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Gradle on steroids

November 17, 2019

I’ve been experimenting with the Gradle build tool and the final hurdle, while converting one of my Maven projects, was to produce a tagged release.

For simple projects I’m a big fan of Axel Fontaine’s “Maven on Steroids” pattern. Whilst Gradle has a number of release and version plugins (,,,, they are all quite heavyweight and I couldn’t find one that enabled this simple versioning approach. After lots of Googling and some experimentation, the following seems to work quite well.

Configure your gradle build

Step 1: Create a version.gradle file

In the project’s root directory create a version.gradle file and populate with 0-SNAPSHOT. 0-SNAPSHOT will be the default version number and is used for local snapshot builds. We’ll override this during the CI build process.

// ${rootDir}/version.gradle
project.version = "0-SNAPSHOT"

Then plug the new version file into your Gradle build like so:

// ${rootDir}/build.gradle
allprojects {
apply from: "${rootDir}/version.gradle"

Step 2: Setup your CI build to update your projects version

I’m using CircleCI for this particular project, so I’ve added a task to re-version the build with the appropriate version number - in this case, taken from the tag.

- run:
name: If we're building a tag, set the version to that of the tag
command: |
if [ -n "$CIRCLE_TAG" ]; \
then \
sed -i -e "s/0-SNAPSHOT/$CIRCLE_TAG/g" version.gradle; \

And we’re done

Using this approach we have a really lightweight way to version releases which doesn’t resort to the lengthy workflow of the Maven release plugin.