What is Gradle And Why Do We Use Gradle?

Gradle comes to your rescue whenever you wish to build an Android Project. It makes sure that you can generate an apk from .java and .xml files in the most efficient way possible. In this article on "What is Gradle," we shall learn everything needed to start with Maven.

What is Gradle?

Gradle is a build automation tool known for its flexibility to build software. A build automation tool is used to automate the creation of applications. The building process includes compiling, linking, and packaging the code. The process becomes more consistent with the help of build automation tools.

It is popular for its ability to build automation in languages like Java, Scala, Android, C/C++, and Groovy. The tool supports groovy based Domain Specific Language over XML. Gradle provides building, testing, and deploying software on several platforms.

The tool is popular for building any software and large projects. Gradle includes the pros of Ant and Maven and curbs the cons of both.

Before we move forth, let's have a look at some reasons as to why Gradle is used.

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Why is Gradle Used?

Some of the chief reasons to use Gradle are: 

  • Gradle resolves all the issues faced on other build tools like Maven and ANT.
  • The tool focuses on maintainability, usability, extendibility, performance, and flexibility. 
  • It is well-known to be highly customizable when it comes to different projects dealing with various technologies. We may use Gradle in several ways, like Java projects, Android projects, and Groovy projects.
  • Gradle is popular to provide high-speed performance, nearly twice as fast as Maven.
  • The tools support a wide variety of IDE's, which provide a better user experience, as different people prefer working on a different IDE. It provides the users that like to work on the terminal with the command-line interface, which offers features like Gradle tasks, Command line completion, etc.

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How Does Gradle Build Work?

Gradle builds are used to define a project and its tasks. At least one Gradle build file is located in the root folder of the project. A task represents the work that a Gradle build has to perform, e.g., compiling the source code of the program. You can execute multiple tasks at a time under one build file. These tasks can be dynamically created and extended at runtime.

Gradle vs. Maven

Gradle and Maven are both build tools with some primary distinctions on some fundamental grounds:



  • Build automation system using Groovy-based Domain Specific Language
  • Doesn't use an XML file for the declaration of project configuration
  • The goal is to add functionality to a project.
  • Based on a graph of task dependencies.
  • Works only on the tasks that have been changed to give a better performance
  • Highly customizable, thus providing a broad range of IDE support builds

  • Software Project Management system used for Java projects
  • Uses an XML file for declaring the project and its dependencies
  • The goal is related to a project phase.
  • Based on the phases of the linear and fixed model.
  • Does not use build-cache, making the build time slower
  • Provides a limited number of parameters and requirements

Gradle Core Concepts


A project represents a thing that is to be done, like deploying applications to staging environments. A Gradle project requires a set of tasks to execute.


A task refers to a piece of work performed by a build. It might be something as simple as compiling classes, creating JAR files, making Javadoc, or publishing some archives.

Build Scripts

A build script is known as build.gradle and is located in the root directory of the project. Every Gradle build comprises one or more projects.

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Features of Gradle 

High Performance

Gradle quickly finishes the task by considering the outputs from the previous executions. The jobs whose inputs are changed are the only ones that are executed. This helps in avoiding unnecessary tasks and yields higher performance.

Provides Support

Known to provide support, we use Gradle for ANT build projects. Tasks can be imported from ANT build projects and can be reused in Gradle. 

Gradle also supports Maven repositories that are made to publish and fetch dependencies of the project.

Multi-Project Build Software

Gradle ensures magnificent support for multi-project builds. These projects can contain a root project and any number of subprojects. 

Gradle supports partial builds, which states that the tool will determine if a project on which our project depends, needs any kind of rebuilding. In case the project needs rebuilding, Gradle will do that before building any further projects. 


Incremental Builds

Gradle provides an incremental build that states it executes the tasks that are only necessary. If we run any source code, Gradle first checks if that source code has gone through any previous execution. If the code has some changes, it will then be executed, but if there are no changes, then it will skip the execution of that code.

Build Scans

We relate the term build scans to providing information about build run used to identify any build issues. They are concerned with any problems with the build's performance, and these scans are extremely worthy especially for fixing an issue with the build.

Familiarity with Java

To run Gradle, a JVM is necessary, so the machine being used should contain the Java Development Kit (JDK). The tool is well-familiarized with Java features, and we can use standard Java APIs while building plugins and custom talks. This makes it easy for Gradle to run on several different platforms.

Demos in Gradle

Here in this article, we will explore three different demos:

  1. Gradle Installation
  2. Java project in Gradle
  3. Gradle Project in Eclipse

All of these three demos may be easily found in this video on Gradle Tutorial.

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Gradle Example

Let us run a Gradle build using the “gradle” command. This command is used to look for a build.gradle file in the current directory. We call this build.gradle file a build script which defines a project and its tasks. 

Now, let’s create a build script named build.gradle.


Move to the containing directory in a command-line shell, and execute the build script with gradle -q hello.


We have now defined a single task, “hello” with an action (a block containing some code to execute) on it. When you run the gradle -q hello, Gradle will execute the hello task, which will in turn execute the action associated with it.


By now, you would have learned Gradle from scratch. We started with learning what Gradle is and the reasons to understand why it is popular so extensively, especially in Java projects. Then, we saw Gradle's comparison with Maven, which made it more straightforward, and Gradle's advantages in comparison to any other build tool. Then to learn more, we saw some core concepts and, lastly, the features of Maven.

Don't forget to check the video to learn more about building a Java project in Gradle and a Gradle project in Eclipse, along with the proper installation process. The video lesson will explain all these demonstrations with the help of a hands-on demo. If you are planning to learn Software development, consider enrolling in Post Graduate Program In Full Stack Web Development  

Do you have any questions for us? Please mention it in the comment section of the "What is Gradle" article and we'll have our experts answer it for you at the earliest!

About the Author

Ishan GabaIshan Gaba

Ishan Gaba is a Research Analyst at Simplilearn. He is proficient in Java Programming, Data Structures, and Project Management. Graduated in Information Technology, Ishan is also passionate about writing and traveling.

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