Java Build Automation Part 2: Create executable jar using Gradle


Original title: How to build a lean JAR File with Gradle

2016-11-14-19_15_52

In this step by step guide, we will show that Gradle is a good alternative to Maven for packaging java code into executable jar files. In order to keep the executable jar files “lean”, we will keep the dependent jar files outside of the jar in a separate folder.

Tools Used

  1. Maven 3.3.9
  2. JDK 1.8.0_101
  3. log4j 1.2.17 (downloaded automatically)
  4. Joda-time 2.5 (downloaded automatically)
  5. Git-2.8.4 with GNU bash 4.3.42(5)

Why using Gradle for a Maven Project?

In this blog post, we will show how Gradle can be used to create a executable/runnable jar. The task has been accomplished on this popular Mkyong blog post by using Maven. Why would we want to do the same task using Gradle?

By working with both, Maven and Gradle, I have found that:

  • Gradle allows me to move any resource file to outside of the jar without the need of any additional Linux script or alike;
  • Gradle allows me to easily create an executable/runnable jar for the JUnit tests, even if those are not separated into a separate project.

Moreover, while Maven is descriptive, Gradle is procedural in nature. With Maven, you describe the goal and you rely on Maven and its plugins to perform the steps you had in mind. Whereas with Gradle, you have explicit control on each step of the build process. Gradle is easy to understand for programmers and it gives them fine-grained control over the build process.

The Goal: a lean, executable JAR File

In the following step by step guide, we will create a lean executable jar file with all dependent libraries and resources.

Step 1 Download Hello World Maven Project of Mkyong

Download this hello world Maven project you can find on this popular HowTo page from Mkyong:

curl -OJ http://www.mkyong.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/maven-create-a-jar.zip
unzip maven-create-a-jar.zip
cd dateUtils

Logs:

$ curl -OJ http://www.mkyong.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/maven-create-a-jar.zip
  % Total    % Received % Xferd  Average Speed   Time    Time     Time  Current
                                 Dload  Upload   Total   Spent    Left  Speed
100  7439  100  7439    0     0  23722      0 --:--:-- --:--:-- --:--:-- 24963

olive@LAPTOP-P5GHOHB7  /d/veits/eclipseWorkspaceRecent/MkYong/ttt
$ unzip maven-create-a-jar.zip
Archive:  maven-create-a-jar.zip
   creating: dateUtils/
  inflating: dateUtils/.classpath
  inflating: dateUtils/.DS_Store
   creating: __MACOSX/
   creating: __MACOSX/dateUtils/
  inflating: __MACOSX/dateUtils/._.DS_Store
  inflating: dateUtils/.project
   creating: dateUtils/.settings/
  inflating: dateUtils/.settings/org.eclipse.jdt.core.prefs
  inflating: dateUtils/log4j.properties
  inflating: dateUtils/pom.xml
   creating: dateUtils/src/
   creating: dateUtils/src/main/
   creating: dateUtils/src/main/java/
   creating: dateUtils/src/main/java/com/
   creating: dateUtils/src/main/java/com/mkyong/
   creating: dateUtils/src/main/java/com/mkyong/core/
   creating: dateUtils/src/main/java/com/mkyong/core/utils/
  inflating: dateUtils/src/main/java/com/mkyong/core/utils/App.java
   creating: dateUtils/src/main/resources/
  inflating: dateUtils/src/main/resources/log4j.properties
   creating: dateUtils/src/test/
   creating: dateUtils/src/test/java/
   creating: dateUtils/src/test/java/com/
   creating: dateUtils/src/test/java/com/mkyong/
   creating: dateUtils/src/test/java/com/mkyong/core/
   creating: dateUtils/src/test/java/com/mkyong/core/utils/
  inflating: dateUtils/src/test/java/com/mkyong/core/utils/AppTest.java
olive@LAPTOP-P5GHOHB7  /d/veits/eclipseWorkspaceRecent/MkYong/ttt
$ cd dateUtils/

olive@LAPTOP-P5GHOHB7  /d/veits/eclipseWorkspaceRecent/MkYong/ttt/dateUtils
$ 

Step 2 (optional): Create GIT Repository

In order to see, which files have been changed by which step, we can create a local GIT repository like follows

git init
# echo "Converting Maven to Gradle" > Readme.txt
git add .
git commit -m "first commit"

After each step, you then can perform the last two commands with a different message, so you can always go back to a previous step, if you need to do so. If you have made changes in a step that you have not committed yet, you can go back easily to the last clean commit state by issuing the command

# go back to status of last commit:
git stash -u

Warning: this will delete any new files you have created since the last commit.

