A Gradle plugin packages up reusable pieces of build logic, which can be used across many different projects and builds. Gradle allows you to implement your own plugins, so you can reuse your build logic, and share it with others.

You can implement a Gradle plugin in any language you like, provided the implementation ends up compiled as JVM bytecode. In our examples, we are going to use Java as the implementation language for standalone plugin project and Groovy or Kotlin in the buildscript plugin examples. In general, a plugin implemented using Java or Kotlin, which are statically typed, will perform better than the same plugin implemented using Groovy.

Packaging a plugin

There are several places where you can put the source for the plugin.

Build script

You can include the source for the plugin directly in the build script. This has the benefit that the plugin is automatically compiled and included in the classpath of the build script without you having to do anything. However, the plugin is not visible outside the build script, and so you cannot reuse the plugin outside the build script it is defined in.

buildSrc project

You can put the source for the plugin in the rootProjectDir/buildSrc/src/main/java directory (or rootProjectDir/buildSrc/src/main/groovy or rootProjectDir/buildSrc/src/main/kotlin depending on which language you prefer). Gradle will take care of compiling and testing the plugin and making it available on the classpath of the build script. The plugin is visible to every build script used by the build. However, it is not visible outside the build, and so you cannot reuse the plugin outside the build it is defined in.

See Organizing Gradle Projects for more details about the buildSrc project.

Standalone project

You can create a separate project for your plugin. This project produces and publishes a JAR which you can then use in multiple builds and share with others. Generally, this JAR might include some plugins, or bundle several related task classes into a single library. Or some combination of the two.

In our examples, we will start with the plugin in the build script, to keep things simple. Then we will look at creating a standalone project.

Writing a simple plugin

To create a Gradle plugin, you need to write a class that implements the Plugin interface. When the plugin is applied to a project, Gradle creates an instance of the plugin class and calls the instance’s Plugin.apply() method. The project object is passed as a parameter, which the plugin can use to configure the project however it needs to. The following sample contains a greeting plugin, which adds a hello task to the project.

Example 1. A custom plugin
build.gradle
class GreetingPlugin implements Plugin<Project> {
    void apply(Project project) {
        project.task('hello') {
            doLast {
                println 'Hello from the GreetingPlugin'
            }
        }
    }
}

// Apply the plugin
apply plugin: GreetingPlugin
build.gradle.kts
class GreetingPlugin : Plugin<Project> {
    override fun apply(project: Project) {
        project.task("hello") {
            doLast {
                println("Hello from the GreetingPlugin")
            }
        }
    }
}

// Apply the plugin
apply<GreetingPlugin>()
Output of gradle -q hello
> gradle -q hello
Hello from the GreetingPlugin

One thing to note is that a new instance of a plugin is created for each project it is applied to. Also note that the Plugin class is a generic type. This example has it receiving the Project type as a type parameter. A plugin can instead receive a parameter of type Settings, in which case the plugin can be applied in a settings script, or a parameter of type Gradle, in which case the plugin can be applied in an initialization script.

Making the plugin configurable

Most plugins offer some configuration options for build scripts and other plugins to use to customize how the plugin works. Plugins do this using extension objects. The Gradle Project has an associated ExtensionContainer object that contains all the settings and properties for the plugins that have been applied to the project. You can provide configuration for your plugin by adding an extension object to this container. An extension object is simply an object with Java Bean properties that represent the configuration.

Let’s add a simple extension object to the project. Here we add a greeting extension object to the project, which allows you to configure the greeting.

