapp

import grails.validation.Validateable

class User implements Validateable { ...

static constraints = { login size: 5..15, blank: false, unique: true password size: 5..15, blank: false email email: true, blank: false age min: 18 } }

12 The Service Layer

Grails defines the notion of a service layer. The Grails team discourages the embedding of core application logic inside controllers, as it does not promote reuse and a clean separation of concerns.

Services in Grails are the place to put the majority of the logic in your application, leaving controllers responsible for handling request flow with redirects and so on.

Creating a Service

You can create a Grails service by running the create-service command from the root of your project in a terminal window:

grails create-service helloworld.simple

If no package is specified with the create-service script, Grails automatically uses the application name as the package name.

The above example will create a service at the location grails-app/services/helloworld/SimpleService.groovy. A service's name ends with the convention Service, other than that a service is a plain Groovy class:

package helloworld

class SimpleService { }

12.1 Declarative Transactions

Default Declarative Transactions

Services are typically involved with coordinating logic between domain classes, and hence often involved with persistence that spans large operations. Given the nature of services, they frequently require transactional behaviour. You can use programmatic transactions with the withTransaction method, however this is repetitive and doesn't fully leverage the power of Spring's underlying transaction abstraction.

Services enable transaction demarcation, which is a declarative way of defining which methods are to be made transactional. All services are transactional by default. To disable this set the transactional property to false:

class CountryService {
    static transactional = false
}

You may also set this property to true to make it clear that the service is intentionally transactional.

Warning: dependency injection is the only way that declarative transactions work. You will not get a transactional service if you use the new operator such as new BookService()

The result is that all methods are wrapped in a transaction and automatic rollback occurs if a method throws a runtime exception (i.e. one that extends RuntimeException) or an Error. The propagation level of the transaction is by default set to PROPAGATION_REQUIRED.

Checked exceptions do not roll back transactions. Even though Groovy blurs the distinction between checked and unchecked exceptions, Spring isn't aware of this and its default behaviour is used, so it's important to understand the distinction between checked and unchecked exceptions.

Custom Transaction Configuration

Grails also provides @Transactional and @NotTransactional annotations for cases where you need more fine-grained control over transactions at a per-method level or need to specify an alternative propagation level. For example, the @NotTransactional annotation can be used to mark a particular method to be skipped when a class is annotated with @Transactional.

The grails.transaction.Transactional annotation was first introduced in Grails 2.3. Prior to 2.3, Spring's @Transactional annotation was used.

Annotating a service method with Transactional disables the default Grails transactional behavior for that service (in the same way that adding transactional=false does) so if you use any annotations you must annotate all methods that require transactions.

In this example listBooks uses a read-only transaction, updateBook uses a default read-write transaction, and deleteBook is not transactional (probably not a good idea given its name).

import org.springframework.transaction.annotation.Transactional

class BookService {

@Transactional(readOnly = true) def listBooks() { Book.list() }

@Transactional def updateBook() { // … }

def deleteBook() { // … } }

You can also annotate the class to define the default transaction behavior for the whole service, and then override that default per-method. For example, this service is equivalent to one that has no annotations (since the default is implicitly transactional=true):

import org.springframework.transaction.annotation.Transactional

@Transactional class BookService {

def listBooks() { Book.list() }

def updateBook() { // … }

def deleteBook() { // … } }

This version defaults to all methods being read-write transactional (due to the class-level annotation), but the listBooks method overrides this to use a read-only transaction:

import org.springframework.transaction.annotation.Transactional

@Transactional class BookService {

@Transactional(readOnly = true) def listBooks() { Book.list() }

def updateBook() { // … }

def deleteBook() { // … } }

Although updateBook and deleteBook aren't annotated in this example, they inherit the configuration from the class-level annotation.

For more information refer to the section of the Spring user guide on Using @Transactional.

Unlike Spring you do not need any prior configuration to use Transactional; just specify the annotation as needed and Grails will detect them up automatically.

12.1.1 Transactions Rollback and the Session

Understanding Transactions and the Hibernate Session

When using transactions there are important considerations you must take into account with regards to how the underlying persistence session is handled by Hibernate. When a transaction is rolled back the Hibernate session used by GORM is cleared. This means any objects within the session become detached and accessing uninitialized lazy-loaded collections will lead to LazyInitializationExceptions.

To understand why it is important that the Hibernate session is cleared. Consider the following example:

class Author {
    String name
    Integer age

static hasMany = [books: Book] }

If you were to save two authors using consecutive transactions as follows:

Author.withTransaction { status ->
    new Author(name: "Stephen King", age: 40).save()
    status.setRollbackOnly()
}

Author.withTransaction { status -> new Author(name: "Stephen King", age: 40).save() }

Only the second author would be saved since the first transaction rolls back the author save() by clearing the Hibernate session. If the Hibernate session were not cleared then both author instances would be persisted and it would lead to very unexpected results.

It can, however, be frustrating to get LazyInitializationExceptions due to the session being cleared.

For example, consider the following example:

class AuthorService {

void updateAge(id, int age) { def author = Author.get(id) author.age = age if (author.isTooOld()) { throw new AuthorException("too old", author) } } }

class AuthorController {

def authorService

def updateAge() { try { authorService.updateAge(params.id, params.int("age")) } catch(e) { render "Author books ${e.author.books}" } } }

In the above example the transaction will be rolled back if the Author's age exceeds the maximum value defined in the isTooOld() method by throwing an AuthorException. The AuthorException references the author but when the books association is accessed a LazyInitializationException will be thrown because the underlying Hibernate session has been cleared.

To solve this problem you have a number of options. One is to ensure you query eagerly to get the data you will need:

class AuthorService {
    …
    void updateAge(id, int age) {
        def author = Author.findById(id, [fetch:[books:"eager"]])
        ...

In this example the books association will be queried when retrieving the Author.

This is the optimal solution as it requires fewer queries then the following suggested solutions.

Another solution is to redirect the request after a transaction rollback:

class AuthorController {

AuthorService authorService

def updateAge() { try { authorService.updateAge(params.id, params.int("age")) } catch(e) { flash.message "Can't update age" redirect action:"show", id:params.id } } }

In this case a new request will deal with retrieving the Author again. And, finally a third solution is to retrieve the data for the Author again to make sure the session remains in the correct state:

class AuthorController {

def authorService

def updateAge() { try { authorService.updateAge(params.id, params.int("age")) } catch(e) { def author = Author.read(params.id) render "Author books ${author.books}" } } }

Validation Errors and Rollback

A common use case is to rollback a transaction if there are validation errors. For example consider this service:

import grails.validation.ValidationException

class AuthorService {

void updateAge(id, int age) { def author = Author.get(id) author.age = age if (!author.validate()) { throw new ValidationException("Author is not valid", author.errors) } } }

To re-render the same view that a transaction was rolled back in you can re-associate the errors with a refreshed instance before rendering:

import grails.validation.ValidationException

class AuthorController {

def authorService

def updateAge() { try { authorService.updateAge(params.id, params.int("age")) } catch (ValidationException e) { def author = Author.read(params.id) author.errors = e.errors render view: "edit", model: [author:author] } } }

12.2 Scoped Services

By default, access to service methods is not synchronised, so nothing prevents concurrent execution of those methods. In fact, because the service is a singleton and may be used concurrently, you should be very careful about storing state in a service. Or take the easy (and better) road and never store state in a service.

You can change this behaviour by placing a service in a particular scope. The supported scopes are:

  • prototype - A new service is created every time it is injected into another class
  • request - A new service will be created per request
  • flash - A new service will be created for the current and next request only
  • flow - In web flows the service will exist for the scope of the flow
  • conversation - In web flows the service will exist for the scope of the conversation. ie a root flow and its sub flows
  • session - A service is created for the scope of a user session
  • singleton (default) - Only one instance of the service ever exists

If your service is flash, flow or conversation scoped it must implement java.io.Serializable and can only be used in the context of a Web Flow.

To enable one of the scopes, add a static scope property to your class whose value is one of the above, for example

static scope = "flow"

For new Grails apps since 2.3, default controller scope is singleton, resulting in prototype scope services that are effectively per-controller singletons. If non-singleton services are required, controller scope should be changed as well.

12.3 Dependency Injection and Services

Dependency Injection Basics

A key aspect of Grails services is the ability to use Spring Framework's dependency injection features. Grails supports "dependency injection by convention". In other words, you can use the property name representation of the class name of a service to automatically inject them into controllers, tag libraries, and so on.

As an example, given a service called BookService, if you define a property called bookService in a controller as follows:

class BookController {
    def bookService
    …
}

In this case, the Spring container will automatically inject an instance of that service based on its configured scope. All dependency injection is done by name. You can also specify the type as follows:

class AuthorService {
    BookService bookService
}

NOTE: Normally the property name is generated by lower casing the first letter of the type. For example, an instance of the BookService class would map to a property named bookService.

To be consistent with standard JavaBean conventions, if the first 2 letters of the class name are upper case, the property name is the same as the class name. For example, the property name of the JDBCHelperService class would be JDBCHelperService, not jDBCHelperService or jdbcHelperService.

See section 8.8 of the JavaBean specification for more information on de-capitalization rules.

Dependency Injection and Services

You can inject services in other services with the same technique. If you had an AuthorService that needed to use the BookService, declaring the AuthorService as follows would allow that:

class AuthorService {
    def bookService
}

Dependency Injection and Domain Classes / Tag Libraries

You can even inject services into domain classes and tag libraries, which can aid in the development of rich domain models and views:

class Book {
    …
    def bookService

def buyBook() { bookService.buyBook(this) } }

Service Bean Names

The default bean name which is associated with a service can be problematic if there are multiple services with the same name defined in different packages. For example consider the situation where an application defines a service class named com.demo.ReportingService and the application uses a plugin named ReportingUtilities and that plugin provides a service class named com.reporting.util.ReportingService. The default bean name for each of those would be reportingService so they would conflict with each other. Grails manages this by changing the default bean name for services provided by plugins by prefixing the bean name with the plugin name. In the scenario described above the reportingService bean would be an instance of the com.demo.ReportingService class defined in the application and the reportingUtilitiesReportingService bean would be an instance of the com.reporting.util.ReportingService class provided by the ReportingUtilities plugin. For all service beans provided by plugins, if there are no other services with the same name within the application or other plugins in the application then a bean alias will be created which does not include the plugin name and that alias points to the bean referred to by the name that does include the plugin name prefix. For example, if the ReportingUtilities plugin provides a service named com.reporting.util.AuthorService and there is no other AuthorService in the application or in any of the plugins that the application is using then there will be a bean named reportingUtilitiesAuthorService which is an instance of this com.reporting.util.AuthorService class and there will be a bean alias defined in the context named authorService which points to that same bean.

12.4 Using Services from Java

One of the powerful things about services is that since they encapsulate re-usable logic, you can use them from other classes, including Java classes. There are a couple of ways you can reuse a service from Java. The simplest way is to move your service into a package within the grails-app/services directory. The reason this is important is that it is not possible to import classes into Java from the default package (the package used when no package declaration is present). So for example the BookService below cannot be used from Java as it stands:

class BookService {
    void buyBook(Book book) {
        // logic
    }
}

However, this can be rectified by placing this class in a package, by moving the class into a sub directory such as grails-app/services/bookstore and then modifying the package declaration:

package bookstore

class BookService { void buyBook(Book book) { // logic } }

An alternative to packages is to instead have an interface within a package that the service implements:

package bookstore

interface BookStore { void buyBook(Book book) }

And then the service:

class BookService implements bookstore.BookStore {
    void buyBook(Book b) {
        // logic
    }
}

This latter technique is arguably cleaner, as the Java side only has a reference to the interface and not to the implementation class (although it's always a good idea to use packages). Either way, the goal of this exercise to enable Java to statically resolve the class (or interface) to use, at compile time.

Now that this is done you can create a Java class within the src/java directory and add a setter that uses the type and the name of the bean in Spring:

// src/java/bookstore/BookConsumer.java
package bookstore;

public class BookConsumer {

private BookStore store;

public void setBookStore(BookStore storeInstance) { this.store = storeInstance; } … }

Once this is done you can configure the Java class as a Spring bean in grails-app/conf/spring/resources.xml (for more information see the section on Grails and Spring):

<bean id="bookConsumer" class="bookstore.BookConsumer">
    <property name="bookStore" ref="bookService" />
</bean>

or in grails-app/conf/spring/resources.groovy:

import bookstore.BookConsumer

beans = { bookConsumer(BookConsumer) { bookStore = ref("bookService") } }

13 Static Type Checking And Compilation

Groovy is a dynamic language and by default Groovy uses a dynamic dispatch mechanism to carry out method calls and property access. This dynamic dispatch mechanism provides a lot of flexibility and power to the language. For example, it is possible to dynamically add methods to classes at runtime and it is possible to dynamically replace existing methods at runtime. Features like these are important and provide a lot of power to the language. However, there are times when you may want to disable this dynamic dispatch in favor of a more static dispatch mechanism and Groovy provides a way to do that. The way to tell the Groovy compiler that a particular class should compiled statically is to mark the class with the groovy.transform.CompileStatic annotation as shown below.

import groovy.transform.CompileStatic

@CompileStatic class MyClass {

// this class will be statically compiled...

}

See these notes on Groovy static compilation for more details on how CompileStatic works and why you might want to use it.

One limitation of using CompileStatic is that when you use it you give up access to the power and flexibility offered by dynamic dispatch. For example, in Grails you would not be able to invoke a GORM dynamic finder from a class that is marked with CompileStatic because the compiler cannot verify that the dynamic finder method exists, because it doesn't exist at compile time. It may be that you want to take advantage of Groovy's static compilation benefits without giving up access to dynamic dispatch for Grails specific things like dynamic finders and this is where grails.compiler.GrailsCompileStatic comes in. GrailsCompileStatic behaves just like CompileStatic but is aware of certain Grails features and allows access to those specific features to be accessed dynamically.

13.1 The GrailsCompileStatic Annotation

GrailsCompileStatic

The GrailsCompileStatic annotation may be applied to a class or methods within a class.

import grails.compiler.GrailsCompileStatic

@GrailsCompileStatic class SomeClass {

// all of the code in this class will be statically compiled

def methodOne() { // … }

def methodTwo() { // … }

def methodThree() { // … } }

import grails.compiler.GrailsCompileStatic

class SomeClass {

// methodOne and methodThree will be statically compiled // methodTwo will be dynamically compiled

@GrailsCompileStatic def methodOne() { // … }

def methodTwo() { // … }

@GrailsCompileStatic def methodThree() { // … } }

It is possible to mark a class with GrailsCompileStatic and exclude specific methods by marking them with GrailsCompileStatic and specifying that the type checking should be skipped for that particular method as shown below.

import grails.compiler.GrailsCompileStatic
import groovy.transform.TypeCheckingMode

@GrailsCompileStatic class SomeClass {

// methodOne and methodThree will be statically compiled // methodTwo will be dynamically compiled

def methodOne() { // … }

@GrailsCompileStatic(TypeCheckingMode.SKIP) def methodTwo() { // … }

def methodThree() { // … } }

Code that is marked with GrailsCompileStatic will all be statically compiled except for Grails specific interactions that cannot be statically compiled but that GrailsCompileStatic can identify as permissible for dynamic dispatch. These include things like invoking dynamic finders and DSL code in configuration blocks like constraints and mapping closures in domain classes.

