• Build, Test, Deploy
  • Java Build Tools

What are the best Java Build Tools ?

Gradle, apache maven, cmake, sonatype nexus, and bazel are the most popular tools in the category "java build tools". "flexibility" is the primary reason developers pick gradle over its competitors, while "dependency management" is the reason why apache maven was chosen..


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List of Open Source Java Build Tools

List of Popular Open Source Java Build Tools

Java is a popular programming language, and as such there are many open-source Java build tools available. This article looks at 4 of the most popular Java build tools.

It also covers when you should use each tool in development. Finally, it provides some helpful tips on how to get started using these tools effectively.

A lot of engineering teams are using Java Build tools to automate their build processes. This article will look into popular and widely used open-source Java build tools with their pros and cons.

What is a Java Build Tool?

A java build tool is a program or command-line utility that automates the process of compiling, assembling, and deploying software.

Build tools are often used to automate processes such as building an application binary from source code

Build tools are not only limited to just compiling code, they can also help with the following: package management, dependency handling, and in continuous integration pipelines.

When it comes to continuous integration build tools play an important part in building and packaging the source cod e by handling all the dependencies.

Best Open Source Java Build Tools

Following is the list of Open source Java Builds.

Apache Maven

Maven Website: maven.apache.org

One of the most popular is Maven, which was originally developed in 2001 and has since been adopted as the de facto standard for building Java projects.

Maven’s scalability and extensibility make it an attractive choice for small development teams who need automated builds but don’t have a lot of resources allocated toward software engineering overhead.

You can get started by installing maven .

Official Website: gradle.org

Gradle is built upon the concepts of ant and maven. Gradle uses Groovy scripts for declaring the project configuration. Gradle was designed for multi-project builds and supports incremental builds by determining which parts of the build are up-to-date.

Ant is mostly treated as a legacy right now. Industry going forward with Gradle build tool. I personally feel, Ant and Maven still we can use it, it mainly depends on the project. Sometimes we can use a combination of Ant and Gradle, Maven and Gradle, or even three together.

Official Website: scala-sbt.org

SBT is a Scala-based build tool. It’s considered to be among the most popular Java Build Tools. Sbt has many plugins and allows developers to easily create their own custom tasks for specific purposes.

The SBT can execute projects in multiple JVM languages, including Ruby and JavaScript.

One of the main benefits of using SBT with a java project is that it can automatically download the dependencies and set up a development environment

SBT for java has many plugins which are contributed by third-party developers.

Apache Ant with ivy

Official Website: ant.apache.org

Ant is a java library, which helps to drive the process defined in the build file. Mainly Ant is used to build java applications. Ant is very flexible; it does not impose any rules like coding conventions, or directory structure. Ivy is a subproject of Ant, which acts as a dependency manager.

Here you can refer to some ant scripts: Ant Scripts

What is the Need for Java Build Tools?

The answer to this question is simple: if we are not automating our build processes then we will be spending more time doing manual work.

We can say that a build tool should automate the process of compiling, packaging, and deploying an application.

ANT vs Maven

Let me share with you some of the important differences between ANT and Maven.

Maven vs Gradle

Let me share with you some of the important features or reasons, which Gradle is having and Maven does not. These features promoting Gradle to choose over other build tools.

For a more detailed comparison between Maven and Gradle. Please refer to this link. 

In this article, we have learned about some of the popular open-source java build tools . Of course, selecting a build tool for your java projects depends on your choice. If you have any queries regarding the build tools, leave a comment below.

Also, in terms of DevOps , it is very important to know about build tools. Check out the DevOps Engineer guide to know more.

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The java programming language is based on the syntax of C and C++ but has a simpler object model. Though it provides very little lower level functionality.

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What is Build Tools

Top 5 build tools in java, comparisons between java build tools.

Build Tools in Java

This article mainly focuses on Java build tools. First, we will learn what build tools are, and then we will discuss 5 of the most popular ones for Java.

Whatever programming language developers use to develop software, build tools play an important role in automating the build processes.

