Introducing the new C++ plugins

This post introduces some new plugins for C++ that we’ve been working on. These plugins can build C++ libraries and applications. They work on macOS, Linux, and Windows with GCC, Clang and Visual C++/Visual Studio.

The plugins will eventually replace the software model plugins and take advantage of many new features baked into Gradle core, such as a rich dependency management engine, build cache, composite builds, finer grained parallel execution, build scans, and more. For background, see our post on the State and Future of the Gradle Software Model.

We welcome any feedback you may have about these plugins. You can leave feedback on the Gradle forums or raise issues on the Gradle native GitHub repository.

Building an application

You can find all of the samples from this post in the Gradle native samples GitHub repository. Let’s look at building a simple application.

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State and future of the Gradle Software Model

We’ve received many inquiries about the status and direction of Gradle’s Software Model, especially from users building native libraries and applications.

In this blog post, we will explain the current state and future of the Software Model, and in particular how it relates to native development with Gradle. A lot of exciting improvements are planned for the remainder of 2017; see the roadmap below.

Situation with the Software Model

In a nutshell, the Software Model is a very declarative way to describe how a piece of software is built and the other components it needs as dependencies in the process. It also provides a new, rule-based engine for configuring a Gradle build. When we started to implement the Software Model we set ourselves the following goals:

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Blazing Fast Android Builds

At Google I/O today, the Android Studio team released the first preview version of the Android Gradle plugin 3.0, based on Gradle 4.0 M2. It brings major performance improvements, especially for builds with plenty of subprojects. In this blog post, we will explain what you can expect from this preview version and how the Android Studio and Gradle team achieved these improvements. Before diving into this let’s look back at what goals led to the creation of the current Android build system.

The Complexity of Mobile Development

Developing mobile applications is inherently more complex than building traditional web or server applications of similar size. An app needs to support a wide array of devices with different peripherals, different screen sizes, and comparatively slow hardware. The popular freemium model adds another layer of variety, requiring different code paths for free and paid versions of the app. In order to provide a fast, slim app for every device and target audience, the build system needs to do a lot of the heavy lifting up front.

To improve developer productivity and to reduce runtime overhead, the Android build tools provide several languages and source generators, e.g. Java, RenderScript, AIDL and Native code. Packaging an app together with its libraries involves highly customizable merging and shrinking steps. The Android Studio team was faced with the challenge of automating all of these without exposing the underlying complexity to developers. Developers can focus on writing their production code.

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Introducing Gradle Build Cache Beta

Introduced in Gradle 3.5 to reduce build time.

What does it do?

The build cache reuses the outputs of Gradle tasks locally and shares task outputs between machines. In many cases, this will accelerate the average build time.

The build cache is complementary to Gradle’s incremental build features, which optimizes build performance for local changes that have not been built already. Many Gradle tasks are designed to be incremental, so that if the inputs and outputs of the task do not change, Gradle can skip the task. Even when the task’s inputs have changed, some tasks can rebuild only the parts that have changed. Of course, these techniques only work if there are already outputs from previous local builds. In the past, building on fresh checkouts or executing “clean” builds required building everything from scratch again, even if the result of those builds had already been created locally or on another machine (such as the continuous integration server).

Now, Gradle uses the inputs of a task as a key to uniquely identify the outputs for a task. With the build cache feature enabled, if Gradle can find that key in a build cache, Gradle will skip task execution and directly copy the outputs from the cache into the build directory. This can be much faster than executing the task again.

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Announcing Gradle Enterprise 2017.1

We are excited to announce the release of Gradle Enterprise 2017.1. This release includes many new features and bug fixes, further expanding the build insights that build scans provide you and your team. Here are some of the highlights of this release. Contact us if you’re interested in a demo or a trial.

Easily find changes to dependencies between two builds

Dependency changes between builds can be a common source of problems. For example, upgrading a version of one library can unintentionally bring in different versions of transitive dependencies into your project. In turn, these newer versions can cause you all kinds of frustration by breaking compatibility with other libraries that your project uses.

The new build comparison feature allows you to quickly find dependency changes between builds, including differences in transitive dependencies.