Example 2. A custom plugin extension
build.gradle
class GreetingPluginExtension {
    String message = 'Hello from GreetingPlugin'
}

class GreetingPlugin implements Plugin<Project> {
    void apply(Project project) {
        // Add the 'greeting' extension object
        def extension = project.extensions.create('greeting', GreetingPluginExtension)
        // Add a task that uses configuration from the extension object
        project.task('hello') {
            doLast {
                println extension.message
            }
        }
    }
}

apply plugin: GreetingPlugin

// Configure the extension
greeting.message = 'Hi from Gradle'
build.gradle.kts
open class GreetingPluginExtension {
    var message = "Hello from GreetingPlugin"
}

class GreetingPlugin : Plugin<Project> {
    override fun apply(project: Project) {
        // Add the 'greeting' extension object
        val extension = project.extensions.create<GreetingPluginExtension>("greeting")
        // Add a task that uses configuration from the extension object
        project.task("hello") {
            doLast {
                println(extension.message)
            }
        }
    }
}

apply<GreetingPlugin>()

// Configure the extension
the<GreetingPluginExtension>().message = "Hi from Gradle"
Output of gradle -q hello
> gradle -q hello
Hi from Gradle

In this example, GreetingPluginExtension is an object with a property called message. The extension object is added to the project with the name greeting. This object then becomes available as a project property with the same name as the extension object.

Oftentimes, you have several related properties you need to specify on a single plugin. Gradle adds a configuration block for each extension object, so you can group settings together. The following example shows you how this works.

Example 3. A custom plugin with configuration block
build.gradle
class GreetingPluginExtension {
    String message
    String greeter
}

class GreetingPlugin implements Plugin<Project> {
    void apply(Project project) {
        def extension = project.extensions.create('greeting', GreetingPluginExtension)
        project.task('hello') {
            doLast {
                println "${extension.message} from ${extension.greeter}"
            }
        }
    }
}

apply plugin: GreetingPlugin

// Configure the extension using a DSL block
greeting {
    message = 'Hi'
    greeter = 'Gradle'
}
build.gradle.kts
open class GreetingPluginExtension {
    var message: String? = null
    var greeter: String? = null
}

class GreetingPlugin : Plugin<Project> {
    override fun apply(project: Project) {
        val extension = project.extensions.create<GreetingPluginExtension>("greeting")
        project.task("hello") {
            doLast {
                println("${extension.message} from ${extension.greeter}")
            }
        }
    }
}

apply<GreetingPlugin>()

// Configure the extension using a DSL block
configure<GreetingPluginExtension> {
    message = "Hi"
    greeter = "Gradle"
}
Output of gradle -q hello
> gradle -q hello
Hi from Gradle

In this example, several settings can be grouped together within the greeting closure. The name of the closure block in the build script (greeting) needs to match the extension object name. Then, when the closure is executed, the fields on the extension object will be mapped to the variables within the closure based on the standard Groovy closure delegate feature.

In this example, several settings can be grouped together within the configure<GreetingPluginExtension> block. The type used on the configure function in the build script (GreetingPluginExtension) needs to match the extension type. Then, when the block is executed, the receiver of the block is the extension.

In this way, using an extension object extends the Gradle DSL to add a project property and DSL block for the plugin. And because an extension object is simply a regular object, you can provide your own DSL nested inside the plugin block by adding properties and methods to the extension object.

Developing project extensions

You can find out more about implementing project extensions in Developing Custom Gradle Types.

Working with files in custom tasks and plugins

When developing custom tasks and plugins, it’s a good idea to be very flexible when accepting input configuration for file locations. To do this, you can leverage the Project.file(java.lang.Object) method to resolve values to files as late as possible.

Example 4. Evaluating file properties lazily
build.gradle
class GreetingToFileTask extends DefaultTask {

    def destination

    @OutputFile
    File getDestination() {
        project.file(destination)
    }

    @TaskAction
    def greet() {
        def file = getDestination()
        file.parentFile.mkdirs()
        file.write 'Hello!'
    }
}

task greet(type: GreetingToFileTask) {
    destination = { project.greetingFile }
}

task sayGreeting(dependsOn: greet) {
    doLast {
        println file(greetingFile).text
    }
}

ext.greetingFile = "$buildDir/hello.txt"
build.gradle.kts
open class GreetingToFileTask : DefaultTask() {

    var destination: Any? = null

    @OutputFile
    fun getDestination(): File {
        return project.file(destination!!)
    }

    @TaskAction
    fun greet() {
        val file = getDestination()
        file.parentFile.mkdirs()
        file.writeText("Hello!")
    }
}

tasks.register<GreetingToFileTask>("greet") {
    destination = { project.extra["greetingFile"]!! }
}

tasks.register("sayGreeting") {
    dependsOn("greet")
    doLast {
        println(file(project.extra["greetingFile"]!!).readText())
    }
}

extra["greetingFile"] = "$buildDir/hello.txt"
Output of gradle -q sayGreeting
> gradle -q sayGreeting
Hello!

