Modalbox in Grails

There is a nice and handy javascript library for creating kind of a modal “window”, similar to the famous lightbox. Here are few lines of code to make it running in a Grails application


First of all, you have to download the library. The easiest way is to install a plugin modalbox

grails install-plugin modalbox

There was a slight problem in version 0.2. So, check your plugins/modalbox-0.2/grails-app/taglib/ModalboxTagLib.groovy. The version was not correct and the script tags were not correctly ended. Here is my tag library.

class ModalboxTagLib {
    static namespace = "modalbox"
    def createLink = { attrs,body ->
        // By default trigger onclick, but allow onmouseover etc
        def event = attrs.event ? attrs.event : 'onclick';
        // linkname only supported for backwards-compatibility. Default it to empty-string
        def linkname = attrs.linkname ? attrs.linkname : ""
        out << """
            <a href='${g.createLink(attrs)}' title='${attrs['title']}' ${event}=', {title: this.title, width: ${attrs['width']}}); return false;'>${linkname}${}</a>
    def modalIncludes = {
        def jsFolder    = createLinkTo(dir:'plugins',file:'modalbox-0.2/js/modalbox')
        def cssFolder   = createLinkTo(dir:'plugins',file:'modalbox-0.2/css')
        out << """
            <script type='text/javascript' src='${jsFolder}/prototype.js' ></script>
    		<script type='text/javascript' src='${jsFolder}/scriptaculous.js?load=effects'></script>
    		<script type='text/javascript' src='${jsFolder}/modalbox.js' ></script>
    		<link rel='stylesheet' href='${cssFolder}/modalbox.css' />

“Parent” view

In the view that will call the Modalbox, use tag modalInclude like this one.

<modalbox:createLink controller="book" action="showDetails" params="[]" title="Book details" width="500">book</modalbox:createLink>

Once clicked, it calls book/showDetails

“Modalbox” view

The view of book/showDetails is quite simple. You can create any static page and it will be displayed. If you want something more “spicy”, use AJAX.

Book details
<g:formRemote name="myForm" url="[controller:'book',action:'findSimilar']" update="[success:'similar']" onComplete="Modalbox.resizeToContent()">
	<input type="hidden" name="bookId" value="${}" />
	<input id='search' name='search' />
	<input type="submit" value="Find similar" />
</g:formRemote >
<div id="similar">
<a href="#" title="Close window" onclick="Modalbox.hide(); return false;">Close</a>

Notice the resizeToContent() method. It assures, that the content that will come via AJAX will fit. Last, but not least; for comfortable close, there is the last line.

Enjoy it.

Grails: internationalization in the service

Today I spent some time by creation of localized messages in a service. Here is a small tutorial.

1. Create your service

grails create-service Local

2. Add a messageSource variable to your new service

class LocalService {
  def messageSource

3. Use it in a service method

// Initialize parameters
Object[] testArgs = {}
def msg = messageSource.resolveCode("", new java.util.Locale("EN")).format(testArgs)

4. Finally edit the grails-app/i18n/ works!!!

Bootstrapping Grails integration tests

It is quite easy to prepare test environment the same as the development one. Just use Bootstrap.

class BootstrappedTests extends GroovyTestCase {
  void testBootstrap() {
    new BootStrap().init(null) 
    assert MyDomain.count() == 5   // Perform your tests here

Custom iterative tag in Grails with named variable

I will show you how to create an iterative Grails tag that can contain another tag. The inner tag will use variable of the iterative tag. So, we are going to implement a tag that creates n links ’/show/1’, ’/show/2’, etc. with description ‘Article number 1’, ‘Article number 2’ etc.:

First of all, there is a nice and handy example for a simple iterative tag on the Grails site.


def repeat = { attrs, body ->
  def i = Integer.valueOf( attrs["times"] )
  def current = 0
  i.times {
    // pass the current iteration as the groovy default arg "it"
    // then pass the result to "out" to send it to the view
    out << body( ++current )


<g:repeat times="3">
  <p>Repeat this 3 times! Current repeat = ${it}</p>

Slight modification of the tag does not lead to the requested functionality:

<g:repeat times="3"> 
  <g:link action="show" id="${it}">Hello number  ${it}</g:link> 

It just generates the “Article number” string three times, because the it variable is not known here.
Thus it is necessary to change the tag definition. Lets add another parameter vars as a symbolic name of the current member of the collection.

def repeat = { attrs, body -> 
  def pars = [:]
  attrs.times?.toInteger().times { n -> 
    pars[attrs.var] = n
    out << body(pars) 

And now it is possible to use g:link inside the custom tag:

<g:repeat times="3" var="num"> 
  <g:link action="show" id="${num}">Hello number  ${num}</g:link> 

I am not sure if it is supported, but it is definitely working.

From Mysql to Oracle: Grails application migration

Today I have finished migration of our Grails prototype. Originally we did develop it for MySQL, but the final system have to work with Oracle. This post summarize troubles and differences I was facing.

User creation

Since I am not Oracle administrator, it took me some time to put together script that creates user and appropriate rights for the Grails application. Use the script for development only.

CREATE user grails IDENTIFIED BY grassword;
GRANT connect  TO habilion;
GRANT CREATE sequence TO habilion;
GRANT unlimited tablespace TO habilion;

Identifier length limitation

I usually do not use identifiers that are 30 characters long. But, there is a trick.

Imagine two classes: Author and Content. Author having multiple Contents.

Now, imagine there is several types of Content – Book, Newspaper, ElectronicNewspaper, ScientificArticle…
So, we can model the situation using following classes:

Class Content{
  static belongsTo = [ contentAuthor:Author ]
Class Book extends Content {}
Class Newspaper extends Content {}
Class ElectronicNewspaper extends Content {}
Class ScientificArticle extends Content {}
Class Author{
  static hasMany = [ contents: Content ]

And now comes the trick. The ‘content’ table in the database contains long columns:


As you can see, it is easy to hit the 30 characters limit. If you look deeper, you will see the solution. The column names are composed of class name of the Content descendants and variable name pointing to the master entity.
So, I renamed the contentAuthor to ca, created getter and setter for contentAuthor and checked all “new Book…” snippets. God bless MVC!

Column size

The second major issue was a String column. I had a string column of 10000 characters.

Class Content {
  String abstract
  static constraints = { abstract(maxSize:10000) }

It was translated to Long data type. Unfortunately there is a bug in Oracle JDBC driver that causes nasty stack traces when processing Long data type. There is a workaround on the Internet, but it is working only for some versions of Oracle. Moreover, there is just one Long column allowed per table. So, changed the size to 4000 characters and the column was created as VARCHAR2.

And thats it!

Update: Empty strings

One thing to mention is a fact that Oracle does not distinguish between null and an empty string. So, if you try to store an empty string to Oracle DB, it actually stores it as a null value.

The problem arises, if you have not null column and you try to store empty string ‘’. For Grails it is a not null value, so it does not apply defaults. For Oracle it is null and thus constraint violation…