• 16 Jan 2023
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Building Java Applications with Gradle

Gradle is a Java-based build automation tool focused on flexibility and performance.
Gradle is:

  • highly customizable and extensible at its core.
  • very fast because it only processes the inputs that have changed instead of everything each time.
  • powerful because it can build many popular languages.

Gradle build scripts are written in Groovy or Kotlin instead of the typical XML files that Maven and Ant use. Gradle is also the official build tool for Android.

Gradle is not limited to building Java; it also comes with native support for:

  • C/C++
  • Kotlin
  • Groovy
  • Scala
  • JavaScript
  • and more

Overview & Concepts

When creating a build file for Gradle, you typically would create a file named build.gradle. Gradle has two different options for syntax within a build file:

  • Groovy (most common)
  • Kotlin

When using Kotlin, you will need to append .kts to the end you your Gradle files (i.e., build.gradle.kts and settings.gradle.kts).

Since the build files are built using Groovy or Kotlin, build files:

  • Can execute custom code
  • Are compiled which will give better syntax errors
  • Can provide IntelliSense while creating build files

Gradle has migration paths for converting Maven and Ant builds to Gradle.

Currently, Gradle only works with two package sources:

  • Apache Maven
  • Apache Ivy

Gradle supports single- and multi-project builds. In addition to a build file, Gradle defines a settings file (named settings.gradle). The settings file allows you define your project hierarchy and/or handle multiple build projects in your build process. It also allows you to extend the build script by building plugins that you include as dependencies within build.gradle.

You can use the gradle init command to create a Java project using the default Gradle folder structure. However, this is only a starting point, as Gradle does not require any specific folder structure.

Gradle Build Lifecycle

Gradle's build lifecycle includes:

  • Project: a collection of tasks
  • Tasks: execution of a basic piece of work (i.e., compiling classes)
  • Build phases:
    • Initialization: determines which projects are going to be built and creates a project instance for each project
    • Configuration: configures all project instances
    • Execution:
      • Determines the subset of tasks to execute based on which inputs have changed and which projects where configured in the configuration phase
      • Executes this determined subset

Building with Gradle

Before you can build with Gradle, you need to make sure that Gradle is set up in your system's PATH. Once it is in your system's PATH, you will need to create a build.gradle file for Gradle. Then, optionally create a settings.gradle to configure your build file. You can use other Gradle files to compile other projects (e.g., unit tests) that can be called from the main Gradle file.

When using Gradle to build Java, you would need to include the java-library plugin. Including that plugin automatically enables the following features:

  • compileJava task that compiles all your Java source files under src/main/java
  • compileTestJava task that compiles all your java test files under src/test/java
  • test task that runs the tests from src/test/java
  • jar task that packages the main compiled classes from compileJava and resources from src/main/resources into a single JAR named <project>-<version>.jar
  • javadoc task that generates Javadoc for the main classes

Remember that Gradle is highly customizable: you can modify the build file to work with your application. Although Gradle has a default folder structure, you can easily customize it by defining your folder locations in your build file. And you can also add functionality by including more plugins.

Example build.gradle File

plugins {
    id 'java-library'

java {
    sourceCompatibility = JavaVersion.VERSION_1_8
    targetCompatibility = JavaVersion.VERSION_1_8

version = '1.2.1'

Running Gradle via the Command Line

Gradle highly encourages using the Gradle Wrapper. When using the Gradle Wrapper, you should replace Gradle with gradlew.bat (or ./gradlew for Linux):

gradle build

Executing Gradle with BuildMaster

Gradle must be installed on the build server before any of these commands can be executed. Specifying GRADLE_HOME in the path is preferable. However, this requires the Java extension to be installed in BuildMaster.

Use the following OtterScript in a deployment plan:

Exec "gradle build"

An example plan that gets the latest source code from Git and captures a Gradle artifact as a BuildMaster artifact:

    Branch: master

Exec "gradle build"

Create-Artifact ProfitCalcJava
    From: build/libs

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