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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Including Picasso

Oof, that was a lot of work. You’ll now do some work on the app itself. But before, and using the dependency management system of your preference, include Picasso in the module-level’s build.gradle.kts or build.gradle file — depending if you’re using Kotlin or Groovy —, under the dependencies block:

  • If using ext, add implementation "com.squareup.picasso:picasso:$picasso".
  • With buildSrc, add implementation(Dependencies.picasso).
  • If you prefer Version Catalogs, add implementation(libs.picasso) for Kotlin, or implementation libs.picasso for Groovy.

Sync the project. When ready, open ProfileActivity and add this function to load a user’s avatar:

// 1
private fun loadAvatar() {
  // 2

Also, be sure the following import is included:

import com.squareup.picasso.Picasso

Going step-by-step:

  1. You define a Kotlin function loadAvatar()
  2. You get a Picasso instance through the `get()` method. Next, you specify the URL of an image you want to load with the load(path: String!) method. The only thing left is to tell Picasso where you want this image to be shown by calling the into(target: ImageView!) method.

Add this function invocation at the end of onCreate(savedInstanceState: Bundle?) method of your ProfileActivity:


The last step, which even senior Android developers tend to forget, is to add the android.permission.INTERNET permission so that Picasso can download the image. Go to the AndroidManifest.xml file and add the following permission above the application tag:

<uses-permission android:name="android.permission.INTERNET" />

That’s all you need to show the user’s avatar. Build and run the project:

App with avatar

Configuring Gradle Dependency

The implementation keyword you previously used is a dependency configuration, which tells Gradle to add Picasso in such way that it’s not available to other modules. This option significantly speeds up the build time. You’ll use this keyword more often than others.

In some other cases, you may want your dependency to be accessible to other modules of your project. In those cases, you can use the api keyword.

As an example, let’s say you have a library module on your app, called ui. In that module, you include Picasso like so:

dependencies {
  // ...

Then, in your app module, you include the ui module:

dependencies {
  // ...

By including Picasso in the ui module through api, you make it accessible to the app module as well, even if you don’t explicitly include it in this module. This is not something you want to abuse though, as any dependency added to a module through api becomes part of that module’s public API — see where the keyword comes from?

In other words, changing a dependency added through api will force a recompilation of any modules that depend on the module the dependency is included in, just like it will happen if you change one of the public interfaces/methods in that module. That said, it can be useful in some cases — to enforce specific dependencies, for instance — but use it sparingly.

Apart from api and implementation, there other options like runtimeOnly and compileOnly configurations, which mark a dependency’s availability during runtime or compile time only.

Where to Go From Here?

Download the completed project files by clicking the Download Materials link at the top or bottom of the tutorial.

If you want to know more about Android’s build system, continue on to official documentation.

To learn about more advanced Gradle concepts like plugins and tasks, you can check the part 2 of this tutorial.

We hope you enjoyed this tutorial. If you have any questions or comments, please join the forum discussion below!