A build tool turns the software’s source code into executable code. We all know that whatever code we write in Java, the computer doesn’t understand.

So we must convert it into binary, which is what the build tool does.

Also, build tools, compile the code, run the test cases, and manage the software’s dependencies, packages, and deployment to the production system.

Furthermore, the question can arise: can’t we manage dependencies, packages, and compilation by ourselves? Yes, we can do that.

But think that we are making changes to our code 5 to 7 times per day if we follow the Agile development strategy. Will we waste our time compiling and downloading required dependencies whenever we update the version of our code?

Not really! We should use build tools to overcome these problems and save time.

Here, we have an overview of the top 5 Java build tools.

A contemporary automation tool for project build automation is called Gradle .

It is used in software development. Gradle features a built-in DSL based on either Kotlin or Groovy code.

Gradle is a more up-to-date version of Apache Ant that uses Apache Groove, a domain-specific language (DSL), instead of XML. Every stage of the development of an app can benefit from using Gradle.

It allows incremental builds and can perform all of Ant’s functions, plus much more.

Ant and Maven are the foundations upon which Gradle is based. Gradle uses groovy scripts to declare the project configuration.

Gradle supports incremental builds by identifying which body components are the most recent because it was created for multi-project forms.

Since 2004 there has been this software program from the Apache Software Foundation. According to some, Maven is an updated version of Apache Ant.

This build tool is based on Java and supports projects written in other programming languages. It just requires that you create exceptions because it builds using conventions.

Maven makes it simple to create plugins for a particular purpose. Additionally, you can utilize it simultaneously for numerous projects. Maven is reliant on XML.

The Java development environment uses Apache Maven, a potent software project management tool, to manage, build, and maintain project dependencies. Maven uses XML to configure projects.

The predecessor of Apache Maven was Apache Ant. Ant was created as a substitute for the build tool Make, which was previously widely used in software development and was first made available in 2000.

Ant is used to automate build tasks using an XML file. Though, the Apache Ivy plugin is required for Ant to provide dependency management.

Learning Ant shouldn’t be too challenging if you are familiar with build tools, dependency management, and XML. It is still quite helpful even though it is regarded as “ancient”.

Apache Ant is incredibly adaptable. Depending on the functions you want this software to carry out, you can modify it.

For example, Apache Ant may be used to compile the source code of an app and run it, just like other build automation applications.

Java is the operating system for this free-build automation server. Many developers utilize Jenkins , which has been operating for more than ten years.

The 1,400 plugins increase the capabilities it can support. Jenkins can be used to compile, test, and deploy programs.

Jenkins can be started on a Java app server like Apache Tomcat as a standalone application or servlet.

It is often used as a tool for CD (Continuous Delivery) and CI (Continuous Integration). Jenkins is excellent for continuously developing and testing software projects.

Its features simplify the work of developers by enabling them to incorporate changes to a project and allow continuous software delivery by interacting with various testing and deployment tools.

This is a 2008 edition of an interaction build tool. The Scala Build Tool is called SBT .

It is regarded as one of the most widely used Java Build Tools. It supports Java even if Scala projects are its primary use.

In addition to offering all the capabilities in typical build automation software, SBT is explicitly tailored for Scala applications. It controls dependencies as well.

SBT has several plugins, and you can add further functionality to the program.

The SBT can carry out tasks in various JVM languages, including JavaScript and Ruby. One of the key advantages of utilizing SBT with Java projects is that it can set up a development environment and download dependencies automatically.

Other developers have created numerous plugins for SBT for Java.

We’ve seen that some open sources and paid-for build automation solutions exist.

A Maven is a build tool, whereas Jenkins is a continuous integration tool if we compare the top tools, Jenkins and Maven. Jenkins can use Maven as a build tool.

Gradle is faster than Maven when the two are compared since it offers the characteristics of incrementality, build caching, and cradle daemon.

We can say that every tool is best in their way. But your decision will determine the build tool you choose for your Java projects.

Shubham Vora avatar

Shubham is a software developer interested in learning and writing about various technologies. He loves to help people by sharing vast knowledge about modern technologies via different platforms such as the DelftStack.com website.

