Monday, January 19, 2015

Total Bummer: Pivotal Drops Groovy

Pivotal announced today that Groovy 2.4 And Grails 3.0 will be the last major releases under Pivotal sponsorship. This is big news that has not surprisingly created a lot of buzz in the blogosphere. In this post, I describe some of the questions that others and I are wondering about and speculate on Groovy's future.

After reading multiple Reddit references to this announcement, my initial thought was to see what Guillaume Laforge had to say about this. Apparently, a lot of people had the same idea because I encountered a 503 error when trying to access his page.

Fortunately, I did not have to wait for Laforge's blog to be available to get more insight from him on this announcement because there were a couple of interviews with him regarding the announcement already online:'s Pivotal’s "Sad and Odd" Decision to Set Groovy Adrift and InfoQ's Pivotal Pulls Groovy/Grails Funding. Since that time, Laforge's blog is available again and has a post on the subject called The Groovy project is looking for a new home. Anothrt person frequently and deservedly associated with Groovy, Graeme Rocher, has also posted on the subject: The Future of Groovy and Grails Sponsorship.

Laforge and Rocher were co-founders of G2One, which was acquired by SpringSource in late 2008. VMWare then acquired SpringSource about one year later (and VMWare had been owned by EMC since late 2003). EMC would later announce the spin-off of Pivotal in 2013 and Pivotal today announced the dropping of Groovy support as of 21 March 2015.

Questions, Answers, and Speculations

The posts referenced here in my post have collectively answered some of my questions about Groovy and at the same time presented additional questions.

Why is Pivotal dropping financial support of Groovy and Grails?
Answer: Pivotal's announcement: "The decision to conclude its sponsorship of Groovy and Grails is part of Pivotal’s larger strategy to concentrate resources on accelerating both commercial and open source projects that support its growing traction in Platform-as-a-Service, Data, and Agile development. Pivotal has determined that the time is right to let further development of Groovy and Grails be led by other interested parties in the open source community who can best serve the goals of those projects."
Who Might Sponsor Groovy and/or Grails Development?
Speculation: Many organizations benefit from Groovy and Gravy, but many probably aren't prepared to invest as fully in their development as G2One, SpringSource, VMWare, and even Pivotal have been. An example of an organization with an obvious vested interest in Groovy's future is GradleWare. Ken Kousen has tweeted and written a blog post on the opportunity of acquiring Groovy and Grails sponsorship.
What does this announcement mean for Groovy's future?
Answer Mixed with Speculation: Based on Laforge's and Rocher's posts, it seems clear that the core developers plan to continue working on Groovy. However, it is understandable that if this effort is not funded (sponsored), it will have to be at a slower pace than before (I have found through personal experience that home projects take a lot longer to complete than paid projects). I believe that Groovy has strong momentum already that will continue for some time. It is vital to Gradle, is used with other open source projects and tools such as SoapUI, and could have a promising future running on Android. I primarily use Groovy for scripting and simple "glue" tools in Java applications. The language is mature and serves these purposes well and I see no reason to stop using it at this time.
What does this mean for the future of the Spring Framework?
Speculation: There is some concern that perhaps Spring Framework could be jettisoned next from Pivotal. This seems unlikely to me, but I didn't expect Pivotal to drop Groovy either. As much as I love Groovy and as much effect on Java and JVM development as I acknowledge it has had, I think Spring Framework has been even more pervasive in Java EE development than Groovy and Grails have been in Java SE and Java EE development. That stated, Pivotal has shown that they are willing to, as most successful business are, drop a product offering that is perceived as not benefiting their strategy and bottom line. I can certainly understand if this development concerns users of Spring.
Is Standards-Based More Important than Being Open Source?
Answer: This is a difficult question to answer that often depends on numerous contextual factors including the tools being compared, the expected length of life of the products being built, etc. Fortunately, we often don't have to choose between these as many reference implementations in the Java world are also open source. However, a point can be made that any product that is not standard (including commercial or proprietary) is subject to losing support or not being available any longer. The theory is that if standards-based products are used, one can then shift to another implementation of that standard if necessary. However, a standard is only as good as its implementations and if there is only one realistic implementation of a standard, there's not much of an advantage of transferability there.


Although I understand Pivotal's motivation for dropping Groovy, I am still sorry to hear that news. I appreciate the effort that key Groovy contributes such as Laforge and Rocher have made and I appreciate the companies that have sponsored that work. Through this sponsorship and work, we have a really nice language to use for scripting and other purposes. I hope that a sponsor can be found for Groovy, but I plan to continue to use it either way.

1 comment:

A_flj_ said...

With all the latest investment into spring boot and other Spring modules, I definitely don't expect Pivotal to drop Spring any time soon. From what they say and what they do, it looks like they want Spring to be the foundation of their platform offering.