Care must be taken when deciding to statically compile code. There are benefits associated with static compilation but in order to take advantage of those benefits you are giving up the power and flexibility of dynamic dispatch. For example if code is statically compiled it cannot take advantage of runtime metaprogramming enhancements which may be provided by plugins.

13.2 The GrailsTypeChecked Annotation

GrailsTypeChecked

The grails.compiler.GrailsTypeChecked annotation works a lot like the GrailsCompileStatic annotation except that it only enables static type checking, not static compilation. This affords compile time feedback for expressions which cannot be validated statically at compile time while still leaving dynamic dispatch in place for the class.

import grails.compiler.GrailsTypeChecked

@GrailsTypeChecked class SomeClass {

// all of the code in this class will be statically type // checked and will be dynamically dispatched at runtime

def methodOne() { // … }

def methodTwo() { // … }

def methodThree() { // … } }

14 Testing

Automated testing is a key part of Grails. Hence, Grails provides many ways to making testing easier from low level unit testing to high level functional tests. This section details the different capabilities that Grails offers for testing.

Grails 1.3.x and below used the grails.test.GrailsUnitTestCase class hierarchy for testing in a JUnit 3 style. Grails 2.0.x and above deprecates these test harnesses in favour of mixins that can be applied to a range of different kinds of tests (JUnit 3, JUnit 4, Spock etc.) without subclassing

The first thing to be aware of is that all of the create-* and generate-* commands create unit or integration tests automatically. For example if you run the create-controller command as follows:

grails create-controller com.acme.app.simple

Grails will create a controller at grails-app/controllers/com/acme/app/SimpleController.groovy, and also a unit test at test/unit/com/acme/app/SimpleControllerTests.groovy. What Grails won't do however is populate the logic inside the test! That is left up to you.

The default class name suffix is Tests but as of Grails 1.2.2, the suffix of Test is also supported.

Running Tests

Tests are run with the test-app command:

grails test-app

The command will produce output such as:

-------------------------------------------------------
Running Unit Tests…
Running test FooTests...FAILURE
Unit Tests Completed in 464ms …
-------------------------------------------------------

Tests failed: 0 errors, 1 failures

whilst showing the reason for each test failure.

You can force a clean before running tests by passing -clean to the test-app command.

Grails writes both plain text and HTML test reports to the target/test-reports directory, along with the original XML files. The HTML reports are generally the best ones to look at.

Using Grails' interactive mode confers some distinct advantages when executing tests. First, the tests will execute significantly faster on the second and subsequent runs. Second, a shortcut is available to open the HTML reports in your browser:

open test-report

You can also run your unit tests from within most IDEs.

Targeting Tests

You can selectively target the test(s) to be run in different ways. To run all tests for a controller named SimpleController you would run:

grails test-app SimpleController

This will run any tests for the class named SimpleController. Wildcards can be used...

grails test-app *Controller

This will test all classes ending in Controller. Package names can optionally be specified...

grails test-app some.org.*Controller

or to run all tests in a package...

grails test-app some.org.*

or to run all tests in a package including subpackages...

grails test-app some.org.**.*

You can also target particular test methods...

grails test-app SimpleController.testLogin

This will run the testLogin test in the SimpleController tests. You can specify as many patterns in combination as you like...

grails test-app some.org.* SimpleController.testLogin BookController

Targeting Test Types and/or Phases

In addition to targeting certain tests, you can also target test types and/or phases by using the phase:type syntax.

Grails organises tests by phase and by type. A test phase relates to the state of the Grails application during the tests, and the type relates to the testing mechanism.

Grails comes with support for 4 test phases (unit, integration, functional and other) and JUnit test types for the unit and integration phases. These test types have the same name as the phase.

Testing plugins may provide new test phases or new test types for existing phases. Refer to the plugin documentation.

To execute the JUnit integration tests you can run:

grails test-app integration:integration

Both phase and type are optional. Their absence acts as a wildcard. The following command will run all test types in the unit phase:

grails test-app unit:

The Grails Spock Plugin is one plugin that adds new test types to Grails. It adds a spock test type to the unit, integration and functional phases. To run all spock tests in all phases you would run the following:

grails test-app :spock

To run the all of the spock tests in the functional phase you would run...

grails test-app functional:spock

More than one pattern can be specified...

grails test-app unit:spock integration:spock

Targeting Tests in Types and/or Phases

Test and type/phase targetting can be applied at the same time:

grails test-app integration: unit: some.org.**.*

This would run all tests in the integration and unit phases that are in the package some.org or a subpackage.

14.1 Unit Testing

Unit testing are tests at the "unit" level. In other words you are testing individual methods or blocks of code without consideration for surrounding infrastructure. Unit tests are typically run without the presence of physical resources that involve I/O such databases, socket connections or files. This is to ensure they run as quick as possible since quick feedback is important.

The Test Mixins

Since Grails 2.0, a collection of unit testing mixins is provided by Grails that lets you enhance the behavior of a typical JUnit 3, JUnit 4 or Spock test. The following sections cover the usage of these mixins.

The previous JUnit 3-style GrailsUnitTestCase class hierarchy is still present in Grails for backwards compatibility, but is now deprecated. The previous documentation on the subject can be found in the Grails 1.3.x documentation

You won't normally have to import any of the testing classes because Grails does that for you. But if you find that your IDE for example can't find the classes, here they all are:

  • grails.test.mixin.TestFor
  • grails.test.mixin.Mock
  • grails.test.mixin.TestMixin
  • grails.test.mixin.support.GrailsUnitTestMixin
  • grails.test.mixin.domain.DomainClassUnitTestMixin
  • grails.test.mixin.services.ServiceUnitTestMixin
  • grails.test.mixin.web.ControllerUnitTestMixin
  • grails.test.mixin.web.FiltersUnitTestMixin
  • grails.test.mixin.web.GroovyPageUnitTestMixin
  • grails.test.mixin.web.UrlMappingsUnitTestMixin
  • grails.test.mixin.hibernate.HibernateTestMixin

Note that you're only ever likely to use the first two explicitly. The rest are there for reference.

Test Mixin Basics

Most testing can be achieved via the TestFor annotation in combination with the Mock annotation for mocking collaborators. For example, to test a controller and associated domains you would define the following:

@TestFor(BookController)
@Mock([Book, Author, BookService])

The TestFor annotation defines the class under test and will automatically create a field for the type of class under test. For example in the above case a "controller" field will be present, however if TestFor was defined for a service a "service" field would be created and so on.

The Mock annotation creates mock version of any collaborators. There is an in-memory implementation of GORM that will simulate most interactions with the GORM API.

doWithSpring and doWithConfig callback methods, FreshRuntime annotation

The doWithSpring callback method can be used to add beans with the BeanBuilder DSL. There is the doWithConfig callback method for changing the grailsApplication.config values before the grailsApplication instance of the test runtime gets initialized.

import grails.test.mixin.support.GrailsUnitTestMixin

import org.junit.ClassRule import org.junit.rules.TestRule

import spock.lang.Ignore; import spock.lang.IgnoreRest import spock.lang.Shared; import spock.lang.Specification

@TestMixin(GrailsUnitTestMixin) class StaticCallbacksSpec extends Specification { static doWithSpring = { myService(MyService) }

static doWithConfig(c) { c.myConfigValue = 'Hello' }

def "grailsApplication is not null"() { expect: grailsApplication != null }

def "doWithSpring callback is executed"() { expect: grailsApplication.mainContext.getBean('myService') != null }

def "doWithConfig callback is executed"(){ expect: config.myConfigValue == 'Hello' } }

You can also use these callbacks without "static" together with the grails.test.runtime.FreshRuntime annotation. In this case, a clean application context and grails application instance is initialized for each test method call.

import grails.test.mixin.support.GrailsUnitTestMixin
import grails.test.runtime.FreshRuntime;

import org.junit.ClassRule import org.junit.rules.TestRule

import spock.lang.Ignore; import spock.lang.IgnoreRest import spock.lang.Shared; import spock.lang.Specification

@FreshRuntime @TestMixin(GrailsUnitTestMixin) class TestInstanceCallbacksSpec extends Specification { def doWithSpring = { myService(MyService) }

def doWithConfig(c) { c.myConfigValue = 'Hello' }

def "grailsApplication is not null"() { expect: grailsApplication != null }

def "doWithSpring callback is executed"() { expect: grailsApplication.mainContext.getBean('myService') != null }

def "doWithConfig callback is executed"(){ expect: config.myConfigValue == 'Hello' } }

You can use org.grails.spring.beans.factory.InstanceFactoryBean together with doWithSpring and the FreshRuntime annotation to mock beans in tests.

import grails.test.mixin.support.GrailsUnitTestMixin
import grails.test.runtime.FreshRuntime

import org.grails.spring.beans.factory.InstanceFactoryBean import org.junit.ClassRule

import spock.lang.Shared import spock.lang.Specification

@FreshRuntime @TestMixin(GrailsUnitTestMixin) class MockedBeanSpec extends Specification { def myService=Mock(MyService)

def doWithSpring = { myService(InstanceFactoryBean, myService, MyService) }

def "doWithSpring callback is executed"() { when: def myServiceBean=grailsApplication.mainContext.getBean('myService') myServiceBean.prova() then: 1 * myService.prova() >> { true } } }

The DirtiesRuntime annotation

Test methods may be marked with the grails.test.runtime.DirtiesRuntime annotation to indicate that the test modifies the runtime in ways which might be problematic for other tests and as such the runtime should be refreshed after this test method runs.

import grails.test.mixin.TestFor
import spock.lang.Specification
import grails.test.runtime.DirtiesRuntime

@TestFor(PersonController) class PersonControllerSpec extends Specification {

@DirtiesRuntime void "a test method which modifies the runtime"() { when: Person.metaClass.someMethod = { … } // ...

then: // … }

void "a test method which should not be affected by the previous test method"() { // … } }

Sharing test runtime grailsApplication instance and beans for several test classes

It's possible to share a single grailsApplication instance and beans for several test classes. This feature is activated by the SharedRuntime annotation. This annotation takes an optional class parameter implements SharedRuntimeConfigurer interface. All test classes referencing the same SharedRuntimeConfigurer implementation class will share the same runtime during a single test run. The value class for SharedRuntimeConfigurer annotation can also implement TestEventInterceptor . In this case the instance of the class will be registered as a test event interceptor for the test runtime.

Loading application beans in unit tests

Adding static loadExternalBeans = true field definition to a unit test class makes the Grails unit test runtime load all bean definitions from grails-app/conf/spring/resources.groovy and grails-app/conf/spring/resources.xml files.

import spock.lang.Issue
import spock.lang.Specification
import grails.test.mixin.support.GrailsUnitTestMixin

@TestMixin(GrailsUnitTestMixin) class LoadExternalBeansSpec extends Specification { static loadExternalBeans = true

void "should load external beans"(){ expect: applicationContext.getBean('simpleBean') == 'Hello world!' } }

14.1.1 Unit Testing Controllers

The Basics

You use the grails.test.mixin.TestFor annotation to unit test controllers. Using TestFor in this manner activates the grails.test.mixin.web.ControllerUnitTestMixin and its associated API. For example:

import grails.test.mixin.TestFor
import spock.lang.Specification

@TestFor(SimpleController) class SimpleControllerSpec extends Specification {

void "test something"() { } }

Adding the TestFor annotation to a controller causes a new controller field to be automatically created for the controller under test.

The TestFor annotation will also automatically annotate any public methods starting with "test" with JUnit 4's @Test annotation. If any of your test method don't start with "test" just add this manually

To test the simplest "Hello World"-style example you can do the following:

// Test class
class SimpleController {
    def hello() {
        render "hello"
    }
}

import grails.test.mixin.TestFor
import spock.lang.Specification

@TestFor(SimpleController) class SimpleControllerSpec extends Specification {

void "test hello"() { when: controller.hello()

then: response.text == 'hello' } }

The response object is an instance of GrailsMockHttpServletResponse (from the package org.codehaus.groovy.grails.plugins.testing) which extends Spring's MockHttpServletResponse class and has a number of useful methods for inspecting the state of the response.

For example to test a redirect you can use the redirectedUrl property:

class SimpleController {
    def index() {
        redirect action: 'hello'
    }
    …
}

import grails.test.mixin.TestFor
import spock.lang.Specification

@TestFor(SimpleController) class SimpleControllerSpec extends Specification {

void 'test index'() { when: controller.index()

then: response.redirectedUrl == '/simple/hello' } }

Many actions make use of the parameter data associated with the request. For example, the 'sort', 'max', and 'offset' parameters are quite common. Providing these in the test is as simple as adding appropriate values to a special params variable:

import grails.test.mixin.TestFor
import spock.lang.Specification

@TestFor(PersonController) class PersonControllerSpec extends Specification {

void 'test list'() { when: params.sort = 'name' params.max = 20 params.offset = 0 controller.list()

then: // … } }

You can even control what type of request the controller action sees by setting the method property of the mock request:

import grails.test.mixin.TestFor
import spock.lang.Specification

@TestFor(PersonController) class PersonControllerSpec extends Specification {

void 'test save'() { when: request.method = 'POST' controller.save()

then: // … } }

This is particularly important if your actions do different things depending on the type of the request. Finally, you can mark a request as AJAX like so:

import grails.test.mixin.TestFor
import spock.lang.Specification

@TestFor(PersonController) class PersonControllerSpec extends Specification {

void 'test list'() { when: request.method = 'POST' request.makeAjaxRequest() controller.getPage()

then: // … } }

You only need to do this though if the code under test uses the xhr property on the request.

Testing View Rendering

To test view rendering you can inspect the state of the controller's modelAndView property (an instance of org.springframework.web.servlet.ModelAndView) or you can use the view and model properties provided by the mixin:

class SimpleController {
    def home() {
        render view: "homePage", model: [title: "Hello World"]
    }
    …
}

import grails.test.mixin.TestFor
import spock.lang.Specification

@TestFor(SimpleController) class SimpleControllerSpec extends Specification {

void 'test home'() { when: controller.home()

then: view == '/simple/homePage' model.title == 'Hello World' } }

Note that the view string is the absolute view path, so it starts with a '/' and will include path elements, such as the directory named after the action's controller.

