Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Grails Eclipse IDE Support

I knew that the idea of an IDE plugin to support Grails could not be new. So I am going to post the contents a nice little "IDE Integration Wish List" from the grails wiki site. I am then going to make a proposal for what I see the path of a Grails Eclipse plugin would take. Comments are more than welcome.


IDE Wish List (from grails.org)
Below are the features that would be great to have from a Grails IDE:

  • Wizards to create Grails artifacts like controllers/domain objects and so on. Unlike Rails, Grails doesn't do any background configuration with its command line tools so these can merely be simple wizards
  • Running a Grails server embedded in the IDE and being able to step debug the application. Groovy provides all the information in the classes necessary to enable step debugging of Groovy code
  • Code navigation with keyboard shotcuts and CTRL+click between Grails artifacts like controllers domain classes etc.
  • Code completion for things like dynamic finders and persistent methods like save/delete/findAll/findBy* on domain classes
  • Auto-completion of Grails tags in GSPs
  • Integration of an embedded Grails console to be able to execute arbitrary scripts against a running application
  • Being able to right-click execute Grails unit tests and get green/red bars etc.
  • Being able to right-click on a Grails project and execute all unit tests
  • Being able to right-click on a domain class and click generate to generate a controller and views for CRUD
  • Better editor support for groovy files. This means autocompletion and so on.
  • Special outline views for Domain-Classes, Controllers and Views
    Graphical editor for Domain Classes, with a UML-like or ER-like view
  • The IDE should hook into Grails' upcoming plug-in architecture to be able to do things like auto-find new executable scripts, download and install new plug-ins etc.
  • Integration of every Servlet-Container to test the Grails-App. The best solution were intergration into webtools
  • XP Refactor support (e.g. rename methods/groovy file names and cascade changes to all dependencies)

Proposal
I would like to start by taking the Grails application and embedding it within a set of Eclipse plugins and then have Eclipse plugins to be able to run directly from the workbench ( via right click options ) the command line commands directly. This would mean that you would not have to install Grails seperately, kinda like Eclipse handles ant.

After that I would like to begin integrating the Groovy Eclipse plugin into the mix. I think that the Groovy Eclipse plugin should be included seperately from the Grails plugin to avoid issues of differing Groovy versions ( that Grails could require different versions from the main Groovy distribution ) and to avoid the overhead of installing all the Grails libraries along with the Groovy Eclipse plugin. Of course, there would be lots and lots of overlap and we should be able to leverage any new improvements in the Groovy plugin quickly. The Groovy Eclipse plugin with its editor and outline view would be the basis for adding more support for Grails.

After the Groovy Eclipse plugin functionality is added, the fun can really begin. As I mentioned in a previous post, convention over configuration would allow us to inject suggestions to method completion. A first target would be the Data Source configuration files, a second would be the Domain classes, and so forth.

A related issue would be to find an open source JSP Editor project that would be willing to partner with us to help develop the GSP Editor. If an acceptable one is not found, then one will have to be fabricated, probably based on a previously existing XML editor.

I think this could be very useful ( i.e. cool ) and since we could leverage already existing tools, we could have something to show rather quickly and have a nice evolutionary path to add new features and functions a little bit at a time.

I would love comments on this proposal.

1 comment:

Hugo said...

Isn't that what Netbeans does already ?