After working on an offline mobile web app that integrated with a Grails backend, and after that being prompted to explore options for a new some green field development, which lead me to re-evaluate things like REST to NoSQL to MVC frameworks in general to mobile frameworks, to front-end frameworks in general. I feel like I have started to form a more robust comprehension of where web-app development is headed in general, and most of the web-frameworks I know of seem to be missing it so far.
This would be hard to articulate briefly, but blogs are good for taking a wild stab at that sort of thing, right? Disclaimer: this is just me sort of thinking out loud, so take it for what it is. I am coming to the conclusion that I don’t think I want to use Grails anymore. Either that or I want to gut it of a lot of what it does. Sitemesh, don’t need it. Hibernate, don’t really want SQL database anymore, schema’s are so restricting/un-agile, so don’t need it. GORM, dislike it about as much as I find it useful, so could really take it or leave it. If you end up working with a object DB then it is pretty much an unnecessary abstraction anyway. Groovy, well I like it better than Java, but honestly Scala seems like it might be the most promising language on the JVM, and for that matter other non-JVM languages have plenty of appeal too. Resources plugin, Taglibs (built in or customizable), Scaffolding and Templates, i18n… better handled by a front-end framework. Or…
Grails (and lets not just pick on Grails, most web-frameworks I know of) is still stuck in the paradigm where views are generated server-side . Grails, again, to be fair, this seems to be a pattern for web frameworks in general, has been advancing in ways that make it more powerful and thus more complex, not less. True it does a decent job of hiding that complexity away most of the time, but even so, what if its being there is all unnecessary in the first place? The trend in the way people are using their computers/devices would seem to me to drive rich apps working on the client-side with relatively simple storage and syncing services that they connect to. Maybe what it means for web-frameworks to evolve at this point means to specialize, simplify, and strip down.
What is old is new again. Server side rendering is desirable again, though personally the client side app is still one I like. Grails has gotten to be much more flexible with things like profiles, so I’m cool with it. A good tool is one that works and lasts and Grails has made a lot of changes to keep itself relevant, and old projects that I used it for are still running strong.