How to Automate Tasks Using Gradle in Android Studio

Blair Fernandes
4 min readJun 18, 2023
Photo by Kenny Eliason on Unsplash

Automation is key to improving productivity and efficiency in software development. In this post, we will explore how to leverage Gradle, the build automation tool for Android projects, to automate repetitive tasks and streamline your development workflow. Whether it’s building, testing, or deploying your app, Gradle can save you time and effort by automating these processes.

Automating Build Tasks

One of the most common tasks to automate is the build process itself. With Gradle, you can define custom build configurations and automate the execution of build tasks. Let’s consider an example where we want to create a separate build variant for a staging environment. Add the following to your project’s build.gradle file:

android {
buildTypes {
staging {
// Configure the staging build type
}
}
}

By defining the staging build type in your project’s build.gradle file, you can easily build your app with the staging variant, which can have separate configurations for testing or integration with a staging environment.

Running Custom Tasks

In addition to the built-in tasks provided by Gradle, you can create your own custom tasks to automate specific actions in your app development pipeline. Here are some examples of custom tasks which you can define in your project’s build.gradle file:

1. Copying Files

task copyFiles(type: Copy) {
from 'source_directory'
into 'destination_directory'
include '**/*.txt' // Copy only .txt files
}

This task copies all .txt files from the source_directory to the destination_directory. You can specify different file patterns to include or exclude specific files.

2. Running Tests

task runTests(type: Test) {
testClassesDirs = sourceSets.test.output.classesDirs
classpath = sourceSets.test.runtimeClasspath
}

This task configures and runs the tests for your project. It sets the test classes directories and classpath to the appropriate source sets to ensure that the tests are executed correctly.

3. Generating Documentation

task generateDocumentation(type: Exec) {
executable = 'doxygen'
args 'config_file'
workingDir 'doc'
}

This task executes the doxygen command-line tool with the specified config_file to generate documentation. It also sets the working directory to the doc folder where the configuration file is located.

4. Cleaning Build Artifacts

task cleanBuildArtifacts(type: Delete) {
delete rootProject.buildDir
}

Executing the cleanBuildArtifacts task will delete the build directory and its contents, ensuring a clean slate for subsequent builds.

You can run these custom tasks manually by executing the following command in the terminal: ./gradlew taskName, for example `./gradlew cleanBuildArtifacts.

Task Hooks and Triggers

Hooks and triggers in Gradle allow you to define tasks that are executed before or after a task is run. They provide a way to add custom logic or additional tasks that should be executed as part of the task lifecycle. Let’s explore the concepts of task hooks and triggers with some examples:

Pre-task Hook: A pre-task hook is an action that runs before a specific task. It allows you to set up any necessary prerequisites or perform any required setup before the task execution. Here’s an example:

task preBuild {
doLast {
println "Executing preBuild task"
// Perform pre-build actions here
}
}

task build {
dependsOn preBuild
doLast {
println "Executing build task"
// Build logic goes here
}
}

In this example, the preBuild task acts as a pre-task hook for the build task. The preBuild task is executed before the build task and can perform any required setup or actions.

Post-task Hook: A post-task hook is an action that runs after a specific task has completed its execution. It allows you to perform any necessary cleanup, generate reports, or execute additional tasks. Here’s an example:

task postBuild {
doLast {
println "Executing postBuild task"
// Perform post-build actions here
}
}

task build {
doLast {
println "Executing build task"
// Build logic goes here
}
finalizedBy postBuild
}

In this example, the postBuild task acts as a post-task hook for the build task. The postBuild task is executed after the build task has completed its execution. You can add any required cleanup or additional tasks in the postBuild task.

Triggers: Triggers allow you to define custom actions that are executed when a specific condition is met. They provide flexibility in defining custom behavior based on certain events or properties. Here’s an example:

task test {
doLast {
println "Executing test task"
// Run test logic
}
}

task runTests {
dependsOn test
onlyIf { project.hasProperty('runTests') }
doLast {
println "Running tests..."
// Additional test execution logic
}
}

In this example, the runTests task acts as a trigger that is executed only if the runTests property is defined when invoking the build. You can customize the condition inside the onlyIf closure to suit your requirements. The runTests task runs additional test execution logic when the condition is met.

Conclusion

In this post, we have explored how to automate tasks using Gradle in Android Studio. By harnessing the power of Gradle’s build automation capabilities, you can save time and effort in your development workflow. From automating builds and defining task dependencies to creating custom tasks and integrating with CI/CD platforms, Gradle offers a wide range of features to streamline your Android app development. Embrace automation and take your development process to the next level with Gradle!

Note: This post provides an overview of automating tasks using Gradle. It is recommended to consult the Gradle documentation and relevant resources for in-depth understanding and implementation details.

--

--

Blair Fernandes

I am a passionate programmer 💻, geek 🤓 & an avid gamer🎮