gradle vs maven
Integration of services

Gradle vs Maven: Definitions and main Differences

There are two leading software development tools that have gained ground in recent years. Today, one is more widely used and esteemed than the other in the world of computing. We are of course talking about the famous Gradle vs Maven dichotomy.

We invite you to learn all about these programming tools and their differences with regards to performance, user experience, flexibility, and dependency management, so that you can find the one that best suits your needs.

What is Maven?

Maven is a software project management tool. It is mainly used for Java projects and utilizes concepts from Apache Ant.

It is widely used in WSO2 projects and is very customizable. This allows you to complete complex tasks quickly, reusing results from previous executions.

The configuration of a project is based on an XML file, which includes the requirements for the build.

Maven adds the following features to Apache Ant:

  • Repositories Management: These are locations that store the jars necessary for the build. There are three repositories: local, central, and remote. The first is located on the machine where the build is performed, and the other two are accessed remotely via http. Maven focuses first on the local repository for a jar search. If it cannot find it, it will search remotely and download it to local to speed up future builds.
  • Dependencies Management: These are declarations of the jars that the project requires for its construction.
  • Lifecycle Management: Part of previously defined goals and phases.

Project example HelloWorld in maven (pom.xml)

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<project xmlns="http://maven.apache.org/POM/4.0.0" xmlns:xsi="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema-instance"
    xsi:schemaLocation="http://maven.apache.org/POM/4.0.0 https://maven.apache.org/xsd/maven-4.0.0.xsd">
    <modelVersion>4.0.0</modelVersion>

    <groupId>org.springframework</groupId>
    <artifactId>gs-maven</artifactId>
    <packaging>jar</packaging>
    <version>0.1.0</version>

    <properties>
        <maven.compiler.source>1.8</maven.compiler.source>
        <maven.compiler.target>1.8</maven.compiler.target>
    </properties>

    <dependencies>
        <dependency>
            <groupId>joda-time</groupId>
            <artifactId>joda-time</artifactId>
            <version>2.9.2</version>
        </dependency>
        <dependency>
            <groupId>junit</groupId>
            <artifactId>junit</artifactId>
            <version>4.12</version>
            <scope>test</scope>
        </dependency>
    </dependencies>

</project>
  • Customization: In order to add a goal it is necessary to develop a Java plugin extending the AbstractMojo class and later add it to the pom.xml file.
<build>
  <plugins>
    <plugin>
      <groupId>sample.plugin</groupId>
      <artifactId>hello-maven-plugin</artifactId>
      <version>1.0-SNAPSHOT</version>
      <executions>
        <execution>
          <phase>compile</phase>
          <goals>
            <goal>sayhi</goal>
          </goals>
        </execution>
      </executions>
    </plugin>
  </plugins>
</build>      

What is Gradle?

Gradle is an open-source automation tool. It gained rapid popularity since it was essentially designed for multiprojects builds using Apache Maven concepts.

Gradle primarily enhances the following features of Maven:

  • Language: Gradle does not use the XML language. It is based on DSL since it focuses on solving a specific problem, collaborating on highly structured, efficient, and maintainable builds for multiple projects.
  • Lifecycle Management: It adds the ability to support the entire software life process (including compilation, testing, statistical analysis, and implementation).

Same project example HelloWorld in gradle (settings.gradle)

apply plugin: 'java'
apply plugin: 'eclipse'
apply plugin: 'application'

mainClassName = 'hello.HelloWorld'

repositories {
    mavenCentral()
}

jar {
    baseName = 'gs-gradle'
    version =  '0.1.0'
}

sourceCompatibility = 1.8
targetCompatibility = 1.8

dependencies {
    compile "joda-time:joda-time:2.2"
    testCompile "junit:junit:4.12"
}
  • Customization: In order to customize a task, just add it to the groovy file (build.gradle).
println 'This is executed during the configuration phase.'

task configured {
    println 'This is also executed during the configuration phase.'
}

Gradle vs Maven: Main Differences

The major differences between Maven and Gradle are highlighted below.

Gradle Maven
Gradle’s construction time is short and fast Maven’s performance is slower than Gradle’s
Gradle’s scripts are much shorter and cleaner Maven’s scripts are slightly longer than Gradle’s
It uses domain specific language (DSL) It uses XML
It is based on the task through which the work carried out In Maven, objectives linked to the project are defined
It supports Java class incremental compilations  It does not support incremental compilations
Support for continuous integration tools Support for most continuous integration tools

Maven or Gradle? Which One Should I Choose?

The key is flexibility. If the project can be managed with standard goals or with minimal customization, then Maven is enough. However, if the project requires different behaviors based on multiple construction time variables, then Gradle may respond more effectively.

If you want more details about these powerful tools, contact us and we will advise you without obligation.

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Written By

Gustavo Vázquez

Solution Architect