Build tools in java

A build tool is utility program to automate the process of repetitive tasks like compiling source code and creating files etc. A build tool can be executed from the command line. Note: Apache Ant, Maven and Gradle are the commonly used building tools in java.

Why build tools are used?

Build tools are used to automate the process of repetitive tasks like source code compilation etc and take this burden away from the developers.

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15 BEST Java Tools & Software for Developers (2023)

There are many tools available for Java management. These software ease the entire process of developing, testing and deployment in Java.

Following is a handpicked list of Java Tools for Developers , with their popular features and website links. The list contains both open source(free) and commercial(paid) tools.

Best JAVA Tools for Development

Name Free Trial Platforms Link
30 Days Free Trial Windows and Linux
30-Day Free Trial Windows, Mac and Linux
Open Source Tool Windows, Mac and Linux
Open Source Tool Windows, Mac and Linux
Open Source Tool Windows, Mac and Linux

1) Site24x7

Monitor the performance of your Java applications with Site24x7 APM Insight. Site24x7 is a SaaS-based all-in-one monitoring solution for DevOps and IT. With Site24x7 APM, you can get a holistic view of your application performance in real-time and debug errors with ease.


Customer Support: Chat, Contact Form, Email and Phone

Platforms: Windows and Linux

Programming Languages Supports: Java, .NET, Ruby, PHP, Node.js, and Python

Key Features:

👍 Pros 👎 Cons
Notifications of drive space and uptime problems. The user interface needs to be improved more.
Monitoring of your website. Cloud monitoring functions are limited.
Great gameplay with a very responsive touchscreen
It offer APM monitoring, cloud monitoring, and server monitoring.
A custom integration with a variety of apps is available.

Visit Site24x7 >>

30 Days Free Trial

2) ManageEngine Applications Manager

ManageEngine Applications Manager helps proactively monitor Java applications and the infrastructure performance.

ManageEngine Applications Manager

Customer Support: Chat, Email and Phone

Programming Languages Supports: GO, C++, Python, Java, JavaScript, and Swift

👍 Pros 👎 Cons
A wide range of network devices can be monitored. Agents are required for End-User-Monitoring.
Simple setup and installation There is limited integration.
Affordable, and easy –to-use SQL knowledge is required for customized reports.
Group apps will allow you to monitor your entire service efficiently.
Detection and resolution of network issues in a timely manner.
Discovery and mapping of dependencies in an automated and dynamic manner.

Visit ManageEngine >>

JUnit is an open source unit testing tool for Java programming language. It is important Java development tool for test-driven development and deployment.


👍 Pros 👎 Cons
The JUnit framework is an open source project. It’s not suitable for testing at the higher levels
Enhances the productivity and stability of the code. Group testing cannot be done in JUnit
Easily integrates with most software programs.
A simple and easy-to-use application.

Download link: http://junit.org/junit4/

4) NetBeans

NetBeans is FREE, open-source IDE. It is one of the best Java developer tools which allows developing desktop, mobile and web applications.


👍 Pros 👎 Cons
Maintain Project Groups to differentiate applications. Netbeans provides only one view unlike Eclipse.
It offers readymade script templates. Heavyweight as plugins cannot be uninstalled.
It has tools for static analysis. There can be a problem with performance.
Offer fantastic Maven support.
Free and open source software.

Download link: https://netbeans.org/downloads/index.html

5) Apache Maven

Apache Maven is a software Project Management Tool. It is based on the Project Object Model (POM) concept.

Apache Maven

👍 Pros 👎 Cons
The best way to manage dependencies. The builds are complex and fragile.
A pom file can automatically add project dependencies. Maven knowledge at the basic level is required.
There is a large central repository. There can be a lot of complications errors that can occur.
It is possible to maintain and modularize the code.
It is very easy to locate information about a project.

Download link: http://maven.apache.org/download.cgi

Mockito is an Open Source Java Mocking and Unit Testing Tool. Mockito is a popular open source Java mocking framework. It helps developers to write clean, well-designed and loosely-coupled code.


