If you’re in the market for a great workflow automation and build tool, you’ve probably heard about Gradle. It’s one of the most popular platforms designed to help you build, integrate, organize, scale, and deploy software from end to end at lightning-fast speed.
However, it’s imperative to consider other alternatives that can help you carry out the same tasks just as efficiently because you might find Gradle too complicated to use.
The program has a significant learning curve and you just may not have the time to learn the ropes and understand how it works before you can start building your projects. Additionally, its enterprise version is very expensive and inaccessible to most.
For these reasons, I have curated a list of other tools that work just as well or even better than Gradle and are mostly free, cheap, and easy to use.
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Bazel is an open source build tool that utilizes high-level build descriptions and human-readable language to help you develop and test software of any size and efficiently manage your programming projects.
It’s one of the most popular build tools around with a vast user list that features companies like Adobe, Pinterest, Canva, Dropbox, Stripe, Google, LinkedIn, and more.
The program is designed to handle both mixed and multiple language builds as well as bulky codebase, repositories, and many users. This makes it an ideal Gradle alternative for large organizations and teams.
Bazel does a great job of speeding up builds and tests even when you’re working with large-scale projects. Bazel is easily extensible so you can integrate it with as many languages and platforms as you like without setbacks.
Gradle, on the other hand, has a penchant for breaking plugins or throwing up bugs that make plugins incompatible with the tool.
In addition, Bazel offers a better user experience and IDE support than its counterpart.
It’s easier to figure out Bazel’s configuration and carry out build operations than it is with Gradle, so you’ll have more time to dedicate to your projects instead of spending precious man-hours on learning the ropes.
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Jenkins is a continuous integration tool that enables programmers and development teams to build, deploy, and automate software tasks. The application is open source and completely free to use.
It’s easy to configure and can be easily modified or expanded to suit your development needs. There’s a built-in support and error-check system to help you navigate the tool with ease.
Jenkins instantly conveys code, produces reports on tests you run, and seamlessly integrates with a host of other tools and platforms.
You can turn Jenkins into a continuous delivery epicenter for projects or use it as a continuous integration server. It also distributes your work across multiple machines enabling you to build, test, and execute projects faster across various platforms.
Jenkins supports continuous delivery, software configuration management, and continuous integration—features that are absent from Gradle.
Compared to Gradle, Jenkins is easier to work with and better at satisfying requirements. On the downside, Jenkins has insufficient and out-of-date documentation for unscripted pipelines, which can be frustrating.
Also, its user interface could use a little polishing although it’s incredibly easy to master.
3. GNU Make
Another tool similar to Gradle that’s worth considering is GNU Make. This free software uses a program’s source files to control and generate open source files and other executables for the purpose of building and deploying programs.
GNU Make is able to track changes in your files and automatically update them without reconciling your entire program. It only updates the non-source files that are indirectly or directly dependent on the source files you made changes to.
Unlike Gradle, GNU Make has no language restrictions. So you can compute shell commands to do anything like produce an executable or object file, format documentation, update libraries, and more.
Furthermore, GNU Make is not limited to builds. It can also be used to produce tag tables for a project, install or reinstall it, and automate operations that you carry out frequently.
Another powerful feature that makes GNU Make stand out is its ability to regenerate, utilize, and then get rid of intermediate files that don’t have to be saved.
GNU Make provides ample documentation and instructions on how to write Makefiles that you can easily follow to save time and make it easy for users to build your packages.
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4. Apache Maven
Apache Maven is an open source software comprehension and project management platform. It’s designed for mostly Java projects and can help you manage builds, documentation, and reporting on any project.
Maven is quite declarative and opinionated so most programmers will easily figure out the workings of your build system. Even IDE’s can import projects and quickly understand where everything fits and how to organize it.
Since Maven has been around longer than Gradle, its IDE support is far better and more extensive than its counterpart.
While Gradle allows you to ship builds faster than you would with Maven, the latter makes up for the speed difference with greater flexibility and ease of use.
Also, Maven can be integrated with hundreds of plugins, whereas Gradle only supports a handful of them. With Maven, maintaining build files is simple and doesn’t need to be done often, but the reverse is the case when using Gradle.
If you get stuck using Apache Maven, there are tons of tutorials and guides from the platform and third-party sources scattered all over the internet. So you’re pretty much guaranteed to find the advice or solution you need to resolve any issues in your program.
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This Gradle alternative comes from the stables of Atlassian. Bamboo is a continuous development, integration, and deployment tool designed to run tests and builds, update commits and issues, and report test results to promote real-time collaboration.
It integrates seamlessly with Bitbucket, Fisheye, and Jira, with support for a wide array of technologies including Git, Mercurial, Amazon S3 buckets, SVN, Ducker, AWS, and CodeDeply. Bamboo also lets you work on multiple project builds at the same time.