Step 3 (required): Initialize Gradle

gradle init

This will automatically create a file build.gradle file from the Maven POM file with following content:

apply plugin: 'java'
apply plugin: 'maven'

group = 'com.mkyong.core.utils'
version = '1.0-SNAPSHOT'

description = """dateUtils"""

sourceCompatibility = 1.7
targetCompatibility = 1.7

repositories {

     maven { url "http://repo.maven.apache.org/maven2" }
}
dependencies {
    compile group: 'joda-time', name: 'joda-time', version:'2.5'
    compile group: 'log4j', name: 'log4j', version:'1.2.17'
    testCompile group: 'junit', name: 'junit', version:'4.11'
}

Step 4 (required): Gather Data

Since we are starting from a Maven project, which is prepared to create a runnable JAR via Maven already, we can extract the needed data from the POM.xml file:

MAINCLASS=`grep '<mainClass' pom.xml | cut -f2 -d">" | cut -f1 -d"<"`

Note: In cases with non-existing maven plugin, you need to set the MAINCLASS manually, e.g.

MAINCLASS=com.mkyong.core.utils.App

We also can define, where the dependency jars will be copied to later:

DEPENDENCY_JARS=dependency-jars

Logs:

$ MAINCLASS=`grep '<mainClass' pom.xml | cut -f2 -d">" | cut -f1 -d"<"`
$ echo $MAINCLASS
com.mkyong.core.utils.App
$ DEPENDENCY_JARS=dependency-jars
echo $DEPENDENCY_JARS
dependency-jars

Step 5 (required): Prepare to copy dependent Jars

Here, we will add instructions to the build.gradle file, which dependency JAR files are to be copied into a directory accessible by the executable jar.

We will need to copy the jars, we depend on, to a folder the runnable jar will access later on. See e.g. this StackOverflow question on this topic.

cat << END >> build.gradle

// copy dependency jars to build/libs/$DEPENDENCY_JARS 
task copyJarsToLib (type: Copy) {
    def toDir = "build/libs/$DEPENDENCY_JARS"

    // create directories, if not already done:
    file(toDir).mkdirs()

    // copy jars to lib folder:
    from configurations.compile
    into toDir
}
END

Step 6 (required): Prepare the Creation of an executable JAR File

In this step, we define in the build.gradle file, how to create an executable jar file.

cat << END >> build.gradle
jar {
    // exclude log properties (recommended)
    exclude ("log4j.properties")

    // make jar executable: see http://stackoverflow.com/questions/21721119/creating-runnable-jar-with-gradle
    manifest {
        attributes (
            'Main-Class': '$MAINCLASS',
            // add classpath to Manifest; see http://stackoverflow.com/questions/30087427/add-classpath-in-manifest-file-of-jar-in-gradle
            "Class-Path": '. dependency-jars/' + configurations.compile.collect { it.getName() }.join(' dependency-jars/')
            )
    }
}
END

Step 7 (required): Define build Dependencies

Up to now, a task copyJarsToLib was defined, but this task will not be executed, unless we tell Gradle to do so. In this step, we will specify that each time, a Jar is created, the copyJarsToLib task is to be performed beforehand. This can be done by telling Gradle that the jar goal depends on the copyJarsToLib task like follows:

cat << END >> build.gradle

// always call copyJarsToLib when building jars:
jar.dependsOn copyJarsToLib
END

Step 8 (required): Build Project

Meanwhile, the build.gradle file should have following content:

apply plugin: 'java'
apply plugin: 'maven'

group = 'com.mkyong.core.utils'
version = '1.0-SNAPSHOT'

description = """dateUtils"""

sourceCompatibility = 1.7
targetCompatibility = 1.7

repositories {

     maven { url "http://repo.maven.apache.org/maven2" }
}
dependencies {
    compile group: 'joda-time', name: 'joda-time', version:'2.5'
    compile group: 'log4j', name: 'log4j', version:'1.2.17'
    testCompile group: 'junit', name: 'junit', version:'4.11'
}

// copy dependency jars to build/libs/dependency-jars
task copyJarsToLib (type: Copy) {
    def toDir = "build/libs/dependency-jars"

    // create directories, if not already done:
    file(toDir).mkdirs()

    // copy jars to lib folder:
    from configurations.compile
    into toDir
}

jar {
    // exclude log properties (recommended)
    exclude ("log4j.properties")

    // make jar executable: see http://stackoverflow.com/questions/21721119/creating-runnable-jar-with-gradle
    manifest {
        attributes (
            'Main-Class': 'com.mkyong.core.utils.App',
            // add classpath to Manifest; see http://stackoverflow.com/questions/30087427/add-classpath-in-manifest-file-of-jar-in-gradle
            "Class-Path": '. dependency-jars/' + configurations.compile.collect { it.getName() }.join(' dependency-jars/')
            )
    }
}

// always call copyJarsToLib when building jars:
jar.dependsOn copyJarsToLib

Now is the time to create the runnable jar file:

gradle build

Note: Be patient at this step: it can appear to be hanging for several minutes, if it is run the first time, while it is working in the background.

