Gradle on the Commandline

intrigus edited this page Jan 3, 2017 · 50 revisions

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This article will show you how you can run your application from the command line and package it for distribution for the different platforms!



The ANDROID_HOME environment variable needs to be pointing to a valid android SDK before you do any command line wizardry.

Windows: set ANDROID_HOME=C:/Path/To/Your/Android/Sdk

Linux, Mac OS X: export ANDROID_HOME=/Path/To/Your/Android/Sdk

Alternatively you can create a file called "" with the following content: sdk.dir /Path/To/Your/Android/Sdk

Running the project

Gradle let's you easily run a project from the commandline. Just use the gradlew command specify your target platform and the run command for that platform.

Desktop - Android - iOS - HTML

Running the desktop project

gradlew desktop:run

This compiles your core and desktop project, and runs the desktop starter. The working directory is the project's assets folder!

Running the Android project

gradlew android:installDebug android:run

This task will create a debug APK of your application, install it on the first connected emulator or device and start the main activity. The process is split into two tasks because the Android Gradle plugin lets you create multiple flavors of your app (e.g. debug as above, release, ...). You can find more information on the Android Gradle Plugin site.

Running the iOS project

Before you run on an iOS simulator or device, make sure you have activated your free RoboVM key. If you run on a device, you need to provision it to be able to deploy to it!

gradlew ios:launchIPhoneSimulator

gradlew ios:launchIPadSimulator

gradlew ios:launchIOSDevice

The first two commands will launch your app on an iPhone or iPad simualtor, the last command will launch your ios project on a connected iDevice, provided it is provisioned. Please refer to Apple's docs on how to provision a device. Note that the first time you run your iOS project, the compilation will take a long time. Compilation time will decrease significantly on subsequent runs!

Running the HTML project

gradlew html:superDev

This will start your application in GWT Super Dev Mode, which compiles your Java code to Javascript, and allows you to debug your Java code directly in the browser. If you see the message Next, visit: http://localhost:9876 in your shell, open a browser and navigate to the address. Drag the "Dev Mode On" bookmarklet to your browser bookmarks bar. Next open http://localhost:8080/html. This is your application running in the browser! If you change any of your Java code in the core project, just click the bookmarklet, then click "Compile". The changes will take effect in a few seconds. If you modify your assets, you have to restart the server with the above command.

Packaging the project

Every platform has a different kind of distribution format. In this section we'll see how we can generate those distributions via Gradle.

Desktop - Android - iOS - HTML

Packaging for the desktop

gradlew desktop:dist

This will create a runnable JAR file located in the desktop/build/libs/ folder. It contains all necessary code as well as all your art assets from the android/assets folder and can be run either by double clicking or on the command line via java -jar jar-file-name.jar. Your audience must have a JVM installed for this to work. The JAR will work on Windows, Linux and Mac OS X!

If you want to package your JAR with a JVM for distribution (bundling), see Bundling a JRE

Packaging for Android

gradlew android:assembleRelease

This will create an unsigned APK file in the android/build/outputs/apk folder. Before you can install or publish this APK, you must sign it. The APK build by the above command is already in release mode, you only need to follow the steps for keytool and jarsigner. You can install this APK file on any Android device that allows installation from unknown sources.

Packaging for iOS

gradlew ios:createIPA

This will create an IPA in the ios/build/robovm folder that you distribute to the Apple App Store. You can follow Apple's guide on app store distribution

Packaging for the Web

gradlew html:dist

This will compile your app to Javascript and place the resulting Javascript, HTML and asset files in the html/build/dist/ folder. The contents of this folder have to be served up by a web server, e.g. Apache or Nginx. Just treat the contents like you'd treat any other static HTML/Javascript site. There is no Java or Java Applets involved!

With Python installed, you can test your distribution by executing the following in the html/build/dist folder:

Python 2.x

python -m SimpleHTTPServer

Python 3.x

python -m http.server 8000

You can then open a browser to http://localhost:8000 and see your project in action.

With Node.js npm install http-server -g then http-server html/build/dist and browse at http://localhost:8080. docs

With PHP you may type php -S localhost:8000 and browse at http://localhost:8080. docs

Debugging and common problems

Gradle tasks are failing

If when you invoke gradle, the build or refresh fails to get more information, run the same command again and add the --debug arguments to the command. e.g ./gradlew tasks --debug This will provide you with a stacktrace and give you a better idea of why gradle is failing.

Common problems

(Confirmed) AVG - When running gradlew desktop:dist antivirus will cause this to fail. Add an exception to your antivirus to allow access.

Debugging Projects


You may be like me and wish to have the output jar from the dist task. Gradle seems to name it as the name of the directory and a version number, which is in my case, desktop-1.0. You may also wish to have each build have a unique version/build date of some kind, do as follows:

In the root project build.gradle, add:

def getDate() {
    def date = new Date()
    def formattedDate = date.format('yyyyMMddHHmmss')
    return formattedDate

(at top level)

Within allprojects{}, add: 'version = "0.1-build-" + getDate()'

Within the desktop target add this within task dist(type: Jar) { }...

'baseName = "myproject"'

I'm sure there are better ways, but it took me a while to get together that info and then get it to work/figure out where to put it. You will now have a jar file in your desktop/libs, named something like 'project-0.1-build-20150120033412.jar' which makes distribution a lot easier and more trackable, less conflicts etc.