Maven and Gradle are among the top choices for creating and handling Java projects. Maven and Gradle are efficient build tools for managing dependencies, compiling and testing code, and packaging and deploying Java applications. Nevertheless, there are distinct characteristics between the two tools that may render one more appropriate for a specific project.

This article will give a detailed examination of Maven and Gradle, discussing their features, abilities, and how well they work for Java web projects.

What is Maven?

Maven is a Java project management tool. It is mainly used for Java projects; it inherited some concepts from Apache Ant.
The configuration of a Maven project is based on an XML file called pom.xml, which includes the requirements for the build.
It comes with the following features:

  • Repositories management: These are places where the required jars for the build are stored. There exist three storage areas: local, central, and remote. One is situated on the machine where the build occurs, while the other two are reached through http remotely. Maven places importance on the local repository when looking for a jar. If it cannot find it, it will search for it online and download it to speed up future builds.
  • Dependencies management: These are statements of the jars needed by the project for its development.
  • Lifecycle management: Included in the goals and phases already established.
  • Customization: To include a goal, create a Java plugin that extends the AbstractMojo class and then insert it into the pom.xml file.

What is Gradle?

Gradle is an open-source tool for automation. Its quick rise in popularity was due to its core focus on accommodating builds for multiple projects using Apache Maven principles.
Gradle mainly improves the same features found in Maven.

  • Language: Gradle uses a language that is not XML. It relies on DSL to address a particular issue while working together on well-organized, optimized, and sustainable constructions for various projects.
  • Lifecycle management: Management of the software lifecycle includes supporting all stages of the software development process, such as compilation, testing, analysis, and implementation.
  • Customization: In order to customize a task, include it in the Groovy file (build.gradle).

Main Difference between Maven and Gradle

  • Gradle is quick and fast in building, whereas Maven is not as fast as Gradle in performance.
  • Gradle scripts are concise and tidy, while Maven scripts are longer than Gradle’s.
  • Gradle employs domain-specific language (DSL), while Maven utilizes XML.
  • Gradle operates on tasks for executing work, while Maven defines goals associated with the project.
  • Gradle allows for incremental builds, while Maven does not support incremental builds.

Here is why Java developers love Maven

  • Maven build process usually exists outside of the source code of the project
  • Maven is well suited for projects where the developers want it to remain simple.
  • Dependency and task inheritance in Maven are great features that Gradle can’t reproduce effectively.

Here are some drawbacks of Maven:

  • Maven has an atrocious documentation culture.
  • Maven also has a bunch of atypical approaches to things.
  • Multi-module projects can be trivial in Maven.
  • The support for Maven in Kotlin is quite unusual.
  • Developing, versioning, and deploying Maven plugins must be done independently from the project where they will be used, requiring the creation of a separate project.
  • Maven’s incremental build feature is so bad that most people end up having to run “clean compile” every time.
  • It can be frustrating to find a suitable stage in the Maven lifecycle to incorporate your plugin especially if you are attempting something unconventional.
  • In CI/CD pipelines with the Maven builds, the build output of one stage is not reliably cached, and every step in the pipeline somehow recompiles the entire codebase.

Here is why Java developers love Gradle

  • Gradle seems to be more suited for complex builds
  • Gradle does incremental builds perfectly well.
  • Gradle is well-suited for multi-module projects.
  • Gradle is great if you are using Kotlin as your programming language
  • Gradle flexibility lets you put code directly into the build script.
  • In CI/CD pipelines, Gradle ensures the build output of one stage is cached, and the compilation doesn’t have to be repeated in subsequent steps.

Here are some drawbacks of Gradle:

  • You need to learn the groovy language in order to use Gradle
  • The most complicated build files are unique DSL that must be understood independently.
  • Gradle is heavily dependent on Maven. Are you shocked? Gradle has a Maven plugin; it uses the Maven distributed artifact network; there will be no Gradle without Maven
  • Gradle suffers from too many breaking API changes
  • Since Gradle’s flexibility lets you put code directly into the build script, it is not strange to see build.gradle files cluttered with logic.

Resolved concerns about Maven

  1. So many Java developers don’t like the fact Maven is slow; however, using the Mvnd, the issue of Maven being slow has been addressed.

  2. Another concern is that Maven is strict and not flexible; I’d love to tell you that Maven was created because Java developers wanted Ant with “sensible defaults”. Maven was deliberately built not to allow scripting in build files.

Resolved concerns about Gradle

  1. One concern Java developers have about Gradle is that it suffers from too many tedious API changes. I’m glad to tell you that this has improved since Gradle 7.x. Several significant changes from version 4.x to 7.x caused breaking changes. But 7.x onward there haven’t been many.

How to Choose the Build Tool for Your Java Projects

  • List your needs and wants for your ideal build tool
  • Take some time to try out each option. Do some demos, test what they can do, and consider how they can be integrated into your workflow.
  • Review what you need and want in an ideal build tool, adjust them based on what you’ve learned, and pinpoint additional ones. Prioritize them; determine what the selected option MUST do and what it just SHOULD do.
  • Remove any options that don’t meet all your needs, then compare the remaining options based on your wants.


Whether you prefer standardization or flexibility is a matter of opinion. Both have their pros and cons. Here is one thing to keep in mind: don’t bend build system for your project, bend your project for your build system. In the end, it makes things simpler.

Buy us a coffee

Frequently Asked Questions

Which is easier to learn Maven or Gradle?
It is relatively easy to handle Maven projects. Gradle files are typically less complex. If you’re new to Maven, I recommend taking a thorough Maven course like Apache Maven: Beginner to Guru to grasp the basics.

Is Maven still relevant?
It is unsurprising that Maven currently dominates the majority of the build tool market. Gradle has been widely adopted in more intricate codebases because many open-source projects like Spring have also started using it.

Should I use Gradle or Maven for spring boot?
Maven is based on a Project Object Model; it is ideal for smaller projects, whereas Gradle, more customizable and expressive, is better suited for larger and more intricate projects. Moreover, Gradle’s quicker building speed and ability to support incremental builds make it the preferred option for Spring Boot projects.