Ben Ripkens

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How to do logging in Groovy

For some reason I couldn’t find any information about how to do logging in the two Groovy books that are available at work. I have been using Groovy for a few days now and I’m surprised about all the little tweaks and improvements the developers made to reduce code duplication and boilerplate code. For this reason, I figured that there must be a rather straightforward way to do logging in Groovy. And of course, there is one!

Please note that the following was introduced with Groovy version 1.8 and therefore won’t work in earlier versions. I don’t know about any best practices for earlier Groovy versions, but I fear that you may need to do it the way that you are used to, i.e., the Java way.

I’m going to show this using SLF4J as I always try to decouple my program from specific logging frameworks. First of, let’s start with our build.gradle file (gradle project descriptor).

apply plugin: 'groovy'

repositories {

dependencies {
    groovy group: 'org.codehaus.groovy', name: 'groovy', version: '1.8.5'
    compile group: 'org.slf4j', name:'slf4j-api', version: '1.6.4'

    logbackVersion = '1.0.0'
    testRuntime group: 'ch.qos.logback', name:'logback-classic', version: logbackVersion
    testRuntime group: 'ch.qos.logback', name:'logback-core', version: logbackVersion
    testCompile group: 'junit', name: 'junit', version: '4.10'

First of all, we declare that we are using Groovy and that we are retrieving dependencies from Maven Central. As for the dependencies, we need to have Groovy and the SLF4J API available at compile have. For testing purposes, we additionally declare a dependency on JUnit and logback.

In contrast to the way you do logging in Java, logging in Groovy is really clean as the following code listing shows.

import groovy.util.logging.Slf4j

class HelloWorld {

    HelloWorld() { 'Hello World'

    static main(args) {
        new HelloWorld()

What happens behind the curtain is that the abstract syntax tree (AST) is analysed and transformed at compile time. With the groovy.util.logging.Slf4j annotation we declare a dependency on a SLF4J logger instance which is then available through the log variable. If you are familiar with dependency injection, think of it as field injection where the field is of type org.slf4j.Logger.

But this is not all, in Java you need to make use of format strings in your log statements to avoid unnecessary overhead, e.g., because the log might be thrown away because of the log level. In Groovy, this is not necessary as the log statement will be transformed as the following listing shows.

// This is the Java way
log.debug("Temperature set to {}. Old temperature was {}.", t, oldT);

// In Groovy you would write
log.debug("Temperature set to ${t}. Old temperature was ${oldT}.")

// But this will actually be generated for you
if (log.isDebugEnabled()) {
    log.debug("Temperature set to ${t}. Old temperature was ${oldT}.")

As you can see, the Groovy way of logging provides a few benefits that you can make use of. I hope this was helpful :-).

That's me, Ben.
Hey, I am Ben Ripkens (bripkens) and this is my blog. I live in Düsseldorf (Germany) and I am employed by the codecentric AG as a Software Engineer. Web application frontends are my main area of expertise, but you may also find some other interesting articles on this blog.