Groovy script language in Bonita

In Bonita, it is a prerequisite to be comfortable with Java when implementing advanced behaviors in your processes, the below article aims at helping with Groovy, the scripting language used by Bonita. Groovy has been chosen as the scripting language because it is :

  • Concise, readable and have an expressive syntax, easy to learn for Java developers

  • Seamlessly and transparently integrates and interoperates with Java and any third-party libraries

From Java to Groovy

For a complete description, please have a look at the reference documentation here.


Text literals are represented in the form of chain of characters called strings. Groovy lets you instantiate java.lang.String objects, as well as GStrings (groovy.lang.GString) which are also called interpolated strings in other programming languages.

  • Single quoted strings are a series of characters surrounded by single quotes:

'a single quoted string'
  • Triple single quoted strings are a series of characters surrounded by triplets of single quotes and are multiline:

def aMultilineString = '''line one
line two
line three'''
  • Double quoted strings are a series of characters surrounded by double quotes:

"a double quoted string"

Double quoted strings are plain java.lang.String if there’s no interpolated expression, but are groovy.lang.GString instances if interpolation is present.

  • String interpolation

Any Groovy expression can be interpolated in all string literals, apart from single and triple single quoted strings. Interpolation is the act of replacing a placeholder in the string with its value upon evaluation of the string. The placeholder expressions are surrounded by ${} or prefixed with $ for dotted expressions. The expression value inside the placeholder is evaluated to its string representation when the GString is passed to a method taking a String as argument by calling toString() on that expression.

Here, we have a string with a placeholder referencing a local variable:

def name = 'Romain' // a plain string
def greeting = "Hello ${name}"

assert greeting.toString() == 'Hello Romain'

In addition to ${} placeholders, we can also use a lone $ sign prefixing a dotted expression:

def person = [name: 'Romain', age: 34]
assert "$ is $person.age years old" == 'Romain is 34 years old'

But only dotted expressions of the form a.b, a.b.c, etc, are valid, but expressions that would contain parentheses like method calls, curly braces for closures, or arithmetic operators would be invalid.

More about Strings in Groovy here.

Lambdas & Closures

Java 8 supports lambdas and method references:

Runnable run = () -> System.out.println("Run");

Java 8 lambdas can be more or less considered as anonymous inner classes. Groovy doesn’t support that syntax, but has closures instead:

Runnable run = { println 'run' }
list.each { println it } // or list.each(this.&println)

Closures are heavily used when processing collections:

def list = ['Daffy', 'Bugs', 'Elmer', 'Tweety', 'Silvester', 'Yosemite']
assert 'Bugs' == list.find { it == 'Bugs' }
assert ['Daffy', 'Bugs', 'Elmer'] == list.findAll { it.size() < 6 }
assert list.any { it =~ /a/ }
assert list.every { it.size() > 3 }

def map = [name: 'Messages from mrhaki', url: '', blog: true]
def found = map.find { key, value -> key == 'name' }
assert found.key == 'name' && found.value == 'Messages from mrhaki'
found = map.find { it.value =~ /mrhaki/ }
assert found.key == 'name' && found.value == 'Messages from mrhaki'
assert [name: 'Messages from mrhaki', url: ''] == map.findAll { key, value -> value =~ /mrhaki/ }
assert map.any { entry -> entry.value }
assert map.every { key, value -> key.size() >= 3 }

More about Closures in Groovy here.


  • Identity operator

In Groovy, using == to test equality is different from using the same operator in Java. In Groovy, it is calling equals. If you want to compare reference equality, you should use is like in the following example:

def list1 = ['Groovy 1.8','Groovy 2.0','Groovy 2.3'] // Create a list of strings
def list2 = ['Groovy 1.8','Groovy 2.0','Groovy 2.3'] // Create another list of strings containing the same elements
assert list1 == list2 // using ==, we test object equality
assert ! //	but using 'is', we can check that references are distinct
  • Safe navigation operator ?. to Avoid NullPointerException:

Suppose we have a simple model like this:

class Company {
    Address address
    String name

class Address {
    Street street
    String postalCode
    String city

class Street {
    String name
    String number
    String additionalInfo

We want to display the street name, but we don’t know if all object instances are available. To avoid a NullPointerException we write the following code:

// company can be null.
if (company != null && company.getAddress() != null && company.getAddress().getStreet() != null) {

Groovy adds the safe navigation operator to shorten all this to:

// company can be null.
println company?.address?.street?.name
  • The Elvis operator :? to shorten ternary expression

def sampleText

// Normal ternary operator.
def ternaryOutput = (sampleText != null) ? sampleText : 'Hello Groovy!'

// The Elvis operator in action. We must read: 'If sampleText is not null assign
// sampleText to elvisOuput, otherwise assign 'Viva Las Vegas!' to elvisOutput.
def elvisOutput = sampleText ?: 'Viva Las Vegas!'

More about Operators in Groovy here.

Groovy truth

Groovy decides whether an expression is true or false by applying the rules given below.

  • Boolean expressions : True if the corresponding Boolean value is true.

  • Collections and Arrays: Non-empty Collections and arrays are true.

  • Matchers: True if the Matcher has at least one match.

  • Maps: Non-empty Maps are evaluated to true.

  • Strings: Non-empty Strings, GStrings and CharSequences are coerced to true.

  • Numbers: Non-zero numbers are true.

  • Object References: Non-null object references are coerced to true.

More about Groovy Truth here.

