Something that has haunted me since last semester is Gradle. Gradle is a flexible tool used in the automation process that can build nearly any software and allows for the testing of that software to happen automatically. I know how to use it, but it has been difficult for me to understand how Gradle actually works. So I wanted to do some research and attempt to rectify this.

Gradle’s own user manual, linked below in the ‘Sources’ section, provides a high-level summary of the tool’s inner workings that has been instrumental in developing my own understanding of it. According to the manual, Gradle “models its builds as Directed Acyclic Graphs (DAGs) of tasks (units of work).” When building a project, Gradle will set up a series of tasks to be linked together. This linkage, which considers the dependencies of each task, forms the DAG. This modeling is accessible to most build processes, which allows Gradle to be so flexible. The actual tasks consist of actions, inputs, and outputs.

Gradle’s build lifecycle is comprised of three phases: initialization, configuration, and execution. During the initialization phase, Gradle establishes the environment the build will utilize and determines which projects are involved in the build. The configuration phase builds the Directed Acyclic Graph discussed previously. It evaluates the project’s code, configures the tasks that need to be executed, and it determines the order in which those tasks must be executed. This evaluation happens every time the build is run. Those tasks are then executed during the execution phase.


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