You can use Bamboo to run parallel batch tests, automatically merge your Git branches, and activate builds based on repository changes.
Bamboo’s per-environment permissions feature enables quality assurance and development teams to deploy directly to their respective environments.
Additionally, Bamboo allows you to map the result of every build back to the code changes that led to it, making it easy for you to catch errors and resolve any build issues.
The tool offers robust user support so feature requests and other issues are resolved quickly and efficiently.
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Build, test, and deploy high-quality code with this cross-platform, open source program, CMake. This powerful family of tools is specially designed for projects in C++ although it supports a range of other languages such as Fortran, CUDA, and Python.
CMake can help you control the process of compiling your software with the aid of compiler-independent configuration and platform files.
It can also be used to produce native workspaces and makefiles that can easily be deployed in your preferred build environment. CMake can be smoothly integrated with dozens of third-party tools, libraries, and platforms.
In addition, the platform allows continuous integration testing and running random custom commands in the course of the build. CMake has been around since 2000 so it’s older and more respected than Gradle.
This also means that there are comprehensive documentation and guides to help you navigate any hiccups you encounter with the tool.
Unlike Gradle that has complex features and architectures that you need to spend time figuring out, CMake is uncomplicated, efficient, and beginner-friendly so you and your team can focus on what really matters—writing code.
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TeamCity or the “intelligent continuous integration server” as it’s fondly called is a flexible tool built by JetBrains to help you run builds and test codes even before you commit changes. This results in a cleaner and better code quality than what you’ll get with Gradle.
This tool gives you different installation packages to suit disparate operating systems. It has extensive documentation and offers integration with VCS, JIRA, Docker, and a variety of external services to enable you to carry out your tasks as efficiently as possible.
You can also extend and customize TeamCity’s APIs to suit the particular needs of your team.
TeamCity provides cloud profiles at the project level and delivers progress reports on the fly so you know exactly where your projects are in the software development lifecycle. Unlike Gradle, TeamCity updates, maintains, and stabilizes your CI server when you’re not running any builds.
Both Gradle and TeamCity offer free versions of the software for small teams and enterprise versions for larger teams that regularly work with complex projects and deploy code to production.
However, TeamCity doesn’t lag when integrating with third-party tools, pipeline images and build logs don’t get broken, and its interface is more user-friendly than Gradle.
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GoCD is another tool that’s similar to Gradle in that it enables programmers and development teams to build continuous delivery and integration pipelines with ease.
This open source software is packed with lots of amazing features like sequential and parallel execution and easy to configure dependencies.
With GoCD’s value stream map, you can easily visualize your workflow from end to end, manage your processes, and identify inefficiencies in your builds.
Its advanced traceability function helps you deal with broken pipelines by tracking changes made from the first commitment to deployment in real time.
Thanks to its extendable plugin structure, GoCD can be integrated with most popular services and environments like AWS, Kubernetes, and Docker. You can set up authorization and authentication for each user to ensure that access to your projects is secure and protected.
Upgrades on GoCD are a painless activity and they do not result in broken files or pipelines as is the case with Gradle.
GoCD is free to use and it does a great job of providing clear and quick feedback when necessary. Its active community of users is also happy to step in and provide suggestions or answers to any questions you might have.
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Founded in 2015, Buddy is a new kid on the block, but it’s proven to be an excellent competitor to Gradle. The continuous deployment and integration tool takes the monotony and stress out of managing, configuring, and packaging software.
Buddy’s user experience and interface are so simple that anyone on your development team can easily configure and maintain them.
The platform provides isolated build environments, speedy deployments, and support for all the popular frameworks and languages. Buddy has well-organized and written documentation, and it can be accessed on-premises or via the cloud.
Buddy provides plenty of application development features that Gradle doesn’t provide such as code assistance, compatibility testing, code refactoring, data modeling, deployment management, no-code solutions, web app development, source control, and version control.
Like Gradle, Buddy has a free version with limitations. However, its range of paid plans is priced at $75/month, $200/month, and $35/month per user which is far cheaper than Gradle’s Enterprise option which costs thousands of dollars.
Buddy offers nearly a dozen more integrations than Gradle, making it the better solution for teams that work with a wide range of third-party services. Also, it allows you to customize your builds and environments to your preferred specifications.
If you’re looking to build, test, and deliver your app without putting in a lot of time and effort, I recommend this Gradle alternative.
CircleCI is a continuous integration tool that can help reduce your build time, eliminate bugs, and boost the overall quality of your application. It’s highly flexible and supports integration with Slack, BitBucket, DataDog, GitHub, Ducker, and many other services.
It divides tests between multiple containers and provides optimal caching to speed up performance and reduce build time.
Whenever you make a commit on CircleCI, the build will be automatically executed, and if a new build is activated, any build that’s running or queued will be canceled right away.
