Simple CRUD with Gaelyk

October 21, 2010 at 7:26 pm | Posted in GAE, Groovy, Search | 5 Comments
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After having written a Grails application for Google App Engine I know exactly what the pain points are in production: Cold startup times make using the application an unenjoyable experience. App Engine calls for a lightweight application with far less JAR baggage and fast startup times. Yesterday I attended Guillaume LaForge’s session “Gaelyk, a lightweight Groovy toolkit for Google App Engine” at SpringOne2GX presenting the nuts and bolts of Gaelyk. The session was reason enough to think about rewriting my application to Gaelyk. To get started I whipped up a simple CRUD example in Gaelyk. All you need to do is to download the Gaelyk template application and you are ready to go. The test application will have four simple use cases: show all entities of a certain type (in my case a “Goal” entity), create new ones, update and delete them.

Gaelyk doesn’t support multiple closures in a controller class to automatically expose URLs by convention like Grails does. Instead you have to define your URL routing for each operation separately.


get  "/goals",                forward:  "/showGoals.groovy"
get  "/goals/add",            forward:  "/WEB-INF/pages/goal.gtpl"
post "/goals/insert",         forward:  "/insertGoal.groovy"
get  "/goals/delete/@id",     forward:  "/deleteGoal.groovy?id=@id"
get  "/goals/edit/@id",       forward:  "/editGoal.groovy?id=@id"
post "/goals/update",         forward:  "/updateGoal.groovy"

To show all Goals I defined a Groovlet named showGoals.groovy that uses the App Engine datastore low-level API to retrieve them and forward to the view goals.gtpl. In the view you can add a new goal or edit/delete existing goals.


import static* "Getting all goals"

def query = new Query("Goal")
PreparedQuery preparedQuery = datastore.prepare(query)
query.addSort("created", Query.SortDirection.DESCENDING)
def goals = preparedQuery.asList(withDefaults())

request.goals = goals

forward '/WEB-INF/pages/goals.gtpl'


<% include '/WEB-INF/includes/header.gtpl' %>


<a href="/goals/add">Add Goal</a>
<table border="1">
     <% request.goals.each { goal -> %>
           <td><a href="/goals/delete/${}">Delete</a> | <a href="/goals/edit/${}">Edit</a></td>
     <% } %>

<% include '/WEB-INF/includes/footer.gtpl' %>

The operations insert and edit share a common view named goal.gtpl. Based on whether the request contains the attribute goal the view will be in insert or edit mode. In case an existing Goal entity was provided the form gets populated with the entity data and is ready to be updated. The Goal to be edited will be retrieved by providing the entity’s ID in the editGoal.groovy Groovlet.


import "Editing goal"

def id = Long.parseLong(
Key key = KeyFactory.createKey("Goal", id)
def goal = datastore.get(key)

request.goal = goal
forward '/WEB-INF/pages/goal.gtpl'


<% include '/WEB-INF/includes/header.gtpl' %>

  def goal = request.getAttribute("goal")
  boolean existingKey = goal?.key
  String action = !existingKey ? 'Add' : 'Update'

<h2>${action} Goal</h2>

<form action="/goals/${!existingKey ? 'insert' : 'update'}" method="POST">
   <table border="0">
            <td><input type="text" name="name" value="${goal?.name ? : ''}"></td>
            <td><input type="text" name="description" value="${goal?.description ? goal.description : ''}"></td>
      <% if(existingKey) { %>
         <input type="hidden" name="id" value="${}">
      <% } %>
   <input type="submit" value="${action}">
   <input type="button" value="Cancel" onclick="javascript:document.location.href = '/goals';">

<% include '/WEB-INF/includes/footer.gtpl' %>

At last we need to implement the Groovlets for persisting the changes to your entity. All of them are quite straight forward to implement. Gaelyk’s abstractions for the datastore work quite nicely.


import "Inserting goal"

def goal = new Entity("Goal") =
goal.description = params.description
goal.created = new Date()

redirect '/goals'


import "Updating goal"

def id = Long.parseLong(
Key key = KeyFactory.createKey("Goal", id)
def goal = datastore.get(key) =
goal.description = params.description

redirect '/goals'


import "Deleting goal"

def id = Long.parseLong(
Key key = KeyFactory.createKey("Goal", id)

redirect '/goals'

Grails on Google App Engine – Part 1: A Case Study

October 17, 2010 at 5:08 pm | Posted in GAE, Grails, Groovy, Java, Web | 5 Comments
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Soon after Google had announced App Engine for Java I started to play around with the platform. Despite the limitations that App Engine imposes on developers I really wanted to know what all the buzz is about. Not only did I want to deploy a useful, non-trivial application I also wanted to get a feel for App Engine’s production readiness. Most of today’s developers are embracing (web) frameworks that help them to focus on implementing business logic. This might become an issue with App Engine for multiple reasons. Adding Megabytes of JAR files to your application increases the cold start up time. Furthermore, App Engine restricts the usage of certain specifications, technologies and frameworks. Over the past two years I became a big fan of Groovy and Grails. Therefore, I wanted to leverage the ease of use of Grails to implement a solution on App Engine. All I needed to get started was the Grails App Engine plugin. Even though I read about Gaelyk I wasn’t fully convinced that it would be able to provide me with all the functionality I needed to implement my application e.g. no support for taglibs or Sitemesh.

FavalikeTo limit the amount of work I’d have to put into this experiment I chose to implement a online bookmark manager with limited functionality. The features I wanted to cover should also take advantage of some of the services provided by App Engine. My plan was to use the Mail service and the URL Fetch API to get a feel on how easy it is to use them.

  • User registration and confirmation via email
  • User authenication
  • Management of bookmarks in folders per user
  • Tagging of bookmarks
  • Marking bookmarks as favorites
  • Automatic retrieval of URL meta data
  • Export of bookmarks as XML and HTML

The final result became Favalike which uses Grails 1.3.1 and the App Engine plugin 0.8.10. The following postings will describe my experience and the challenges I had to face in detail.

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