In this short series, we are going to dig a bit in how one writes a gradle plugin. Our plugins won’t do anything useful except some println; however I hope to manage to explain some concept and to save you some time in case you have to write one. The source code for this tutorial is available on github at https://github.com/andreabergia/sample-gradle-plugin.

Our first plugin

The repository is split in two projects: gradleplugin and usage. Quite obviously, gradleplugin defines our plugin, while usage is a trivial gradle project that uses our plugin.

As explained in the Gradle manual, writing a plugin can be done in various variants of the two following ways:

  • including the code of the plugin in your project;
  • packaging the plugin into a jar (or multiple) and publishing it.

In this tutorial we’re going to take the second approach, since it’s the one that leads to the best code reuse. The relevant commit is at https://github.com/andreabergia/sample-gradle-plugin/tree/6590aeb7576f937a82ad5c738ce383ea0df92168.

Let’s start by taking a look at our plugin class:

package com.andreabergia.sample.gradleplugin

import org.gradle.api.Plugin
import org.gradle.api.Project

class SamplePlugin implements Plugin<Project> {
    void apply(Project project) {
        // Define a new task
        project.task('sample-task') << {
            println "Hello from our sample plugin!"
        }
    }
}

Inside the apply method of a Plugin class, you can do anything you’d write directly in a build.gradle file. In this case, we are defining a new task, whose job is simply to write a line to the console, using println.

Now let’s take a look at the rest of the project. In the src/main/resources directory, we have created a file META-INF/gradle-plugins/gradle-sample.properties with this content:

implementation-class=com.andreabergia.sample.gradleplugin.SamplePlugin

When we will take a look at how this plugin can be used by another project, we will be able to simply write:

apply plugin: 'gradle-sample'

and this will automatically execute our plugin class. As you probably have noticed, the name of the properties file is the string that the users of our plugin can use when calling apply plugin.

The build.gradle file is pretty standard:

repositories {
    mavenLocal()
}

apply plugin: 'groovy'
apply plugin: 'java-gradle-plugin'

compileGroovy.options.encoding = 'UTF-8'

group = 'com.andreabergia.sample.gradleplugin'
version = '1.0.0-SNAPSHOT'

dependencies {
    compile localGroovy()
    compile gradleApi()
}

apply plugin: 'maven-publish'
publishing {
    publications {
        mavenJava(MavenPublication) {
            from components.java
        }
    }
}

task wrapper(type: Wrapper) {
    gradleVersion = '2.13'
}

We use the groovy plugin, rather than the java one, since writing gradle plugins in Groovy is quite common and generally a bit simpler than writing them in Java. Notice that you are not required to do so; writing plugins in Java is absolutely possible and it is done in some of the standard plugins.

Since a running Gradle instance already includes a Groovy environment, we add localGroovy() to our project’s dependencies. We also add gradleApi() to be able to use the Gradle’s classes, such as Project and Plugin. Finally there’s a simple, standard usage of the maven-publish plugin and the usual wrapper task.

Using the plugin

Let’s now take a look at how we can use this plugin. The file usage/build.gradle shows you how that is done:

repositories {
    mavenLocal()
}

buildscript {
    repositories {
        mavenLocal()
    }
    dependencies {
        classpath 'com.andreabergia.sample.gradleplugin:gradleplugin:1.0.0-SNAPSHOT'
    }
}


group = 'com.andreabergia.sample.gradleplugin'
version = '1.0.0-SNAPSHOT'

apply plugin: 'gradle-sample'


task wrapper(type: Wrapper) {
    gradleVersion = '2.13'
}

In the buildscript section, we add our plugin to the classpath. This ensure that the call to apply plugin can find the plugin. As we have discussed before, gradle will use the properties file included in the plugin implementation to find the correct class to instantiate and execute.

If we now go to the usage directory and try to invoke our task, everything works:

$ ./gradlew sample-task
:sample-task
Hello from our sample plugin!

BUILD SUCCESSFUL

Conclusions

For the moment we haven’t done much more than what is explained on the Gradle manual, other than discussing in some details the packaging of the plugin. In the next part we will create a proper class to execute our tasks, and we will see how we can configure it.