How to use Spring Security Core to Secure you Grails 3 App?

Spring Security Core plugin is probably the most famous security plugin in the Grails ecosystem.

Lets create a simple app to publish product announcements:

| Grails Version: 3.1.1
| Groovy Version: 2.4.5
| JVM Version: 1.8.0_45
$ grails create-app myapp
| Application created at /Users/shoptimix/Documents/tests/springsecurityexample/myapp

I create a domain class to store the product announcements.

$ cd myapp
$ grails
grails> create-domain-class ProductAnnouncement
| Created grails-app/domain/myapp/ProductAnnouncement.groovy
| Created src/test/groovy/myapp/ProductAnnouncementSpec.groovy

I add a message field to store the announcement and a dateCreated field to use Grails autoTimestamp capabilities.

package myapp

class ProductAnnouncement {
    String message
    Date dateCreated

    static constraints = {

Add some ProductAnnouncement messages when the application starts.
To do that modify grails-app/init/BootStrap.groovy

import myapp.*

class BootStrap {

    def init = { servletContext ->
	new ProductAnnouncement(message: 'Launch day').save()
	new ProductAnnouncement(message: 'We keep adding features').save()

    def destroy = {

Create a controller to show the last message:

$ cd myapp
$ grails
grails> create-controller ProductAnnouncement
| Created grails-app/controllers/myapp/ProductAnnouncementController.groovy
| Created src/test/groovy/myapp/ProductAnnouncementControllerSpec.groovy

This is the controller content:

package myapp

class ProductAnnouncementController {

    def index() {

        def announcements = ProductAnnouncement.createCriteria().list {
            order("dateCreated", "desc")
        render announcements.first()?.message

And if you run the app:

$ grails run-app

You can go to http://localhost:8080/productAnnouncement

Execute a controller

Now lets secure the app. Add the spring-security-core plugin to the build.gradle file.

buildscript {
    ext {
        grailsVersion = project.grailsVersion
    repositories {
        maven { url "" }
    dependencies {
        classpath "org.grails:grails-gradle-plugin:$grailsVersion"
        classpath "com.bertramlabs.plugins:asset-pipeline-gradle:2.5.0"
        classpath "org.grails.plugins:hibernate4:5.0.0"

version "0.1"
group "myapp"

apply plugin:"eclipse"
apply plugin:"idea"
apply plugin:"war"
apply plugin:"org.grails.grails-web"
apply plugin:"org.grails.grails-gsp"
apply plugin:"asset-pipeline"

ext {
    grailsVersion = project.grailsVersion
    gradleWrapperVersion = project.gradleWrapperVersion

repositories {
    maven { url "" }

dependencyManagement {
    imports {
        mavenBom "org.grails:grails-bom:$grailsVersion"
    applyMavenExclusions false

dependencies {
    compile "org.springframework.boot:spring-boot-starter-logging"
    compile "org.springframework.boot:spring-boot-autoconfigure"
    compile "org.grails:grails-core"
    compile "org.springframework.boot:spring-boot-starter-actuator"
    compile "org.springframework.boot:spring-boot-starter-tomcat"
    compile "org.grails:grails-dependencies"
    compile "org.grails:grails-web-boot"
    compile "org.grails.plugins:cache"
    compile "org.grails.plugins:scaffolding"
    compile "org.grails.plugins:hibernate4"
    compile "org.hibernate:hibernate-ehcache"
    console "org.grails:grails-console"
    profile "org.grails.profiles:web:3.1.1"
    runtime "org.grails.plugins:asset-pipeline"
    runtime "com.h2database:h2"
    testCompile "org.grails:grails-plugin-testing"
    testCompile "org.grails.plugins:geb"
    testRuntime "org.seleniumhq.selenium:selenium-htmlunit-driver:2.47.1"
    testRuntime "net.sourceforge.htmlunit:htmlunit:2.18"
    compile 'org.grails.plugins:spring-security-core:3.0.3'

task wrapper(type: Wrapper) {
    gradleVersion = gradleWrapperVersion

assets {
    minifyJs = true
    minifyCss = true

One of the things the plugin offers is several Grails commands. How do you access all the available Grails command for an app running grails help

 grails help

Usage (optionals marked with *):'
grails [environment]* [target] [arguments]*'

