Gradle Features

This categorized list of Gradle features will help you understand some capabilities of Gradle for your use cases. Check out the user manual for reference and Gradle guides for getting started.

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Running Gradle Builds

These features affect developers running Gradle builds, and can be taken advantage of by anyone running Gradle.

Performance

Incremental Builds

Gradle checks in between build runs whether the input, output or an implementation of a task has changed since the last build invocation. If not, the task is considered up to date and is not executed. Gradle also considers the configuration of the task as part of its input.

Task Output Caching

If a task has already been executed on another computer, Gradle can skip the execution locally, and instead load the task's outputs from the build cache. The typical use case is to let CI builds push to a shared build cache, and allow developers to pull from it. A local build cache is also available to reuse task outputs produced earlier on the same machine.

Incremental Subtasks

When Gradle discovers that the input or output of a task has changed between build runs, the task is executed again. The task can use the incremental API to learn what files exactly have changed. With this information the task may not need to rebuild everything.

Compiler Daemon

When you need to fork the compilation process, Gradle creates a daemon process that is reused within a multi project build. This provides a dramatic speed improvement for the compilation process.

Parallel Execution

Gradle allows parallel execution of tasks and intra-task work through a Worker API. Parallelism is very fine-grained, resulting in faster performance.

Parallel Download of Dependencies

Gradle will download both dependency metadata (typically `pom.xml`) and artifacts in parallel. This is done on demand, only when the artifacts are actually required.

Build Scans

Web-based Build Visualization

Understand what happened in your build via a rich web interface instead of a text console and text files. Build scans provide more information, more effectively.

Collaborative Debugging

Share build scans with colleagues to efficiently solve problems and improve things together. Share entire scans or links focussed to a particular aspect of the build such as a logging output line.

Compare Builds

Build scan comparison quickly highlights differences between builds, such as dependencies and their versions, making root cause analysis much faster.

Extend and Customize

Add your own data to build scans as tags, values and links. Integrate build scans into your toolchain.

Track and Export History Across all Builds

Track key build metrics for all of your builds, including local development builds and not just CI builds. Understand trends and export build scan data to storage of your choosing.

Command-Line Interface

Task Exclusion

You can exclude any task from being run. When you exclude a task, all tasks this task depends on are also automatically excluded if they have no other dependencies.

Continuous build

When a Gradle task is run in continuous mode, Gradle automatically watches for changes of the input of this task. Whenever the input changes, the task it automatically executed. You can run multiple tasks continuously in a multi-project build.

Composite builds

You can combine separate builds to work on code across multiple repositories.

Dry Run

Run a build to see which tasks actually get executed without executing the task actions.

Continue Execution After Failures

Does not stop as soon as the first failure is encountered. Executes every task to be executed where all of the dependencies for that task completed without failure. Enables discovery of as many failures as possible in a single build execution with a very nice aggregated error report at the end.

Sync Dependency Cache with Repository

Gradle has a `--refresh-dependencies` option to ignore all cached entries for resolved modules and artifacts. A fresh resolve will be performed against all configured repositories, with dynamic versions recalculated, modules refreshed, and artifacts downloaded. However, where possible Gradle will check if the previously downloaded artifacts are valid before downloading again. This is done by comparing published SHA1 values in the repository with the SHA1 values for existing downloaded artifacts.

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Authoring Gradle Builds

These features affect build authors and those responsible for developer productivity.

Dependency Management

Transitive Dependencies

One of the main benefits of using a dependency management system is managing transitive dependencies. Gradle takes care of downloading and managing transitive dependencies.

Custom Dependency Scopes

Don't be limited by a predefined set of dependency scopes (compile, runtime, etc). Gradle allows you to define arbitrary dependency scopes. For example for integration tests that you may model in your build, to provision toolchains you need in your build, etc …

Custom Repository Layout

Declare repositories with custom layouts. With custom layouts you can effectively treat nearly any file system directory structure as an artifact repository.

File Based Dependencies

Not all dependencies are available from external repositories. Declare dependencies on file system resources when using a managed dependency isn't practical or when migrating legacy builds.

3rd Party Dependency Cache

Dependencies from remote repositories are downloaded and cached locally. Subsequent builds use cached artifacts to avoid unnecessary network traffic.

Reads POM Metadata Format

Gradle is compatible with the POM Metadata format and can retrieve dependencies from any Maven compatible repository.