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Incremental Compilation, the Java Library Plugin, and other performance features in Gradle 3.4

We are very proud to announce that the newly released Gradle 3.4 has significantly improved support for building Java applications, for all kind of users. This post explains in details what we fixed, improved and added. We will in particular focus on:

  • Extremely fast incremental builds
  • The end of the dreaded compile classpath leakage

The improvements we made can dramatically improve your build times. Here’s what we measured:

The benchmarks are public, and you can try them out yourself and are synthetic projects representing real world issues reported by our consumers. In particular, what matters in a continuous development process is being incremental (making a small change should never result in a long build):

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Announcing Buildship 2.0

We are pleased to announce that version 2.0 of Buildship—our official Gradle support for Eclipse—is now available via the Eclipse Marketplace. This release adds support for composite builds, greatly reducing development turnaround time. The UI has been redesigned based on plenty of community feedback during the 1.x line. Project synchronization is now more accurate and project import requires one less step. We’ve added support for Gradle’s offline mode (thanks Rodrigue!), and last but not least, third-party integrators can take advantage of our new InvocationCustomizer extension point. Read on for details about each of these new features.

Composite build support

What is a composite build?

The composite build feature in Gradle allows you to handle several distinct Gradle builds as if they were one big multi-project build. This dramatically shortens the turnaround time when you need to work on several projects that are normally developed separately.

Let’s assume you have written a Java library lib, used by many of your applications. You find a bug which only manifests itself in the special-app. The traditional development workflow would be to change some code in lib and install a snapshot into the local repository. Then you would have to change the build script of special-app to use that new snapshot and check if the bug is actually fixed.

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Custom Data in Build Scans

Build scans are a great way to easily share data about your build, but what if your team wants to add their own data to those build scans? They can! In addition to the extensive information automatically captured in build scans, you can attach your own custom data to provide even deeper insights into your build. This custom data can take the form of tags, links, and arbitrary custom values in a key-value format.

By adding custom data to your build scans you can make it easy to find builds of a certain type, give quick links to the applicable source code commit on GitHub, add helpful CI build information, and much more. Then, when you share the single build scan link with a teammate, they get quick and easy access to a plethora of information about your build, making it easier for them to diagnose build environment issues, fix test failures, and so on.

If build scans are new to you, you can learn about them in our introductory blog post on the topic. You can also find more details in the Build Scans User Manual, explore some example build scans or experiment with this sample build scan project.

Now let’s go through some examples of adding custom data into your build scans (see the user manual for additional examples).

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Introducing Composite Builds

It’s not every day that we get to announce a feature that revolutionizes several software engineering workflows, but today is that day. Composite builds, a new feature in Gradle 3.1, enables an entirely new dimension in project organization.

Composite builds are a way to join multiple independent Gradle builds and build them together. The brevity of that statement does not fully convey all of the new possibilities, so let me show you how this will make your life as a developer a lot easier.

Joining projects

Many organizations split their code base into several independent projects, each having a dedicated repository and release cycle. Integration between the projects is managed using binary dependencies, e.g. JAR files published to a binary...

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Introducing Build Scans

A few months ago at this year’s Gradle Summit conference, we announced a new part of the Gradle platform called Gradle Cloud Services. In this post, I want to introduce you to the first of these services—the Gradle Build Scan Service—and the build scans it makes possible.

What is a build scan?

A build scan is a representation of data captured as you run your build. The Build Scan Plugin does the work of capturing the data and sending it to the Build Scan Service. The service then transforms the data into information you can use and share with others. Here’s a quick example of using a build scan to investigate a failure:

Publishing and Viewing a Build Scan

It’s all about that link! Here—click it for yourself:

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Gradle 3.0 M2: Initial Java 9 Support and Performance Improvements

The second milestone of Gradle 3.0 has just been released, and this version comes with initial support for Java 9!

It means that Gradle now runs properly when executed on the latest Java 9 EAP builds, but also that you can build and run tests using early versions of JDK 9. It is however important to understand that while you can compile and test applications with JDK 9, we do not support modules, nor any JDK 9 specific compile options (like -release or -modulepath) yet. However we would gladly appreciate any feedback with your own projects.

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Kotlin Meets Gradle

Many readers will be familiar with JetBrains’ excellent Kotlin programming language. It’s been under development since 2010, had its first public release in 2012, and went 1.0 GA earlier this year.

We’ve been watching Kotlin over the years, and have been increasingly impressed with what the language has to offer, as well as with its considerable uptake—particularly in the Android community.

Late last year, Hans sat down with a few folks from the JetBrains team, and they wondered together: what might it look like to have a Kotlin-based approach to writing Gradle build scripts and plugins? How might it help teams—especially big ones—work faster and write better structured, more maintainable builds?

