Practically Groovy

JDBC programming with Groovy

Build your next reporting application using GroovySql


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This content is part of the series:Practically Groovy

Stay tuned for additional content in this series.

In the previous installments of the Practically Groovy series, you discovered some pretty nifty features of Groovy. In the first article, you learned how to apply Groovy for simpler, speedier unit testing of normal Java™ code. In the second installment, you saw the expressiveness that Groovy can bring to Ant builds. This time you find out another practical use of Groovy; that is, how you can use it to quickly build SQL-based reporting applications.

Scripting languages are typically excellent tools for quickly building reporting applications, but building such applications is distinctively breezy with Groovy. Groovy's lightweight syntax can alleviate some of the verbosity of JDBC in the Java language, but its real punch comes from closures, which elegantly shift the responsibility of resource handling from the client to the framework itself, where the weight is easier to handle.

In this month's article, I'll start with a quick overview of the features of GroovySql and show you how to put them to work by building a simple data-reporting application. To get the most out of the discussion, you should be familiar with JDBC programming on the Java platform. You may also want to review last month's introduction to closures in Groovy, because they play an important role here. The most important concept to focus on this month, however, is iteration, because iterators play an important role in Groovy's enhancement of JDBC. So I'll start you out with an overview of iterator methods in Groovy.

Enter the iterator

Iteration is one of the most common and useful tactics in all kinds of programming situations. An iterator is a kind of code helper that lets you quickly access data in any collection or container, one at a time. Groovy improves the Java language's concept of iterators by making them implicit and more simple to use. In Listing 1, you can see the effort it takes to print out each element of a String collection using the Java language.

Listing 1. Iterators in normal Java code
import java.util.ArrayList;
import java.util.Collection;
import java.util.Iterator;
public class JavaIteratorExample {
  public static void main(String[] args) {
     Collection coll = new ArrayList();
     for(Iterator iter = coll.iterator(); iter.hasNext();){

In Listing 2, you can see how Groovy simplifies my efforts. Here, I get to bypass the Iterator interface and use iterator-like methods on collections themselves. What's more, Groovy's iterator methods accept closures, which are evoked for each iteration cycle. Listing 2 shows the preceding Java language-based example transformed by Groovy.

Listing 2. Iterators in Groovy
class IteratorExample1{
  static void main(String[] args) {
    def coll = ["JMS", "EJB", "JMX"]
    coll.each{ item -> 
      println item 

As you can see, unlike typical Java code, Groovy controls my iteration-specific code while allowing me to pass in the behavior I need. With this control, Groovy neatly shifts the responsibility of resource handling from me to itself. Putting Groovy in charge of resource handling is extremely powerful. It also makes the job of programming much easier and consequently, quicker.

Introducing GroovySql

Groovy's SQL magic is found in an elegant API called GroovySql. Using closures and iterators, GroovySql neatly shifts JDBC resource management from you, the developer, to the Groovy framework. In so doing, it removes the drudgery from JDBC programming so that you can focus on queries and their results.

Just in case you've forgotten what a hassle normal Java JDBC programming can be, I'm all too happy to remind you! In Listing 3, you can see a simple JDBC programming example in the Java language.

Listing 3. JDBC programming in normal Java
import java.sql.Connection;
import java.sql.DriverManager;
import java.sql.ResultSet;
import java.sql.SQLException;
import java.sql.Statement;
public class JDBCExample1 {
  public static void main(String[] args) {
    Connection con = null;
    Statement stmt = null;
    ResultSet rs = null;
      con = DriverManager.getConnection("jdbc:mysql://localhost:3306/words",
           "words", "words");
      stmt = con.createStatement();
      rs = stmt.executeQuery("select * from word");
      while ( {
        System.out.println("word id: " + rs.getLong(1) +
            " spelling: " + rs.getString(2) +
            " part of speech: " + rs.getString(3));
    }catch(SQLException e){
    }catch(ClassNotFoundException e){
      try{rs.close();}catch(Exception e){}
      try{stmt.close();}catch(Exception e){}
      try{con.close();}catch(Exception e){}

Wow. Listing 3 contains roughly 40 lines of code just to view the contents of a table! How many do you think it takes using GroovySql? If you guess more than 10 lines, you would be wrong. Watch how Groovy elegantly lets me focus on the task at hand -- performing a simple query-- and handles the underlying resource handling for me in Listing 4.

