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Isos Geek Nights, in general, have garnered increasing interest among the Isos team as more sessions have been added. Having a wide range of topics often falling outside the general day-to-day activities of our team combined with the natural curiosity of technologists has fueled this support for Geek Nights. Ed Bukoski’s talk on using Groovy in the context of Atlassian was no exception...in fact it may have had more interest from a purely technical standpoint than many of the previous Geek Nights.
What made this Geek Night so special? Part of it was the Atlassian component. As more focus is placed on Atlassian within Isos, any Atlassian Expert knowledge is invaluable. Given Ed’s first-hand experience solving complicated issues in a large-scale Atlassian environment, this Geek Night was a perfect opportunity for the team to see how other developers were working with Atlassian tools.
The second reason this Geek Night was of such interest was the inclusion of Groovy. Developers have a soft spot in their hearts for development languages (I’m partial to Lisp myself). The majority of the development team at Isos uses Java in client engagements. As a team, we are quite adept at getting the most out of Java when delivering solutions. Though Groovy is based on Java and has a seamless integration, as a collective group we have not had a business justification to use Groovy when crafting solutions. This is not to say that the team was completely unfamiliar with Groovy going into this Geek Night. The majority of us have played around with the language at some point in our careers. There is a difference, however, between idle tinkering and actually watching someone apply a language to a real-world problem.
So what was the real-world use case that prompted Ed to use Groovy with the Atlassian tools? Enhanced data access and manipulation. Atlassian provides a web services interface opening a very large window into the tools, allowing developers to both query and manipulate data accessed by the tools. This provides a powerful tool for developers to super-charge their Atlassian experience. Groovy, with its scriptable nature and powerful web services support, provides an ideal tool for rapid access to these web services.
The presentation had the full attention of the Isos development team from the start. Ed gave us a crash course in Groovy fundamentals, including the very important integration of standard testing practices into the development process. During this portion of the presentation, he gave us examples of Java integration with Groovy. Admittedly, the team slowed down the presentation here, a deluge of questions pouring forth. As Java developers, our curiosity had been piqued, and every question led to two more. Most of us finished this portion of the presentation with light bulbs blinking on over our heads, filled with ideas on where we might use Groovy on client projects.
Once we were through the Groovy fundamentals, Ed dove into accessing the Atlassian web services. One of the first things he showed us was a great plugin providing a Groovy console within the Atlassian tools. Why is this console so great? Because you don’t have to worry about where your Groovy scripts live! You can just copy/paste into the console and you are good to go. This is an invaluable ability to have when you are looking for data or making modifications to your data for Atlassian tools. Of course you can still run Groovy from outside of the console and get the same functionality as exposed by the web services.
This Geek Night served a dual purpose. In addition to slaking the thirst of the Isos team it served as a dry run for the presentation. Yes, we were the guinea pigs for the presentation Ed Bukoski will be giving to the Las Vegas Atlassian Users Group on Thursday, November 14! While our run through of the presentation may have gotten slightly hijacked by developer interest in Groovy from someone who has solved a real business issue with it, the one in Vegas will focus more on the powerful things that can be done with Atlassian web services using Groovy.

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