Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A Quick Look At Gradle

I'd say up until a month or so ago, I knew about Gradle but I had no real idea what it offered. I knew it was more elaborate than Gant, but that was all.

It's about time I took a closer look at Gradle. The most obvious cool feature is that you can write your build scripts using Groovy. This is sweet. Beyond that, it is probably easiest to list Gradle's own summary, as of this writing:
  • A very flexible general purpose build tool like Ant.
  • Switchable, build-by-convention frameworks a la Maven, for Java, Groovy and Scala projects. But we never lock you in!
  • Groovy build scripts.
  • Powerful support for multi-project builds.
  • Powerful dependency management (based on Apache Ivy).
  • Full support for your existing Maven or Ivy repository infrastructure.
  • Support for transitive dependency management without the need for remote repositories and pom.xml or ivy.xml files (optional).
  • Ant tasks and builds as first class citizens.
So... dependency management? check. multi project builds? check. Easy to write general purpose scripts? check.

What I think has extremely high potential is the idea of pluggable build frameworks, a la maven support. Use all of the best pieces of tools from one - Gradle. I think they could go a really long way with this, and it will remain a strong contender as I also take a closer look at some of the new Maven 3 features.

Downloading and extracting, one thing is immediately obvious. Comprehensive documentation and examples FOR THE WIN!

I can't even describe how frustrating playing with maven 2 was three years ago. Documentation was hard to understand, and the basic example tutorials just didn't cover my needs. I ended up banging my head a lot, when all I really needed was some good sample poms illustrating all of the tool's features. Gradle provides this out of the box and scores major points for it. I haven't even looked at the website docs in detail yet, but they seem easy to follow.

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