The ultimate Java tool battle: Maven vs. Gradle

The ultimate Java tool battle: Maven vs. Gradle

There are some battles that never end. When it comes to the java development build tools for a project, Maven vs Gradle is one such battle. The web is full of fierce defense and counter attacks with developers preferring either Maven or Gradle.

It’s always a puzzle which Java tool to choose.

Nowadays projects involve large and diverse software stacks, incorporate multiple programming languages, and apply a broad spectrum of testing strategies. Taking in mind the rise of agile practices, builds must support the early integration of code as well as frequent and easy delivery to both test and production environments.

Let’s take a quick look at the benefits of Maven and Gradle:


Introduced in 2002, Maven was a game changer for all the developers that suffer years of sweat because of the complex and scripts available at the moment.

With a great and simple dependency management, Maven plugins can be used to perform anything that isn’t cover by the normal build process. As you know there is a sea of plugins available and every major vendor is supporting a Maven version of plugin.

Maven supports a high number of build lifecycle steps. This tool also integrates well with many 3rd party tools involved in the software build process, like code coverage plugins, CI servers or artifact repository systems.


First introduced in 2007, Gradle gained a lot of traction only at the beginning of 2010. Three years later, in 2013, Google chose Gradle as the build system for their Android projects.

Gradle is a build automation tool that integrates and improves Ant and Maven fundamentals. This build tool is based on Groovy, a programming language. So, instead of XML’s, the build script will be in Groovy code. Also, the Gradle Java tool uses Maven’s directory structure which can be customized.

Gradle has its own central repository but can also use Maven’s repository to manage dependencies.

But which one to choose?

The choice between Maven and Gradle is still not an easy one to make because both are very capable tools.

Maven is using configuration written in XML and on bigger projects it can have hundreds of lines of code without actually doing anything “special”.

In the case of Maven, dependencies management does not handle well conflicts between different versions of the same library. The customization of goals is hard and since this buid tool is focused mostly on dependency management, customized build scripts are difficult to write in Maven.

In one hand Gradle is much more powerful than Maven because it brings the power of a real programming language to the build scripts. That is why it’s no surprise that big companies are using Gradle to customize their build chain.

With Google choosing Gradle as the new build system for Android SDK and mature libraries there is no doubt that this tool is becoming de-facto build system for the Java ecosystem.

Keep in mind that Maven can be extended with Ant tasks, but can be tedious and not very productive. In the other hand, Gradle with Groovy brings it to the next level.

What Java tool is your hero?

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