The possibilities were enticing.

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Performance is a Feature

At Gradle Inc., we take build performance seriously. While we bundle performance improvements into every Gradle release, we’ve kicked off a concerted effort called a performance burst from Gradle 2.13 in order to make building software faster and more enjoyable for all of our users. In this blog post, we will explore how we approach performance issues, as well as what improvements to expect in the 2.13 release and beyond.

The fastest thing to do is nothing

Building software takes time, which is why the biggest performance improvement is cutting steps out of it entirely. That’s why, unlike traditional build tools such as Maven or Ant, Gradle focuses on incremental builds. Why would you ever run clean when you...

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Introducing Compile-Only Dependencies

One of the most highly-anticipated Gradle features has just arrived in Gradle 2.12: support for declaring compile-only dependencies. For Java developers familiar with Maven, compile-only dependencies function similarly to Maven’s provided scope, allowing you to declare non-transitive dependencies used only at compilation time. While a similar capability has been available for users of the Gradle War Plugin, compile-only dependencies can now be declared for all Java projects using the Java Plugin.

Compile-only dependencies address a number of use cases, including:

  • Dependencies required at compile time but never required at runtime, such as source-only annotations or annotation processors;
  • Dependencies required at compile time but required at runtime only when using certain features, a.k.a. optional dependencies;
  • Dependencies whose API is...

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Introducing TestKit: A Toolkit for Functionally Testing Gradle Build Logic

Automated testing is a necessary prerequisite for enabling software development practices like refactoring, Continuous Integration and Delivery. While writing unit, integration and functional tests for application code has become an industry norm, it is fair to say that testing for the build automation domain hasn’t made its way into the mainstream yet.

But why is it that we don’t apply the same proven practice of testing to build logic? Ultimately, build logic is as important as application code. It helps us to deliver production software to the customer in an automated, reproducible and reliable fashion. There might be many reasons to skip testing; however, one of the reasons that stands out is the data definition format used to formulate build logic. In...

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Buildship: From Inception to Inclusion in Eclipse

At Gradle, we believe that maintaining developer “flow state” is essential to building good software. And because we believe flow is essential, we assert that developers should not have to leave the IDE to build, and they should not have to know what functions are being performed by the IDE and what is delegated to the build system. It is also our vision that all build logic is kept exclusively in the build system and thus all work to calculate the project configuration, to build the project, to run the tests and to run an executable is delegated from the IDE to the build system. Hence the IDE maps the projects of the build, visualizes the build models, and displays the progress...

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Introducing Continuous Build Execution

Optimizing the build-edit-build loop

In the past, we’ve recommended that you enable the Gradle Daemon (and parallel execution, with some caveats) to get the best performance out of Gradle. We’ve also talked about using incremental builds to speed up your build-edit-build feedback loop by skipping unnecessary work. Now there’s another optimization available—one that allows you to get out of the way and let Gradle start the build for you.

As of 2.5, Gradle supports continuous build execution, which will automatically re-execute builds when changes are detected to its inputs. There have been a few community plugins that add support for a Gradle “watch” mode that do something similar.

With Maven, the same watch functionality needs to be implemented for each plugin...

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Introducing Incremental Build Support

Task inputs, outputs, and dependencies

Built-in tasks, like JavaCompile declare a set of inputs (Java source files) and a set of outputs (class files). Gradle uses this information to determine if a task is up-to-date and needs to perform any work. If none of the inputs or outputs have changed, Gradle can skip that task. Altogether, we call this behavior Gradle’s incremental build support.

To take advantage of incremental build support, you need to provide Gradle with information about your tasks’ inputs and outputs. It is possible to configure a task to only have outputs. Before executing the task, Gradle checks the outputs and will skip execution of the task if the outputs have not changed. In real builds, a task...

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Gradle's Support for Maven POM Profiles

Maven profiles provide the ability to customize build-time metadata under certain conditions, for example if a specific system property is set. A typical use case is applying certain configuration for different runtime environments such as Linux versus Windows. For example, the project being built may require different dependencies on these different platforms.

Implementing build-time profiles in Gradle projects

If you think about it, Maven profiles are logically nothing other than limited if statements. Gradle does not need a special construct for that. Why is this? Gradle utilizes a programming language, not XML, to define the build model. This gives you the full range of expression available in a programming language to define your criteria for certain parts of the...

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