Reads IVY Metadata Format

Gradle is compatible with the Ivy Metadata format. This includes declaring dependencies on particular configurations. Ivy metadata is exposed to custom resolution rules allowing you to filter on artifact branch, status or other custom metadata information.

Dynamic Dependencies

Resolved dependency versions can be dynamic. Gradle supports the Maven snapshot mechanism but is more powerful than that. You can declare a dependency on the latest release, most current development version, or even the latest 4.x build.

Dynamic Dependencies Selection Rules

Define custom rules to select a specific version when a dynamic dependency is declared. The rules can be based on names and version but also extended metadata like branch or status. The rules can also differ based on the environment the build is happening, e.g. local or CI.

Version Conflict Resolution

By default, Gradle resolves conflicts to the newest requested version. You can customize this behavior.

Substitution of Compatible Libraries

Use dependency substitution rules to identify that dependency should be treated as similar. For example log4j and log4j-over-slf4j. Tell Gradle that only one should be selected and use Gradle conflict resolution to pick the newest version from both of them. Similar use cases are situations where you have libraries like spring-all and spring-core in dependency graph. Without properly modelling this the proper behavior of your application depends on the very fragile order in your classpath.

Enhanced Metadata Resolution Support

Dependency metadata can be modified after repository metadata is download but before it is chosen by Gradle as the final resolved version. This allows the creation of custom rules to do things like declare modules as changing (or snapshot) versions, or use a custom status scheme.

Replacement of external and project dependencies

Dynamically replace external dependencies for project dependencies and vice versa. Especially helpful when only a subset of your modules are checked out locally.

Standardizing Gradle Across Teams

Self-Provisioning Build Environment

With the Gradle wrapper the Gradle build environment is auto-provisioned. Furthermore you can determine which version should be used to build your project.

Version Controlled Build Environment Configuration

Important parameters for configuring the build environment can be stored in version as part of your project. No need for the developers to set them up manually. This includes the Gradle version to be used, the configuration for the JVM running the build and the JDK to be used for running the build.

Custom Distributions

Every Gradle distribution has an init.d directory in which you can put custom scripts that pre-configure your build environment. You can use this to apply custom rules that are enforced, to provide build-in set up tasks for developers, and so much more. Together with the Gradle wrapper you can easily distribute those custom distributions.

Software Domain Modeling

Domain Object Containers

Every domain object describing your build, be it repositories, source directories, plugins or dependencies are stored in a responsive container that you can register listener with. You have full control over what particular builds scripts add to a build. Augment or modify what has been added, let the build fail or issue a warning. You can add define dependencies that are only added for example if a build adds a particular plugin. A very, very powerful feature.

Publishing Multiple Artifacts

Gradle can publish multiple artifacts per project with different metadata. Be it an API and an implementation jar, a library and a test-fixture or variants for different Java platforms.

Advanced Task Ordering

Beyond having full control about the dependencies that are created between tasks, Gradle has powerful language constructs to describe execution order between tasks even if tasks depends not on each others output. This can be modelled with shouldRunAfter and mustRunAfter relationships.

Task Dependency Inference

Gradle objects are aware of which tasks produce certain content. For example, the object representing the Java binary directory knows that the compile task produces the binaries. Any task that has the Java binary directory as input will automatically depend on the compile task. It does not need to be declared manually. This makes the build easier to maintain and more robust.

Task Finalizers

Tasks can be assigned to finalize another tasks similar to a finalizer clause in Java. They are always run after another task is executed, regardless whether this task fails or not. This is very powerful for example when doing lifecycle management for containers or databases.

Dynamic Task Creation

Sometimes you want to have a task whose behavior depends on a large or infinite number value range of parameters. A very nice and expressive way to provide such tasks are task rules.

Fine Grained Build Event Listener

Gradle allows you to hook into every part of the build configuration and execution lifecycle for injecting custom behaviour, extracting information, adding additional logging and a tons of other use cases.

User Based Behavior Injection

You can put custom listeners into your Gradle user home that hook into every Gradle build that is executed on your machine. With the lifecycle listeners described above you can add whatever custom behavior you want to individualize your build experience. For example adding and configuring the Gradle announcement plugin that pops up a window when the build is finishing or failing or adding a special repository that your are just using personally.

Per Build Behavior Injection

Similar to user based behavior injection, you can also specify on the command line additional listeners that hook into a build. This can be very helpful for example if you want your CI build to have specific behavior (e.g. fail if a non-standard repository is used).

