Gradle Tips

Over the last few years I have started using Gradle as my primary build tool for JVM based projects. Before using Gradle I was an Apache Maven user. Gradle takes best from both Apache Maven and Apache Ant providing you best of both worlds. Gradle borrows flexibility from Ant and convention over configuration, dependency management and plugins from Maven. Gradle treats task as first class citizen just like Ant.

A Gradle build has three distinct phases – initialization, configuration, and execution. The initialization phase determine which all projects will take part in the build process and create a Project instance for each of the project. During configuration phase, it execute build scripts of all the project that are taking part in build process. Finally, during the execution phase all the tasks configured during the configuration phase are executed.

In this post, I will list down tips that I have learnt over last few years.

Tip 1: Use Gradle Wrapper

One of the Gradle features that impressed me a lot when I was starting with Gradle was support for wrapper scripts. Gradle wrapper makes your project self contained and independent of build tool installation. It lets you run Gradle builds without a previously installed Gradle distribution in a zero configuration manner. This will ensure everyone use same version of the build tool.

To create Gradle wrapper scripts for your Grade project you can run following command.

$ gradle wrapper --gradle-version 2.14.1

To run the above command you will need Gradle installed on your machine. If you are on Mac, then you can use brew install gradle.

This will generate few files in your project — gradlew, gradlew.bat, gradle/wrapper/gradle-wrapper.jar, and gradle/wrapper/ Now instead of running gradle you should run gradlew.

Make sure to unignore gradle-wrapper.jar in your version control ignore file. By default, version control ignore files ignore jar files.

At any point in time, if you wish to upgrade the Gradle version just regenerate the Gradle wrapper scripts passing it the Gradle version you want to use. Let’s suppose we want to upgrade to Gradle 3.0-milestone-2 run the command again as shown below.

$ gradle wrapper --gradle-version 3.0-milestone-2

Alternatively, you can also create a gradle wrapper task to your build.gradle file to generate wrapper without specifying version number on CLI. Basically add this block to your gradle file:

task wrapper(type: Wrapper) {
gradleVersion = '3.5'

And run this command to create (or update) gradle wrapper in your project:

$ gradle wrapper

The advantage of this approach is the ability of seeing gradle updates of your project on source control.

Also, it is a good idea to set an alias for ./gradlew.

alias gradle="./gradlew"

Tip 2: View Dependency Graph

To view a dependency graph for your project you can run the following command.

$ gradle dependencies

Tip 3: Build a single project

Gradle supports both single and multi-project builds. Let’s suppose our multi-project structure looks like as shown below.


To build the rest project we will run the following command.

$ gradle api:rest:build

Tip 4: Exclude tasks

To exclude a task you use -x option. Let’s suppose we want to skip tests then we can use following command

$ gradle clean build -x test

Tip 5: Profile your build

Gradle has in-built support for profiling. If you are facing performance issues, you should use the --profile option to generate profile report. The report displays time taken by different tasks. Let’s suppose we want to profile the build task then we can run the following command.

$ gradle --profile build

This will generate report in the build/reports/profile directory.

Tip 6: Perform dry run

There are times when you wish to see all the tasks that will be executed during the build but don’t want to execute them. For this scenario Gradle provides --dry-run option.

$ gradle build --dry-run

Tip 7: Install project jars into local Maven repository

You have to first add maven plugin to your project build.gradle file.

apply plugin: 'maven'

Then, you can run the gradle task shown below.

$ gradle install

Tip 8: View Gradle tasks

$ gradle tasks

The above does not list all the tasks. To view all the tasks you have to pass --all flag.

$ gradle tasks --all

Tip 9: Use Gradle daemon

One of the easiest way to speed your Gradle build is to use Gradle daemon to run your build. Gradle daemon is a long-lived background process that performs bootstrapping only once during its lifetime. Gradle daemon is not enabled by default. To use Gradle daemon, you can use --daemon flag to your build command.

$ gradle build --daemon

It will enabled by default in 3.0.

Passing the --daemon flag each time is cumbersome so you can enable it on your developer machine by adding this flag in the ~/.gradle/ file.


Tip 10: Parallelize the build

Open your ~/.gradle/ and add the following line.


Tip 11: Customize Gradle tasks

You can customize any Gradle tasks by overriding its doFirst and doLast life cycle methods. Let’s suppose we want add print statements before and after executing tests we can do that by following.

apply plugin:'java'
test.doFirst {
println("running tests…")
test.doLast {
println("done executing tests…")

Tip 12: Provide JVM arguments to Gradle daemon

You can specify JVM arguments to Gradle daemon by entering a line in ~/.gradle/ as shown below.

org.gradle.jvmargs=-Xmx2048m -XX:MaxPermSize=512m -XX:+HeapDumpOnOutOfMemoryError -Dfile.encoding=UTF-8

Tip 13: Run in offline mode

$ gradle build --offline

Tip 14: Enable configure on demand

Configuration on demand is an incubation feature of Gradle, so it’s not enabled by default yet.