Testing Template Rendering

Unlike view rendering, template rendering will actually attempt to write the template directly to the response rather than returning a ModelAndView hence it requires a different approach to testing.

Consider the following controller action:

class SimpleController {
    def display() {
        render template:"snippet"
    }
}

In this example the controller will look for a template in grails-app/views/simple/_snippet.gsp. You can test this as follows:

import grails.test.mixin.TestFor
import spock.lang.Specification

@TestFor(SimpleController) class SimpleControllerSpec extends Specification {

void 'test display'() { when: controller.display()

then: response.text == 'contents of the template' } }

However, you may not want to render the real template, but just test that is was rendered. In this case you can provide mock Groovy Pages:

import grails.test.mixin.TestFor
import spock.lang.Specification

@TestFor(SimpleController) class SimpleControllerSpec extends Specification {

void 'test display with mock template'() { when: views['/simple/_snippet.gsp'] = 'mock template contents' controller.display()

then: response.text == 'mock template contents' } }

Testing Actions Which Return A Map

When a controller action returns a java.util.Map that Map may be inspected directly to assert that it contains the expected data:

class SimpleController {
    def showBookDetails() {
        [title: 'The Nature Of Necessity', author: 'Alvin Plantinga']
    }
}

import grails.test.mixin.TestFor
import spock.lang.Specification

@TestFor(SimpleController) class SimpleControllerSpec extends Specification {

void 'test show book details'() { when: def model = controller.showBookDetails()

then: model.author == 'Alvin Plantinga' } }

Testing XML and JSON Responses

XML and JSON response are also written directly to the response. Grails' mocking capabilities provide some conveniences for testing XML and JSON response. For example consider the following action:

def renderXml() {
    render(contentType:"text/xml") {
        book(title:"Great")
    }
}

This can be tested using the xml property of the response:

import grails.test.mixin.TestFor
import spock.lang.Specification

@TestFor(SimpleController) class SimpleControllerSpec extends Specification {

void 'test render xml'() { when: controller.renderXml()

then: response.text == "<book title='Great'/>" response.xml.@title.text() == 'Great' } }

The xml property is a parsed result from Groovy's XmlSlurper class which is very convenient for parsing XML.

Testing JSON responses is pretty similar, instead you use the json property:

// controller action
def renderJson() {
    render(contentType:"application/json") {
        book = "Great"
    }
}

import grails.test.mixin.TestFor
import spock.lang.Specification

@TestFor(SimpleController) class SimpleControllerSpec extends Specification {

void 'test render json'() { when: controller.renderJson()

then: response.text == '{"book":"Great"}' response.json.book == 'Great' } }

The json property is an instance of org.codehaus.groovy.grails.web.json.JSONElement which is a map-like structure that is useful for parsing JSON responses.

Testing XML and JSON Requests

Grails provides various convenient ways to automatically parse incoming XML and JSON packets. For example you can bind incoming JSON or XML requests using Grails' data binding:

def consumeBook(Book b) {
    render "The title is ${b.title}."
}

To test this Grails provides an easy way to specify an XML or JSON packet via the xml or json properties. For example the above action can be tested by specifying a String containing the XML:

import grails.test.mixin.TestFor
import spock.lang.Specification

@TestFor(SimpleController) @Mock([Book]) class SimpleControllerSpec extends Specification { void 'test consume book xml'() { when: request.xml = '<book><title>Wool</title></book>' controller.consumeBook()

then: response.text == 'The title is Wool.' } }

Or alternatively a domain instance can be specified and it will be auto-converted into the appropriate XML request:

import grails.test.mixin.TestFor
import spock.lang.Specification

@TestFor(SimpleController) @Mock([Book]) class SimpleControllerSpec extends Specification {

void 'test consume book xml'() { when: request.xml = new Book(title: 'Shift') controller.consumeBook()

then: response.text == 'The title is Shift.' } }

The same can be done for JSON requests:

import grails.test.mixin.TestFor
import spock.lang.Specification

@TestFor(SimpleController) @Mock([Book]) class SimpleControllerSpec extends Specification {

void 'test consume book json'() { when: request.json = new Book(title: 'Shift') controller.consumeBook()

then: response.text == 'The title is Shift.' } }

If you prefer not to use Grails' data binding but instead manually parse the incoming XML or JSON that can be tested too. For example consider the controller action below:

def consume() {
    request.withFormat {
        xml {
            render "The XML Title Is ${request.XML.@title}."
        }
        json {
            render "The JSON Title Is ${request.JSON.title}."
        }
    }
}

To test the XML request you can specify the XML as a string:

import grails.test.mixin.TestFor
import spock.lang.Specification

@TestFor(SimpleController) class SimpleControllerSpec extends Specification {

void 'test consume xml'() { when: request.xml = '<book title="The Stand"/>' controller.consume()

then: response.text == 'The XML Title Is The Stand.' }

void 'test consume json'() { when: request.json = '{title:"The Stand"}' controller.consume()

then: response.text == 'The JSON Title Is The Stand.' } }

Testing Mime Type Handling

You can test mime type handling and the withFormat method quite simply by setting the request's contentType attribute:

// controller action
def sayHello() {
    def data = [Hello:"World"]
    request.withFormat {
        xml { render data as grails.converters.XML }
        json { render data as grails.converters.JSON }
        html data
    }
}

import grails.test.mixin.TestFor
import spock.lang.Specification

@TestFor(SimpleController) class SimpleControllerSpec extends Specification {

void 'test say hello xml'() { when: request.contentType = 'application/xml' controller.sayHello()

then: response.text == '<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?><map><entry key="Hello">World</entry></map>' }

void 'test say hello json'() { when: request.contentType = 'application/json' controller.sayHello()

then: response.text == '{"Hello":"World"}' } }

There are constants provided by ControllerUnitTestMixin for all of the common common content types as shown below:

import grails.test.mixin.TestFor
import spock.lang.Specification

@TestFor(SimpleController) class SimpleControllerSpec extends Specification {

void 'test say hello xml'() { when: request.contentType = XML_CONTENT_TYPE controller.sayHello()

then: response.text == '<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?><map><entry key="Hello">World</entry></map>' }

void 'test say hello json'() { when: request.contentType = JSON_CONTENT_TYPE controller.sayHello()

then: response.text == '{"Hello":"World"}' } }

The defined constants are listed below:

ConstantValue
ALL_CONTENT_TYPE*/*
FORM_CONTENT_TYPEapplication/x-www-form-urlencoded
MULTIPART_FORM_CONTENT_TYPEmultipart/form-data
HTML_CONTENT_TYPEtext/html
XHTML_CONTENT_TYPEapplication/xhtml+xml
XML_CONTENT_TYPEapplication/xml
JSON_CONTENT_TYPEapplication/json
TEXT_XML_CONTENT_TYPEtext/xml
TEXT_JSON_CONTENT_TYPEtext/json
HAL_JSON_CONTENT_TYPEapplication/hal+json
HAL_XML_CONTENT_TYPEapplication/hal+xml
ATOM_XML_CONTENT_TYPEapplication/atom+xml

Testing Duplicate Form Submissions

Testing duplicate form submissions is a little bit more involved. For example if you have an action that handles a form such as:

def handleForm() {
    withForm {
        render "Good"
    }.invalidToken {
        render "Bad"
    }
}

you want to verify the logic that is executed on a good form submission and the logic that is executed on a duplicate submission. Testing the bad submission is simple. Just invoke the controller:

import grails.test.mixin.TestFor
import spock.lang.Specification

@TestFor(SimpleController) class SimpleControllerSpec extends Specification {

void 'test duplicate form submission'() { when: controller.handleForm()

then: response.text == 'Bad' } }

Testing the successful submission requires providing an appropriate SynchronizerToken:

import grails.test.mixin.TestFor
import spock.lang.Specification

import org.codehaus.groovy.grails.web.servlet.mvc.SynchronizerTokensHolder

@TestFor(SimpleController) class SimpleControllerSpec extends Specification {

void 'test valid form submission'() { when: def tokenHolder = SynchronizerTokensHolder.store(session)

params[SynchronizerTokensHolder.TOKEN_URI] = '/controller/handleForm' params[SynchronizerTokensHolder.TOKEN_KEY] = tokenHolder.generateToken(params[SynchronizerTokensHolder.TOKEN_URI]) controller.handleForm()

then: response.text == 'Good' } }

If you test both the valid and the invalid request in the same test be sure to reset the response between executions of the controller:

import grails.test.mixin.TestFor
import spock.lang.Specification

import org.codehaus.groovy.grails.web.servlet.mvc.SynchronizerTokensHolder

@TestFor(SimpleController) class SimpleControllerSpec extends Specification {

void 'test form submission'() { when: controller.handleForm()

then: response.text == 'Bad'

when: response.reset() def tokenHolder = SynchronizerTokensHolder.store(session)

params[SynchronizerTokensHolder.TOKEN_URI] = '/controller/handleForm' params[SynchronizerTokensHolder.TOKEN_KEY] = tokenHolder.generateToken(params[SynchronizerTokensHolder.TOKEN_URI]) controller.handleForm()

then: response.text == 'Good' } }

Testing File Upload

You use the GrailsMockMultipartFile class to test file uploads. For example consider the following controller action:

def uploadFile() {
    MultipartFile file = request.getFile("myFile")
    file.transferTo(new File("/local/disk/myFile"))
}

To test this action you can register a GrailsMockMultipartFile with the request:

import grails.test.mixin.TestFor
import spock.lang.Specification

import org.codehaus.groovy.grails.plugins.testing.GrailsMockMultipartFile

@TestFor(SimpleController) class SimpleControllerSpec extends Specification {

void 'test file upload'() { when: def file = new GrailsMockMultipartFile('myFile', 'some file contents'.bytes) request.addFile file controller.uploadFile()

then: file.targetFileLocation.path == '/local/disk/myFile' } }

The GrailsMockMultipartFile constructor arguments are the name and contents of the file. It has a mock implementation of the transferTo method that simply records the targetFileLocation and doesn't write to disk.

Testing Command Objects

Special support exists for testing command object handling with the mockCommandObject method. For example consider the following action:

class SimpleController {
    def handleCommand(SimpleCommand simple) {
        if(simple.hasErrors()) {
            render 'Bad'
        } else {
            render 'Good'
        }
    }
}

class SimpleCommand { String name

static constraints = { name blank: false } }

To test this you mock the command object, populate it and then validate it as follows:

import grails.test.mixin.TestFor
import spock.lang.Specification

@TestFor(SimpleController) class SimpleControllerSpec extends Specification {

void 'test valid command object'() { given: def simpleCommand = new SimpleCommand(name: 'Hugh') simpleCommand.validate()

when: controller.handleCommand(simpleCommand)

then: response.text == 'Good' }

void 'test invalid command object'() { given: def simpleCommand = new SimpleCommand(name: '') simpleCommand.validate()

when: controller.handleCommand(simpleCommand)

then: response.text == 'Bad' } }

The testing framework also supports allowing Grails to create the command object instance automatically. To test this invoke the no-arg version of the controller action method. Grails will create an instance of the command object, perform data binding on it using the request parameters and validate the object just like it does in when the application is running. See the test below.

import grails.test.mixin.TestFor
import spock.lang.Specification

@TestFor(SimpleController) class SimpleControllerSpec extends Specification {

void 'test valid command object'() { when: params.name = 'Hugh' controller.handleCommand()

then: response.text == 'Good' }

void 'test invalid command object'() { when: params.name = '' controller.handleCommand()

then: response.text == 'Bad' } }

Testing allowedMethods

The unit testing environment respects the allowedMethods property in controllers. If a controller action is limited to be accessed with certain request methods, the unit test must be constructed to deal with that.

// grails-app/controllers/com/demo/DemoController.groovypackage com.demo

class DemoController {

static allowedMethods = [save: 'POST', update: 'PUT', delete: 'DELETE']

def save() { render 'Save was successful!' }

// … }

// test/unit/com/demo/DemoControllerSpec.groovy
package com.demo

import grails.test.mixin.TestFor import spock.lang.Specification import static javax.servlet.http.HttpServletResponse.*

@TestFor(DemoController) class DemoControllerSpec extends Specification {

void "test a valid request method"() { when: request.method = 'POST' controller.save()

then: response.status == SC_OK response.text == 'Save was successful!' }

void "test an invalid request method"() { when: request.method = 'DELETE' controller.save()

then: response.status == SC_METHOD_NOT_ALLOWED } }

Testing Calling Tag Libraries

You can test calling tag libraries using ControllerUnitTestMixin, although the mechanism for testing the tag called varies from tag to tag. For example to test a call to the message tag, add a message to the messageSource. Consider the following action:

def showMessage() {
    render g.message(code: "foo.bar")
}

This can be tested as follows:

import grails.test.mixin.TestFor
import spock.lang.Specification

@TestFor(SimpleController) class SimpleControllerSpec extends Specification {

void 'test render message tag'() { given: messageSource.addMessage 'foo.bar', request.locale, 'Hello World'

when: controller.showMessage()

then: response.text == 'Hello World' } }

See unit testing tag libraries for more information.

14.1.2 Unit Testing Tag Libraries

The Basics

Tag libraries and GSP pages can be tested with the grails.test.mixin.web.GroovyPageUnitTestMixin mixin. To use the mixin declare which tag library is under test with the TestFor annotation:

import grails.test.mixin.TestFor
import spock.lang.Specification

@TestFor(SimpleTagLib) class SimpleTagLibSpec extends Specification {

void "test something"() { } }

Adding the TestFor annotation to a TagLib class causes a new tagLib field to be automatically created for the TagLib class under test. The tagLib field can be used to test calling tags as function calls. The return value of a function call is either a StreamCharBuffer instance or the object returned from the tag closure when returnObjectForTags feature is used.

