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August 20, 2009

Groovy Goodness: 'String', "Strings", /Strings/ and GStrings

Compared to Java we have a lot of ways to represent strings. We can use single quotes, double quotes, slashes and dollar slashes. So the following statements all are string literals:

// Single quotes:
def s1 = 'Yep this is a string, and we can use "double quotes" without escaping them.'
def m1 = '''With three quotes
we can write multi-line strings, without all
the hassle of concatenation.'''

// Double quotes:
def s2 = "Also a string, and of course we can use 'single quotes' without escaping them."
def m2 = """\
With three double quotes we can have a multi-line string,
and we don't need to add extra + signs. Very easy for 

// Slashy (also multi-line possible):
def s3 = /Well almost everything goes in a "slashy" 'string' without escaping. Good for readable regular expressions!/

// Dollar slashy:
def s4 = $/
Like a 'slashy' string, but with different escaping rules
for slashes ("/")

If we use a double quoted string and it contains an Groovy expression with the ${expression} syntax we have a GString. This is a different kind of class. So a GString is not the same as a String. GStrings are very handy if we want some templating done without using a complete template engine:

// Simple Groovy expressions can be used:
def user = new Expando(name: 'mrhaki', email: '')
def gs1 = "Hi, your name is ${user?.name}. If I shout I will call you ${user?.name?.toUpperCase()}!" 
println gs1 // Output: Hi, your name is mrhaki. If I shout I will call you MRHAKI!

// Works also in triple double quoted multi-line strings:
def mailMessage = """
Hi ${user?.name},

thank you for signing up.
You signed up wit the following e-mail address:


Kind regards,

the support team.
println mailMessage 

// We can use closures in GStrings to do lazy evaluation. 
// The closure is evaluated when the toString() method on the
// GString is invoked instead of when the GString is created.
// Closures can have zero or one arguments. With one argument we get a writer
// object we can write to, with zero arguments the toString() is called on the
// closure.
def directEval = "Current name value is ${} and email is ${}."
def lazyEval = "Current name value is ${ -> } and email is ${ out -> out << }." = 'changed username' = 'changed email'
println directEval // Output: Current name value is mrhaki and email is
println lazyEval // Output: Current name value is changed username and email is changed email.