Gradle Plugin Authoring

TestKit for Functional Testing

Programmatic execution of build through API agnostic of test framework. Inspection of build outcome and output. Cross-version compatibility testing. Debugging the build under test from the IDE.

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Ecosystem-specific Features

Features specific to JVM, Android, C++, Swift, Objective C, and other ecosystems.

JVM Applications

Incremental Compilation for Java

Whether a the source code or the classpath changes, Gradle detects all classes that are affected by the change and will only recompile those.

Compile Avoidance for Java

If a dependent project has changed in an ABI-compatible way (only its private API has changed), then Java compilation tasks will be up-to-date.

Built-in Groovy Support

The Groovy plugin extends the Java plugin to add support for Groovy projects. It can deal with Groovy code, mixed Groovy and Java code, and even pure Java code.

Built-in Scala Support

The Scala plugin extends the Java plugin to add support for Scala projects. It can deal with Scala code, mixed Scala and Java code, and even pure Java code.

Built-in Support for JVM Code Quality Tools

The Gradle distribution includes plugins for Checkstyle, CodeNarc, FindBugs, PMD, JaCoCo, and other tools.

Packaging and Distribution for JARs, WARs, and EARs

Gradle comes out-of-the-box with tools to package JVM-based code into common archive files.

Publishing to Maven Repositories

Publish artifacts to Maven repositories like Bintray or Maven Central.

Publishing to Ivy Repositories

Publish artifacts to Ivy repositories, with customizable directory layouts.

Ant Integration

You can deeply integrate any default, optional, or custom Ant task. You can also import Ant builds at runtime, and even partially replace Ant targets dependent on Gradle tasks.

Android Applications

Official Android Build Tool

The Gradle Android Plugin and Android Studio are official tools provided and maintained by the Android SDK Tools team.

Android Domain Build Language

Describe your project via an Android-specific DSL. Tell Gradle about your project, now how to build it. Avoid the overly verbose need to explicitly implement the complex build process of Android projects.

Full Integration with Android Studio

Gradle is deeply integrated with Android Studio, the official Android IDE. In fact, Android Studio has no internal builder, it instead delegates all build tasks to Gradle. This "unified build system" ensures correctness across all your builds, whether they be run from Android Studio, the command line, or a continuous integration build server.

Build Variants

Declare your build types and product flavors and let Gradle handle the rest. No need to copy and paste build logic over and over for each of your project's variants. Use the expressive DSL to declare only what is different about your variants.

Android Library Projects

Android library projects are treated as first-class citizens in Gradle's multi-project build model. This enables all the benefits provided by Gradle's multi-project build support, such as project dependencies, and incremental builds.

Manifest Merging

Manifests and resource files are automatically merged, and individual entries overridden from variant source files. Build APKs with different application names, SKD versions or even required permissions.

Per-Variant Dependency Management

Gradle's advanced dependency management features are available to Android projects and can be configured uniquely for each build variant. Declare dependencies relevant to only certain variants or customize dependency resolution for each of your build variants.

Application Signing

Automate signing your applications. Debug build variants are, by default, signed with a debug key for installation on development devices. Declare additional signing configurations for publication to the Google Play store.

ProGuard Support

Easily configure ProGuard on your project to enable obfuscation and minification of the built APK. Configure ProGuard independently for each build type, allow an unoptimized APK for development and optimized one for release.

Unit Testing

Run unit tests against your Android application or library. Unit tests run in a standard Java JVM against a mocked Android SDK implementation facilitating fast-feedback test development, eliminating the overhead of building a separate APK and running tests of a device or emulator.

On-device Functional Testing

For tests that require a real Android environment for proper execution, bundle your test in a separate APK to be installed and run on an Android device or emulator. Separate APKs are built for each build variant allowing you to build and test every variant of your app in a single Gradle build.

APK Splits

Efficiently build multiple APKs for differing device display densities or ABIs by configuring Gradle to reuse shared build outputs.

Multidex Support

Utilize multidex support to avoid the 65k method limit imposed by Android DEX files.

NDK Support

Integrate your build with the Android NDK. Build application that depend on native libraries, projects that compile C/C++ into native libraries or both.

Databinding

Using binding classes generated by your Gradle build you can drastically simplify the way you interact with Android views. No more interacting with views directly, simply update the backing object and your view is kept up to date.