Note that if you are testing invocation of a custom tag from a controller you can combine the ControllerUnitTestMixin and the GroovyPageUnitTestMixin using the Mock annotation:

import spock.lang.Specification

@TestFor(SimpleController) @Mock(SimpleTagLib) class SimpleControllerSpec extends Specification {

}

Testing Custom Tags

The core Grails tags don't need to be enabled during testing, however custom tag libraries do. The GroovyPageUnitTestMixin class provides a mockTagLib() method that you can use to mock a custom tag library. For example consider the following tag library:

class SimpleTagLib {

static namespace = 's'

def hello = { attrs, body -> out << "Hello ${attrs.name ?: 'World'}" }

def bye = { attrs, body -> out << "Bye ${attrs.author.name ?: 'World'}" } }

You can test this tag library by using TestFor and supplying the name of the tag library:

import grails.test.mixin.TestFor
import spock.lang.Specification

@TestFor(SimpleTagLib) class SimpleTagLibSpec extends Specification {

void "test hello tag"() { expect: applyTemplate('<s:hello />') == 'Hello World' applyTemplate('<s:hello name="Fred" />') == 'Hello Fred' applyTemplate('<s:bye author="${author}" />', [author: new Author(name: 'Fred')]) == 'Bye Fred' }

void "test tag calls"() { expect: tagLib.hello().toString() == 'Hello World' tagLib.hello(name: 'Fred').toString() == 'Hello Fred' tagLib.bye(author: new Author(name: 'Fred')).toString == 'Bye Fred' } }

Alternatively, you can use the TestMixin annotation and mock multiple tag libraries using the mockTagLib() method:

import spock.lang.Specification
import grails.test.mixin.TestMixin
import grails.test.mixin.web.GroovyPageUnitTestMixin

@TestMixin(GroovyPageUnitTestMixin) class MultipleTagLibSpec extends Specification {

void "test multiple tags"() { given: mockTagLib(SomeTagLib) mockTagLib(SomeOtherTagLib)

expect: // … } }

The GroovyPageUnitTestMixin provides convenience methods for asserting that the template output equals or matches an expected value.

import grails.test.mixin.TestFor
import spock.lang.Specification

@TestFor(SimpleTagLib) class SimpleTagLibSpec extends Specification {

void "test hello tag"() { expect: assertOutputEquals ('Hello World', '<s:hello />') assertOutputMatches (/.*Fred.*/, '<s:hello name="Fred" />') } }

Testing View and Template Rendering

You can test rendering of views and templates in grails-app/views via the render(Map) method provided by GroovyPageUnitTestMixin :

import spock.lang.Specification
import grails.test.mixin.TestMixin
import grails.test.mixin.web.GroovyPageUnitTestMixin

@TestMixin(GroovyPageUnitTestMixin) class RenderingSpec extends Specification {

void "test rendering template"() { when: def result = render(template: '/simple/hello')

then: result == 'Hello World!' } }

This will attempt to render a template found at the location grails-app/views/simple/_hello.gsp. Note that if the template depends on any custom tag libraries you need to call mockTagLib as described in the previous section.

Some core tags use the active controller and action as input. In GroovyPageUnitTestMixin tests, you can manually set the active controller and action name by setting controllerName and actionName properties on the webRequest object:

webRequest.controllerName = 'simple'
    webRequest.actionName = 'hello'

14.1.3 Unit Testing Domains

Overview

Domain class interaction can be tested without involving a real database connection using DomainClassUnitTestMixin or by using the HibernateTestMixin.

The GORM implementation in DomainClassUnitTestMixin is using a simple in-memory ConcurrentHashMap implementation. Note that this has limitations compared to a real GORM implementation.

A large, commonly-used portion of the GORM API can be mocked using DomainClassUnitTestMixin including:

  • Simple persistence methods like save(), delete() etc.
  • Dynamic Finders
  • Named Queries
  • Query-by-example
  • GORM Events

HibernateTestMixin uses Hibernate 4 and a H2 in-memory database. This makes it possible to use all GORM features also in Grails unit tests.

All features of GORM for Hibernate can be tested within a HibernateTestMixin unit test including:

  • String-based HQL queries
  • composite identifiers
  • dirty checking methods
  • any direct interaction with Hibernate

The implementation behind HibernateTestMixin takes care of setting up the Hibernate with the in-memory H2 database. It only configures the given domain classes for use in a unit test. The @Domain annotation is used to tell which domain classes should be configured.

DomainClassUnitTestMixin Basics

DomainClassUnitTestMixin is typically used in combination with testing either a controller, service or tag library where the domain is a mock collaborator defined by the Mock annotation:

import grails.test.mixin.TestFor
import spock.lang.Specification

@TestFor(BookController) @Mock(Book) class BookControllerSpec extends Specification { // … }

The example above tests the SimpleController class and mocks the behavior of the Simple domain class as well. For example consider a typical scaffolded save controller action:

class BookController {
    def save() {
        def book = new Book(params)
        if (book.save(flush: true)) {
            flash.message = message(
                    code: 'default.created.message',
                    args: [message(code: 'book.label', default: 'Book'), book.id])
            redirect(action: "show", id: book.id)
        }
        else {
            render(view: "create", model: [bookInstance: book])
        }
    }
}

Tests for this action can be written as follows:

import grails.test.mixin.TestFor
import spock.lang.Specification

@TestFor(BookController) @Mock(Book) class BookControllerSpec extends Specification { void "test saving an invalid book"() { when: controller.save()

then: model.bookInstance != null view == '/book/create' }

void "test saving a valid book"() { when: params.title = "The Stand" params.pages = "500"

controller.save()

then: response.redirectedUrl == '/book/show/1' flash.message != null Book.count() == 1 } }

Mock annotation also supports a list of mock collaborators if you have more than one domain to mock:

import grails.test.mixin.TestFor
import spock.lang.Specification

@TestFor(BookController) @Mock([Book, Author]) class BookControllerSpec extends Specification { // … }

Alternatively you can also use the DomainClassUnitTestMixin directly with the TestMixin annotation and then call the mockDomain method to mock domains during your test:

import grails.test.mixin.TestFor
import grails.test.mixin.TestMixin
import spock.lang.Specification
import grails.test.mixin.domain.DomainClassUnitTestMixin

@TestFor(BookController) @TestMixin(DomainClassUnitTestMixin) class BookControllerSpec extends Specification {

void setupSpec() { mockDomain(Book) }

void "test saving an invalid book"() { when: controller.save()

then: model.bookInstance != null view == '/book/create' }

void "test saving a valid book"() { when: params.title = "The Stand" params.pages = "500"

controller.save()

then: response.redirectedUrl == '/book/show/1' flash.message != null Book.count() == 1 } }

The mockDomain method also includes an additional parameter that lets you pass a Map of Maps to configure a domain, which is useful for fixture-like data:

mockDomain(Book, [
            [title: "The Stand", pages: 1000],
            [title: "The Shining", pages: 400],
            [title: "Along Came a Spider", pages: 300] ])

Testing Constraints

There are 3 types of validateable classes:

  1. Domain classes
  2. Classes which implement the Validateable trait
  3. Command Objects which have been made validateable automatically

These are all easily testable in a unit test with no special configuration necessary as long as the test method is marked with TestFor or explicitly applies the GrailsUnitTestMixin using TestMixin. See the examples below.

// src/groovy/com/demo/MyValidateable.groovy
package com.demo

class MyValidateable implements grails.validation.Validateable { String name Integer age

static constraints = { name matches: /[A-Z].*/ age range: 1..99 } }

// grails-app/domain/com/demo/Person.groovy
package com.demo

class Person { String name

static constraints = { name matches: /[A-Z].*/ } }

// grails-app/controllers/com/demo/DemoController.groovy
package com.demo

class DemoController {

def addItems(MyCommandObject co) { if(co.hasErrors()) { render 'something went wrong' } else { render 'items have been added' } } }

class MyCommandObject { Integer numberOfItems

static constraints = { numberOfItems range: 1..10 } }

// test/unit/com/demo/PersonSpec.groovy
package com.demo

import grails.test.mixin.TestFor import spock.lang.Specification

@TestFor(Person) class PersonSpec extends Specification {

void "Test that name must begin with an upper case letter"() { when: 'the name begins with a lower letter' def p = new Person(name: 'jeff')

then: 'validation should fail' !p.validate()

when: 'the name begins with an upper case letter' p = new Person(name: 'Jeff')

then: 'validation should pass' p.validate() } }

// test/unit/com/demo/DemoControllerSpec.groovy
package com.demo

import grails.test.mixin.TestFor import spock.lang.Specification

@TestFor(DemoController) class DemoControllerSpec extends Specification {

void 'Test an invalid number of items'() { when: params.numberOfItems = 42 controller.addItems()

then: response.text == 'something went wrong' }

void 'Test a valid number of items'() { when: params.numberOfItems = 8 controller.addItems()

then: response.text == 'items have been added' } }

// test/unit/com/demo/MyValidateableSpec.groovy
package com.demo

import grails.test.mixin.TestMixin import grails.test.mixin.support.GrailsUnitTestMixin import spock.lang.Specification

@TestMixin(GrailsUnitTestMixin) class MyValidateableSpec extends Specification {

void 'Test validate can be invoked in a unit test with no special configuration'() { when: 'an object is valid' def validateable = new MyValidateable(name: 'Kirk', age: 47)

then: 'validate() returns true and there are no errors' validateable.validate() !validateable.hasErrors() validateable.errors.errorCount == 0

when: 'an object is invalid' validateable.name = 'kirk'

then: 'validate() returns false and the appropriate error is created' !validateable.validate() validateable.hasErrors() validateable.errors.errorCount == 1 validateable.errors['name'].code == 'matches.invalid'

when: 'the clearErrors() is called' validateable.clearErrors()

then: 'the errors are gone' !validateable.hasErrors() validateable.errors.errorCount == 0

when: 'the object is put back in a valid state' validateable.name = 'Kirk'

then: 'validate() returns true and there are no errors' validateable.validate() !validateable.hasErrors() validateable.errors.errorCount == 0 } }

// test/unit/com/demo/MyCommandObjectSpec.groovy
package com.demo

import grails.test.mixin.TestMixin import grails.test.mixin.support.GrailsUnitTestMixin import spock.lang.Specification

@TestMixin(GrailsUnitTestMixin) class MyCommandObjectSpec extends Specification {

void 'Test that numberOfItems must be between 1 and 10'() { when: 'numberOfItems is less than 1' def co = new MyCommandObject() co.numberOfItems = 0

then: 'validation fails' !co.validate() co.hasErrors() co.errors['numberOfItems'].code == 'range.toosmall'

when: 'numberOfItems is greater than 10' co.numberOfItems = 11

then: 'validation fails' !co.validate() co.hasErrors() co.errors['numberOfItems'].code == 'range.toobig'

when: 'numberOfItems is greater than 1' co.numberOfItems = 1

then: 'validation succeeds' co.validate() !co.hasErrors()

when: 'numberOfItems is greater than 10' co.numberOfItems = 10

then: 'validation succeeds' co.validate() !co.hasErrors() } }

That's it for testing constraints. One final thing we would like to say is that testing the constraints in this way catches a common error: typos in the "constraints" property name which is a mistake that is easy to make and equally easy to overlook. A unit test for your constraints will highlight the problem straight away.

HibernateTestMixin Basics

HibernateTestMixin allows Hibernate 4 to be used in Grails unit tests. It uses a H2 in-memory database.

import grails.test.mixin.TestMixin
import grails.test.mixin.gorm.Domain
import grails.test.mixin.hibernate.HibernateTestMixin
import spock.lang.Specification

@Domain(Person) @TestMixin(HibernateTestMixin) class PersonSpec extends Specification {

void "Test count people"() { expect: "Test execute Hibernate count query" Person.count() == 0 sessionFactory != null transactionManager != null session != null } }

This library dependency is required in grails-app/conf/BuildConfig.groovy for adding support for HibernateTestMixin.

dependencies {
        test 'org.grails:grails-datastore-test-support:1.0-grails-2.4'
    }

HibernateTestMixin is only supported with hibernate4 plugin versions >= 4.3.5.4 .

plugins {
        runtime ':hibernate4:4.3.5.4'
    }

Configuring domain classes for HibernateTestMixin tests

The grails.test.mixin.gorm.Domain annotation is used to configure the list of domain classes to configure for Hibernate sessionFactory instance that gets configured when the unit test runtime is initialized.

Domain annotations will be collected from several locations:

  • the annotations on the test class
  • the package annotations in the package-info.java/package-info.groovy file in the package of the test class
  • each super class of the test class and their respective package annotations
  • the possible SharedRuntime class

Domain annotations can be shared by adding them as package annotations to package-info.java/package-info.groovy files or by adding them to a SharedRuntime class which has been added for the test.

It's not possible to use DomainClassUnitTestMixin's Mock annotation in HibernateTestMixin tests. Use the Domain annotation in the place of Mock in HibernateTestMixin tests.

14.1.4 Unit Testing Filters

Unit testing filters is typically a matter of testing a controller where a filter is a mock collaborator. For example consider the following filters class:

class CancellingFilters {
    def filters = {
        all(controller:"simple", action:"list") {
            before = {
                redirect(controller:"book")
                return false
            }
        }
    }
}

This filter interceptors the list action of the simple controller and redirects to the book controller. To test this filter you start off with a test that targets the SimpleController class and add the CancellingFilters as a mock collaborator:

import grails.test.mixin.TestFor
import spock.lang.Specification

@TestFor(SimpleController) @Mock(CancellingFilters) class SimpleControllerSpec extends Specification {

// ...

}

You can then implement a test that uses the withFilters method to wrap the call to an action in filter execution:

import grails.test.mixin.TestFor
import spock.lang.Specification

@TestFor(SimpleController) @Mock(CancellingFilters) class SimpleControllerSpec extends Specification {

void "test list action is filtered"() { when: withFilters(action:"list") { controller.list() }

then: response.redirectedUrl == '/book' } }

Note that the action parameter is required because it is unknown what the action to invoke is until the action is actually called. The controller parameter is optional and taken from the controller under test. If it is another controller you are testing then you can specify it:

withFilters(controller:"book",action:"list") {
    controller.list()
}

14.1.5 Unit Testing URL Mappings

The Basics

Testing URL mappings can be done with the TestFor annotation testing a particular URL mappings class. For example to test the default URL mappings you can do the following:

import com.demo.SimpleController
import grails.test.mixin.TestFor
import spock.lang.Specification

@TestFor(UrlMappings) @Mock(SimpleController) class UrlMappingsSpec extends Specification { // … }

As you can see, any controller that is the target of a URL mapping that you're testing must be added to the @Mock annotation.

Note that since the default UrlMappings class is in the default package your test must also be in the default package

With that done there are a number of useful methods that are defined by the grails.test.mixin.web.UrlMappingsUnitTestMixin for testing URL mappings. These include:

  • assertForwardUrlMapping - Asserts a URL mapping is forwarded for the given controller class (note that controller will need to be defined as a mock collaborate for this to work)
  • assertReverseUrlMapping - Asserts that the given URL is produced when reverse mapping a link to a given controller and action
  • assertUrlMapping - Asserts a URL mapping is valid for the given URL. This combines the assertForwardUrlMapping and assertReverseUrlMapping assertions

Asserting Forward URL Mappings

You use assertForwardUrlMapping to assert that a given URL maps to a given controller. For example, consider the following URL mappings:

static mappings = {
    "/actionOne"(controller: "simple", action: "action1")
    "/actionTwo"(controller: "simple", action: "action2")
}

The following test can be written to assert these URL mappings:

import com.demo.SimpleController
import grails.test.mixin.TestFor
import spock.lang.Specification

@TestFor(UrlMappings) @Mock(SimpleController) class UrlMappingsSpec extends Specification {

void "test forward mappings"() { expect: assertForwardUrlMapping("/actionOne", controller: 'simple', action: "action1") assertForwardUrlMapping("/actionTwo", controller: 'simple', action: "action2") } }

Assert Reverse URL Mappings

You use assertReverseUrlMapping to check that correct links are produced for your URL mapping when using the link tag in GSP views. An example test is largely identical to the previous listing except you use assertReverseUrlMapping instead of assertForwardUrlMapping. Note that you can combine these 2 assertions with assertUrlMapping.

