Friday, September 22, 2006

Annotations in Groovy

Annotations are thought for providing MetaData.

Such MetaData can be used by the compiler or other processing tools by using the source, the bytecode or at runtime. Annotations are not thought to have an semantic effect.... I always have to tell me this... Somehow I really have a problem with that. Anyway, Groovy doesn't have them. And Groovy won't get Annoatations in 1.0. But as soon as 1.0 is out we want to add them. Tools working with annoatations will then most likely work for Groovy too.

The new JUnit is an example of why Groovy should have annotations. It is not sure yet what set of default annotations Groovy will support, but people will be able to write annotations in Groovy. How much of the enhancements though Groovy can be used in annotations is open, we need to look at what the bytecode allows and if we can go around it... and if we want to do that.

And there is Hibernate... avoiding to persist the metaClass field is sometimes very important. We had several problems with serialization of that property, because the MetaClass is not serializeable and so the default serialization might fail. Using bean serialization might make things even worse. And Hibernate...

class Customer implements Serializable {

MetaClass metaClass

Long id

String firstName
String lastName
Date birthday

Integer age

private Address homeAddress

Set orders

I "stole" that example form the Hibernate page and added the transient property for metaClass. Of course you don't have to add the getter and setter methods, as they are already generated by Groovy. Just add buisness code and be lucky ;)

And of course there are more tools using annoatations and I am sure there will be much more of them in the future. I am very curious if other dynamic languages on the JVM will go that way to. But as most scripting languages on the jvm do not generate compatible class objects it might be out of scope for many of them.