A few Grails tricks I picked up

I’ve written yet another app on Grails called PatriotRoom.com. It took about six weeks of nights and weekends of work, but it turned out pretty nice. In a nutshell it is a blogging platform of sorts with a few extras and a few common items like recent comments, top commenters, related articles, tagging, etc.


After I got it all running and the domain name switched over, I started to look for ways to tune it a little bit without going too overboard. Being a fan of JMX, my first step was to see what was available via the jconsole. It turns out there are all kinds of things from hibernate, but none of them are enabled by default.

I searched and couldn’t find anything on the Grails site about it, so it took quite a bit of digging to find it and eventually I found it on the hibernate site. So in your DataSource.groovy file in the hibernate section, just add


and you are good to go.

The nice thing about hibernate’s stats is they provide all kinds of good stuff, but I was mostly interested in the caching side of it.


After enabling the stats I could see that the cache hits were pretty damn small, as in non-existent. Hmm… I enabled caching using the cache.use_second_level_cache=true setting as advised in the Grails documentation. Nothing.

A few hours of searching later I found a post in Nabble that said the caching is only enabled by default for Domain.get() operations. Well that sucks! That should have been in the docs! For me those kinds of calls are extremely rare. Matter of fact, a good 99% of all my queries are of the Domain.withCriteria variety. Well, sprinkle in a cacheable( true ) call in each of those withCriteria closures and presto I was getting cache hits stats.

What surprised me the most was the number of cache hits I was getting. The site averages about 3000 visitors a day at the moment, and in one 24 hour period I got over 2 million cache hits. That is a lot of saved DB traffic! As I write this, in 2 hours and 8 minutes since the last restart, there have been 1,013 visitors, with 396,917 2nd level cache hits with 86 misses and 55,050 query cache hits with 7,390 misses. That is phenomenal.

The majority of these hits are from articles and comments and thus can afford to be cached. However if the docs had been more clear on this I would have saved a ton of time. Oh well.

User Stats

The visitor stats I got by looking at the sessions from tomcat. That information is available via JMX as well and I covered it more in my Using Groovy to Monitoring via JMX post.

Don’t forget SQL

While the api that grails provides via GORM is pretty nice and I do like it, let’s face it, sometimes SQL is just better for the task at hand. In my case I have a dashboard that shows various statics, like the cache stuff mentioned above, but it also does some basic report-type queries.

At first I attempted these by using criteria calls and manipulating the data as needed. It worked. It was horribly slow. One “query” took about 15 seconds on each call. Just not acceptable. Thankfully Groovy has a nice little SQL api built in and I took advantage of that. I wrote my sql, threw it into a sql.eachRow call and it executes in milliseconds now like it should.

I have about four of these queries, so it was a huge improvement. As for caching, it isn’t important in this case as there are only four people that have access to the dashboard, but speed was important.

Overall the site is running pretty smoothly in it’s first week and half of operation. A few little things here and there are expected of course and we have some plans or expansion. In future posts I’ll elaborate on more things I’ve picked up in working with Grails and Groovy in general.

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Great article

i was wondering about caching, where did you find the nabble post discussing this? could you post the link?

If i use Domain.findAll…. will this be cached?



I don’t have the link handy, however a quick look in Jira shows that you can do this:

Domain.findByXYZ(“param”, [cache:true] )

I found that here: http://jira.codehaus.org/browse/GRAILS-2899

Nice job Bull.


ah, you found my other blog Bill :)

Nice tricks.

Just want to add up.

Add in ?showSource=true (or &showSource=true) in URL Allows developers to view the intermediade generated gsp source code

eg. http://localhost:8080/App1/book/create?showSource=true

* This feature only works when executing Grails within the “development” environment.

[...] well, and unless I’m missing something the cache should survive application restarts. Giving the amount of cache hits the application gets this would be a big [...]

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