In this example, we configure the greet task destination property as a closure/provider, which is evaluated with the Project.file(java.lang.Object) method to turn the return value of the closure/provider into a File object at the last minute. You will notice that in the example above we specify the greetingFile property value after we have configured to use it for the task. This kind of lazy evaluation is a key benefit of accepting any value when setting a file property, then resolving that value when reading the property.

Mapping extension properties to task properties

Capturing user input from the build script through an extension and mapping it to input/output properties of a custom task is a useful pattern. The build script author interacts only with the DSL defined by the extension. The imperative logic is hidden in the plugin implementation.

Gradle provides some types that you can use in task implementations and extensions to help you with this. Refer to Lazy Configuration for more information.

A standalone project

Now we will move our plugin to a standalone project so that we can publish it and share it with others. This project is simply a Java project that produces a JAR containing the plugin classes. The easiest and the recommended way to package and publish a plugin is to use the Java Gradle Plugin Development Plugin. This plugin will automatically apply the Java Plugin, add the gradleApi() dependency to the api configuration, generate the required plugin descriptors in the resulting JAR file and configure the Plugin Marker Artifact to be used when publishing. Here is a simple build script for the project.

Example 5. A build for a custom plugin
build.gradle
plugins {
    id 'java-gradle-plugin'
}

gradlePlugin {
    plugins {
        simplePlugin {
            id = 'org.samples.greeting'
            implementationClass = 'org.gradle.GreetingPlugin'
        }
    }
}
build.gradle.kts
plugins {
    `java-gradle-plugin`
}

gradlePlugin {
    plugins {
        create("simplePlugin") {
            id = "org.samples.greeting"
            implementationClass = "org.gradle.GreetingPlugin"
        }
    }
}

Creating a plugin id

Plugin ids are fully qualified in a manner similar to Java packages (i.e. a reverse domain name). This helps to avoid collisions and provides a way to group plugins with similar ownership.

Your plugin id should be a combination of components that reflect namespace (a reasonable pointer to you or your organization) and the name of the plugin it provides. For example if you had a Github account named "foo" and your plugin was named "bar", a suitable plugin id might be com.github.foo.bar. Similarly, if the plugin was developed at the baz organization, the plugin id might be org.baz.bar.

Plugin ids should conform to the following:

  • May contain any alphanumeric character, '.', and '-'.

  • Must contain at least one '.' character separating the namespace from the name of the plugin.

  • Conventionally use a lowercase reverse domain name convention for the namespace.

  • Conventionally use only lowercase characters in the name.

  • org.gradle and com.gradleware namespaces may not be used.

  • Cannot start or end with a '.' character.

  • Cannot contain consecutive '.' characters (i.e. '..').

Although there are conventional similarities between plugin ids and package names, package names are generally more detailed than is necessary for a plugin id. For instance, it might seem reasonable to add "gradle" as a component of your plugin id, but since plugin ids are only used for Gradle plugins, this would be superfluous. Generally, a namespace that identifies ownership and a name are all that are needed for a good plugin id.

Publishing your plugin

If you are publishing your plugin internally for use within your organization, you can publish it like any other code artifact. See the Ivy and Maven chapters on publishing artifacts.

If you are interested in publishing your plugin to be used by the wider Gradle community, you can publish it to the Gradle Plugin Portal. This site provides the ability to search for and gather information about plugins contributed by the Gradle community. Please refer to the corresponding guide on how to make your plugin available on this site.