This will create the runnable jar on build/libs/dateUtils-1.0-SNAPSHOT.jar and will copy the dependency jars to build/libs/dependency-jars/

Logs:

$ gradle build
:compileJava
warning: [options] bootstrap class path not set in conjunction with -source 1.7
1 warning
:processResources
:classes
:copyJarsToLib
:jar
:assemble
:compileTestJava
warning: [options] bootstrap class path not set in conjunction with -source 1.7
1 warning
:processTestResources UP-TO-DATE
:testClasses
:test
:check
:build

BUILD SUCCESSFUL

Total time: 3.183 secs

$ ls build/libs/
dateUtils-1.0-SNAPSHOT.jar dependency-jars

$ ls build/libs/dependency-jars/
joda-time-2.5.jar log4j-1.2.17.jar

Step 9: Execute the JAR file

It is best practice to exclude the log4j.properties file from the runnable jar file, and place it outside of the jar file, since we want to be able to change logging levels at runtime. This is, why we had excluded the properties file in step 6. In order to avoid an error “No appenders could be found for logger”, we need not specify the location of the log4j.properties properly on the command-line.

Step 9.1 Execute JAR file on Linux

On a Linux system, we run the command like follows:

java -jar -Dlog4j.configuration=file:full_path_to_log4j.properties build/libs/dateUtils-1.0-SNAPSHOT.jar

Example:

$ java -jar -Dlog4j.configuration=file:/usr/home/me/dateUtils/log4j.properties build/libs/dateUtils-1.0-SNAPSHOT.jar
11:47:33,018 DEBUG App:18 - getLocalCurrentDate() is executed!
2016-11-14

Note: if the log4j.properties file is on the current directory on a Linux machine, we also can create a batch file run.sh with the content

#!/usr/bin/env bash
java -jar -Dlog4j.configuration=file:`pwd`/log4j.properties build/libs/dateUtils-1.0-SNAPSHOT.jar

and run it via bash run.sh

Step 9.1 Execute JAR file on Windows

In case of Windows in a CMD shell all paths need to be in Windows style:

java -jar -Dlog4j.configuration=file:D:\veits\eclipseWorkspaceRecent\MkYong\dateUtils\log4j.properties build\libs\dateUtils-1.0-SNAPSHOT.jar
11:45:30,007 DEBUG App:18 - getLocalCurrentDate() is executed!
2016-11-14

If we run the command on a Windows GNU bash shell, the syntax is kind of mixed: the path to the jar file is in Linux style while the path to the log properties file needs to be in Windows style (this is, how the Windows java.exe file expects the input of this option):

$ java -jar -Dlog4j.configuration=file:'D:\veits\eclipseWorkspaceRecent\MkYong\dateUtils\log4j.properties' build/libs/dateUtils-1.0-SNAPSHOT.jar
11:45:30,007 DEBUG App:18 - getLocalCurrentDate() is executed!
2016-11-14

Inverted commas have been used in order to avoid the necessity of escaped backslashes like D:\\veits\\eclipseWorkspaceRecent\\… needed on a Windows system.

Note: if the log4j.properties file is on the current directory on a Windows machine, we also can create a batch file run.bat with the content

java -jar -Dlog4j.configuration=file:%cd%\log4j.properties build\libs\dateUtils-1.0-SNAPSHOT.jar

To run the bat file on GNU bash on Windows, just type ./run.bat

Yepp, that is it: the hello world executable file is printing the date to the console, just as it did in Mkyong’s blog post, where the executable file was created using Maven.

simpleicons_interface_folder-download-symbol-svg

Download the source code from GIT.

Note: in the source code, you also will find a file named prepare_build.gradle.sh, which can be run on a bash shell and will replace the manual steps 4 to 7.

References

Next Steps

  • create an even leaner jar with resource files kept outside of the executable jar. This opens the opportunity to changing resource files at runtime.
  • create an executable jar file that will run the JUnit tests.

 


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