Listing 4. Welcome to GroovySql!
import groovy.sql.Sql
class GroovySqlExample1{
  static void main(String[] args) {
    def sql = Sql.newInstance("jdbc:mysql://localhost:3306/words", "words",
           "words", "com.mysql.jdbc.Driver")
    sql.eachRow("select * from word"){ row ->
       println row.word_id + " " + row.spelling + " " + row.part_of_speech

Not bad. Using just a few lines, I've just coded the same behavior from Listing 3, without relying on Connection closing, ResultSet closing, or any of the other familiar heavy lifters found in JDBC programming. Pretty exciting stuff, if you ask me -- and so easy, too. Now let me show you exactly how I did it.

Performing a simple query

In the first line of Listing 4, I created an instance of Groovy's Sql class, which is used to connect to a desired database. In this case, I created an Sql instance pointing to a MySQL database running on my machine. So far, pretty basic, right? The real knockout is the next part, where the one-two punches of iterators and closures shows their power.

Think of the eachRow method as an iterator on the result of the passed-in query. Underneath, you can visualize a JDBC ResultSet object being returned and its contents being passed into a for loop. Consequently, the closure I passed in is executed for each iteration. If the word table found in the database only had three rows, the closure is executed three times -- printing out the word_id, spelling, and part_of_speech values.

The code is simplified even further by dropping my named variable, row, from the equation and using one of Groovy's implicit variables: it, which happens to be the instance of the iterator. If I did this, the preceding code would be written as shown in Listing 5.

Listing 5. Groovy's it variable in GroovySql
import groovy.sql.Sql
class GroovySqlExample2{
  static void main(String[] args) {
    def sql = Sql.newInstance("jdbc:mysql://localhost:3306/words", "words",
           "words", "com.mysql.jdbc.Driver")
    sql.eachRow("select * from word"){ 
      println it.spelling + " ${it.part_of_speech}"

In this code I was able to drop the row variable and use it instead. Additionally, I can reference the it variable in String statements, as I did with ${it.part_of_speech}.

Doing more complex queries

The previous examples are fairly simple, but GroovySql is just as solid when it comes to more complex data manipulation queries such as insert, update, and delete queries. For these, you wouldn't necessarily want to use iterators, so Groovy's Sql object provides the execute and executeUpdate methods instead. These methods are reminiscent of the normal JDBC statement class, which has an execute and an executeUpdate method as well.

In Listing 6, you see a simple insert that uses variable substitution again with the ${} syntax. This code simply inserts a new row into the word table.

Listing 6. Inserts with GroovySql
def wid = 5
def spelling = "Nefarious"
def pospeech = "Adjective"
sql.execute("insert into word (word_id, spelling, part_of_speech) 
  values (${wid}, ${spelling}, ${pospeech})")

Groovy also provides an overridden version of the execute method, which takes a list of values that correspond to any ? elements found in the query. In Listing 7, I've simply queried for a particular row in the word table. Underneath the hood, GroovySql creates an instance of the normal Java language java.sql.PreparedStatement.

Listing 7. PreparedStatements with GroovySql
def val = sql.execute("select * from word where word_id = ?", [5])

Updates are much the same in that they utilize the executeUpdate method. Notice, too, that in Listing 8 the executeUpdate method takes a list of values that will be matched to the corresponding ? elements in the query.

Listing 8. Updates with GroovySql
def nid = 5
def newSpelling = "Dastardly"
sql.executeUpdate("update word set spelling = ? where word_id = ?", [newSpelling, nid])

Deletes are essentially the same as inserts, except, of course, that the query's syntax is different, as shown in Listing 9.

Listing 9. Deletes with GroovySql
 sql.execute("delete from word where word_id = ?" , [5])

Simplifying data manipulation

Any API or utility that intends to simplify JDBC programming had better have some rock-solid data manipulation features and in this section, I'll show you three more.


Building on its foundation of simplicity, GroovySql supports the notion of DataSet types, which are basically object representations of database tables. With a DataSet, you can iterate over rows and add new rows. Indeed, using datasets is a convenient way of representing a collection of data common to a table.

In Listing 10, I've created a DataSet from the word table.

Listing 10. Datasets with GroovySql
import groovy.sql.Sql
class GroovyDatasetsExample1{
  static void main(String[] args) {
    def sql = Sql.newInstance("jdbc:mysql://localhost:3306/words", "words",
          "words", "com.mysql.jdbc.Driver")
    def words = sql.dataSet("word")
    words.add(word_id:"9999", spelling:"clerisy", part_of_speech:"Noun")
    words.each{ word ->
     println word.word_id + " " + word.spelling

As you can see, GroovySql's DataSet type makes it easy to iterate over the contents of a table with the each method and add a new rows with the add method, which takes a map representing the desired data.