$ gradle clean build --configure-on-demand

If you want to make this a default option, then you can provide this option globally by adding a line to ~/.gradle/


Tip 15: Refresh Gradle dependency cache

$ gradle clean build --refresh-dependencies

You can also delete the cached files under ~/.gradle/caches. Next time, when you will run the build it will download all the dependencies and populate your cache.

Tip 16: Define a local jar dependency

Let’s suppose you have a lib directory that contains jar file that you need to use in your Gradle project.

dependencies {
compile files('libs/myjar.jar')

This can also be done by following.

repositories {
flatDir {
dirs 'libs'

dependencies {
compile name: 'myjar'

Tip 17: Define all jars in a local directory as dependency

If you need to add all the libraries in a directory then you can do the following:

dependencies {
compile fileTree(dir: 'libs', include: ['*.jar'])

If you use fileTree(dir: 'libs', include: ['/**/*.jar']) instead it will even recursively include jars from all subdirectories!

Tip 18: Build project and all project it depends on

$ gradle api:model:buildNeeded

Tip 19: Build project and all its dependents

$ gradle api:rest:buildDependents

Tip 20: Provide default tasks to your build script

It is a good practice to define default tasks for your project so that a first time user of your project can easily get started. In your Gradle script, define defaultTasks variable passing it the tasks it should execute.

defaultTasks "clean","build"

Now, if a user will run gradle command default tasks will be executed.

Tip 21: Create checksum for a file

apply plugin: 'java'

archivesBaseName = 'checksum-sample'

jar.doLast { task ->
ant.checksum file: task.archivePath

Tip 22: Using different name for build file

By default build file has build.gradle as its name. You can use a different name by doing following in the settings.gradle file.

rootProject.buildFileName = "gradle-tips.gradle"

Now, rename your build file build.gradle to gradle-tips.gradle

Tip 23: Using different names for build script in multi-project Gradle project

By convention, we use build.gradle as the name of the Gradle build script. When you are working with a multi-project Gradle project then it make sense to use different names for build scripts. Let’s suppose our multi module project looks like this:


By default, all of these sub projects will have build.gradle as their Gradle build file. We can change that by overriding that in settings.gradle

rootProject.children.each {
it.buildFileName = + '.gradle'

Now, you can use build.gradle for root project. Sub projects will have api.gradle, core.gradle, web.gradle, and itests.gradle as their build definition files.

Tip 24: Using Gradle gui

You can use Gradle gui by launching it via command-line as shown below.

$ gradle --gui

This will open the Gradle gui as shown below.

Tip 25: Create untar task

task untar( type : Copy) {
from tarTree(‘dist.tar.gz’)
into ‘destFolder’

Tip 26: Fail configuration on version conflict

In your build script, define a configuration block as shown below.

configurations {

Tip 27: Using provided scope in Gradle

You can use maven like provided scope in gradle 2.12+ by using ‘compileOnly’ scope.

dependencies {
compileOnly 'javax.servlet:servlet-api:3.0-alpha-1'

Tip 28: Set Java compile encoding explicitly

In your build.gradle add the following line.

compileJava.options.encoding = 'UTF-8'

Tip 29: Disable transitive dependencies resolution

Turn transitive dependencies off for a whole configuration:

configurations {
compile.transitive = false

Tip 30: Viewing Gradle version

You can view Gradle version

$ gradle -v
<br />------------------------------------------------------------
Gradle 2.14.1

Build time:   2016-07-18 06:38:37 UTC
Revision:     d9e2113d9fb05a5caabba61798bdb8dfdca83719

Groovy:       2.4.4
Ant:          Apache Ant(TM) version 1.9.6 compiled on June 29 2015
JVM:          1.8.0_60 (Oracle Corporation 25.60-b23)
OS:           Mac OS X 10.10.5 x86_64

You can view the Gradle version that your current build is running by using GradleVersion.current(). You can create a task that does the work.

task gradleVersion {
group = "help"
description = "Prints Gradle version"

doLast {
logger.quiet("You are using [${GradleVersion.current()}]")

When you will run it you will see the following:

$ gradle gradleVersion
You are using [Gradle 2.14.1]


Total time: 0.667 secs

Tip 31: Disable a task

taskName.enabled = false

If you want to disable test task then you can disable it as shown below.

test.enabled = false

Tip 32: Init a Gradle project

To create Java Gradle project that uses testng testing framework you can use the following command.

$ gradle init --type java-library --test-framework testng

If you want to use JUnit, then don’t specify --test-framework

$ gradle init --type java-library

You can also create groovy and scala projects as well.

