Gradle First Look

I have put the Groovy based build system Gradle into use for a first project. The project is a deployable jar. This is intentionally the simplest form of project that you can build. I did not want to attempt anything larger given how difficult builds can be.

Gradle seems to have more in common with Maven than Ant. It has a more structured dependency management system than Ant using Ivy and it has a concept of plugins that implement packages of tasks that are designed to work together.

After a short time together, these are my thoughts:
  • Absolutely minimal configuration to get a build going
  • Compact Groovy syntax for depency resolution
  • Decent documentation
  • Truly scriptable like Ant or early Maven (even though Jelly was a hideous thing)
  • Big plans (let's hope they follow through)
  • Error messages are pretty unclear at the moment.
  • It doesn't yet feel 'intuitive' to use
  • Young project and many of the built-ins in Maven are not there yet: Cobertura, PMD, etc...
So far, the biggest drawback in the error messages. When learning a new system, I tend to rely on the messages it gives me for guidance and feedback. More often than not, I was left scratching my head. I really hope that Gradle gets the kinks worked out and is a good Maven competitor. I am tired of the endless XML in the POM files and the lack of scriptability it ensures.


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