Thursday, April 3, 2014

MeteorJS like application in Grails

MeteorJS is new web framework that combines server-side and client-side programming into one, leaving mostly just client-side. I am defenitely not expert with tool and just seen demo on their homepage, but WOW effect is sure impressive. It suppose to kill all Rails and server-side development in general. Thank god I am full-stack developer, but anyway I am scared.

General idea behind this framework is autogenerating all server-side code, leaving mostly just configuration. Similar feature was recently introduced in Grails, so I was wondering - is it possible to create something similar to MeteorJS in Grails. And there is my experience.

Basically, it needs autogenerated REST, Javascript ORM and server push. REST is Grails feature since version 2.3; for client-side ORM I picked CanJS as it looks most similar to Meteor; for server push in Grails I picked spring-websocket plugin (because it is first result in Google, why else?). Unfortunately, spring-websocket is M1 and it relies on Spring 4, so Grails is 2.4M1 too, so it is not production safe, but MeteorJS is 0.8.0 now too, so we are even.

Application idea is simple TODO app. You can find full source here. There is defenitely some boilerplate code as it is not plugin, but I think in general it is pretty similar to MeteorJS example. It consists of 3 meaningful components: view, controller and domain object.

View is Mustache template, and is pretty straightforward if you are familiar with CanJS:

    <td>{{description}}</td><td><input type="checkbox" can-value="done"></td>
    <td><input type="button" value="Delete" can-click="delete"></td>

<input type="text" can-value="description">
<input type="button" can-click="add" value="Add">

Controller is CanJS component with ORM definition:

var Todo = can.Model({
  findAll: function(id)   {return $.get('/grails-meteor-example/todos.json/')},
  findOne: function(id)   {return $.get('/grails-meteor-example/todos.json/'+id)},
  create:  function(data) {return $.post('/grails-meteor-example/todos.json/', data)},
  update:  function(id)   {return $.ajax({type: 'PUT',    url: '/grails-meteor-example/todos.json/'+id })},
  destroy: function(id)   {return $.ajax({type: 'DELETE', url: '/grails-meteor-example/todos/'+id, contentType: 'application/json' })}
}, {});

  tag: "todos",
  template: can.view("todos.mustache"),
  scope: {
    todos: new Todo.List({}),
    description: can.compute(''),
    add: function() {
      new Todo({'description':this.description(), 'done':false}).save();
    delete: function(todo) {
  events: {
    "{todo} change": function(){
      this.scope.attr('todos', new Todo.List({}));

$(document).ready(function() {
  $("body").html( can.view.mustache("<todos></todos>"));

Domain is Grails domain object mapped as REST controller:

package org.grmeteor


class Todo {
  String description
  boolean done

View is totally similar to MeteorJS. Controller is similar, but also contains ORM definition and server push event. Both could be easily autogenerated with Grails plugin, but at least push can be also left for practical applications (probably, you will not want to have notification with millions of parallel users). Domain is pure Grails overhead, but it would probably still be needed for SQL backends in MeteorJS (and hey, those server-side devs want to eat too!).

Of course there are other files too, like server push sender and client side HTML container for CanJS, but these are mostly static and sure can be easily hidden by plugin. So only part that is missing to make Grails MeteorJS-cool is plugin itself, which even if not for practical cases could be nice to have for WOW effect and MVPs.

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