Matt RaibleMatt Raible is a Web Architecture Consultant specializing in open source frameworks.

10+ YEARS


Over 10 years ago, I wrote my first blog post. Since then, I've authored books, had kids, traveled the world, found Trish and blogged about it all.

RE: Why Grails doesn't use Maven

Graeme Rocher's in Why Grails doesn't use Maven:

In his post entitled "Grails - The Good, The Bad and the Ugly", Jonas has some nice praise for Grails, his main beef is that it is not built on Maven.

So I wanted to clarify why exactly we chose not use Maven (by default) and the explanation is there for all to see in Jonas' first example of creating a Grails application vs creating a Maven project:

Instead of

grails create-app name

could be just

mvn archetype:create -U\
-DarchetypeGroupId=net.liftweb\
-DarchetypeArtifactId=lift-archetype-blank\
-DarchetypeVersion=0.4\
-DremoteRepositories=http://scala-tools.org/repo-releases\
-DgroupId=your.proj.gid -DartifactId=your-proj-id

My goodness, what a mouthful the Maven example is. There is a common acronym in the open source world called RTFM (read the *ing manual), when a user asks a question on a mailing list and the "experts" respond by pointing them to the place in the manual.

I think Maven's biggest problems are 1) poor metadata in the central repository and 2) the source of metadata in projects (pom.xml).

I believe #1 can be fixed if the Maven guys allow dependencies to be fixed based on user feedback. It's also gotten a lot better in recent years. In reality, maintaining transitive dependencies is hard and I believe Maven has done a good job. In reality, they're the only ones that slurp up transitive dependencies, so the only other option is to maintain the dependencies yourself.

To fix #2, I think the problem is mainly XML and the verboseness of the elements-only pom.xml that Maven requires. Most of the contents of a pom.xml are either dependencies, plugins or exclusions/variances of Maven's conventions. What if Maven's metadata was pluggable? What if XML was only one option? What if you could write a pom.groovy and describe your entire build process in 5 lines instead of 500? That would be very cool.

I'm still a Maven fan, mostly because it's greatly simplified the maintenance of and releasing of AppFuse. When I do GWT, Seam or Grails development in the future, you can be sure I'll try to use Maven to do the development. Why? Because I've learned how to use it and I don't feel the pain that so many others talk about. I also think it really shines on really large projects (builds that produce 30+ WARs for example). An Ant-based system on really large projects can become quite burdensome and difficult to maintain. Not only that, but it's very difficult to maintain a modular build system (where you can build/test/deploy a single WAR) with Ant. In my experience, really large Ant-based systems take forever to process that everything is up-to-date whereas Maven systems depend on each other and require you to keep them up to date. Sure it requires you to be smarter and run "mvn install" on your subprojects, but I'd rather do that than wait 5 minutes for Ant to process everything just to run a test.

You might remember that the main reason I used to prefer Ant over Maven was speed. That was in Maven 1 days. With Maven 2, speed is no longer a problem and I've found it much easier to run "mvn jetty:run" than "ant deploy" and wait for Tomcat to restart. IMO, the perfect development environment is one were you can run a command-line command (or use your IDE to start the server) and code away without worrying about restarts. Seam and Grails offer this environment, but it's unlikely your entire organization is going to use standardize on those frameworks and not have anything else. I think Maven and the Maven Jetty Plugin offer a nice alternative for the rest of those applications.

Posted in Java at Jan 16 2008, 10:49:35 AM MST 11 Comments