Last week, the chatter around 11 year old open-source JVM language Groovy centred on new Android functionalities in the upcoming 2.4 release. For the near future though, there’s a far more pressing issue, with Pivotal’s announcement that it would be withdrawing support for the language and accompanying Grails framework once the projected Grails 3.0 drop is achieved. The final severance will take place on March 31st. By this point, both the Pivotal and Groovy teams hope, a new sponsor will have emerged, and Pivotal will support the transition to a new home.

Whilst Pivotal state that they will continue to leverage Groovy within the Spring Framework, they explain that, “The relationship with Groovy will change after the EOS, and Spring will treat Groovy as a third party dependency.”

According to Pivotal, the decision comes as part of an overarching company effort to channel resources into commercial and open source projects that support its “growing traction” in PaaS, Data, and Agile development. In a news release this morning, Mike Maxey wrote that, “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.”

Furthermore, Pivotal state that  Groovy is “a key foundation of Spring Boot, however with over 50% of commits on the project by the community and the language reaching maturity” the company no longer “feels the need” to continue funding ongoing development.

Just who the aforementioned “interested parties” might be is very much up in the air at present. Given the number of companies that use Groovy at a production level (including JP Morgan, LinkedIn and Walmart) it’d be surprising if nobody stepped forward to at offer the small but talented core development team behind the language and Grails framework at least some sort of interim assistance.

Screen Shot 2015-01-19 at 13.57.37Voxxed reached out to Groovy creator Guillaume Laforge for his take on the situation this morning. Here’s what he had to say:

Voxxed: Did Pivotal’s announcement take you by surprise?

Laforge: Yes and no, at the same time!

On one hand, Groovy and Grails being very successful open source projects, it seems a bit sad and odd to see Pivotal abandon them when it says it bets big on Open Source. So why not continue sponsoring them?

But on the other hand, Groovy and Grails haven’t been leveraged enough inside Pivotal to build the base for their cloud strategy, so they see less need for funding our projects.

For you, what would be the ideal scenario going forward for Groovy and Grails? Is there a particular kind of company (ie. someone with mobile development as a speciality) you’d like to see pick up sponsorship?

Obviously, the ideal scenario would be to find a friendly company that understands open source, that has a genuine interest in further developing our technologies, that sees possible symbioses between Groovy and Grails and their own offerings, etc.

Groovy and Grails can be applied and leveraged in all sorts of problems and scenarios, whether it’s mobility (with the Groovy support for Android), big data, and more, so there’s not really just one company or just one kind of business, that could be a good fit.

Let’s see what emerges out of that announcement!

Will this news affect enterprise clients in 2015?

Groovy and Grails live on, they’ll still be there for a while. So companies using those technologies can still continue to do so and bet on the quality of our work.

I believe Pivotal should be honoring the contracts it has with its clients. You can have a look at Pivotal’s FAQ on this topic for further information.

You spoke about features you’d like to see added to Groovy in the years to come – can you describe some of these?

We’re working on several fronts at the same time, for instance we’re looking into adding some more Java 8 related support (including supporting some of the new syntax constructs), refactoring and enhancing our dynamic runtime, continuing our ongoing performance improvements, providing a kind of macro system to simplify code transformations, etc.

We’re not short on ideas on how to evolve the language!

What have been some highlights for you from he past 11 years working on the Groovy and Grails projects?

From a personal standpoint, it’s really the human side of the equation that’s been the biggest highlight for me. Thanks to open source, I’ve had the chance to learn with masters of their craft, meet my idols in the field, travel throughout the world to speak at conferences, meet all those wonderful users of our technologies thanking us for our hard work.

All those moments have been the greatest highlights of my career, and I’m sure it’s far from the end, it’s going to continue going forward!

How can our readers help Groovy and Grails going forward?

Well, if their company is a fan of Groovy and Grails and if they want to help, perhaps they can sponsor the projects! Ideally, we’d like to be able to keep the Groovy and Grails team together, to continue to work full time on both projects.

Pivotal’s “Sad and Odd” Decision to Set Groovy Adrift

| Programming Languages| 6,601 views | 2 Comments
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2 Comments

  • Dean Schulze
    Reply

    The article didn’t mention what Pivotal will “channel resources” into instead of groovy. Pivotal has started using golang at least to some extent. Given that Pivotal is a PaaS provider (Docker comes to mind) I wonder if they are moving from Groovy to Go.

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