Using stored procedures and negative indexing

Stored procedure calling and negative indexing can be essential aspects of data manipulation. GroovySql makes stored procedure calling as simple as using the call method on the Sql class. For negative indexing, GroovySql provides its enhanced ResultSet type, which works much like collections in Groovy. For example, if you wanted to grab the last column in a result set, you could do as shown in Listing 11.

Listing 11. Negative indexing with GroovySql
sql.eachRow("select * from word"){ row ->
  (0..2).each{ i ->
    print "Field ${i}: " 
    println row.getAt(i)
  println "Last field using -1 index = " + row.getAt(-1) 

As you can see in Listing 11, grabbing the last column in a result set is as easy as indexing with a -1. If wanted to, I could also access the same column using the 2 index.

Again, these examples are pretty basic, but they should give you a good sense of GroovySql's powers. I'll close this month's lesson with a real-world example demonstrating all the features discussed so far.

Writing a simple reporting application

Reporting applications usually pull information from a database. In a typical business environment, you might be asked to write a reporting application to inform the sales team about current Web sales or to let the development team do daily checkups on the performance of some aspect of the system, such as its database.

For the sake of this simple example, let's assume you've just deployed an enterprisewide Web application. It's running flawlessly, of course, because you wrote a wealth of unit tests (in Groovy) as you went along; but you still need to generate a report about the state of the database for tuning purposes. You want to know how the application is being used by your customers so you can anticipate performance issues and address them.

Usually time constraints limit the number of bells and whistles you can apply to such an application. But your newly acquired knowledge of GroovySql will let you knock out this application in a snap, leaving you with time to add in extra features if you so desire.

The details

Your target database is in this case MySQL, which just so happens to support the notion of discovering status information with a query. The status information you're interested in is as follows:

  • Uptime
  • Total number of overall queries processed
  • Proportions of specific queries, such as insert, update, and select

Getting this information out of a MySQL database is almost too easy using GroovySql. Since you're building it for the development team, you'll probably just start out with a simple command-line report, but you could easily Web-enable the report in a later iteration. The use case for the reporting example might look something like this:

1.Connect to our application's live database
2.Issue show status queries and capture:
a. uptime
b. total queries
c. total inserts
d. total updates
e. total selects
3.With those data points, calculate:
a. queries per minute
b. percentage of total insert queries
c. percentage of total update queries
d. percentage of total select queries

In Listing 12, you can see the final result: an application that reports the desired database statistics. The initial lines of code obtain a connection to the production database, followed by a series of show status queries that let you calculate queries per minute and then break them down by type. Notice how variables like uptime pop into existence as they're defined.

Listing 12. Database status reporting with GroovySql
import groovy.sql.Sql
class DBStatusReport{
  static void main(String[] args) {
     def sql = Sql.newInstance("jdbc:mysql://yourserver.anywhere/tiger", "scott",
        "tiger", "com.mysql.jdbc.Driver")

     def uptime = ""
     def questions = ""
     sql.eachRow("show status"){ status ->
        if(status.variable_name == "Uptime"){
           uptime =  status[1]
        }else if (status.variable_name == "Questions"){
           questions =  status[1]
     println "Uptime for Database: " + uptime
     println "Number of Queries: " + questions
     println "Queries per Minute = " + Integer.valueOf(questions) / Integer.valueOf(uptime)

     int insertnum = 0
     int selectnum = 0
     int updatenum = 0
     sql.eachRow("show status like 'Com_%'"){ status ->
        if(status.variable_name == "Com_insert"){
           insertnum =  Integer.valueOf(status[1])
        }else if (status.variable_name == "Com_select"){
           selectnum =  Integer.valueOf(status[1])
        }else if (status.variable_name == "Com_update"){
           updatenum =  Integer.valueOf(status[1])
    println "% Queries Inserts = " + 100 * (insertnum / Integer.valueOf(uptime))
    println "% Queries Selects = " + 100 * (selectnum / Integer.valueOf(uptime))
    println "% Queries Updates = " + 100 * (updatenum / Integer.valueOf(uptime))


In this month's installment of Practically Groovy, you've seen how GroovySql can simplify JDBC programming. This nifty API combines closures and iterators with Groovy's relaxed syntax to facilitate rapid database application development on the Java platform. Most powerfully, GroovySql shifts resource management tasks from the developer to the underlying Groovy framework, letting you focus on the more important stuff of queries and results. But don't just take my word for it. Next time you're asked to delve into the drudgery of JDBC, try a little GroovySql magic on it instead. Then send me an e-mail and tell me about your experience.

Next month, I'll cover the ins and outs of Groovy's template framework. As you'll discover, it's a snap to create the view component of an application with this clever framework.

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Zone=Java development
ArticleTitle=Practically Groovy: JDBC programming with Groovy