Gradle vs Apache Maven

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Apache Maven vs Gradle: What are the differences?


Apache Maven and Gradle are popular build automation tools used in software development. Both tools serve a similar purpose of managing dependencies, compiling, and packaging software projects. However, there are several key differences between these two tools that developers should be aware of.

  1. Build File Definitions: Apache Maven uses an XML-based build file called "pom.xml" to define the structure of a project, its dependencies, and build goals. On the other hand, Gradle uses a Groovy or Kotlin-based build script called "build.gradle" that allows for more flexibility and expressiveness in defining the build process.

  2. Dependency Management: While both Maven and Gradle can handle dependency management, Gradle offers more powerful capabilities. With Gradle, dependencies can be declared using a compact DSL (domain-specific language), allowing for easier management of transitive dependencies and finer control over version resolution. Maven, on the other hand, relies on a more verbose XML-based configuration for managing dependencies.

  3. Performance: Gradle boasts faster build times compared to Maven. Gradle employs an incremental build system that only rebuilds the necessary parts of a project, resulting in faster build times for subsequent builds. Maven, on the other hand, performs a clean build every time, which can be time-consuming for larger projects.

  4. Flexibility and Extensibility: Gradle provides more flexibility and extensibility in its build process. Gradle build scripts can be customized extensively, allowing developers to define custom tasks, plugins, and build logic. Maven, while also extensible through plugins, has a more rigid build structure and limited customization options.

  5. IDE Integration: Both Maven and Gradle are well-integrated with IDEs like Eclipse and IntelliJ IDEA. However, Gradle offers more seamless integration and provides IDE-specific plugins that make it easier to import, build, and run projects directly from the IDE. Maven also has IDE integrations but may require additional setup and configuration.

  6. Learning Curve: Maven has been around for a longer time and has a larger user base, resulting in more extensive documentation and online resources. As a result, Maven may have a lower learning curve for developers who are new to build tools. Gradle, while gaining popularity, may require more effort to learn due to its more flexible and expressive build script.

In summary, Apache Maven and Gradle differ in their build file definitions, dependency management capabilities, performance, flexibility, IDE integration, and learning curve. Developers should consider their specific project requirements and preferences when choosing between these two build automation tools.

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Pros of Gradle
Pros of Apache Maven
  • 110
  • 51
    Easy to use
  • 47
    Groovy dsl
  • 22
    Slow build time
  • 10
    Crazy memory leaks
  • 8
    Fast incremental builds
  • 5
    Kotlin DSL
  • 1
    Windows Support
  • 138
    Dependency management
  • 70
    Necessary evil
  • 60
    I’d rather code my app, not my build
  • 48
    Publishing packaged artifacts
  • 43
    Convention over configuration
  • 18
  • 11
    Consistency across builds
  • 6
    Prevents overengineering using scripting
  • 4
    Runs Tests
  • 4
    Lot of cool plugins
  • 3
  • 2
    Hard to customize
  • 2
    Runs on Linux
  • 1
    Runs on OS X
  • 1
    Slow incremental build
  • 1
    Inconsistent buillds
  • 1
  • 1
    Good IDE tooling

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Cons of Gradle
Cons of Apache Maven
  • 8
    Inactionnable documentation
  • 6
    It is just the mess of Ant++
  • 4
    Hard to decide: ten or more ways to achieve one goal
  • 2
    Bad Eclipse tooling
  • 2
    Dependency on groovy
  • 6
  • 1
    Inconsistent buillds
  • 0
    Not many plugin-alternatives

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What is Gradle?

Gradle is a build tool with a focus on build automation and support for multi-language development. If you are building, testing, publishing, and deploying software on any platform, Gradle offers a flexible model that can support the entire development lifecycle from compiling and packaging code to publishing web sites.

What is Apache Maven?

Maven allows a project to build using its project object model (POM) and a set of plugins that are shared by all projects using Maven, providing a uniform build system. Once you familiarize yourself with how one Maven project builds you automatically know how all Maven projects build saving you immense amounts of time when trying to navigate many projects.

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What companies use Gradle?
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What are some alternatives to Gradle and Apache Maven?
Apache Ant
Ant is a Java-based build tool. In theory, it is kind of like Make, without Make's wrinkles and with the full portability of pure Java code.
In a nutshell Jenkins CI is the leading open-source continuous integration server. Built with Java, it provides over 300 plugins to support building and testing virtually any project.
It is a powerful multi-faceted programming language for the JVM platform. It supports a spectrum of programming styles incorporating features from dynamic languages such as optional and duck typing, but also static compilation and static type checking at levels similar to or greater than Java through its extensible static type checker. It aims to greatly increase developer productivity with many powerful features but also a concise, familiar and easy to learn syntax.
Bazel is a build tool that builds code quickly and reliably. It is used to build the majority of Google's software, and thus it has been designed to handle build problems present in Google's development environment.
It is similar to Java's Maven and Ant. Its main features are: Native support for compiling Scala code and integrating with many Scala test frameworks.
See all alternatives