👍 Pros 👎 Cons
The mockito tool is almost everywhere (Python, Java, C++, .NET). Understand the concepts and follow best practices takes time.
Supports mocks as well as test spies. No support for private or static methods.
There is a huge community on StackOverflow
It supports mocks as well as test spies.

Download link: http://site.mockito.org/

Ehcache is an open source, standards-based caching tool for Java language. It is robust, proven, full-featured tool which can be integrated with other popular libraries and frameworks.


👍 Pros 👎 Cons
It provides Hibernate cache implementation. There is a lot of disk space consumed by Disk Cache
The implementation is simpler and easier. The security of data cannot be guaranteed
An interface for listening to caches and cache managers
It supports multiple cache manager instances as well as multiple cache
areas within a single cache manager

Download link: http://www.ehcache.org/downloads/

8) VisualVM

VisualVM is a visual tool for integrating command-line JDK tools. It also offers lightweight profiling capabilities. It is designed for both development and production time use.


👍 Pros 👎 Cons
Monitoring memory usage and application behavior. Support that is lacking
Monitoring of application threads.
Analyzing the memory allocation for the different applications in the system.
JVM monitoring tool with modern features built-in
Generate heap dumps and analyze them

Download link: https://visualvm.github.io/download.html

9) Oracle JDeveloper

Oracle J Developer is a free Java development IDE. It is one of the best Java tools which allows developers to build reliable Service Oriented Architecture with Java. It supports the full development life cycle.


👍 Pros 👎 Cons
Provides support for Agile development. This program consumes a lot of memory.
A complete lifecycle management system. It does not provide auto-completion of code.
It allows interaction with isolated objects. There is no support for auto-formatting or indentation.
It is lightweight.
Data mapping or transformation is provided.

Download link: https://www.oracle.com/tools/downloads/jdeveloper-12c-downloads.html

10) Java Decompiler

Java Decompiler is a freeware Java tool that reconstructs Java source code from CLASS files. It allows to decompile, Java applets, JAR and ZIP files for producing accurate Java source code.

Java Decompiler

👍 Pros 👎 Cons
This is a powerful abstraction. Complexity of using a tool
It is a cross-cutting behavior. The options for support are limited
Support for declarative statements.
It is a supportive and productive environment.

Download link: http://java-decompiler.github.io/

Gradle is a project automation Java tool. It builds on the features of Apache Ant and Apache Maven. It also serves as the default build tool for the Android platform.


👍 Pros 👎 Cons
An enhanced user experience XML files are not used in Gradle projects.
It allows for custom dependency scopes. Expertise in technical areas is required
It is highly customizable
In terms of performance, it is fast and efficient

Download link: https://gradle.org/

12) Cobertura

Cobertura is free Java tool that calculates the percentage of code accessed by tests. It can also be used to identify which parts of Java program are lacking test coverage.


👍 Pros 👎 Cons
It is an easy-to-use tool There are limited integrations available
The source code is not needed to measure coverage. The classes must be compiled with the debug option enabled.
Easy-to-understand reports Java is the only language supported.
Source code coverage tool
Designed for developers as well as testers.

Download link: http://cobertura.github.io/cobertura/

Groovy is a powerful language with static-typing & compilation capabilities. It is aimed at improving developer’s productivity.


👍 Pros 👎 Cons
There is a dynamic typing feature Groovy has no base code format
You can easily integrate it into your system Need to learn new concepts like closures are important to write and understand.
It is very easy to implement file operations in your application
A powerful feature set of tools for builders, runtime, closures, and compile-time metaprogramming

Download link: http://groovy-lang.org/download.html

14) Yourkit

YourKit is an innovative tool for profiling Java &.NET applications. It is the standard-setter in the evolution of profiling tools.


👍 Pros 👎 Cons
Support from the customer is excellent Memory usage is high
Time savings tool Not all run configurations of IntelliJ are supported
A higher return on investment It is aimed at only .NET 2.0 developers
It is easy to use for developers
Layout is very good.