Using your plugin in another project

To use a plugin in a build script, you need to configure the repository in pluginManagement {} block of the project’s settings file. The following example shows how you might do this when the plugin has been published to a local repository:

Example 6. Using a custom plugin in another project
settings.gradle
pluginManagement {
    repositories {
        maven {
            url = uri(repoLocation)
        }
    }
}
build.gradle
plugins {
    id 'org.samples.greeting' version '1.0-SNAPSHOT'
}
settings.gradle.kts
pluginManagement {
    repositories {
        maven {
            url = uri(repoLocation)
        }
    }
}
build.gradle.kts
plugins {
    id("org.samples.greeting") version "1.0-SNAPSHOT"
}

Note for plugins published without java-gradle-plugin

If your plugin was published without using the Java Gradle Plugin Development Plugin, the publication will be lacking Plugin Marker Artifact, which is needed for plugins DSL to locate the plugin. In this case, the recommended way to resolve the plugin in another project is to add a resolutionStrategy section to the pluginManagement {} block of the project’s settings file as shown below.

Example 7. Resolution strategy for plugins without Plugin Marker Artifact
settings.gradle
    resolutionStrategy {
        eachPlugin {
            if (requested.id.namespace == 'org.samples') {
                useModule("org.gradle:customPlugin:${requested.version}")
            }
        }
    }
settings.gradle.kts
    resolutionStrategy {
        eachPlugin {
            if (requested.id.namespace == "org.samples") {
                useModule("org.gradle:customPlugin:${requested.version}")
            }
        }
    }

Precompiled script plugins

In addition to plugins written as standalone projects, Gradle also allows you to provide build logic written in either Groovy or Kotlin DSLs as precompiled script plugins. You write these as *.gradle files in src/main/groovy directory or *.gradle.kts files in src/main/kotlin directory.

Precompiled script plugins are compiled into class files and packaged into a jar. For all intents and purposes, they are binary plugins and can be applied by plugin ID, tested and published as binary plugins. In fact, the plugin metadata for them is generated using the Gradle Plugin Development Plugin.

Kotlin DSL precompiled script plugins built with Gradle 6.0 cannot be used with earlier versions of Gradle. This limitation will be lifted in a future version of Gradle.

Groovy DSL precompiled script plugins are available starting with Gradle 6.4.

To apply a precompiled script plugin, you need to know its ID which is derived from the plugin script’s filename (minus the .gradle extension).

To apply a precompiled script plugin, you need to know its ID which is derived from the plugin script’s filename (minus the .gradle.kts extension) and its (optional) package declaration.

For example, the script src/main/groovy/java-library-convention.gradle would have a plugin ID of java-library-convention. Likewise, src/main/groovy/my.java-library-convention.gradle would result in a plugin ID of my.java-library-convention.

For example, the script src/main/kotlin/java-library-convention.gradle.kts would have a plugin ID of java-library-convention (assuming it has no package declaration). Likewise, src/main/kotlin/my/java-library-convention.gradle.kts would result in a plugin ID of my.java-library-convention as long as it has a package declaration of my.

To demonstrate how you can implement and use a precompiled script plugin, let’s walk through an example based on a buildSrc project.

First, you need a buildSrc/build.gradle file that applies the groovy-gradle-plugin plugin:

First, you need a buildSrc/build.gradle.kts file that applies the kotlin-dsl plugin:

Example 8. Enabling precompiled script plugins
buildSrc/build.gradle
plugins {
    id 'groovy-gradle-plugin'
}
buildSrc/build.gradle.kts
plugins {
    `kotlin-dsl`
}

repositories {
    jcenter()
}

We recommend that you also create a buildSrc/settings.gradle file, which you may leave empty.

We recommend that you also create a buildSrc/settings.gradle.kts file, which you may leave empty.