14.1.6 Mocking Collaborators

The Spock Framework manual has a chapter on Interaction Based Testing which also explains mocking collaborators.

14.1.7 Mocking Codecs

The GrailsUnitTestMixin provides a mockCodec method for mocking custom codecs which may be invoked while a unit test is running.

mockCodec(MyCustomCodec)

Failing to mock a codec which is invoked while a unit test is running may result in a MissingMethodException.

14.1.8 Unit Test Metaprogramming

If runtime metaprogramming needs to be done in a unit test it needs to be done early in the process before the unit testing environment is fully initialized. This should be done when the unit test class is being initialized. For a Spock based test this should be done in the setupSpec() method. For a JUnit test this should be done in a method marked with @BeforeClass.

package myapp

import grails.test.mixin.* import spock.lang.Specification

@TestFor(SomeController) class SomeControllerSpec extends Specification {

def setupSpec() { SomeClass.metaClass.someMethod = { -> // do something here } }

// … }

package myapp

import grails.test.mixin.* import org.junit.*

@TestFor(SomeController) class SomeControllerTests {

@BeforeClass static void metaProgramController() { SomeClass.metaClass.someMethod = { -> // do something here } }

// ...

}

14.2 Integration Testing

Integration tests differ from unit tests in that you have full access to the Grails environment within the test. You can create an integration test using the create-integration-test command:

$ grails create-integration-test Example

The above command will create a new integration test at the location src/integration-test/groovy/<PACKAGE>/ExampleSpec.groovy.

Grails uses the test environment for integration tests and loads the application prior to the first test run. All tests use the same application state.

Transactions

Integration tests run inside a database transaction by default, which is rolled back at the end of the each test. This means that data saved during a test is not persisted to the database (which is shared across all tests). The default generated integration test template includes the Rollback annotation:

import grails.test.mixin.integration.Integration
import grails.transaction.*
import spock.lang.*

@Integration @Rollback class artifact.nameSpec extends Specification {

...

void "test something"() { expect:"fix me" true == false } }

The Rollback annotation ensures that each test methods runs in a transaction that is rolled back. Generally this is desirable because you do not want your tests depending on order or application state.

If you do have a series of tests that will share state you can remove the Rollback and the last test in the suite should feature the DirtiesContext annotation which will shutdown the environment and restart it fresh (note that this will have an impact on test run times).

Autowiring

To obtain a reference to a bean you can use the Autowired annotation. For example:

import org.springframework.beans.factory.annotation.*

@Integration @Rollback class artifact.nameSpec extends Specification {

@Autowired ExampleService exampleService ...

void "Test example service"() { expect: exampleService.countExamples() == 0 } }

Testing Controllers

To integration test controllers it is recommended you use create-functional-test command to create a Geb functional test. See the following section on functional testing for more information.

14.3 Functional Testing

Functional tests involve making HTTP requests against the running application and verifying the resultant behaviour. The functional testing phase differs from the integration phase in that the Grails application is now listening and responding to actual HTTP requests. This is useful for end-to-end testing scenarios, such as making REST calls against a JSON API.

Grails by default ships with support for writing functional tests using the Geb framework. To create a functional test you can use the create-functional-test command which will create a new functional test:

$ grails create-functional-test MyFunctional

The above command will create a new Spock spec called MyFunctionalSpec.groovy in the src/test/groovy directory. The test is annotated with the Integration annotation to indicate it is a integration test and extends the GebSpec super class:

@Integration
class HomeSpec extends GebSpec {

def setup() { }

def cleanup() { }

void "Test the home page renders correctly"() { when:"The home page is visited" go '/'

then:"The title is correct" $('title').text() == "Welcome to Grails" } }

When the test is run the application container will be loaded up in the background and you can send requests to the running application using the Geb API.

Note that the application is only loaded once for the entire test run, so functional tests share the state of the application across the whole suite.

In addition the application is loaded in the JVM as the test, this means that the test has full access to the application state and can interact directly with data services such as GORM to setup and cleanup test data.

The Integration annotation supports an optional applicationClass attribute which may be used to specify the application class to use for the functional test. The class must extend GrailsAutoConfiguration.

@Integration(applicationClass=com.demo.Application)
class HomeSpec extends GebSpec {

// ...

}

If the applicationClass is not specified then the test runtime environment will attempt to locate the application class dynamically which can be problematic in multiproject builds where multiple application classes may be present.

15 Internationalization

Grails supports Internationalization (i18n) out of the box by leveraging the underlying Spring MVC internationalization support. With Grails you are able to customize the text that appears in a view based on the user's Locale. To quote the javadoc for the Locale class:

A Locale object represents a specific geographical, political, or cultural region. An operation that requires a Locale to perform its task is called locale-sensitive and uses the Locale to tailor information for the user. For example, displaying a number is a locale-sensitive operation--the number should be formatted according to the customs/conventions of the user's native country, region, or culture.

A Locale is made up of a language code and a country code. For example "en_US" is the code for US English, whilst "en_GB" is the code for British English.

15.1 Understanding Message Bundles

Now that you have an idea of locales, to use them in Grails you create message bundle file containing the different languages that you wish to render. Message bundles in Grails are located inside the grails-app/i18n directory and are simple Java properties files.

Each bundle starts with the name messages by convention and ends with the locale. Grails ships with several message bundles for a whole range of languages within the grails-app/i18n directory. For example:

  • messages.properties
  • messages_da.properties
  • messages_de.properties
  • messages_es.properties
  • messages_fr.properties
  • ...

By default Grails looks in messages.properties for messages unless the user has specified a locale. You can create your own message bundle by simply creating a new properties file that ends with the locale you are interested. For example messages_en_GB.properties for British English.

15.2 Changing Locales

By default the user locale is detected from the incoming Accept-Language header. However, you can provide users the capability to switch locales by simply passing a parameter called lang to Grails as a request parameter:

/book/list?lang=es

Grails will automatically switch the user's locale and store it in a cookie so subsequent requests will have the new header.

15.3 Reading Messages

Reading Messages in the View

The most common place that you need messages is inside the view. Use the message tag for this:

<g:message code="my.localized.content" />

As long as you have a key in your messages.properties (with appropriate locale suffix) such as the one below then Grails will look up the message:

my.localized.content=Hola, Me llamo John. Hoy es domingo.

Messages can also include arguments, for example:

<g:message code="my.localized.content" args="${ ['Juan', 'lunes'] }" />

The message declaration specifies positional parameters which are dynamically specified:

my.localized.content=Hola, Me llamo {0}. Hoy es {1}.

Reading Messages in Controllers and Tag Libraries

It's simple to read messages in a controller since you can invoke tags as methods:

def show() {
    def msg = message(code: "my.localized.content", args: ['Juan', 'lunes'])
}

The same technique can be used in tag libraries, but if your tag library uses a custom namespace then you must prefix the call with g.:

def myTag = { attrs, body ->
    def msg = g.message(code: "my.localized.content", args: ['Juan', 'lunes'])
}

15.4 Scaffolding and i18n

Grails scaffolding templates for controllers and views are fully i18n-aware. The GSPs use the message tag for labels, buttons etc. and controller flash messages use i18n to resolve locale-specific messages.

The scaffolding includes locale specific labels for domain classes and domain fields. For example, if you have a Book domain class with a title field:

class Book {
    String title
}

The scaffolding will use labels with the following keys:

book.label = Libro
book.title.label = Título del libro

You can use this property pattern if you'd like or come up with one of your own. There is nothing special about the use of the word label as part of the key other than it's the convention used by the scaffolding.

16 Security

Grails is no more or less secure than Java Servlets. However, Java servlets (and hence Grails) are extremely secure and largely immune to common buffer overrun and malformed URL exploits due to the nature of the Java Virtual Machine underpinning the code.

Web security problems typically occur due to developer naivety or mistakes, and there is a little Grails can do to avoid common mistakes and make writing secure applications easier to write.

What Grails Automatically Does

Grails has a few built in safety mechanisms by default.

  1. All standard database access via GORM domain objects is automatically SQL escaped to prevent SQL injection attacks
  2. The default scaffolding templates HTML escape all data fields when displayed
  3. Grails link creating tags (link, form, createLink, createLinkTo and others) all use appropriate escaping mechanisms to prevent code injection
  4. Grails provides codecs to let you trivially escape data when rendered as HTML, JavaScript and URLs to prevent injection attacks here.

16.1 Securing Against Attacks

SQL injection

Hibernate, which is the technology underlying GORM domain classes, automatically escapes data when committing to database so this is not an issue. However it is still possible to write bad dynamic HQL code that uses unchecked request parameters. For example doing the following is vulnerable to HQL injection attacks:

def vulnerable() {
    def books = Book.find("from Book as b where b.title ='" + params.title + "'")
}

or the analogous call using a GString:

def vulnerable() {
    def books = Book.find("from Book as b where b.title ='${params.title}'")
}

Do not do this. Use named or positional parameters instead to pass in parameters:

def safe() {
    def books = Book.find("from Book as b where b.title = ?",
                          [params.title])
}

or

def safe() {
    def books = Book.find("from Book as b where b.title = :title",
                          [title: params.title])
}

Phishing

This really a public relations issue in terms of avoiding hijacking of your branding and a declared communication policy with your customers. Customers need to know how to identify valid emails.

XSS - cross-site scripting injection

It is important that your application verifies as much as possible that incoming requests were originated from your application and not from another site. It is also important to ensure that all data values rendered into views are escaped correctly. For example when rendering to HTML or XHTML you must ensure that people cannot maliciously inject JavaScript or other HTML into data or tags viewed by others.

Grails 2.3 and above include special support for automatically encoded data placed into GSP pages. See the documentation on Cross Site Scripting (XSS) prevention for further information.

You must also avoid the use of request parameters or data fields for determining the next URL to redirect the user to. If you use a successURL parameter for example to determine where to redirect a user to after a successful login, attackers can imitate your login procedure using your own site, and then redirect the user back to their own site once logged in, potentially allowing JavaScript code to then exploit the logged-in account on the site.

Cross-site request forgery

CSRF involves unauthorized commands being transmitted from a user that a website trusts. A typical example would be another website embedding a link to perform an action on your website if the user is still authenticated.

The best way to decrease risk against these types of attacks is to use the useToken attribute on your forms. See Handling Duplicate Form Submissions for more information on how to use it. An additional measure would be to not use remember-me cookies.

HTML/URL injection

This is where bad data is supplied such that when it is later used to create a link in a page, clicking it will not cause the expected behaviour, and may redirect to another site or alter request parameters.

HTML/URL injection is easily handled with the codecs supplied by Grails, and the tag libraries supplied by Grails all use encodeAsURL where appropriate. If you create your own tags that generate URLs you will need to be mindful of doing this too.

Denial of service

Load balancers and other appliances are more likely to be useful here, but there are also issues relating to excessive queries for example where a link is created by an attacker to set the maximum value of a result set so that a query could exceed the memory limits of the server or slow the system down. The solution here is to always sanitize request parameters before passing them to dynamic finders or other GORM query methods:

int limit = 100
def safeMax = Math.min(params.max?.toInteger() ?: limit, limit) // limit to 100 results
return Book.list(max:safeMax)

Guessable IDs

Many applications use the last part of the URL as an "id" of some object to retrieve from GORM or elsewhere. Especially in the case of GORM these are easily guessable as they are typically sequential integers.

Therefore you must assert that the requesting user is allowed to view the object with the requested id before returning the response to the user.

Not doing this is "security through obscurity" which is inevitably breached, just like having a default password of "letmein" and so on.

You must assume that every unprotected URL is publicly accessible one way or another.

16.2 Cross Site Scripting (XSS) Prevention

Cross Site Scripting (XSS) attacks are a common attack vector for web applications. They typically involve submitting HTML or Javascript code in a form such that when that code is displayed, the browser does something nasty. It could be as simple as popping up an alert box, or it could be much worse. The solution is to escape all untrusted user input when it is displayed in a page. For example,

<script>alert('Got ya!');</script>

will become

&lt;script&gt;alert('Got ya!');&lt;/script&gt;

when rendered, nullifying the effects of the malicious input.

By default, Grails plays it safe and escapes all content in ${} expressions in GSPs. All the standard GSP tags are also safe by default, escaping any relevant attribute values.

So what happens when you want to stop Grails from escaping some content? There are valid use cases for putting HTML into the database and rendering it as-is, as long as that content is trusted. In such cases, you can tell Grails that the content is safe as should be rendered raw, i.e. without any escaping:

<section>${raw(page.content)}</section>

The raw() method you see here is available from controllers, tag libraries and GSP pages.

XSS prevention is hard and requires a lot of developer attention

Although Grails plays it safe by default, that is no guarantee that your application will be invulnerable to an XSS-style attack. Such an attack is less likely to succeed than would otherwise be the case, but developers should always be conscious of potential attack vectors and attempt to uncover vulnerabilities in the application during testing. It's also easy to switch to an unsafe default, thereby increasing the risk of a vulnerability being introduced.

There are more details about the XSS in OWASP - XSS prevention rules and OWASP - Types of Cross-Site Scripting. Types of XSS are: Stored XSS, Reflected XSS and DOM based XSS. DOM based XSS prevention is coming more important because of the popularity of Javascript client side templating and Single Page Apps.

Grails codecs are mainly for preventing stored and reflected XSS type of attacks. Grails 2.4 includes HTMLJS codec that assists in preventing some DOM based XSS attacks.

It's difficult to make a solution that works for everyone, and so Grails provides a lot of flexibility with regard to fine-tuning how escaping works, allowing you to keep most of your application safe while switching off default escaping or changing the codec used for pages, tags, page fragments, and more.

Configuration

It is recommended that you review the configuration of a newly created Grails application to garner an understanding of XSS prevention works in Grails.

