Gradle Tutorial for Android: Getting Started – Part 1

In this Gradle Build Script tutorial, you’ll learn the basic syntax in build.gradle files generated by Android Studio. You’ll also learn about gradlew tasks, different dependency management techniques, and how to add a new dependency to your app. By Ricardo Costeira.

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Graduating to the Settings Files

The next file will be quite short in comparison to the previous. Move to the settings.gradle file in the root directory. Here’s what you’ll see:

include ':app'

Here, you define all of your project’s modules by name. You have only one module – app. In a large, multi-module project, this file can have a much longer list.

Using New(er) Gradle Configurations

This is the structure that you typically find in older Android projects. It’s still perfectly valid, but if you create a new project on Android Studio, you’ll notice that the configuration is different for settings.gradle and project-level build.gradle.

You’ll now migrate Socializify’s configuration to the newer structure. Start by opening the project-level build.gradle. Delete everything, and paste the following:

plugins {
    id "" version "8.2.2" apply false
    id "" version "1.9.20" apply false

tasks.register('clean', Delete) {
    delete rootProject.buildDir

The plugins block replaces the previous dependencies block. Here, you declare the plugins you want to apply to the project. As you don’t want to apply these plugins at the root level, you write them with apply false at the end. You can then apply them to your modules, through the corresponding module-level Gradle file, by using a plugins {} block without the version (i.e., as you already did before).

The repositories block now belongs in settings.gradle. Open the file and add this code above the include ":app" line:

// 1
pluginManagement {
  repositories {

// 2
dependencyResolutionManagement {
  repositories {

In this code:

  1. You define a pluginManagement block where you declare the repositories for plugins. Gradle uses these to resolve plugins like the ones you just added in build.gradle. You can also use this block for things like defining plugins with specific versions, adding a resolutionStrategy block to detail how to resolve plugins, etc.
  2. Define a dependencyResolutionManagement block where you declare the repositories for dependencies. Gradle uses these to resolve library dependencies you include in the project. You also define a RepositoriesMode. By default, any repositories you declare in a project’s build.gradle will override the ones you declare in settings.gradle. By setting repositoriesMode to FAIL_ON_PROJECT_REPOS, you effectively force the build to fail if any repositories are declared outside this file.

The Android build system suggests having repositories declarations in settings.gradle since Gradle 7. It provides a centralized repository declaration available to all projects, instead of repeating repository declarations across all sub-projects. Plus, Gradle needs to resolve all plugins in order to configure the build. Since settings.gradle is executed before build.gradle, it makes sense to have the plugin management there so that it gets dealt with sooner.

After these changes, your project is out of sync. To fix this, press the Sync Now call to action at the top of the editor:

Sync Now

Don’t be afraid to re-sync your project. It takes a short while until the sync is completed, but it takes longer when you have more dependencies and more code in your project.

The project should build successfully. The .gradle files are now equivalent to the .gradle.kts files, with the appropriate changes in syntax. You’ll soon get to touch those as well, but your next step is to learn how to use Gradle.

Mastering the Build: Gradle Commands

To execute Gradle commands, use the command line or Android Studio. It’s better to start with the command line to get better acquainted with what’s going on. For this, you’ll use gradlew.

Defining gradlew

gradlew is the Gradle Wrapper. You don’t need to worry about installating Gradle on your computer – the wrapper will do that for you. Even more, it’ll allow you to have different projects built with various versions of Gradle.

Open your command line and move to the root directory of the starter project:

cd path/to/your/project/SocializifyStarter/

Executing gradlew Tasks

Execute the following command:

./gradlew tasks

You’ll see a list containing all available tasks:

> Task :tasks

Tasks runnable from root project 'SocializifyStarter'

Android tasks
androidDependencies - Displays the Android dependencies of the project.

Build tasks
assemble - Assemble main outputs for all the variants.

Build Setup tasks
init - Initializes a new Gradle build.

Help tasks

Install tasks

Verification tasks
lint - Runs lint on the default variant.

To see all tasks and more detail, run gradlew tasks --all

To see more detail about a task, run gradlew help --task <task>

These commands exist to help you with tasks like project initialization, building, testing and analyzing. If you forget a specific command, just execute ./gradlew tasks to refresh your memory.

gradlew assemble

Skim the list of commands again, and find commands starting with assemble under the Build tasks section. Run the first command:

./gradlew assemble

Which will output something like:

74 actionable tasks: 74 executed

Verify the output by running the following command:

ls -R app/build/outputs/apk

The ls command displays all files and directories in the specified directory. The -R parameter forces this command to execute recursively. In other words, you’ll not only see the contents of the specified directory but also of child directories.

You’ll get the following output:

debug   release

app-debug.apk        output-metadata.json

app-release-unsigned.apk output-metadata.json

Gradle generated both debug and release apks.

gradlew lint

Run the command:

./gradlew lint

The lint command, and any commands that start with lint, analyzes the whole project looking for various mistakes, typos or vulnerabilities. The first command will find all the issues in a project with both critical and minor severity.

You’ll get the output with the link to a report with the results:

> Task :app:lintReportDebug
Wrote HTML report to file:///path/to/project/SocializifyStarter/app/build/reports/lint-results-debug.html

23 actionable tasks: 6 executed, 17 up-to-date

Review the report by typing the following on MacOS:

open app/build/reports/lint-results-debug.html

or on Linux:

xdg-open app/build/reports/lint-results-debug.html

The default browser on your computer will open with the specified file:

Lint report

More lint report

You can inspect all the issues found with code snippets and an expanded description of a possible solution. However, don’t focus too much on all of these issues – pay attention to the critical ones and fix them immediately. Minor issues shouldn’t necessarily warrant a refactoring, depending upon your team’s guidelines and processes.