Download link: https://www.yourkit.com/java/profiler/download/

15) Eclipse

Eclipse is an open-source integrated development environment for Java. It is one of the best core Java tools that offers modern features, large numbers of modeling tools, java testing tools, and development frameworks.


👍 Pros 👎 Cons
It is very easy to use many plugins. The performance of the application is slow
This is a great solution for larger projects. The Eclipse IDE needs to be restarted when you have installed a new plug-in
It provides modeling support. It consumes a significant amount of memory
For large and complex web development projects, Eclipse is a good choice.
It is easier to debug errors when using Eclipse

Download link: https://www.eclipse.org/

16) IntelliJ Idea

IntelliJ IDEA is a multi-purpose IDE which focuses on Java development. It is one of the best Java programming tools that offers advanced support for the web, mobile, and hybrid application development.

IntelliJ Idea

👍 Pros 👎 Cons
The debugging support is excellent. Multiple projects cannot be opened in the same window at the same time.
A wide range of convenient features are available. Enterprise editions are expensive.
A clear and detailed documentation is provided.
A faster scripting environment for the server and client side

Download link: https://www.jetbrains.com/idea/download/download-thanks.html

❓ What are Java Tools?

Java Tools are software applications that help developers to ease the entire process of developing, testing, and deployment in Java. These tools help developers to monitor, optimize, troubleshoot and improve the performance of Java applications. It also allows you to check the database, memory, and concurrency and helps you find runtime and compile-time issues in Java programs.

🚀 Which are the Best Java Development Tools?

Below are some of the best Java development tools:

✅ How various Java Tools are used in Application Development?

Here is how Java tools are used in application development:

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What's with all the Java Build tools?

what's the point of using ant, maven, and buildr? won't the using build in eclipse or netbeans work fine? i'm just curious what the purpose and benefit of extended build tools are.

Kristian's user avatar

10 Answers 10

Dependency Management : The build tools follow a component model that provides hints on where to look for dependencies. In Eclipse / Netbeans, you have to depend on a JAR and you don't really know if this JAR has been updated or not. With these build tools, they 'know' updates in dependencies (generally because of a good integration with your source control repository), recalculate transitive dependencies and ensure that everything is always built with the latest versions.

Access Control : Java, apart from class level access control, has no higher abstraction. With these build tools you can specify exactly which projects you want to depend on you and control visibility and access at a higher level of granularity.

Custom Control : The Eclipse / Netbeans build always builds JAR files. With custom build mechanisms, you could build your own custom (company-internal) archive with extra metadata information, if you so wish.

Plugins : There are a variety of plugins that come with build tools which can do various things during build. From something basic like generating Javadocs to something more non-trivial like running tests and getting code coverage, static analysis, generation of reports, etc.

Transport : Some build systems also manage transport of archives - from a development system to a deployment or production system. So, you can configure transport routes, schedules and such.

Take a look at some continuous integration servers like CruiseControl or Hudson . Also, the features page of Maven provides some insight into what you want to know.

Anirudh's user avatar

On top of all the other answers. The primary reason I keep my projects buildable without being forced to use NetBeans or Eclipse is that it makes it so much easier to setup automated (and continuous) builds.

It would be rather complicated (in comparison) to set up a server that somehow starts eclipse, updates the source from the repository, build it all, sends a mail with the result and copies the output to somewhere on a disk where the last 50 builds are stored.

Fredrik's user avatar

If you are a single developer or a very small group, it can seem that a build system is just an overhead. As the number of developers increases though it quickly becomes difficult to track all changes and ensure developers are keeping in sync. A build system reduces the rate of increase of those overheads as your team grows. Consider the issues of building all the code in Eclipse once you have 100+ developers working on the project.

One compelling reason to have a separate build system is to ensure that what has been delivered to your customers is compiled from a specific version of the code checked into your SCM . This eliminates a whole class of "works on my box" issues and in my opinion this benefit is worth the effort on its own in reduced support time. Isolated builds (say on a CI server ) also highlight issues in development, e.g. where partial or breaking changes have been committed, so you have a chance to catch issues early.