GSP features the ability to automatically HTML encode GSP expressions, and as of Grails 2.3 this is the default configuration. The default configuration (found in Config.groovy) for a newly created Grails application can be seen below:

grails {
        views {
            gsp {
                encoding = 'UTF-8'
                htmlcodec = 'xml' // use xml escaping instead of HTML4 escaping
                codecs {
                    expression = 'html' // escapes values inside ${}
                    scriptlet = 'html' // escapes output from scriptlets in GSPs
                    taglib = 'none' // escapes output from taglibs
                    staticparts = 'none' // escapes output from static template parts
                }
            }
            // escapes all not-encoded output at final stage of outputting
            // filteringCodecForContentType.'text/html' = 'html'
            }
        }
    }

GSP features several codecs that it uses when writing the page to the response. The codecs are configured in the codecs block and are described below:

  • expression - The expression codec is used to encode any code found within ${..} expressions. The default for newly created application is html encoding.
  • scriptlet - Used for output from GSP scriplets (<% %>, <%= %> blocks). The default for newly created applications is html encoding
  • taglib - Used to encode output from GSP tag libraries. The default is none for new applications, as typically it is the responsibility of the tag author to define the encoding of a given tag and by specifying none Grails remains backwards compatible with older tag libraries.
  • staticparts - Used to encode the raw markup output by a GSP page. The default is none.

Double Encoding Prevention

Versions of Grails prior to 2.3, included the ability to set the default codec to html, however enabling this setting sometimes proved problematic when using existing plugins due to encoding being applied twice (once by the html codec and then again if the plugin manually called encodeAsHTML).

Grails 2.3 includes double encoding prevention so that when an expression is evaluated, it will not encode if the data has already been encoded (Example ${foo.encodeAsHTML()}).

Raw Output

If you are 100% sure that the value you wish to present on the page has not been received from user input, and you do not wish the value to be encoded then you can use the raw method:

${raw(book.title)}

The 'raw' method is available in tag libraries, controllers and GSP pages.

Per Plugin Encoding

Grails also features the ability to control the codecs used on a per plugin basis. For example if you have a plugin named foo installed, then placing the following configuration in your application's Config.groovy will disable encoding for only the foo plugin

foo.grails.views.gsp.codecs.expression = "none"

Per Page Encoding

You can also control the various codecs used to render a GSP page on a per page basis, using a page directive:

<%@page expressionCodec="none" %>

Per Tag Library Encoding

Each tag library created has the opportunity to specify a default codec used to encode output from the tag library using the "defaultEncodeAs" property:

static defaultEncodeAs = 'html'

Encoding can also be specified on a per tag basis using "encodeAsForTags":

static encodeAsForTags = [tagName: 'raw']

Context Sensitive Encoding Switching

Certain tags require certain encodings and Grails features the ability to enable a codec only a certain part of a tag's execution using the "withCodec" method. Consider for example the "<g:javascript>"" tag which allows you to embed JavaScript code in the page. This tag requires JavaScript encoding, not HTML coding for the execution of the body of the tag (but not for the markup that is output):

out.println '<script type="text/javascript">'
    withCodec("JavaScript") {
        out << body()
    }
    out.println()
    out.println '</script>'

Forced Encoding for Tags

If a tag specifies a default encoding that differs from your requirements you can force the encoding for any tag by passing the optional 'encodeAs' attribute:

<g:message code="foo.bar" encodeAs="JavaScript" />

Default Encoding for All Output

The default configuration for new applications is fine for most use cases, and backwards compatible with existing plugins and tag libraries. However, you can also make your application even more secure by configuring Grails to always encode all output at the end of a response. This is done using the filteringCodecForContentType configuration in Config.groovy:

grails.views.gsp.filteringCodecForContentType.'text/html' = 'html'

Note that, if activated, the staticparts codec typically needs to be set to raw so that static markup is not encoded:

codecs {
        expression = 'html' // escapes values inside ${}
        scriptlet = 'html' // escapes output from scriptlets in GSPs
        taglib = 'none' // escapes output from taglibs
        staticparts = 'raw' // escapes output from static template parts
    }

16.3 Encoding and Decoding Objects

Grails supports the concept of dynamic encode/decode methods. A set of standard codecs are bundled with Grails. Grails also supports a simple mechanism for developers to contribute their own codecs that will be recognized at runtime.

Codec Classes

A Grails codec class is one that may contain an encode closure, a decode closure or both. When a Grails application starts up the Grails framework dynamically loads codecs from the grails-app/utils/ directory.

The framework looks under grails-app/utils/ for class names that end with the convention Codec. For example one of the standard codecs that ships with Grails is HTMLCodec.

If a codec contains an encode closure Grails will create a dynamic encode method and add that method to the Object class with a name representing the codec that defined the encode closure. For example, the HTMLCodec class defines an encode closure, so Grails attaches it with the name encodeAsHTML.

The HTMLCodec and URLCodec classes also define a decode closure, so Grails attaches those with the names decodeHTML and decodeURL respectively. Dynamic codec methods may be invoked from anywhere in a Grails application. For example, consider a case where a report contains a property called 'description' which may contain special characters that must be escaped to be presented in an HTML document. One way to deal with that in a GSP is to encode the description property using the dynamic encode method as shown below:

${report.description.encodeAsHTML()}

Decoding is performed using value.decodeHTML() syntax.

Encoder and Decoder interfaces for staticly compiled code

A preferred way to use codecs is to use the codecLookup bean to get hold of Encoder and Decoder instances .

package org.grails.encoder;

public interface CodecLookup { public Encoder lookupEncoder(String codecName); public Decoder lookupDecoder(String codecName); }

example of using CodecLookup and Encoder interface

import org.grails.encoder.CodecLookup

class CustomTagLib { CodecLookup codecLookup

def myTag = { Map attrs, body -> out << codecLookup.lookupEncoder('HTML').encode(attrs.something) } }

Standard Codecs

HTMLCodec

This codec performs HTML escaping and unescaping, so that values can be rendered safely in an HTML page without creating any HTML tags or damaging the page layout. For example, given a value "Don't you know that 2 > 1?" you wouldn't be able to show this safely within an HTML page because the > will look like it closes a tag, which is especially bad if you render this data within an attribute, such as the value attribute of an input field.

Example of usage:

<input name="comment.message" value="${comment.message.encodeAsHTML()}"/>

Note that the HTML encoding does not re-encode apostrophe/single quote so you must use double quotes on attribute values to avoid text with apostrophes affecting your page.

HTMLCodec defaults to HTML4 style escaping (legacy HTMLCodec implementation in Grails versions before 2.3.0) which escapes non-ascii characters.

You can use plain XML escaping instead of HTML4 escaping by setting this config property in Config.groovy:

grails.views.gsp.htmlcodec = 'xml'

XMLCodec

This codec performs XML escaping and unescaping. It escapes & , < , > , " , ' , \ , @ , ` , non breaking space (\u00a0), line separator (\u2028) and paragraph separator (\u2029).

HTMLJSCodec

This codec performs HTML and JS encoding. It is used for preventing some DOM-XSS vulnerabilities. See OWASP - DOM based XSS Prevention Cheat Sheet for guidelines of preventing DOM based XSS attacks.

URLCodec

URL encoding is required when creating URLs in links or form actions, or any time data is used to create a URL. It prevents illegal characters from getting into the URL and changing its meaning, for example "Apple & Blackberry" is not going to work well as a parameter in a GET request as the ampersand will break parameter parsing.

Example of usage:

<a href="/mycontroller/find?searchKey=${lastSearch.encodeAsURL()}">
Repeat last search
</a>

Base64Codec

Performs Base64 encode/decode functions. Example of usage:

Your registration code is: ${user.registrationCode.encodeAsBase64()}

JavaScriptCodec

Escapes Strings so they can be used as valid JavaScript strings. For example:

Element.update('${elementId}',
    '${render(template: "/common/message").encodeAsJavaScript()}')

HexCodec

Encodes byte arrays or lists of integers to lowercase hexadecimal strings, and can decode hexadecimal strings into byte arrays. For example:

Selected colour: #${[255,127,255].encodeAsHex()}

MD5Codec

Uses the MD5 algorithm to digest byte arrays or lists of integers, or the bytes of a string (in default system encoding), as a lowercase hexadecimal string. Example of usage:

Your API Key: ${user.uniqueID.encodeAsMD5()}

MD5BytesCodec

Uses the MD5 algorithm to digest byte arrays or lists of integers, or the bytes of a string (in default system encoding), as a byte array. Example of usage:

byte[] passwordHash = params.password.encodeAsMD5Bytes()

SHA1Codec

Uses the SHA1 algorithm to digest byte arrays or lists of integers, or the bytes of a string (in default system encoding), as a lowercase hexadecimal string. Example of usage:

Your API Key: ${user.uniqueID.encodeAsSHA1()}

SHA1BytesCodec

Uses the SHA1 algorithm to digest byte arrays or lists of integers, or the bytes of a string (in default system encoding), as a byte array. Example of usage:

byte[] passwordHash = params.password.encodeAsSHA1Bytes()

SHA256Codec

Uses the SHA256 algorithm to digest byte arrays or lists of integers, or the bytes of a string (in default system encoding), as a lowercase hexadecimal string. Example of usage:

Your API Key: ${user.uniqueID.encodeAsSHA256()}

SHA256BytesCodec

Uses the SHA256 algorithm to digest byte arrays or lists of integers, or the bytes of a string (in default system encoding), as a byte array. Example of usage:

byte[] passwordHash = params.password.encodeAsSHA256Bytes()

Custom Codecs

Applications may define their own codecs and Grails will load them along with the standard codecs. A custom codec class must be defined in the grails-app/utils/ directory and the class name must end with Codec. The codec may contain a static encode closure, a static decode closure or both. The closure must accept a single argument which will be the object that the dynamic method was invoked on. For Example:

class PigLatinCodec {
  static encode = { str ->
    // convert the string to pig latin and return the result
  }
}

With the above codec in place an application could do something like this:

${lastName.encodeAsPigLatin()}

16.4 Authentication

Grails has no default mechanism for authentication as it is possible to implement authentication in many different ways. It is however, easy to implement a simple authentication mechanism using interceptors. This is sufficient for simple use cases but it's highly preferable to use an established security framework, for example by using the Spring Security or the Shiro plugin.

Interceptors let you apply authentication across all controllers or across a URI space. For example you can create a new set of filters in a class called grails-app/controllers/SecurityInterceptor.groovy by running:

grails create-interceptor security

and implement your interception logic there:

class SecurityInterceptor {

SecurityInterceptor() { matchAll() except(controller:'user', action:'login') }

boolean before() { if (!session.user && actionName != "login") { redirect(controller: "user", action: "login") return false } return true }

}

Here the interceptor intercepts execution before all actions except login are executed, and if there is no user in the session then redirect to the login action.

The login action itself is simple too:

def login() {
    if (request.get) {
        return // render the login view
    }

def u = User.findByLogin(params.login) if (u) { if (u.password == params.password) { session.user = u redirect(action: "home") } else { render(view: "login", model: [message: "Password incorrect"]) } } else { render(view: "login", model: [message: "User not found"]) } }

16.5 Security Plugins

If you need more advanced functionality beyond simple authentication such as authorization, roles etc. then you should consider using one of the available security plugins.

16.5.1 Spring Security

The Spring Security plugins are built on the Spring Security project which provides a flexible, extensible framework for building all sorts of authentication and authorization schemes. The plugins are modular so you can install just the functionality that you need for your application. The Spring Security plugins are the official security plugins for Grails and are actively maintained and supported.

There is a Core plugin which supports form-based authentication, encrypted/salted passwords, HTTP Basic authentication, etc. and secondary dependent plugins provide alternate functionality such as OpenID authentication, ACL support, single sign-on with Jasig CAS, LDAP authentication, Kerberos authentication, and a plugin providing user interface extensions and security workflows.

See the Core plugin page for basic information and the user guide for detailed information.

16.5.2 Shiro

Shiro is a Java POJO-oriented security framework that provides a default domain model that models realms, users, roles and permissions. With Shiro you extend a controller base class called JsecAuthBase in each controller you want secured and then provide an accessControl block to setup the roles. An example below:

class ExampleController extends JsecAuthBase {
    static accessControl = {
        // All actions require the 'Observer' role.
        role(name: 'Observer')

// The 'edit' action requires the 'Administrator' role. role(name: 'Administrator', action: 'edit')

// Alternatively, several actions can be specified. role(name: 'Administrator', only: [ 'create', 'edit', 'save', 'update' ]) } … }

For more information on the Shiro plugin refer to the documentation.

17 Plugins

Grails is first and foremost a web application framework, but it is also a platform. By exposing a number of extension points that let you extend anything from the command line interface to the runtime configuration engine, Grails can be customised to suit almost any needs. To hook into this platform, all you need to do is create a plugin.

Extending the platform may sound complicated, but plugins can range from trivially simple to incredibly powerful. If you know how to build a Grails application, you'll know how to create a plugin for sharing a data model or some static resources.

17.1 Creating and Installing Plugins

Creating Plugins

Creating a Grails plugin is a simple matter of running the command:

grails create-plugin [PLUGIN NAME]

This will create a plugin project for the name you specify. For example running grails create-plugin example would create a new plugin project called example.

In Grails 3.0 you should consider whether the plugin you create requires a web environment or whether the plugin can be used with other profiles. If you plugin does not require a web environment then use the "plugin" profile instead of the "web-plugin" profile:

grails create-plugin [PLUGIN NAME] --profile=plugin

Make sure the plugin name does not contain more than one capital in a row, or it won't work. Camel case is fine, though.

The structure of a Grails plugin is very nearly the same as a Grails application project's except that in the src/main/groovy directory under the plugin package structure you will find a plugin descriptor class (a class that ends in "GrailsPlugin").

Being a regular Grails project has a number of benefits in that you can immediately test your plugin by running (if the plugin targets the "web" profile):

grails run-app

Plugin projects don't provide an index.gsp by default since most plugins don't need it. So, if you try to view the plugin running in a browser right after creating it, you will receive a page not found error. You can easily create a grails-app/views/index.gsp for your plugin if you'd like.

The plugin descriptor name ends with the convention GrailsPlugin and is found in the root of the plugin project. For example:

class ExampleGrailsPlugin {
   …
}

All plugins must have this class under the src/main/groovy directory, otherwise they are not regarded as a plugin. The plugin class defines metadata about the plugin, and optionally various hooks into plugin extension points (covered shortly).

You can also provide additional information about your plugin using several special properties:

  • title - short one-sentence description of your plugin
  • grailsVersion - The version of version range of Grails that the plugin supports. eg. "1.2 > *" (indicating 1.2 or higher)
  • author - plugin author's name
  • authorEmail - plugin author's contact e-mail
  • description - full multi-line description of plugin's features
  • documentation - URL of the plugin's documentation

Here is an example from the Quartz Grails plugin:

class QuartzGrailsPlugin {
    def grailsVersion = "1.1 > *"
    def author = "Sergey Nebolsin"
    def authorEmail = "nebolsin@gmail.com"
    def title = "Quartz Plugin"
    def description = '''\
The Quartz plugin allows your Grails application to schedule jobs\
to be executed using a specified interval or cron expression. The\
underlying system uses the Quartz Enterprise Job Scheduler configured\
via Spring, but is made simpler by the coding by convention paradigm.\
'''
    def documentation = "http://grails.org/plugin/quartz"

… }

Installing Local Plugins

To make your plugin available for use in a Grails application run the install command:

grails install

This will install the plugin into your local Maven cache. Then to use the plugin within an application declare a dependency on the plugin in your build.gradle file:

compile "org.grails.plugins:quartz:0.1"

In Grails 2.x plugins were packaged as ZIP files, however in Grails 3.x plugins are simple JAR files that can be added to the classpath of the IDE.

