Donnerstag Mrz 20, 2008

News from Grailsland

The past

Last year November Martin Adamek and me started to work on a full-featured set of modules to support the Groovy programming language and the grails application server. After being quite impressed (and a little bit depressed) about the feature-set of the Intellij Groovy/Grails plug-in, we wanted to create something similar for NetBeans.

One key responsibility of all OpenSource projects is to carefully look around what's already out in the world. Re-use of existing sourcecode and/or leveraging existing libraries is a given in this culture. Therefore we started off our work by using the existing, but inactive coyote plug-in. Doing a language plug-in. with an extensive feature-set comparable to the Intellij plug-in. goes way beyond the scope of the otherwise very helpful Schliemann framework.

This left us with the cumbersome tasks of coding everything from scratch against the NetBeans Editor API. Luckily we soon discovered Tor Norby's GSF Framework. GSF's purpose is to help creating exactly what we were about to create - A new scripting language support module. GSF really achieves this goal and has been one of the reasons, why we are able to develop so many features in such a short period of time.

Here are the modules and there main duties:

groovy.support

Collection of helper- and utility classes alongside the Customizers.

groovy.editor

Editing Groovy sourcecode files. All the bells and whistles like syntax-highlighting, folding resides here.

groovy.gsp

Support for editing Groovy server pages files (GSP).

groovy.grails

Here's all the code interfacing with an ex-process grails server. Architecture-specific execution of the "grails <target>".

groovy.grailsproject

Support for the new NetBeans project type "Grails-Project" together with all visual components like Wizards, Actions, Node-renderers and the like.

groovy.kit

Wrapper module for the ones above to show-up as a single entity in NetBeans PluginManager.

The present

Installation

NetBeans 6.1

Initially we started in NetBeans old CVS trunk which soon became NetBeans 6.0. We soon realized, that we need to use some new API's, therefore the suite of modules needs NetBeans 6.1 as a minimum.

Binary

Please use the daily snapshots from the NetBeans source-repository continous integration system (Hudson), which can be found here:

deadlock.netbeans.org Builds

By using these builds, you are going to get all the pre-configured development UpdateCenter which include our modules. 

Source

... Or work with the NetBeans sources from the mercurial repository:

hg.netbeans.org

and build it yourself (it is easy!, No really it is, no one forced me to write this.)

Here's a great description, how to do this:

 WorkingWithNetBeansSources

The Modules

Binary

The Plug-ins are available from the UpdateCenter, therefore just go to:

Tools > Plug-ins > "Available Plug-ins" > "Groovy and Grails"

and install them.

Source

The sourcecode for the Groovy/Grails modules lives in the "contrib" repository:

contrib repository webinterface 

there are six subdirectories starting with "groovy.\*".

If you build them in this order:

  1. groovy.support
  2. groovy.editor
  3. groovy.gsp
  4. groovy.grails
  5. groovy.grailsproject
  6. groovy.kit

using ant:

ant -f groovy.\*/build.xml

you have them automatically up and running the next time you start NetBeans.

Screenshots

So what are you getting by using these modules? Pictures entering the stage:

  1. Method-completion including JavaDoc display for Groovy and Java:



  2. Code Folding of Groovy sourcfiles:



  3. Starting, stopping of Grails-Server:



  4. Importing existing Grails projects. Well arranged display of project structure:



  5. Groovy/Grails module settings integrated into NetBeans options dialog:



  6. Marking of sourcecode errors:



  7. Easy navigation of Groovy sourcecode by using a navigator view:



  8. Customizing of Grails Environment and Serverport. Auto-deploy to Glassfish Appserver:



  9. Starting common grails-tasks from context menu:



  10. Status of running grails server displayed in status-line:



  11. Syntax Highlighting:



Participation

I would love to get feedback about this project. No matter how much planning one is doing, at the end of the day the software should be used and should be usable for real live users. Therefore I'm bleeding to get your feedback. What you like, what you don't like, what you think we should implement. Ideally, you file your bugs and wishes right where they will end-up anyway and that's the NetBeans issue-tracking system Issuezilla.

We have our own Component-name which is (you guessed it): "groovy".

The Issuezilla landing page could be found here:

NetBeans Issuezilla 

The future

There are still many, many things missing from the modules. Depending on the interest, people are showing for the initial release ( we won't make it into NetBeans 6.1 ), these are candidates
for features of the next release:

  1. Debugging support. (yes - it's sad but true, that we have no debugging support at the moment)
  2. MultiView for easy navigation between corresponding Model-View-Controller files.
  3. Refactoring support.

Links:

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