Everything you need to know about Gradle – The Ultimate DevOps Tool

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DevOps is a practice where we see collaboration between the Development and Operations team. It helps both the teams to deploy code in an automated and repeatable way. The word DevOps is made up of combining the words Development and Operations. 

DevOps emphasizes a shift in mindset with better collaboration and tighter integration between the teams. Both the teams will become more efficient, innovative and deliver high value to a business as well as the customers. 

How does DevOps work?

DevOps can be implemented through tools (such as Gradle), processes and automation. However, it also needs strong teams and transparency between the departments. Let us see the DevOps’ approach to the complete business delivery system.

  • Firstly, cross-functional teams are created that include developers, designers, operations, testers, and other support professionals. This team together plans the software project
  • The design team gives the design of the software to be deployed.
  • The development team develops the code 
  • The code is automatically tested and deployed for a small group of users.

If the code is found to be stable, it is deployed to the rest of the users. If some errors or bugs are found, they can be quickly rectified. Most of these steps are done automatically which saves a lot of time and energy.

How Gradle can be helpful as a DevOps Tool?

Gradle is an open-source automation system which is mainly popular in Java, Groovy ecosystems. It is a project automation tool build on the concept of Apache Ant and Apache Maven. It uses a directed acyclic graph (DAG) to determine the order of tasks to be performed. 

What is a project and task in Gradle?

A project in Gradle represents what has to be built and leads to an artifact at the end of the build. For instance, the : app module on Android is a project in Gradle. The projects in Gradle are registered in the settings.gradle file. 

A task in Gradle is an illustration of actions that are to be executed during the build process. For instance, the compilation of Java code is initiated by a task. They are defined in the project script and may or may not have dependencies with each other.

Now that you are familiar with the basics of Gradle, let us have a look at some of the remarkable features of Gradle that makes it a perfect tool for DevOps. 

Key features of Gradle as a DevOps tool

  •  Declarative builds and build-by-convention

Gradle comes with a separate Domain Specific Language (DSL) based on the Groovy language. Along with that, it offers declarative language elements that offer build-by-convention support for languages such as Java, Groovy, OSGi and Scala.

  • Automate everything

A plus point that makes Gradle beneficial for DevOps is that the teams can use its rich API and mature ecosystem of plugins to get ambitious about automation. They can easily model, integrate, and systemize the delivery of their software from end to end. The API allows you to monitor and customize its configuration and execution behavior to its core. 

  •  Deliver faster

It can increase the productivity from a simple and single project builds to huge ones. The business and organizations can scale-out development with elegant and blazing fast models with the help of Gradle. From compile avoidance to advanced caching, Gradle can help you out.

  •  Multi-project builds

Another remarkable feature of Gradle is that provides support for both multi-project builds as well as partial builds. If you want to build a subproject, Gradle will build all the subprojects that it depends on. 

  • Task-based approach 

Do you have a project in which you wrote a number of bash scripts for various actions? Maybe these scripts have a common code which is put in a separate file. Sometimes, you need to process command line arguments for these scripts and check if a certain condition is met or not. For instance, you may want to skip the download if the file already exists.

Let us understand the underlying pattern in such projects. You will find tasks available for execution and dependencies between these tasks. Though using bash makes your project portable, but you have to write code for both command line arguments and dependencies. You also have to document the tasks and keep the documentation updated.

Gradle can handle all the tasks and their dependencies in a consistent way.

Now that you are familiar with Gradle, let us read about the build phases that Gradle goes through.

Gradle build phases

  •  The initialization phase

During the initialization phase, Gradle tries to identify all the projects that are involved in the build process. Gradle needs to know whether it is a single-project or a multi-project build. 

To identify the different projects, Gradle uses the settings.gradle file. At the end of this phase, Gradle creates an instance of org.gradle.api.Project corresponding to each project.   

  • The configuration phase

In the configuration phase, Gradle executes the build scripts identified during the initialization phase. Note that it does not mean that the tasks in those scripts will be executed too. Instead, Gradle uses them to build a Directed Acyclic Graph of task objects. 

  • The execution phase

The last phase is the execution phase where Gradle identifies the tasks needed to be executed based on the DAG created during the configuration phase. It then executes them as per their dependency order. 

All the build work and activities such as compiling source code, copying files, uploading archives, etc. are done during this phase.

To sum up

If you follow the best practices for DevOps and use the best tools such as Gradle for continuous Integration, Testing Automation, Continuous delivery and monitoring, you can help your staff stay updated and take the real-time decision quickly. 

DevOps can be seen as a concept with different interpretation, but deep down it is all about developers and operations team working together to achieve better solutions and applications. 

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