Notes on excluded Artefacts

Although the create-plugin command creates certain files for you so that the plugin can be run as a Grails application, not all of these files are included when packaging a plugin. The following is a list of artefacts created, but not included by package-plugin:

  • grails-app/build.gradle (although it is used to generate dependencies.groovy)
  • grails-app/conf/application.yml (renamed to plugin.yml)
  • grails-app/conf/spring/resources.groovy
  • grails-app/conf/logback.groovy
  • Everything within /src/test/**
  • SCM management files within **/.svn/** and **/CVS/**

Customizing the plugin contents

When developing a plugin you may create test classes and sources that are used during the development and testing of the plugin but should not be exported to the application.

To exclude test sources you need to modify the pluginExcludes property of the plugin descriptor AND exclude the resources inside your build.gradle file. For example say you have some classes under the com.demo package that are in your plugin source tree but should not be packaged in the application. In your plugin descriptor you should exclude these:

// resources that should be loaded by the plugin once installed in the application
  def pluginExcludes = [
    '**/com/demo/**'
  ]

And in your build.gradle you should exclude the compiled classes from the JAR file:

jar {
  exclude "com/demo/**/**"
}

Inline Plugins in Grails 3.0

In Grails 2.x it was possible to specify inline plugins in BuildConfig, in Grails 3.x this functionality has been replaced by Gradle's multi-project build feature.

To set up a multi project build create an appliation and a plugin in a parent directory:

$ grails create-app myapp
$ grails create-plugin myplugin

Then create a settings.gradle file in the parent directory specifying the location of your application and plugin:

include 'myapp', 'myplugin'

Finally add a dependency in your application's build.gradle on the plugin:

compile project(':myplugin')

Using this technique you have achieved the equivalent of inline plugins from Grails 2.x.

17.2 Plugin Repositories

Distributing Plugins in the Grails Central Plugin Repository

The preferred way to distribute plugin is to publish to the official Grails Central Plugin Repository. This will make your plugin visible to the list-plugins command:

grails list-plugins

which lists all plugins that are in the central repository. Your plugin will also be available to the plugin-info command:

grails plugin-info [plugin-name]

which prints extra information about it, such as its description, who wrote, etc.

If you have created a Grails plugin and want it to be hosted in the central repository, you'll find instructions for getting an account on the plugin portal website.

17.3 Providing Basic Artefacts

Add Command Line Commands

A plugin can add new commands to the Grails 3.0 interactive shell in one of two ways. First, using the create-script you can create a code generation script which will become available to the application. The create-script command will create the script in the src/main/scripts directory:

+ src/main/scripts     <-- additional scripts here
 + grails-app
      + controllers
      + services
      + etc.

Code generation scripts can be used to create artefacts within the project tree and automate interactions with Gradle.

If you want to create a new shell command that interacts with a loaded Grails application instance then you should use the create-command command:

$ grails create-command MyExampleCommand

This will create a file called grails-app/commands/PACKAGE_PATH/MyExampleCommand.groovy that extends ApplicationCommand:

import grails.dev.commands.*

class MyExampleCommand implements ApplicationCommand {

boolean handle(ExecutionContext ctx) { println "Hello World" return true } }

An ApplicationCommand has access to the GrailsApplication instance and is subject to autowiring like any other Spring bean.

For each ApplicationCommand present Grails will create a shell command and a Gradle task to invoke the ApplicationCommand. In the above example you can invoke the MyExampleCommand class using either:

$ grails my-example

Or

$ gradle myExample

The Grails version is all lower case hyphen separated and excludes the "Command" suffix.

The main difference between code generation scripts and ApplicationCommand instances is that the latter has full access to the Grails application state and hence can be used to perform tasks that interactive with the database, call into GORM etc.

In Grails 2.x Gant scripts could be used to perform both these tasks, in Grails 3.x code generation and interacting with runtime application state has been cleanly separated.

Adding a new grails-app artifact (Controller, Tag Library, Service, etc.)

A plugin can add new artifacts by creating the relevant file within the grails-app tree.

+ grails-app
      + controllers  <-- additional controllers here
      + services <-- additional services here
      + etc.  <-- additional XXX here

Providing Views, Templates and View resolution

When a plugin provides a controller it may also provide default views to be rendered. This is an excellent way to modularize your application through plugins. Grails' view resolution mechanism will first look for the view in the application it is installed into and if that fails will attempt to look for the view within the plugin. This means that you can override views provided by a plugin by creating corresponding GSPs in the application's grails-app/views directory.

For example, consider a controller called BookController that's provided by an 'amazon' plugin. If the action being executed is list, Grails will first look for a view called grails-app/views/book/list.gsp then if that fails it will look for the same view relative to the plugin.

However if the view uses templates that are also provided by the plugin then the following syntax may be necessary:

<g:render template="fooTemplate" plugin="amazon"/>

Note the usage of the plugin attribute, which contains the name of the plugin where the template resides. If this is not specified then Grails will look for the template relative to the application.

Excluded Artefacts

By default Grails excludes the following files during the packaging process:

  • grails-app/conf/logback.groovy
  • grails-app/conf/application.yml (renamed to plugin.yml)
  • grails-app/conf/spring/resources.groovy
  • Everything within /src/test/**
  • SCM management files within **/.svn/** and **/CVS/**

In addition, the default UrlMappings.groovy file is excluded to avoid naming conflicts, however you are free to add a UrlMappings definition under a different name which will be included. For example a file called grails-app/conf/BlogUrlMappings.groovy is fine.

The list of excludes is extensible with the pluginExcludes property:

// resources that are excluded from plugin packaging
def pluginExcludes = [
    "grails-app/views/error.gsp"
]

This is useful for example to include demo or test resources in the plugin repository, but not include them in the final distribution.

17.4 Evaluating Conventions

Before looking at providing runtime configuration based on conventions you first need to understand how to evaluate those conventions from a plugin. Every plugin has an implicit application variable which is an instance of the GrailsApplication interface.

The GrailsApplication interface provides methods to evaluate the conventions within the project and internally stores references to all artifact classes within your application.

Artifacts implement the GrailsClass interface, which represents a Grails resource such as a controller or a tag library. For example to get all GrailsClass instances you can do:

for (grailsClass in application.allClasses) {
    println grailsClass.name
}

GrailsApplication has a few "magic" properties to narrow the type of artefact you are interested in. For example to access controllers you can use:

for (controllerClass in application.controllerClasses) {
    println controllerClass.name
}

The dynamic method conventions are as follows:

  • *Classes - Retrieves all the classes for a particular artefact name. For example application.controllerClasses.
  • get*Class - Retrieves a named class for a particular artefact. For example application.getControllerClass("PersonController")
  • is*Class - Returns true if the given class is of the given artefact type. For example application.isControllerClass(PersonController)

The GrailsClass interface has a number of useful methods that let you further evaluate and work with the conventions. These include:

  • getPropertyValue - Gets the initial value of the given property on the class
  • hasProperty - Returns true if the class has the specified property
  • newInstance - Creates a new instance of this class.
  • getName - Returns the logical name of the class in the application without the trailing convention part if applicable
  • getShortName - Returns the short name of the class without package prefix
  • getFullName - Returns the full name of the class in the application with the trailing convention part and with the package name
  • getPropertyName - Returns the name of the class as a property name
  • getLogicalPropertyName - Returns the logical property name of the class in the application without the trailing convention part if applicable
  • getNaturalName - Returns the name of the property in natural terms (e.g. 'lastName' becomes 'Last Name')
  • getPackageName - Returns the package name

For a full reference refer to the javadoc API.

17.5 Hooking into Runtime Configuration

Grails provides a number of hooks to leverage the different parts of the system and perform runtime configuration by convention.

Hooking into the Grails Spring configuration

First, you can hook in Grails runtime configuration overriding the doWithSpring method from the Plugin class and returning a closure that defines additional beans. For example the following snippet is from one of the core Grails plugins that provides i18n support:

import org.springframework.web.servlet.i18n.CookieLocaleResolver
import org.springframework.web.servlet.i18n.LocaleChangeInterceptor
import org.springframework.context.support.ReloadableResourceBundleMessageSource
import grails.plugins.*

class I18nGrailsPlugin extends Plugin {

def version = "0.1"

Closure doWithSpring() {{-> messageSource(ReloadableResourceBundleMessageSource) { basename = "WEB-INF/grails-app/i18n/messages" } localeChangeInterceptor(LocaleChangeInterceptor) { paramName = "lang" } localeResolver(CookieLocaleResolver) }} }

This plugin configures the Grails messageSource bean and a couple of other beans to manage Locale resolution and switching. It using the Spring Bean Builder syntax to do so.

Customizing the Servlet Environment

In previous versions of Grails it was possible to dynamically modify the generated web.xml. In Grails 3.x there is no web.xml file and it is not possible to programmatically modify the web.xml file anymore.

However, it is possible to perform the most commons tasks of modifying the Servlet environment in Grails 3.x.

Adding New Servlets

If you want to add a new Servlet instance the simplest way is simply to define a new Spring bean in the doWithSpring method:

Closure doWithSpring() {{->
  myServlet(MyServlet)
}}

If you need to customize the servlet you can use Spring Boot's ServletRegistrationBean:

Closure doWithSpring() {{->
  myServlet(ServletRegistrationBean, new MyServlet(), "/myServlet/*") {
    loadOnStartup = 2
  }
}}

Adding New Servlet Filters

Just like Servlets, the simplest way to configure a new filter is to simply define a Spring bean:

Closure doWithSpring() {{->
  myFilter(MyFilter)
}}

However, if you want to control the order of filter registrations you will need to use Spring Boot's FilterRegistrationBean:

myFilter(FilterRegistrationBean) {
    filter = bean(MyFilter)
    urlPatterns = ['/*']
    order = Ordered.HIGHEST_PRECEDENCE
}

Grails' internal registered filters (GrailsWebRequestFilter, HiddenHttpMethodFilter etc.) are defined by incrementing HIGHEST_PRECEDENCE by 10 thus allowing several filters to be inserted before or between Grails' filters.

Doing Post Initialisation Configuration

Sometimes it is useful to be able do some runtime configuration after the Spring ApplicationContext has been built. In this case you can define a doWithApplicationContext closure property.

class SimplePlugin extends Plugin{

def name = "simple" def version = "1.1"

@Override void doWithApplicationContext() { def sessionFactory = applicationContext.sessionFactory // do something here with session factory } }

17.6 Adding Methods at Compile Time

Grails 3.0 makes it easy to add new traits to existing artefact types from a plugin. For example say you wanted to add methods for manipulating dates to controllers. This can be done by first defining a trait in src/main/groovy:

package myplugin

trait DateTrait { Date currentDate() { return new Date() } }

Once you have a trait you must tell Grails which artefacts you want to inject the trait into at compile time. To do this you implement a TraitInjector:

package myplugin

@CompileStatic class ControllerTraitInjector implements TraitInjector {

@Override Class getTrait() { DateTrait }

@Override String[] getArtefactTypes() { ['Controller'] as String[] } }

The above TraitInjector will add the DateTrait to all controllers. The getArtefactTypes method defines the types of artefacts that the trait should be applied to.

17.7 Adding Dynamic Methods at Runtime

The Basics

Grails plugins let you register dynamic methods with any Grails-managed or other class at runtime. This work is done in a doWithDynamicMethods method.

Note that Grails 3.x features newer features such as traits that are usable from code compiled with CompileStatic. It is recommended that dynamic behavior is only added for cases that are not possible with traits.

class ExamplePlugin extends Plugin {
    void doWithDynamicMethods() {
        for (controllerClass in grailsApplication.controllerClasses) {
             controllerClass.metaClass.myNewMethod = {-> println "hello world" }
        }
    }
}

In this case we use the implicit application object to get a reference to all of the controller classes' MetaClass instances and add a new method called myNewMethod to each controller. If you know beforehand the class you wish the add a method to you can simply reference its metaClass property.

For example we can add a new method swapCase to java.lang.String:

class ExamplePlugin extends Plugin  {

@Override void doWithDynamicMethods() { String.metaClass.swapCase = {-> def sb = new StringBuilder() delegate.each { sb << (Character.isUpperCase(it as char) ? Character.toLowerCase(it as char) : Character.toUpperCase(it as char)) } sb.toString() }

assert "UpAndDown" == "uPaNDdOWN".swapCase() } }

Interacting with the ApplicationContext

The doWithDynamicMethods closure gets passed the Spring ApplicationContext instance. This is useful as it lets you interact with objects within it. For example if you were implementing a method to interact with Hibernate you could use the SessionFactory instance in combination with a HibernateTemplate:

import org.springframework.orm.hibernate3.HibernateTemplate

class ExampleHibernatePlugin extends Plugin{

void doWithDynamicMethods() {

for (domainClass in grailsApplication.domainClasses) {

domainClass.metaClass.static.load = { Long id-> def sf = applicationContext.sessionFactory def template = new HibernateTemplate(sf) template.load(delegate, id) } } } }

Also because of the autowiring and dependency injection capability of the Spring container you can implement more powerful dynamic constructors that use the application context to wire dependencies into your object at runtime:

class MyConstructorPlugin {

void doWithDynamicMethods() for (domainClass in grailsApplication.domainClasses) { domainClass.metaClass.constructor = {-> return applicationContext.getBean(domainClass.name) } } } }

Here we actually replace the default constructor with one that looks up prototyped Spring beans instead!

17.8 Participating in Auto Reload Events

Monitoring Resources for Changes

Often it is valuable to monitor resources for changes and perform some action when they occur. This is how Grails implements advanced reloading of application state at runtime. For example, consider this simplified snippet from the Grails ServicesPlugin:

class ServicesGrailsPlugin extends Plugin {
    …
    def watchedResources = "file:./grails-app/services/*Service.groovy"

… void onChange( Map<String, Object> event) { if (event.source) { def serviceClass = grailsApplication.addServiceClass(event.source) def serviceName = "${serviceClass.propertyName}" beans { "$serviceName"(serviceClass.getClazz()) { bean -> bean.autowire = true } } } } }

First it defines watchedResources as either a String or a List of strings that contain either the references or patterns of the resources to watch. If the watched resources specify a Groovy file, when it is changed it will automatically be reloaded and passed into the onChange closure in the event object.