$ gradle init --type scala-library
$ gradle init --type groovy-library

Tip 33: Sign artifacts

apply plugin: 'signing'
signing {
sign configurations.archives

If you only want to sign releases not snapshots then you can do following

apply plugin: 'signing'
signing {
required { !version.endsWith("SNAPSHOT”) }

Tip 34: Running tests in parallel

test {
maxParallelForks = 2

Tip 35: Set memory for tests

test {
minHeapSize = ‘512m'
maxHeapSize = ‘1024m'

Tip 36: Using short names for tasks

If you have a task buildServerDistribution then you can call it as shown below.

$ gradle bSD

You have to make sure it is unique among all tasks. If there is another task buildSafeDistribution then you have specify

$ gradle bSeD

Tip 37: Learn about a Gradle task

$ gradle help --task <task name>
$ gradle help --task dependencies

Tip 38: Run gradle in debug mode

$ gradle clean build --debug

Tip 39: Continue task execution after task failure

$ gradle clean build --continue

Tip 40: Convert Maven project to Gradle

Go to your Maven project and run the following command.

$ gradle init --type pom

Tip 41: Force Gradle to rerun tasks even if they are UP-TO-DATE

$ gradle build --rerun-tasks

Tip 42: Use exact version numbers in dependencies

When you are declaring dependencies don’t use + in your dependencies, rather use exact version numbers. This will make your build faster and reproducible.

Tip 43: Enable continuous build

If you wish to continuously run your build then you can use --continuous flag. It will look for file changes and whenever it detects one it will rerun the command. To enable continuous tests,

$ gradle test --continuous

Tip 45: Run a single test case

There are times when we only when to run a single test case rather than running the full test suite. This can be accomplished by following command.

$ gradle test --tests tips.CalculatorTest

To run only a single test case of tips.CalculatorTest you can do following.

$ gradle test --tests tips.CalculatorTest.shouldAddTwoNumbers

You can also use regex to specify multiple tests

$ gradle test --tests "tips.Calculator*Test"

You can also use --tests flag multiple times.

$ gradle test --tests tips.CalculatorTest --tests tips.Calculator1Test

To run a single test in a submodule you can do following

$ gradle api:test --tests app.api.PingResourceTest

Tip 45: Generate source and javadoc jar

task sourcesJar(type: Jar, dependsOn: classes) {
classifier = 'sources'
from sourceSets.main.allSource

task javadocJar(type: Jar, dependsOn: javadoc) {
classifier = 'javadoc'
from javadoc.destinationDir

artifacts {
archives sourcesJar, javadocJar

46: Accessing environment variable in build script

You can access environment variables in couple of ways


47: Configure test logging

By default Gradle will only log test failures on console. This at times limits the visibility of which all tests have ran. Gradle allows you to configure it using the testLogging property. To log all the events, you can do following. For more information read this.

test {
testLogging {
events "passed", "skipped", "failed"

Now, when you will run the ./gradlew clean build you will see passed tests as well.

$ gradle clean test
:processResources UP-TO-DATE
:processTestResources UP-TO-DATE
tips.CalculatorTest > shouldSubtractTwoNumbers PASSED

tips.CalculatorTest > shouldAddTwoNumbers PASSED

tips.CalculatorTest > shouldSubtractTwoNumbers1 PASSED

One thing to keep in mind is that gradle test command executes the test only when they change. So if you run it second time without any change then no output will be produced. You will see :test UP-TO-DATE which means no changes were detected. You can force Gradle to run tests each time by using ./gradlew cleanTest test.

Tip 48: Show Standard Output and Error Stream during tests execution

test {
testLogging {
events "passed", "skipped", "failed"
showStandardStreams = true


Tip 49: Storing credentials

You should not hardcode credentials in your build.gradle instead you should rely on your user home ~/.gradle/ to store credentials. Let’s suppose you want to use a Maven repository protected by credentials. One way to specify credentials is to hard code them in your build.gradle as shown below.

repositories {
maven {
credentials {
username "admin"
password "admin123"
url ";

The better way is to change your personal ~/.gradle/

nexusUsername = admin
nexusPassword = admin123

Now, refer this in the build.gradle

repositories {
maven {
credentials {
username "$nexusUsername"
password "$nexusPassword"
url ";

Tip 50: Debug a Java executable application

If your application is packaged as an executable jar that you can run via Gradle then you can debug it by passing --debug-jvm option. Spring Boot applications are run as an executable jar. You can use gradle bootRun to run the application. To debug the app at port 5005 you can start app in debug mode.

$ gdw <taskname> --debug-jvm
$ gradle bootRun --debug-jvm

Tip 51: Using Local Maven Repository

To use a local ~/.m2 repository, you should add following to your build.gradle.

repositories {

Tip 52: Exclude transitive dependency

To exclude a transitive dependency, do the following

compile('org.hibernate:hibernate:3.1') {

  exclude module: 'cglib' //by artifact name

  exclude group: 'org.jmock' //by group


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