Next, create a new java-library-convention.gradle file in the buildSrc/src/main/groovy directory and set its contents to the following:

Next, create a new java-library-convention.gradle.kts file in the buildSrc/src/main/kotlin directory and set its contents to the following:

Example 9. Creating a simple script plugin
buildSrc/src/main/groovy/java-library-convention.gradle
plugins {
    id 'java-library'
    id 'checkstyle'
}

java {
    sourceCompatibility = JavaVersion.VERSION_11
    targetCompatibility = JavaVersion.VERSION_11
}

checkstyle {
    maxWarnings = 0
    // ...
}

tasks.withType(JavaCompile) {
    options.warnings = true
    // ...
}

dependencies {
    testImplementation("junit:junit:4.13")
    // ...
}
buildSrc/src/main/kotlin/java-library-convention.gradle.kts
plugins {
    `java-library`
    checkstyle
}

java {
    sourceCompatibility = JavaVersion.VERSION_11
    targetCompatibility = JavaVersion.VERSION_11
}

checkstyle {
    maxWarnings = 0
    // ...
}

tasks.withType<JavaCompile> {
    options.isWarnings = true
    // ...
}

dependencies {
    testImplementation("junit:junit:4.13")
    // ...
}

This script plugin simply applies the Java Library and Checkstyle Plugins and configures them. Note that this will actually apply the plugins to the main project, i.e. the one that applies the precompiled script plugin.

Finally, apply the script plugin to the root project as follows:

Example 10. Applying the precompiled script plugin to the main project
build.gradle
plugins {
    id 'java-library-convention'
}
build.gradle.kts
plugins {
    `java-library-convention`
}

Applying external plugins in precompiled script plugins

In order to apply an external plugin in a precompiled script plugin, it has to be added to the plugin project’s implementation classpath in the plugin’s build file.

buildSrc/build.gradle
plugins {
    id 'groovy-gradle-plugin'
}

repositories {
    jcenter()
}

dependencies {
    implementation 'com.bmuschko:gradle-docker-plugin:6.4.0'
}
buildSrc/build.gradle.kts
plugins {
    `kotlin-dsl`
}

repositories {
    jcenter()
}

dependencies {
    implementation("com.bmuschko:gradle-docker-plugin:6.4.0")
}

It can then be applied in the precompiled script plugin.

buildSrc/src/main/groovy/my-plugin.gradle
plugins {
    id 'com.bmuschko.docker-remote-api'
}
buildSrc/src/main/kotlin/my-plugin.gradle.kts
plugins {
    id("com.bmuschko.docker-remote-api")
}

The plugin version in this case is defined in the dependency declaration.

This limitation will be removed in future versions of Gradle.

Writing tests for your plugin

You can use the ProjectBuilder class to create Project instances to use when you test your plugin implementation.

Example: Testing a custom plugin

src/test/java/org/gradle/GreetingPluginTest.java
public class GreetingPluginTest {
    @Test
    public void greeterPluginAddsGreetingTaskToProject() {
        Project project = ProjectBuilder.builder().build();
        project.getPluginManager().apply("org.samples.greeting");

        assertTrue(project.getTasks().getByName("hello") instanceof GreetingTask);
    }
}

More details

Plugins often also provide custom task types. Please see Developing Custom Gradle Task Types for more details.

Gradle provides a number of features that are helpful when developing Gradle types, including plugins. Please see Developing Custom Gradle Types for more details.

When developing Gradle Plugins, it is important to be cautious when logging information to the build log. Logging sensitive information (e.g. credentials, tokens, certain environment variables) is considered a security vulnerability. Build logs for public Continuous Integration services are world-viewable and can expose this sensitive information.

Behind the scenes

So how does Gradle find the Plugin implementation? The answer is - you need to provide a properties file in the JAR’s META-INF/gradle-plugins directory that matches the id of your plugin, which is handled by Java Gradle Plugin Development Plugin.

Example: Wiring for a custom plugin

src/main/resources/META-INF/gradle-plugins/org.samples.greeting.properties
implementation-class=org.gradle.GreetingPlugin

Notice that the properties filename matches the plugin id and is placed in the resources folder, and that the implementation-class property identifies the Plugin implementation class.