Flex on Grails Book Update: Making it Free!

I’ve decided to share what I’ve written about Flex on Grails as a book online under the Creative Commons License.


Right now, only the preface and the hello world chapters are online. In the coming weeks, I’ll update the content on my hard drive, write new content and post them online. Feedback is highly appreciated.

This book will target Flex 4 and either Grails 1.2. or Grails 2.0, depending on it’s release schedule.

30 Second Elevator Pitch

This book is about combining the power of Flex 4 with the ease of use of Grails.

With Flex, we can build powerful desktop applications like Tweetdeck or incredibly useful web applications like those available at http://www.aviary.com/.

With Grails, we can harness the power of Java in a rapid development framework with the features and advantages of Ruby on Rails.

Best of all, with recent efforts like the GraniteDS plugin and the Spring-BlazeDS integration initiative, we can seamlessly integrate Flex front-ends with Grails back-ends. Development has never been so effortless.

Motivation For the Creative Commons Release.

There are just not enough people that see the potential in combining Grails and Flex.

I know that as a Java developer, I was scared away by the notion of Flex being this complex beast that forced me to work in symbols and a Flash timeline. When I started playing with it, I realized that it was more like HTML and JavaScript than this foreign Macromedia director thing I had in mind.

I can imagine the same thing is true for Grails. One of my friends described it as PHP on steroids. Java, JavaScript and ActionScript are closer in syntax to each other. The JVM and the Flash Player are similar architecturally. But not a lot of Flex developers know about Grails and not a lot Grails developers want to try Flex. We’ve been too scarred by the bad past experiences with broken Java projects or think that Flash is nothing but just a tool to build banner ads.

My experience with Grails and Flex is that it works. And it works charmingly. Most importantly, it lets old Java devs quickly move their skills to Grails and HTML/JavaScript devs quickly move their skills to Flex. It gets rid of mundane tasks like configuring hibernate XML files and having to test five different versions of each browser for each interface.

By releasing the information under the creative commons license, I hope that more people would be aware of this killer combination. Adobe has done a lot by releasing much of the Flex SDK into open source. And Grails builds on the great open source ethos. I hope that this book contributes to Flex developers being more curious about Grails, and Grails developers considering Flex as a viable alternative.

I think we are at the cusp of something wonderful. The new Data Service support introduced in Flex Builder 4 will make a lot of the pain and code generation troubles go away. We’re at a point where writing complex web services and deploying them onto new platforms like the Google App Engine can take a matter of days, not months. If I can only help one more Java dev not have to configure Hibernate manually or one more front-end dev not have to deal with IE6 stupidity, then my job is done.

A Little History on This Book

This book started as an idea on my blog post Nine Lessons from a Flex and Grails site . I was soon contacted by the good people of Apress to put together a book for their FirstPress format. I started working on it, then I fumbled. I ended up in a situation where I was sometimes working 18 hours a day to meet deadlines and was just too drained to work on anything else. I contacted the editor and told him I had to put the book on ice until I could find some time to continue working on it.

Fast forward a few months, I had moved to London to work in a very interesting startup company that does amazing stuff with visual search technology. The hours were sane and I had time to digest and process the things I had learned in the previous year. The tech community here is very inspiring. Walking to Grails talks at Skills Matter or learning about the latest Flash techniques at the London Flash Platform User Group reminded me of the excitement and wonder that these technologies could bring. I felt that I was finally in a place where I could work on the ideas of this book in peace.

All the tech pieces started to come into place too. All the floating questions when I was working on the first draft of this book solidified with more and more people interested in getting Flash/Flex and Java working together. I felt the urgency to stand on the street corner and yell : ‘hey, check out flex and grails together!’ once again.

Anyway, I’m gonna keep thinking about this book and writing content, and I hope to get ideas, suggestions and feedback from you.


14 thoughts on “Flex on Grails Book Update: Making it Free!

  1. bendanpa

    Thanks for sharing the book. Since the Google App Engine has been available I expect that Flex + Grails + GAE will be a big chapter in your book.

  2. Pingback: Flex on Grails Book Update: Making it Free! « Adobe Tutorials

  3. Rob James

    Well done – thanks for sharing this book. I think flex and grails are a real exciting combination and have a couple of projects that I want to go down this path. So this book is going to be valuable!!!

    Keep it up

  4. Roger Itai


    on your another post 5 Reasons for Flex Developers to consider a Grails / Google App Engine Backend you did a little mention to Grails Flex Scaffold – GFS. Will you explore it more on part 4 of the book – Flex Scaffolding – view generation ?

    Thanks in advance for sharing the book.

  5. Amit Jain

    Great Job. I have been eagerly waiting for that book to be released. In one of our projects, our team needs to migrate our website developed in grails with flex for UI using intellij idea.

    Looking forward to it.


  6. CMH

    Here is what I would want and I think many developers would really find useful: I would pay for you to keep your book as a living document that I would pay a subscription to or flat fee, whatever. I need to be able to have accurate tutorials for all these different options, GraniteDS, GFS, WebOrb, Rest etc…. The problem that I find is that many of the existing documentation for the various plugins don’t work on the examples without spending time messing around with them because I am running Grails 1.1.1 or the plugin has been updated. etc.. If you would maintain an accurate tutorial base perhaps with examples for different flex frameworks as well, Mate, Swiz, etc. I would gladly pay for it because I know I have wasted more time trying to get simple examples to work. Thanks for your great blog.

  7. Max

    Hello, Tomas

    First of all thanks for sharing the book.

    As far as I know (and as far as I google) “Thinking in Java” author’s name is Bruce Eckel. So it looks like a misprint at http://sites.google.com/site/flexongrails/:
    “First Steps in Flex – written by Bruce Eckert, the author or Thinking in Java…” (two misprints actually).


  8. Chris

    Hi Tomás,

    I checked out your book’s website; is there a way to be updated by e-mail when you add/update a chapter? Or should I just follow your posts?



  9. Nit

    Can anybody help me writing services as i am using gfs(grails flex scaffold) to generate flex code using grails. And i don’t have controllers so i am suppose to write a service .i tried using dynamic finder methods but it says no signature found for findAll() or any other dynamic finder methods .Please help me out in this.


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