| Examples:
$ grails dev run-app
$ grails create-app books

| Available Commands (type grails help 'command-name' for more info):
| Command Name                          Command Description
bug-report                              Creates a zip file that can be attached to issue reports for the current project
clean                                   Cleans a Grails application's compiled sources
compile                                 Compiles a Grails application
console                                 Runs the Grails interactive console
create-controller                       Creates a controller
create-domain-class                     Creates a Domain Class
create-functional-test                  Creates a Geb Functional Test
create-integration-test                 Creates an integration test
create-interceptor                      Creates an interceptor
create-scaffold-controller              Creates a scaffolded controller
create-script                           Creates a Grails script
create-service                          Creates a Service
create-taglib                           Creates a Tag Library
create-unit-test                        Creates a unit test
dependency-report                       Prints out the Grails application's dependencies
generate-async-controller               Generates an asynchronous controller that performs CRUD operations
gradle                                  Allows running of Gradle tasks
help                                    Prints help information for a specific command
idea-list-injected-traits               Prints which traits are injected to which artifacts
install                                 Installs a Grails application or plugin into the local Maven cache
install-templates                       Installs scaffolding templates that use f:all to render properties
list-plugins                            Lists available plugins from the Plugin Repository
open                                    Opens a file in the project
package                                 Packages a Grails application
plugin-info                             Prints information about the given plugin
run-app                                 Runs a Grails application
s2-create-persistent-token              Creates a persistent token domain class for the Spring Security Core plugin
s2-create-role-hierarchy-entry          Creates a domain class for a persistent role hierarchy for the Spring Security Core plugin
s2-quickstart                           Creates domain classes and updates config settings for the Spring Security plugin
schema-export                           Creates a DDL file of the database schema
shell                                   Runs the Grails interactive shell
stats                                   Prints statistics about the project
stop-app                                Stops the running Grails application
test-app                                Runs the applications tests
url-mappings-report                     Prints out a report of the project's URL mappings
war                                     Creates a WAR file for deployment to a container (like Tomcat)

| Detailed usage with help [command]

Lets run the s2-quickstart command:

 grails s2-quickstart
| Error Usage:
   grails s2-quickstart <domain-class-package> <user-class-name> <role-class-name> [requestmap-class-name] [--groupClassName=group-class-name]
or grails s2-quickstart --uiOnly

Example: grails s2-quickstart com.yourapp User Role
Example: grails s2-quickstart com.yourapp User Role --groupClassName=RoleGroup
Example: grails s2-quickstart com.yourapp Person Authority Requestmap
Example: grails s2-quickstart --uiOnly

Lets create the security-related domain classes:

grails s2-quickstart myapp User Role
| Creating User class 'User' and Role class 'Role' in package 'myapp'
| Rendered template Person.groovy.template to destination grails-app/domain/myapp/User.groovy
| Rendered template Authority.groovy.template to destination grails-app/domain/myapp/Role.groovy
| Rendered template PersonAuthority.groovy.template to destination grails-app/domain/myapp/UserRole.groovy
* Created security-related domain classes. Your            *
* grails-app/conf/application.groovy has been updated with *
* the class names of the configured domain classes;        *
* please verify that the values are correct.               *

Run the app again and try to go now to http://localhost:8080/productAnnouncement


Now everything is secured by default. Because of that we are forwarded to the default Spring Security Core login page:


We cannot login since we do not have a user yet. Lets create it:

Edit grails-app/init/BootStrap.groovy

import myapp.*

class BootStrap {

    def springSecurityService

    def init = { servletContext ->
	new ProductAnnouncement(message: 'Launch day').save()

        def userRole = new Role('ROLE_USER').save()

        def me = new User('', 'groovycalamari').save()

        UserRole.create me, userRole

        UserRole.withSession {


    def destroy = {


If I try to go http://localhost:8080/productAnnouncement I am prompted to log in. I can now log in but after a successfull login I get this page:


We need to annotate the method as illustrated below:

package myapp

import grails.plugin.springsecurity.annotation.Secured

class ProductAnnouncementController {

    def index() { 

        def announcements = ProductAnnouncement.createCriteria().list {
    	    order("dateCreated", "desc")
        render announcements.first()?.message

Now, after login, you will be able to access that endpoint.

9 thoughts on “How to use Spring Security Core to Secure you Grails 3 App?

  1. Pete

    in BootStrap.groovy I had to use
    new Role(authority: ‘ROLE_USER’).save instead of new Role(‘ROLE_USER’).save()
    | Grails Version: 3.2.4
    | Groovy Version: 2.4.7
    | JVM Version: 1.8.0_101

    Anyway it was very useful, thank you

  2. sdelamo Post author

    Weird Pete, I believe the s2-quickstart autogenerated Authority class has a constructor with a single string parameter

  3. David Young

    Wow. I greatly appreciate how wonderfully step-wise, methodical and comprehensive your how-to is.
    Thank you so much for taking the time to build this document.
    Wish you could do “the rest of the programmable Internet” but I’m happy with this and look forward to seeing your other efforts.


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