The event object defines a number of useful properties:

  • event.source - The source of the event, either the reloaded Class or a Spring Resource
  • event.ctx - The Spring ApplicationContext instance
  • event.plugin - The plugin object that manages the resource (usually this)
  • event.application - The GrailsApplication instance
  • event.manager - The GrailsPluginManager instance

These objects are available to help you apply the appropriate changes based on what changed. In the "Services" example above, a new service bean is re-registered with the ApplicationContext when one of the service classes changes.

Influencing Other Plugins

In addition to reacting to changes, sometimes a plugin needs to "influence" another.

Take for example the Services and Controllers plugins. When a service is reloaded, unless you reload the controllers too, problems will occur when you try to auto-wire the reloaded service into an older controller Class.

To get around this, you can specify which plugins another plugin "influences". This means that when one plugin detects a change, it will reload itself and then reload its influenced plugins. For example consider this snippet from the ServicesGrailsPlugin:

def influences = ['controllers']

Observing other plugins

If there is a particular plugin that you would like to observe for changes but not necessary watch the resources that it monitors you can use the "observe" property:

def observe = ["controllers"]

In this case when a controller is changed you will also receive the event chained from the controllers plugin.

It is also possible for a plugin to observe all loaded plugins by using a wildcard:

def observe = ["*"]

The Logging plugin does exactly this so that it can add the log property back to any artefact that changes while the application is running.

17.9 Understanding Plugin Load Order

Controlling Plugin Dependencies

Plugins often depend on the presence of other plugins and can adapt depending on the presence of others. This is implemented with two properties. The first is called dependsOn. For example, take a look at this snippet from the Hibernate plugin:

class HibernateGrailsPlugin {

def version = "1.0"

def dependsOn = [dataSource: "1.0", domainClass: "1.0", i18n: "1.0", core: "1.0"] }

The Hibernate plugin is dependent on the presence of four plugins: the dataSource, domainClass, i18n and core plugins.

The dependencies will be loaded before the Hibernate plugin and if all dependencies do not load, then the plugin will not load.

The dependsOn property also supports a mini expression language for specifying version ranges. A few examples of the syntax can be seen below:

def dependsOn = [foo: "* > 1.0"]
def dependsOn = [foo: "1.0 > 1.1"]
def dependsOn = [foo: "1.0 > *"]

When the wildcard * character is used it denotes "any" version. The expression syntax also excludes any suffixes such as -BETA, -ALPHA etc. so for example the expression "1.0 > 1.1" would match any of the following versions:

  • 1.1
  • 1.0
  • 1.0.1
  • 1.0.3-SNAPSHOT
  • 1.1-BETA2

Controlling Load Order

Using dependsOn establishes a "hard" dependency in that if the dependency is not resolved, the plugin will give up and won't load. It is possible though to have a weaker dependency using the loadAfter and loadBefore properties:

def loadAfter = ['controllers']

Here the plugin will be loaded after the controllers plugin if it exists, otherwise it will just be loaded. The plugin can then adapt to the presence of the other plugin, for example the Hibernate plugin has this code in its doWithSpring closure:

if (manager?.hasGrailsPlugin("controllers")) {
    openSessionInViewInterceptor(OpenSessionInViewInterceptor) {
        flushMode = HibernateAccessor.FLUSH_MANUAL
        sessionFactory = sessionFactory
    }
    grailsUrlHandlerMapping.interceptors << openSessionInViewInterceptor
}

Here the Hibernate plugin will only register an OpenSessionInViewInterceptor if the controllers plugin has been loaded. The manager variable is an instance of the GrailsPluginManager interface and it provides methods to interact with other plugins.

You can also use the loadBefore property to specify one or more plugins that your plugin should load before:

def loadBefore = ['rabbitmq']

Scopes and Environments

It's not only plugin load order that you can control. You can also specify which environments your plugin should be loaded in and which scopes (stages of a build). Simply declare one or both of these properties in your plugin descriptor:

def environments = ['development', 'test', 'myCustomEnv']
def scopes = [excludes:'war']

In this example, the plugin will only load in the 'development' and 'test' environments. Nor will it be packaged into the WAR file, because it's excluded from the 'war' phase. This allows development-only plugins to not be packaged for production use.

The full list of available scopes are defined by the enum BuildScope, but here's a summary:

  • test - when running tests
  • functional-test - when running functional tests
  • run - for run-app and run-war
  • war - when packaging the application as a WAR file
  • all - plugin applies to all scopes (default)

Both properties can be one of:

  • a string - a sole inclusion
  • a list - a list of environments or scopes to include
  • a map - for full control, with 'includes' and/or 'excludes' keys that can have string or list values

For example,

def environments = "test"

will only include the plugin in the test environment, whereas

def environments = ["development", "test"]

will include it in both the development and test environments. Finally,

def environments = [includes: ["development", "test"]]

will do the same thing.

17.10 The Artefact API

You should by now understand that Grails has the concept of artefacts: special types of classes that it knows about and can treat differently from normal Groovy and Java classes, for example by enhancing them with extra properties and methods. Examples of artefacts include domain classes and controllers. What you may not be aware of is that Grails allows application and plugin developers access to the underlying infrastructure for artefacts, which means you can find out what artefacts are available and even enhance them yourself. You can even provide your own custom artefact types.

17.10.1 Asking About Available Artefacts

As a plugin developer, it can be important for you to find out about what domain classes, controllers, or other types of artefact are available in an application. For example, the Searchable plugin needs to know what domain classes exist so it can check them for any searchable properties and index the appropriate ones. So how does it do it? The answer lies with the grailsApplication object, and instance of GrailsApplication that's available automatically in controllers and GSPs and can be injected everywhere else.

The grailsApplication object has several important properties and methods for querying artefacts. Probably the most common is the one that gives you all the classes of a particular artefact type:

for (cls in grailsApplication.<artefactType>Classes) {
    …
}

In this case, artefactType is the property name form of the artefact type. With core Grails you have:

  • domain
  • controller
  • tagLib
  • service
  • codec
  • bootstrap
  • urlMappings

So for example, if you want to iterate over all the domain classes, you use:

for (cls in grailsApplication.domainClasses) {
    …
}

and for URL mappings:

for (cls in grailsApplication.urlMappingsClasses) {
    …
}

You need to be aware that the objects returned by these properties are not instances of Class. Instead, they are instances of GrailsClass that has some particularly useful properties and methods, including one for the underlying Class:

  • shortName - the class name of the artefact without the package (equivalent of Class.simpleName).
  • logicalPropertyName - the artefact name in property form without the 'type' suffix. So MyGreatController becomes 'myGreat'.
  • isAbstract() - a boolean indicating whether the artefact class is abstract or not.
  • getPropertyValue(name) - returns the value of the given property, whether it's a static or an instance one. This works best if the property is initialised on declaration, e.g. static transactional = true.

The artefact API also allows you to fetch classes by name and check whether a class is an artefact:

  • get<type>Class(String name)
  • is<type>Class(Class clazz)

The first method will retrieve the GrailsClass instance for the given name, e.g. 'MyGreatController'. The second will check whether a class is a particular type of artefact. For example, you can use grailsApplication.isControllerClass(org.example.MyGreatController) to check whether MyGreatController is in fact a controller.

17.10.2 Adding Your Own Artefact Types

Plugins can easily provide their own artefacts so that they can easily find out what implementations are available and take part in reloading. All you need to do is create an ArtefactHandler implementation and register it in your main plugin class:

class MyGrailsPlugin {
    def artefacts = [ org.somewhere.MyArtefactHandler ]
    …
}

The artefacts list can contain either handler classes (as above) or instances of handlers.

So, what does an artefact handler look like? Well, put simply it is an implementation of the ArtefactHandler interface. To make life a bit easier, there is a skeleton implementation that can readily be extended: ArtefactHandlerAdapter.

In addition to the handler itself, every new artefact needs a corresponding wrapper class that implements GrailsClass. Again, skeleton implementations are available such as AbstractInjectableGrailsClass, which is particularly useful as it turns your artefact into a Spring bean that is auto-wired, just like controllers and services.

The best way to understand how both the handler and wrapper classes work is to look at the Quartz plugin:

Another example is the Shiro plugin which adds a realm artefact.

18 Grails and Spring

This section is for advanced users and those who are interested in how Grails integrates with and builds on the Spring Framework. It is also useful for plugin developers considering doing runtime configuration Grails.

18.1 The Underpinnings of Grails

Grails is actually a Spring MVC application in disguise. Spring MVC is the Spring framework's built-in MVC web application framework. Although Spring MVC suffers from some of the same difficulties as frameworks like Struts in terms of its ease of use, it is superbly designed and architected and was, for Grails, the perfect framework to build another framework on top of.

Grails leverages Spring MVC in the following areas:

  • Basic controller logic - Grails subclasses Spring's DispatcherServlet and uses it to delegate to Grails controllers
  • Data Binding and Validation - Grails' validation and data binding capabilities are built on those provided by Spring
  • Runtime configuration - Grails' entire runtime convention based system is wired together by a Spring ApplicationContext
  • Transactions - Grails uses Spring's transaction management in GORM

In other words Grails has Spring embedded running all the way through it.

The Grails ApplicationContext

Spring developers are often keen to understand how the Grails ApplicationContext instance is constructed. The basics of it are as follows.

  • Grails constructs a parent ApplicationContext from the web-app/WEB-INF/applicationContext.xml file. This ApplicationContext configures the GrailsApplication instance and the GrailsPluginManager.
  • Using this ApplicationContext as a parent Grails' analyses the conventions with the GrailsApplication instance and constructs a child ApplicationContext that is used as the root ApplicationContext of the web application

Configured Spring Beans

Most of Grails' configuration happens at runtime. Each plugin may configure Spring beans that are registered in the ApplicationContext. For a reference as to which beans are configured, refer to the reference guide which describes each of the Grails plugins and which beans they configure.

18.2 Configuring Additional Beans

Using the Spring Bean DSL

You can easily register new (or override existing) beans by configuring them in grails-app/conf/spring/resources.groovy which uses the Grails Spring DSL. Beans are defined inside a beans property (a Closure):

beans = {
    // beans here
}

As a simple example you can configure a bean with the following syntax:

import my.company.MyBeanImpl

beans = { myBean(MyBeanImpl) { someProperty = 42 otherProperty = "blue" } }

Once configured, the bean can be auto-wired into Grails artifacts and other classes that support dependency injection (for example BootStrap.groovy and integration tests) by declaring a public field whose name is your bean's name (in this case myBean):

class ExampleController {

def myBean … }

Using the DSL has the advantage that you can mix bean declarations and logic, for example based on the environment:

import grails.util.Environment
import my.company.mock.MockImpl
import my.company.MyBeanImpl

beans = { switch(Environment.current) { case Environment.PRODUCTION: myBean(MyBeanImpl) { someProperty = 42 otherProperty = "blue" } break

case Environment.DEVELOPMENT: myBean(MockImpl) { someProperty = 42 otherProperty = "blue" } break } }

The GrailsApplication object can be accessed with the application variable and can be used to access the Grails configuration (amongst other things):

import grails.util.Environment
import my.company.mock.MockImpl
import my.company.MyBeanImpl

beans = { if (application.config.my.company.mockService) { myBean(MockImpl) { someProperty = 42 otherProperty = "blue" } } else { myBean(MyBeanImpl) { someProperty = 42 otherProperty = "blue" } } }

If you define a bean in resources.groovy with the same name as one previously registered by Grails or an installed plugin, your bean will replace the previous registration. This is a convenient way to customize behavior without resorting to editing plugin code or other approaches that would affect maintainability.

Using XML

Beans can also be configured using a grails-app/conf/spring/resources.xml. In earlier versions of Grails this file was automatically generated for you by the run-app script, but the DSL in resources.groovy is the preferred approach now so it isn't automatically generated now. But it is still supported - you just need to create it yourself.

This file is typical Spring XML file and the Spring documentation has an excellent reference on how to configure Spring beans.

The myBean bean that we configured using the DSL would be configured with this syntax in the XML file:

<bean id="myBean" class="my.company.MyBeanImpl">
    <property name="someProperty" value="42" />
    <property name="otherProperty" value="blue" />
</bean>

Like the other bean it can be auto-wired into any class that supports dependency injection:

class ExampleController {

def myBean }

Referencing Existing Beans

Beans declared in resources.groovy or resources.xml can reference other beans by convention. For example if you had a BookService class its Spring bean name would be bookService, so your bean would reference it like this in the DSL:

beans = {
    myBean(MyBeanImpl) {
        someProperty = 42
        otherProperty = "blue"
        bookService = ref("bookService")
    }
}

or like this in XML:

<bean id="myBean" class="my.company.MyBeanImpl">
    <property name="someProperty" value="42" />
    <property name="otherProperty" value="blue" />
    <property name="bookService" ref="bookService" />
</bean>

The bean needs a public setter for the bean reference (and also the two simple properties), which in Groovy would be defined like this:

package my.company

class MyBeanImpl { Integer someProperty String otherProperty BookService bookService // or just "def bookService" }

or in Java like this:

package my.company;

class MyBeanImpl {

private BookService bookService; private Integer someProperty; private String otherProperty;

public void setBookService(BookService theBookService) { this.bookService = theBookService; }

public void setSomeProperty(Integer someProperty) { this.someProperty = someProperty; }

public void setOtherProperty(String otherProperty) { this.otherProperty = otherProperty; } }

Using ref (in XML or the DSL) is very powerful since it configures a runtime reference, so the referenced bean doesn't have to exist yet. As long as it's in place when the final application context configuration occurs, everything will be resolved correctly.

For a full reference of the available beans see the plugin reference in the reference guide.

18.3 Runtime Spring with the Beans DSL

This Bean builder in Grails aims to provide a simplified way of wiring together dependencies that uses Spring at its core.

In addition, Spring's regular way of configuration (via XML and annotations) is static and difficult to modify and configure at runtime, other than programmatic XML creation which is both error prone and verbose. Grails' BeanBuilder changes all that by making it possible to programmatically wire together components at runtime, allowing you to adapt the logic based on system properties or environment variables.

This enables the code to adapt to its environment and avoids unnecessary duplication of code (having different Spring configs for test, development and production environments)

The BeanBuilder class

Grails provides a grails.spring.BeanBuilder class that uses dynamic Groovy to construct bean definitions. The basics are as follows:

import org.apache.commons.dbcp.BasicDataSource
import org.grails.orm.hibernate.ConfigurableLocalSessionFactoryBean
import org.springframework.context.ApplicationContext
import grails.spring.BeanBuilder

def bb = new BeanBuilder()

bb.beans {

dataSource(BasicDataSource) { driverClassName = "org.h2.Driver" url = "jdbc:h2:mem:grailsDB" username = "sa" password = "" }

sessionFactory(ConfigurableLocalSessionFactoryBean) { dataSource = ref('dataSource') hibernateProperties = ["hibernate.hbm2ddl.auto":