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Getting Started With Gradle

Post Date: 14 Aug 2018


The following page will be an excellent guide with getting started with the gradle build system in your Java™ projects.  Use this guide as a reference when using Gradle as a build system for the very first time.

What is Gradle?

Gradle is an evolutionary build system that extends upon the concepts of the Apache Ant and the Apache Maven build system.  The project configuration is based off the Groovy DSL (Domain-specific Language) as opposed to the XML form used by Apache Maven.

Downloading and Installing Gradle

Gradle runs on all major operating systems and requires a Java JDK version 7 or higher to run.  In order for gradle to run, the JAVA_HOME environment variable must be set.

For the details on installing the Java Development Kit (JDK) please refer to this document:

An example of how to check JAVA_HOME environment variable in a Mac OS:

$ echo $JAVA_HOME

Check and make sure Java is installed and in the system path:

$ java -version
java version "1.8.0_131"
Java(TM) SE Runtime Environment (build 1.8.0_131-b11)
Java HotSpot(TM) 64-Bit Server VM (build 25.131-b11, mixed mode)

There are several ways to install gradle.  This document will cover the basic installation of a downloaded zip from the Gradle Releases page.

A common place to install software tools in *nix is in the /usr/local folder.  For the purpose of this document, the gradle install path will be /usr/local/gradle. In windows, it would be in C:\java.

Alternative Ways to Install Gradle

There are package managers or installers that will provide an easier way to install gradle.  If you are familiar with such package managers or installers, here are several examples on alternative ways to install java tools software like gradle.  Please note that the installation will also automatically add gradle to your system path.  You may still need to do the manual steps to create the GRADLE_HOME environment variable.

Using Homebrew

$ brew update && brew install gradle

Using Scoop

$ scoop install gradle


$ sdk install gradle 3.5.1

Environment Variables and System Paths

Environment Variable for *NIX Systems

In this example, the following environment variable is set for *nix systems:


Environment Variable for Windows™

For Windows, the following environment variable is set:


Adding gradle to the system path will allow you to directly use gradle without having to specify the full path.  This is a convenient way to execute a command.

When gradle is not in the system path, the command to execute will be as follows:

$ /usr/local/gradle/bin/gradle --version

When gradle is in the system path, it may be executed without specifying the entire path:

$ gradle --version

Mac OS™

Add the following export line in your $HOME/.bashrc file

export GRADLE_HOME=/usr/local/apache-maven

Add the following entry to your /etc/paths file as shown on line #7.

$ cat /etc/paths

Other Unix and Linux Systems

Line #1 will define the environment variable GRADLE_HOME.  Line #2 will add gradle to the system path.

export GRADLE_HOME=/usr/local/apache-maven
export PATH=$PATH:$GRADLE_HOME/bin</pre>

Verify in *nix operating systems that gradle is in the system path by executing this command in the terminal.

$ gradle --version
Gradle 3.5

Build time:   2017-04-10 13:37:25 UTC
Revision:     b762622a185d59ce0cfc9cbc6ab5dd22469e18a6

Groovy:       2.4.10
Ant:          Apache Ant(TM) version 1.9.6 compiled on June 29 2015
JVM:          1.8.0_131 (Oracle Corporation 25.131-b11)
OS:           Mac OS X 10.12.5 x86_64</pre>


Setup the environment variable in a Windows operating system by following the series of steps below.

The second part of a JDK Windows installation is to add gradle to the system path.

Verify gradle is in the system path by executing the following in the DOS command console.

C:\> gradle --version

Your First Gradle Project

Create Project Directory

Execute the following commands to create the project directory:

$ mkdir my-first-app
$ cd my-first-app</pre>

Create a Gradle Wrapper

Execute the following command to initialize gradle wrapper:

my-first-app$ gradle wrapper


Total time: 1.726 secs

Here are the files generated by the wrapper task.

my-first-app$ tree
├── gradle
│   └── wrapper                                  
│       ├── gradle-wrapper.jar
│       └── gradle-wrapper.properties
├── gradlew
└── gradlew.bat

2 directories, 4 files

Created Files

The gradle-wrapper.properties file

my-first-app$ cat gradle/wrapper/gradle-wrapper.properties
#Sat Jun 23 19:16:07 PDT 2016

Initialize a New Gradle Build

Run the gradlew init command:

my-first-app$ ./gradlew init
:wrapper UP-TO-DATE


Total time: 2.377 secs</pre>

The build.gradle and settings.gradle files were generated by the init task as show on line #3 and #10 respectively.

my-first-app$ tree
├── build.gradle
├── gradle
│   └── wrapper
│       ├── gradle-wrapper.jar
│       └── gradle-wrapper.properties
├── gradlew
├── gradlew.bat
└── settings.gradle

The build.gradle file

The contents of build.gradle file will contain a template with the java plugin block commented.  You may enable this block by deleting the start and end of the block comment on lines #9 and #31 of the generated code shown on Code Snippet 4.0.

Code Snippet 4.0.  The generated build.gradle file

The following code snippet shows the uncommented block to enable the java plugin support.