CircleCI lets you select your build environment and SSH to access the virtual machine and run commands. Unlike Gradle, it’s simple, easy to maintain, and it supports automatic updates.
The platform’s configuration is contained in a single YAML file, so learning how to configure and use it will be a breeze.
Also, CircleCI boasts of a modern, aesthetically pleasing interface and an engaged community dedicated to creating helpful documentation that helps users resolve specific issues.
If you want to automate and streamline repetitive, tedious, and slow tasks in your build cycle, Gulp is more than up to the task.
This cross-platform tool employs Node streams to take results from one task and utilize it in another to drastically reduce your development time.
While Gradle only offers a couple of plug-ins, Gulp boasts of a 1000+ strong selection of plugins, making it the largest plugin ecosystem. Still, the platform continues to add more plugins to help developers do more with Gulp.
Since the code execution architecture in Gulp isn’t shrouded under multiple layers, you can easily configure the build system without needing to write complex code.
As a result, your configuration files will end up being smaller. Gulp also enables you to create task dependencies and specify them via pipeline streams.
With Gulp, you don’t need a plugin wrapper to use projects that utilize streams, which means you won’t have to waste time and resources maintaining plugins. Also, you won’t have to write new code for projects that don’t have plugins, you can just use them the way they are.
Bitrise is a continuous delivery and continuous integration platform for mobile applications. It runs every build on its virtual machine, scrapes the data after the build is completed, and allows apps to be deployed without manual interference.
This Gradle alternative enables development teams to build and test workflows in their terminal while saving time and money.
Bitrise covers both cross platforms and native apps, as well as multiple programming languages and technologies.
Bitrise is quick and easy to set up. It integrates perfectly with various deployment services, testing tools, and third-party platforms including HockeyApp, Slack, Crashlytics, HipChat, and more.
Whether you prefer React Native, Java, Swift, Cordova, Flutter, Objective-C, Ionic, or Xamarin, Bitrise will configure your workflow automatically so you can start building in a matter of minutes.
You can activate builds with pull requests, create webhooks, and schedule your builds to run at specified times.
Feel free to store your code on any Git service of your choosing and string common tasks like distribution to testers, deployment, and tests together.
If you don’t have a large budget to work with, using Bitrise can save you a ton of money compared to Gradle.
CruiseControl is a catchall builder that functions as an extendable framework for developing build workflows and a continuous integration tool.
Although it’s written in Java, CruiseControl can be used on various kinds of projects, with any script or command line.
The tool provides dozens of plugins for different kinds of build environments, notification schemes, and source controls, which is more than what Gradle offers. You can always enhance CruiseControl’s distribution abilities with third-party tools.
CruiseControl supports remote project management. It allows you to create multiple projects within one server and it offers notifications via messaging and email.
You can use CruiseControl to create build technologies and optimize your processes effectively for free.
GitLab is a web application that manages projects and allows teams to collaborate and deploy projects in real-time. It has a user-friendly interface and an API that stores information housed within the tool.
You can use its wide selection of APIs to build deeper integrations, build your ideas, and spot areas in your workflow where improvements can be made.
Gitlab safeguards your sensitive data and information with its confidential issues feature. The open source tool provides distributed version control solutions and allows you to automate application release and delivery and run parallel tests to speed up your build time.
Unlike Gradle that can be convoluted and difficult to use, especially for beginners, GitLab is extremely easy to use with UI/UX language that makes it clear what each command and pipeline intends to do.
It also provides a better and faster flow of information compared to its counterpart.
15. Travis CI
Travis CI is a test and deployment tool that supports more than 30 languages including Java, Node, Python, Ruby, Go, Perl, Scala, and PHP. It has amazed over 700,000 users so you know you’re in great company.
All it takes is a few simple steps to set up and create branches and pull request build flows. As long as you’re testing open source projects, Travis CI is free to use forever so you don’t have to spend money on expensive subscriptions to access the tool.
Travis CI comes preinstalled with various database services and you can easily integrate many others into your build configuration.
Some of the features that make Travis CI one of the best alternatives to Gradle in the market today include easy configuration, smart merge functions, and customizable build environments.
It also offers more extensive support for plugins that’s three times larger than Gradle.
As you can see, there are many software integration and project management tools to choose from so you don’t have to just settle for Gradle.
Depending on your particular requirements, some of these alternatives will suit your needs better than others.
However, going by flexibility, ease of use, quality of support, versatility, and available integrations, Apache Maven is the best of the alternatives to opt for. Don’t hesitate to try it out for yourself. Happy building!
Tom loves to write on technology, e-commerce & internet marketing. I started my first e-commerce company in college, designing and selling t-shirts for my campus bar crawl using print-on-demand. Having successfully established multiple 6 & 7-figure e-commerce businesses (in women’s fashion and hiking gear), I think I can share a tip or 2 to help you succeed.