Groovy Goodness: Intersect Collections With Custom Comparator

In a previous post we learned about the intersect method added to collections in Groovy. Since Groovy 2.5.0 we can supply a custom Comparator to the intersect method to define our own rules for the intersection.

In the following example we first apply the intersect method with the default Comparator. Then we create a new Comparator using a closure where we check if the value is in both collections and if the value starts with the letter M:

Written with Groovy 2.5.0.

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Groovy Goodness: Easy Object Creation With Tap Method

Groovy 2.5.0 adds the tap method to all objects and changes the method signature of the with method. In a previous post we already learned about the with method. In Groovy 2.5.0 we can add an extra boolean argument to the with method. If the value is false (is default) the with method must return the same value as what the closure invocation returns. If the value is true the object instance on which the with method is invoked is returned. The new tap method is an alias for with(true), so it will always return the object instance.

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Groovy Goodness: Where Is My Class?

Groovy 2.5.0 makes it possible to get the location of a Class file by adding the method getLocation to the Class class. If the Class is part of the JDK the location returned is null, but otherwise we get the location of the JAR file or source file (if available) with the Class file.

In the following example we get the location for the internal JDK String class and the Groovy utility class ConfigSlurper:

Written with Groovy 2.5.0.

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Groovy Goodness: Calculate MD5 And SHA Hash Values

Groovy adds a lot of useful methods to the String class. Since Groovy 2.5.0 we can even calculate MD5 and SHA hash values using the methods md5 and digest. The md5 method create a hash value using the MD5 algorithm. The digest method accepts the name of the algorithm as value. These values are dependent on the available algorithms on our Java platform. For example the algorithms MD2, MD5, SHA-1, SHA-256, SHA-384 and SHA-512 are by default available.

In the next example we use the md5 and digest methods on a String value:

Written with Groovy 2.5.0.

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Groovy Goodness: Java 8 Stream Enhancements

Groovy 2.5.0 adds several methods to make working with Java 8 Streams more Groovy. First of all the methods toList and toSet are added to the Stream class. These methods will convert the stream to a List and Set using the Stream.collect method with Collectors.toList and Collectors.toSet as argument. Furthermore we can convert any array object to a Stream using the stream method that is added to all array objects.

In the following example we use the support of converting an array to a Stream and then getting a List and Set from the stream:

Written with Groovy 2.5.0.

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Groovy Goodness: Use Optional In Conditional Context

In Groovy 2.5.0 we can use a Java 8 Optional object in a conditional context. When an Optional object has a value the value is coerced to true and when empty the value is false.

Written with Groovy 2.5.0.

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Groovy Goodness: Using String Values In Ranges

We can use ranges in Groovy using an easy syntax where the start and end values of the range are separated by .. for an inclusive range and ..< for an exclusive range as we have seen in a previous post. The values of the range are mostly numbers or enum values. But we can also use String values to define a range. Groovy will check if the String values are the same length and if the values, except for the last character, are the same. Then the natural ordering of the last character of the String value, based on the character’s int value, is used to create the range values.

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Groovy Goodness: Use Range By Method To Set Steps Between Numbers

Groovy has support for defining ranges in the language. When we define a range of numbers the steps between the values in the range is 1 by default. We can change the step size using the step method. This method accepts a int value with a new step size. The result is a List object with the values. Since Groovy 2.5.0 the by method is added to ranges with numbers. The by method accepts also decimal numbers and the result of the method is a NumberRange object instead of a List.

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Microservice architecture diagram composition

A low code approach to composing microservice architecture diagrams from per service context diagrams.


On a recent assignment I was one of multiple new engineers joining a start-up transitioning into a scale-up. The past two years had been spent rapidly developing to prove the concept, and while at the outset some diagrams were drawn up, at the time I joined these were outdated, lacking or even misleading. To help get ourselves and other new developers up to speed, Andrew Morgan and I set out to create architecture diagrams for the system as a whole.


In typical fashion these days, the system consists of microservices communicating with one-another in a mix of direct HTTP invocation and by publishing and subscribing to Kafka topics. In the absence of tracing information or tools to deduce the diagrams, we settled on a simple approach:

  1. Create context diagrams per service
    Using PlantUML we created diagrams for each service, in the root of the project repository. The diagrams contain the topics published/subscribed to, and direct HTTP invocations going out from the service, as well as any data stores and interactions with external services.
  2. Compose overall diagrams
    Using the GitLab API we gather all projects with a particular tag, and for those projects extract the PlantUML diagrams from the repository. These are then combined into a single overall diagram by stripping out the @start/enduml tags and simply appending them one after the other. By using distinct tags we’re able to create diagrams for services in active development, in production or zoom in on a particular aspect such as data processing. New projects are automatically picked up, and warnings are sent out when diagrams are missing.
  3. Expose diagrams as images
    A nightly pipeline creates images for each service individually, as well as a number of composite diagram images. The individual service diagrams are visualized in the GitLab repository README of each project, giving passing developers a quick glance of the context of a single service. The composed service diagrams are visualized in the README of the composition project, for easy reference elsewhere.

Compose individual diagrams


The code consists of a Gradle task, a Gradle build file and a GitLab CI file. We place the task in the buildSrc directory, so we can easily use it in our project’s build.gradle file.

Gradle Task

buildSrc build.gradle

Project build.gradle



We chose this approach as a simple way to document the overall architecture, in a landscape that’s still undergoing changes and needs to be kept up to date. Having the individual diagrams close to the code ensures the individual diagrams are easily maintained, while the overall diagrams always reflect the latest changes. These qualities are not as easily achieved when the diagram is further removed from the code. The low-tech approach allows anyone to quickly contribute diagrams, with minimal tooling.


As the overall diagrams are composed from individual diagrams, a common set of guidelines should be enforced for a consistent overall view. Inconsistent use of arrow directionality for instance, can have big consequences for the overall diagram layout. Also, layout of the overall diagram is not stable with regards to previous versions in light of recent changes. Introduction of a new inter-service-dependency for example, can rearrange large parts of the diagram, which can confuse those familiar with previous versions.

Future extensions

GitLab PlantUML integration

Above we use separate files for the diagrams for simplicity, and render the diagrams using the PlantUML jar. However, GitLab can integrate with PlantUML directly to visualize diagrams present in any AsciiDoc and Markdown documents in a repository. This would allow one to make the diagrams part of the README for instance, with only slight changes to the diagram composition.

Other platforms

While the code above uses the GitLab API the same approach can just as easily be applied to different platforms such as GitHub.

Alternative diagrams

As briefly mentioned above, there are alternatives to generate overall system architecture diagrams. One such approach is Structurizer, which inspects the code to generate diagrams at multiple levels. Another, more deductive approach is to use the operational platform and available tracing information to compose diagrams based on runtime service dependencies. These and more are explored to extend and supplement the current approach.

Groovy Goodness: Download Grab Dependencies In IntelliJ IDEA

In our Groovy scripts we can use the @Grab annotation. With this annotation we define dependencies for our script and they will be automatically downloaded and added to the class path when we run our script. When we use IntelliJ IDEA we can use a nice intention that is part of the IntelliJ IDEA Groovy support to download the dependencies from our IDE editor. IDEA downloads the dependencies and add it to the project module dependencies. This is useful, because this will also adds code completion for the classes in the dependency to our editor.

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