Code Snippet 4.1.  The build.gradlew file with the block comments removed.

 * This build file was generated by the Gradle 'init' task.
 * This generated file contains a commented-out sample Java project to get you started.
 * For more details take a look at the Java Quickstart chapter in the Gradle
 * user guide available at https://docs.gradle.org/3.5/userguide/tutorial_java_projects.html

// Apply the java plugin to add support for Java
apply plugin: 'java'

// In this section you declare where to find the dependencies of your project
repositories {
    // Use 'jcenter' for resolving your dependencies.
    // You can declare any Maven/Ivy/file repository here.

// In this section you declare the dependencies for your production and test code
dependencies {
    // The production code uses the SLF4J logging API at compile time
    compile 'org.slf4j:slf4j-api:1.7.22'

    // Declare the dependency for your favourite test framework you want to use in your tests.
    // TestNG is also supported by the Gradle Test task. Just change the
    // testCompile dependency to testCompile 'org.testng:testng:6.8.1' and add
    // 'test.useTestNG()' to your build script.
    testCompile 'junit:junit:4.12'

Initialize Your Project

Project Layout

The default project layout that the java plugin implicitly uses is shown below.

Table 1.0.  The default project layout

Directory Description
src/main/java The production Java code
src/main/resources The production resources file
src/test/java The test java code
src/test/resources The test java resources file

Create the source directories:

$ mkdir -p src/main/java src/test/java

For the purpose of this demonstration create a simple App.java and AppTest.java in the package com.kapresoft.   The src directory should contain the following files.

my-first-app$ tree ./src
├── main
│   └── java
│       └── com
│           └── kapresoft
│               └── App.java
└── test
    └── java
        └── com
            └── kapresoft
                └── AppTest.java

8 directories, 2 files


package com.kapresoft;

 * Hello world!
public class App
    public String getAppId() {
        return "hello-world";

    public static void main( String[] args )
        System.out.println( "Hello World!" );


package com.kapresoft;

import junit.framework.TestCase;

 * Unit test for simple App.
public class AppTest extends TestCase {

    public void testAppId() {
        App app = new App();
        assertEquals("App ID", "hello-world", app.getAppId());


Build Your Project

Now that we have created the App.java and AppTest.java we are ready to build the project.

This can be done by executing the build task as show below.

my-first-app$ ./gradlew build
:processResources NO-SOURCE
:processTestResources NO-SOURCE


Total time: 7.544 se

Run Your App

Run your App using the built jar library

my-first-app$ java -cp build/libs/my-first-app.jar com.kapresoft.App
Hello World!

Or you may run using the built classes folder

my-first-app$ java -cp build/classes/main com.kapresoft.App
Hello World!

Useful Gradle Commands

Gradle Tasks

Gradle provides many available automated tasks. For the purpose of this documentation we are only interested in the build task. Please refer to the Gradle documentation for full details.

The following command will display all available tasks for the project.

my-first-app$ gradlew tasks --all

All tasks runnable from root project

Build tasks
assemble - Assembles the outputs of this project.
build - Assembles and tests this project.
buildDependents - Assembles and tests this project and all projects that depend on it.
buildNeeded - Assembles and tests this project and all projects it depends on.
classes - Assembles main classes.
clean - Deletes the build directory.
jar - Assembles a jar archive containing the main classes.
testClasses - Assembles test classes.

Build Setup tasks
init - Initializes a new Gradle build.
wrapper - Generates Gradle wrapper files.

Documentation tasks
javadoc - Generates Javadoc API documentation for the main source code.

Help tasks
buildEnvironment - Displays all buildscript dependencies declared in root project 'my-first-app'.
components - Displays the components produced by root project 'my-first-app'. [incubating]
dependencies - Displays all dependencies declared in root project 'my-first-app'.
dependencyInsight - Displays the insight into a specific dependency in root project 'my-first-app'.
dependentComponents - Displays the dependent components of components in root project 'my-first-app'. [incubating]
help - Displays a help message.
model - Displays the configuration model of root project 'my-first-app'. [incubating]
projects - Displays the sub-projects of root project 'my-first-app'.
properties - Displays the properties of root project 'my-first-app'.
tasks - Displays the tasks runnable from root project 'my-first-app'.

Verification tasks
check - Runs all checks.
test - Runs the unit tests.

Other tasks
compileJava - Compiles main Java source.
compileTestJava - Compiles test Java source.
processResources - Processes main resources.
processTestResources - Processes test resources.

Pattern: clean&lt;TaskName&gt;: Cleans the output files of a task.
Pattern: build&lt;ConfigurationName&gt;: Assembles the artifacts of a configuration.
Pattern: upload&lt;ConfigurationName&gt;: Assembles and uploads the artifacts belonging to a configuration.


Total time: 0.961 secs

Gradle Help

If you need more details on a particular task you may use the built-in help.

This command will display help on the build task.

my-first-app$ gradlew help --task build
Detailed task information for build


     Task (org.gradle.api.Task)

     Assembles and tests this project.



Total time: 0.923 secs

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