Gradle for Java

This post is a quick Gradle tutorial for Java developers. It shows how to use Gradle to build, test and run Java desktop and web application.

Table of Content

  • What is Gradle?
  • Gradle Installation
  • First Gradle Project
  • Gradle Fundamentals
  • Gradle & Java Projects
  • Building Java Application
  • Building Java Web Application

What is Gradle?

  • Gradle is an open-source build tool that helps developers automating building tasks.
  • Gradle allows you to write scripts in Groovy or Kotlin to define tasks to be executed on your code.
  • Tasks such as compiling, testing or creating jar file can be automated using Gradle.
  • Gradle can be used to define dependencies or jar files in case of Java to run your code.
  • Gradle has a core Java plugin that includes many tasks needed for Java development.
  • In the case of web application, Gradle can run your web application using plugin server.
  • Gradle is your best friend!

Gradle Installation

  • Gradle can be installed on Linux, macOS, or Windows.
  • Gradle requires only a Java JDK version 7 or higher.
  • Download the latest release. 4.9 is the latest as of now!
  • Follow installation steps.
  • Verifying installation by running gradle -v in command line window.
C:\>gradle -v

Gradle 4.9

Build time:   2018-07-16 08:14:03 UTC
Revision:     efcf8c1cf533b03c70f394f270f46a174c738efc

Kotlin DSL:   0.18.4
Kotlin:       1.2.41
Groovy:       2.4.12
Ant:          Apache Ant(TM) version 1.9.11 compiled on March 23 2018
JVM:          1.8.0_71 (Oracle Corporation 25.71-b15)
OS:           Windows 8.1 6.3 amd64

First Gradle Project

  • Create a new directory e.g. C:\Gradle>first-gradle-project
  • Open command line window and go to the dirctory created in the previous step.
  • Type gradle init
C:\Gradle\first-gradle-project>gradle init
Starting a Gradle Daemon, 1 incompatible and 1 stopped Daemons could not be reused, 
use --status for details

2 actionable tasks: 2 executed
  • Gradle will create new files and sub directories within the parent directory. gradle_init

  • build.gradle this is the main file where we write scripts in Groovy or Kotlin for Gradle to execute.
  • Open build.gralde file in a text editor and type the following script.
task hello{
	println "Hello, World!"
  • Open command prompt, go to the project location and type gradle hello
C:\Gradle\first-gradle-project>gradle hello
Hello, World!

Gradle Fundamentals

  • Everything in Gradle sits on top of two basic concepts: projects and tasks.
  • Every Gradle build is made up of one or more projects.
  • A project represents a thing to be built e.g. JAR file or to be done e.g. deploying to production.
  • A Task represents a single atomic piece of work for a build, such as compiling classes or generating javadoc.
  • Gradle describes its build using build file build.gradle.
  • Gradle build file is located in the root folder of the project.
  • Build file defines projects, tasks, plugins, dependencies…ect.
  • Gradle uses plugins to extend its core functionality.
  • For example, the ability to compile Java code is added by a plugin.
  • Gradle has built-in support for dependency management for declaring, resolving and using dependencies required by the project.

Gradle & Java Projects

  • While Gradle can be used with other languages we will focus on using Gradle with Java projects.
  • Gradle is a build tool automating the creation of Jar/War build.
  • Gradle helps automating a wide variety of tasks such as compiling Java classes, packaging binary code & running Junit tests.
  • Gradle allows you to declare dependencies and repositories of Jar files needed for your Java project to compile or run.

Building Java Application

1. Create new directory

  • Create a new directory e.g. gradle-java-app
  • Go to the directory
C:\gradle-projects>mkdir gradle-java-app

C:\gradle-projects>cd gradle-java-app


2. init java-application

  • To create new Java application call gradle init --type java-application
C:\gradle-projects\gradle-java-app>gradle init --type java-application

Starting a Gradle Daemon

2 actionable tasks: 2 executed


  • Gradle will create src folder with two sub-folders main and test
  • build.gradle will apply java and application plugin, point to guava lib in dependencies and to jcenter() repository.
plugins {
    id 'java'
    id 'application'

mainClassName = 'App'

dependencies {
    compile ''
    testCompile 'junit:junit:4.12'

repositories {
  • has main method that print Hello, World! when executed.
public class App {
    public String getGreeting() {
        return "Hello world.";

    public static void main(String[] args) {
        System.out.println(new App().getGreeting());

3. build Java Applicaiton

  • To build Java application call gradle build task.
  • build task depends on 6 other tasks such as compileJava task.
C:\gradle-projects\gradle-java-app>gradle build

7 actionable tasks: 7 up-to-date
  • To see all executed tasks call --console=plain build

4. run Java Application

  • build.gradle is pointing to the main class mainClassName = 'App'.
  • To run main class call gradle run
C:\gradle-projects\gradle-java-app>gradle run

> Task :run
Hello world.

2 actionable tasks: 1 executed, 1 up-to-date

Building Java Web Application

1. Create new directory

  • Create a new directory e.g. gradle-java-web-app
  • Go to the directory
C:\gradle-projects>mkdir gradle-java-web-app

C:\gradle-projects>cd gradle-java-web-app


2. init java-application

  • So far, there is no init type for java web application, so we will use java-appliation as a starter.
  • While gradle init --type java-application will not create java web application, it will help creating src and build.gradle file.
C:\gradle-projects\gradle-java-web-app>gradle init --type java-application

2 actionable tasks: 2 executed
  • Change the content of build.gradle to be as following
    • use the war plugin
    • and add servlet-api to dependencies
plugins {
    id 'war'  

repositories {

dependencies {
    providedCompile 'javax.servlet:javax.servlet-api:3.1.0' 
    testCompile 'junit:junit:4.12'

3. Create a servlet class

  • Under /scr/main/java/com/hmkcode/ create a Java class
package com.hmkcode;

import javax.servlet.ServletException;
import javax.servlet.annotation.WebServlet;
import javax.servlet.http.HttpServlet;
import javax.servlet.http.HttpServletRequest;
import javax.servlet.http.HttpServletResponse;

@WebServlet(name = "HelloServlet", urlPatterns = {"hello"}, loadOnStartup = 1) 
public class HelloServlet extends HttpServlet {

    protected void doGet(HttpServletRequest request, HttpServletResponse response)
        throws ServletException, IOException {
        response.getWriter().print("Hello, World!");  


4. Add .html file

  • Add an index page to the root of the application by creating the file index.html.
  <title>Java Web App</title>
<p>Say<a href="hello">Hello</a></p> 


5. Add the gretty plugin and run the app

  • Gretty plugin makes it easy to run or test webapps


plugins {
    id 'war'
    id 'org.gretty' version '2.2.0' 

6. Run the web app

  • Use gradle appRun to run the web app.
C:\gradle-projects\gradle-java-web-app>gradle appRun

  • Open your web browser and type http://localhost:8080/gradle-java-web-app/