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Which build tool is more commonly used for Spring Boot, Maven or Gradle?

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In this tutorial we are going to learn about Maven and Gradle in detail.


Gradle is an open-source build automation tool that is designed to be flexible enough to build almost any type of software, It is fully open source and similar to Maven and Ant. But Gradle has taken advantage of both Maven and Ant and also it has removed the disadvantages of Maven and Ant and created as a first-class built tool.

It uses domain-specific language based on the programming language Groovy, differentiating it from Apache Maven, which uses XML for its project configuration. Gradle allows to create or customize built procedure and we can create an additional task with groovy scripts that can be executed before/after built. It also determines the order of tasks run by using a directed acyclic graph.

Several developers created Gradle and first released in 2007, and in 2013, it was adopted by Google as the build system for Android projects. It was designed to support multi-project builds that are expected to be quite huge. It also allows for incrementally adding to your build, because it knows which parts of your project are updated. Tasks that are dependent on updated parts are no longer re-executed. It supports the development and subsequent deployment using Java, Scala, and Groovy, with other project workflows and languages being introduced in the future.

Gradle runs on the JVM and you must have a Java Development Kit (JDK) installed to use it. This is a bonus for users familiar with the Java platform as you can use the standard Java APIs in your build logic, such as custom task types and plugins. It also makes it easy to run Gradle on different platforms.

Note that Gradle isn’t limited to building just JVM projects, and it even comes packaged with support for building native projects.

Several major IDEs allow you to import Gradle builds and interact with them: Android Studio, IntelliJ IDEA, Eclipse, and NetBeans. Gradle also has support for generating the solution files required to load a project into Visual Studio.

Build scans provide extensive information about a build run that you can use to identify build issues. They are particularly good at helping you to identify problems with a build’s performance. You can also share build scans with others, which is particularly useful if you need to ask for advice in fixing an issue with the build.

As Gradle runs on the JVM, build scripts can also use the standard Java API. Groovy build scripts can additionally use the Groovy APIs, while Kotlin build scripts can use the Kotlin ones.


Maven is used for project build automation using Java. It helps you map out how a particular software is built, as well as its different dependencies. It uses an XML file to describe the project that you are building, the dependencies of the software with regards to third-party modules and parts, the build order, as well as the needed plugins. There are pre-defined targets for tasks such as packaging and compiling.

Maven will download libraries and plugins from the different repositories and then puts them all in a cache on your local machine. While predominantly used for Java projects, you can use it for Scala, Ruby, and C#, as well as a host of other languages.

Gradle vs. Maven

There are some fundamental differences in the way that the two systems approach builds. Gradle is based on a graph of task dependencies – in which tasks are the things that do the work – while Maven is based on a fixed and linear model of phases. With Maven, goals are attached to project phases, and goals serve a similar function to Gradle’s tasks, being the “things that do the work.”

Performance-wise, both allow for multi-module builds to run in parallel. However, Gradle allows for incremental builds because it checks which tasks are updated or not. If it is, then the task is not executed, giving you much shorter build time. Other distinguishing performance features you can find on Gradle include:

  • Incremental compilations for Java classes
  • Compile avoidance for Java
  • The use of APIs for incremental subtasks
  • A compiler daemon that also makes compiling a lot faster

When it comes to managing dependencies, both Gradle and Maven can handle dynamic and transitive dependencies, to use third-party dependency caches, and to read POM metadata format. You can also declare library versions via central versioning definition and enforce central versioning. Both download transitive dependencies from their artifact repositories. Maven has Maven Central while Gradle has JCenter, and you can define your own private company repository as well. If there are several dependencies required, Maven can download these simultaneously.

Gradle, however, wins when it comes to API and implementation dependencies, as well as inherently allowing concurrent safe caches. It also keeps repository metadata along with cached dependencies, ensuring that two or more projects using the same cache will not overwrite each other, and it has a checksum-based cache and can synchronize cache with the repository. Furthermore, Gradle is compatible with IVY Metadata, allowing you to define custom rules to specify a version for a dynamic dependency, and resolving version conflicts. These are not available on Maven.

Other dependency management features that you can find only on Gradle are:

  • The use of substitution rules for compatible libraries
  • The use of ReplacedBy rules
  • Better metadata resolution

The ability to dynamically replace project dependencies with external ones, and vice versa Gradle also gives you an easier time when working with composite builds, and it enables you to work with ad-hoc and permanent composite builds, as well as combine different builds and importing a composite build into Eclipse of IntelliJ IDEA.

As far as execution models are concerned, both have task groups and descriptions. Both enable you to build only the specified project and its dependencies. Gradle, however, has a fully configurable DAG, while with Maven, a goal can be attached only to one other goal. Multiple goals take on the form of an ordered list. Gradle also allows task exclusions, transitive exclusions, and task dependency inference. Gradle also has advanced features for task ordering and finalizers, among others.

Administering build infrastructure is another strong point for Gradle as it uses wrappers that accept auto-provisioning, while with Maven, you need to have an extension to support self-provisioning builds. Gradle also enables you to configure version-based build environments without having to set these up manually. It also allows custom distributions.

So, after going through the above discussion Gradle is an awesome tool than Maven.