Native Applications

Build C/C++/Obj-C/Obj-C++/Assembler

Gradle has built in support for compiling and linking programs using Assembler, C/C++ and Obj-C/C++. Gradle can build shared and static libraries and executables.

Model variants of a native component

Easily model variants of a native component like support for different ABI's, OS, build types, etc.

GCC Support

Gradle supports building with GCC4 on Linux, Windows (with Cygwin and MingW) and Mac OS X.

Clang Support

Gradle supports building with Clang on Linux and Mac OS X.

MS Visual C++ Support

Gradle supports building with Microsoft's Visual C++ compiler on Windows. (VS 2010, VS 2013, and VS 2015 supported)

Generates Windows Resources

Gradle uses Microsoft's resource compiler to build Windows resource script files into your application.

Parallel Compilation

When building native code, Gradle divides the compilation step into parallelizable tasks and executes them in a shared resource pool. This speeds up the single project case and ensures that Gradle does not consume too many resources in parallel multi-project builds.

Precompiled Headers

Gradle makes it easy to use precompiled headers when building your software. Precompiled headers can speed up compilation times if your project has many header files that are included in most of your source code. Precompiled headers is a compiler-specific optimization to cache an already parsed version of your headers.

Build mixed language binaries

Gradle can build separate languages (e.g., Assembler and C) and link them into a single executable or library.

CUnit Test Support

Gradle supports testing C applications with CUnit.

GoogleTest Support

Gradle supports testing C++ applications with GoogleTest.

Makefile support

Gradle does not come with built-in support for extracting a build from a Makefile, but Gradle's Exec task can be used to wrap and existing Makefile when migrating to Gradle.

Build JNI Libraries

Gradle does not come with an out-of-the-box recipe for building a JNI library, but you can use a custom task to generate the headers and build a Shared Library as usual.

Dependency Management

You can use the current Gradle dependency management support to support binary sharing. But it is not fully tailored yet for the needs of native domain. Soon our new variant aware dependency management will provide the first full solution for dependency management in the native world.

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Features for Developer Tool Providers

These features will be most interesting for those working on IDEs and continuous integration systems, but there are many other creative uses.

Embed Gradle with Tooling API

SDK for embedded usage

Provided by the Gradle Tooling API

Version agnostic

The Gradle tooling API is back and forward compatible. With a particular version of the Tooling API you can drive build across all Gradle version since 1.0.

Querying for Project model

You can query Gradle for the details of a build, including the project hierarchy and the project dependencies, external dependencies (including source and Javadoc jars), source directories and tasks of each project.

Query for Build environment information

Gradle provides programmatically access to information about the build environment. This includes information about the Gradle Version, The Gradle User Home directory and the Java Home directory.

Execute a build

You can execute a build and listen to stdout and stderr logging and progress (e.g. the stuff shown in the 'status bar' when you run on the command line).

Build Operation Cancellation

All operations initiated via the Gradle Tooling API are gracefully cancellable at any time during the build

Support custom JVM settings

JVM args provided via the Gradle Tooling API take precedence over gradle.properties

Provide Eclipse Project Model

The Gradle Tooling API provides a model of how your project is mapped to an Eclipse project.

Provide IDEA Project Model

The Gradle Tooling API provides a model how to your project is mapped to the IDEA model.

Provide support for custom Project Model

You can write a Gradle plugin to add custom metadata for the Gradle Tooling API. You can use this for example when you integrate your own product/customizations with Gradle.

Run specific tests

The TestLauncher API allows running specific JUnit or TestNG Tests within one or more Test Tasks

Register for progress events

Register for events of task or test progress to get informed about the process of the build with rich information about the processed task and test

Run Continuous Builds

Gradle Tooling API provides the functionality to run a build programmatically in "continuous build" mode. Changes on build inputs (File changes) continuously trigger specified tasks to run.

Customizable Logging

Custom Logging Schemas

You can replace much of Gradle’s logging UI with your own. You might do this, for example, if you want to customize the UI in some way, e.g. to log more or less information, or to change the formatting.

Redirecting Output from Other Tools

The build output is very important for the build user experience. If you integrate with external tools and libraries their console output might be very verbose. In Gradle System.out and log output of Java Util Logging, Jakarta Commons Logging and Log4j is re-reouted to the Gradle logging system. You can define per external tool you are integrating with to which log level the output should be routed.

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