A build in an IDE builds whatever happens to be on the box, whereas a standalone build system will produce a reproducible build directly from the SCM. Of course this could be done within an IDE, but AFAIK only by invoking something like Ant or Maven to handle all the build steps.

Then of course there are also the direct benefits of build systems. A modular build system reduces copy-paste issues and handles dependency resolution and other build related issues. This should allow developers to focus on delivering code. Of course every new tool introduces its own issues and the learning curve involved can make it seem that a build system is a needless overhead (just Google I hate Maven to get some idea).

Rich Seller's user avatar

The problem with building from the IDE, is that there are tons of settings affecting the build. When you use a build tool all the settings a condensed in a more or less readable form into a small set of scripts or configuration files. This allows in the ideal case anybody to execute a build with hardly any manual setup.

Without the build tool it might become next to impossible to even compile your code in let's say a year, because you'll have to reverse engineer all the settings

Jens Schauder's user avatar

Different features. For example Maven can scan your dependencies and go download them, and their dependencies so you don't have to. For even a medium sized project there may be a very large number of dependencies. I don't think Eclipse can do that.

Shizzmo's user avatar


Maybe I should also uninstall subversion and use patches or just zip folders on a sftp/ftp/Samba share.

The build tools allow you to do a build automatically, without human invention, which is essential if you have a code base being able to build many applications (like we do).

We want to be certain that each and everyone of our applications can build correctly after any code base changes. The best way to check that is to let a computer do it automatically using a Continouos integration tool. We just check in code, and the CI server picks up there is a change and rebuilds all modules influenced by that change. If anything breaks the responsible person is mailed directly.

It is extremely handy being able to automate things.

Thorbjørn Ravn Andersen's user avatar

To expand on Jens Schauder's answer, a lot of those build options end up in some sort of .project file. One of the evils of Eclipse is that they store absolute path names in all of it's project files, so you can't copy a project file from one machine to another, which might have its workspace in a different directory.

The strongest reason for me, is automated builds.

dj_segfault's user avatar

IDEs just work on a higher abstraction layer.

NetBeans nativly uses Ant as its underlying build tool and recently can directly open maven projects in NetBeans. Hence, your typical NetBeans project can be compiled with ant and your maven project already is a NetBeans project.

As with every GUI vs CLI discussion, IDEs seem easier for beginners but once you get the idea it becomes cumbersome to do complex things.

Changing the configuration with an IDE means clicking somewhere which is easy for basic things but for complex stuff you need to find the right place to click. Furthermore IDEs seem to hide the importent information. Clicking a button to add a library is easy but you may still not know where the library is, etc.

In contrast, using a CLI isn't easy to start with but becomes quickly easy. It allows to do complex things more easily.

Using Ant or Maven means that every one can choose his/her own IDE to work one the code. Telling someone to install IDE X to compile it is much more overhead than telling "run <build command> in your shell". And of course your can't explain the former to an external tool.

To sum up, the IDE uses a build tool itself. In case of NetBeans Ant (or Maven) is used so you can get all the advantages and disadvantages of those. Eclipse uses its own thing (as far as I know) but also can integrate ant scripts.

As for the build tools themselves Maven is significantly different from Ant. It can download specified dependencies up to the point of downloading a web server to run your project.

wierob's user avatar

In all projects, developers will often manually invoke the Build process.but it is not Suitable for large Projects, Where it is very difficult to keep track of what needs to be built, in what sequence and what dependencies there are in the building process.Hence we Use Build Tools for Our Projects. Build Tools Done varieties of the task in the Application which will do by the Developer in their daily life. They are 1.Downloading dependencies. 2.Compiling source code into binary code. 3.Packaging that binary code. 4.Running tests. 5.Deployment to production systems.

Selvan's user avatar

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  1. What are the best Java Build Tools - StackShare

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    Following is the list of Open source Java Builds. Apache Maven Ant with ivy Gradle SBT Apache Maven Maven Website: maven.apache.org One of the most popular is Maven, which was originally developed in 2001 and has since been adopted as the de facto standard for building Java projects.

  5. Build Tools in Java | Delft Stack

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