Bonita use cases with Groovy

In the below examples, the following BDM will be used

* for mandatory fields

Comment {
    String content*
    AppUser createdBy* //Aggregation
    DateTime creationDate*
    AppUser lastEditedBy* //Aggregation

AppUser {
    String firstName*
    String lastName*
    Address address //Composition

Address {
    Street street* //Composition
    String postalCode*
    String city*

Street {
    String name*
    String number*
    String additionalInfo

Instantiate a Business Data

Using the generated DAO

By default a newInstance factory method is generated in the object DAO.
This method has as many parameters as mandatory fields for this object.

appUserDAO.newInstance('Jane','Doe') // create a UserApp instance with firstName = 'Jane' and lastName = 'Doe'

Using a constructor with named arguments

new Address(street: new Street(number: '32', name: 'Gustave Eiffel'), postalCode: '38000', city: 'Grenoble')

From a map

Given a complex contract input

userInput COMPLEX
	firstName TEXT
	lastName TEXT

As a COMPLEX input is stored as Map it is possible to write

userInput as AppUser

List Business Objects using DAO

When defining your BDM you can write custom queries in JPQL that can be called using the object DAO. Some queries are generated by default like: find, findByFirstName, findByLastName…​

All object DAO are injected at runtime in Groovy script expression or can be retrieved using APIClient#getDAO

Here is the UserAppDAO interface generated for the UserApp object:

public interface AppUserDAO extends BusinessObjectDAO {
    AppUser findByPersistenceId(Long persistenceId);

    List<AppUser> findByFirstName(String firstName, int startIndex, int maxResults);

    List<AppUser> findByLastName(String lastName, int startIndex, int maxResults);

    List<AppUser> find(int startIndex, int maxResults);

    Long countForFindByFirstName(String firstName);

    Long countForFindByLastName(String lastName);

    Long countForFind();

    AppUser newInstance(String firstName, String lastName);

So, in a Groovy script, you can access the data like this:

def users = appUserDAO.find(0, 10) // returns to first tens users ordered by persistenceId
def johnUsers = appUserDAO.findByFirstName('John', 0, 10) // returns to first tens users with firstName == 'John' ordered by persistenceId

Update a Business Data

The example below is the generated code when editing a UserApp address from a contract

user is the existing data in the process
userInput is the contract input of the edition task

if (!userInput?.address) { // As Address is not mandatory it can be null
	return null
def addressVar = user.address ?: new // Retrieve the existing address or create a new one

addressVar.street = { //Use a Closure to resolve the street value
    if (!userInput?.address?.street) { // Street is mandatory so it can't be null here, protected by a contract constraint, null-check statement is generated anyway
        return null
	def streetVar = addressVar.street ?: new // Retrieve the existing street or create a new one
	// Assign contract values, note that nullsafe navigators are used even if we know that userInput.address is not null here = userInput?.address?.street?.name
	streetVar.number = userInput?.address?.street?.number
	streetVar.additionalInfo = userInput?.address?.street?.additionalInfo
	return streetVar
}() //execute the Closure to assign  the Street value to address

addressVar.postalCode = userInput?.address?.postalCode = userInput?.address?.city
return addressVar // Return the edited (or new) address

As it is generated code it has to work in many situation so it is not the most concise code. Here is another example where it updates the lastEditedBy aggregation relation

//Retrieve aggregated AppUser using its DAO and persistenceId
def appUserVar = appUserDAO.findByPersistenceId(commentInput?.lastEditedBy?.persistenceId_string?.trim() ? commentInput.lastEditedBy.persistenceId_string.toLong() : null) //commentInput?.lastEditedBy?.persistenceId_string?.trim() checks that the persistenceId_string is not null and not empty after removing all whitspaces
if (!appUserVar) { // no userApp found for the given persistenceId
	if (commentInput?.lastEditedBy?.persistenceId_string?.trim() ? commentInput.lastEditedBy.persistenceId_string.toLong() : null) {
		// Throw an exception to explain that the given persistenceId is invalid
		throw new IllegalArgumentException("The aggregated reference of type `AppUser` with the persistence id " + commentInput?.lastEditedBy?.persistenceId_string?.trim() ? commentInput.lastEditedBy.persistenceId_string.toLong() : null + " has not been found.")
	//Just return null when no persistenceId is given, case of a not mandatory relation
	return null
return appUserVar //Return the user found for the given persistenceId

Search for Tasks instances

In a Groovy script expression you can access Bonita APIs using the apiAccessor provided variable.

def user = apiAccessor.identityAPI.getUserByUserName('john.doe')
def johnsTasks = apiAccessor.processAPI
	.searchHumanTaskInstances(new SearchOptionsBuilder(0, 50).with { // using groovy builder
		sort(HumanTaskInstanceSearchDescriptor.DUE_DATE, Order.DESC)
	.result // returns the 50 first opened tasks assigned to john.doe sorted by due date

Get CustomUserInfo value for a user

In a Groovy script expression you can access Bonita APIs using the apiAccessor provided variable.

def user = apiAccessor.identityAPI.getUserByUserName('john.doe')
def customInfo1Value = apiAccessor.identityAPI
                 .getCustomUserInfo(, 0, 1000)
                 .find { "customInfo1" == it.getDefinition().getName() }

Create a data model

An advantage of Groovy over Java when implementing a data model is that accessor’s methods are not required. In addition, it is possible to use annotations like @Canonical to generate toString, equals and hashCode methods.

To create a Groovy class, right click on your project, New > Groovy…​


import groovy.transform.Canonical

class Customer implements Serializable{

    String firstName
    String lastName
    LocalDate birthDate


This object can then be used as a process variable type for example.