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Differences between Gradle build and Gradle Sync in android

As an android developer, you must have come across the terms Gradle build and Gradle sync. These two terms are not new since they are used any time you are working with the android studio to develop an app.

For some developers, the two terms Gradle build and Gradle sync may not be clear to them therefore may cause confusion even when they want to seek clarification about them.

In this article, we shall focus to understand the differences between Gradle build and Gradle sync in android by understanding what each of the terms means, where each is used and where to use them.

Gradle build and Gradle sync are used together for advanced projects, that is, for projects that are not for beginners to test a certain element, for example, creating a text view in android.

In a previous article, we defined a Gradle in android as a tool that is used to automate the process of building, simulating, and deploying apps so as to ensure that the user will not have a lot of input.

The Gradle is the one that controls how the code written in the android studio is translated into a packaged file called apk or aab that can be installed on a mobile device.

It is important to note that every project in the android studio must ensure that Gradle is working successfully to build or deploy any app.

What is Gradle build

The Gradle build is a process that occurs to ensure that all processes in the android studio are functioning properly without which a project in android studio shows errors.

Gradle build occurs every time you start an android studio, clean a project, run a project and build a project.

From the definition of a Gradle above, it is clear that Gradle is the tool that facilitates and controls building, deploying, and simulating android projects. Therefore, building being part of the process that is controlled by Gradle, the Gradle build ensures that the other processes cannot proceed when there are errors.

Gradle build is involved when there is building an app either to generate an apk or aab, cleaning the app or project, and also when rebuilding the app.

Gradle build must successfully complete for the android studio project to be simulated and deployed else errors will be seen or an apk or aab will not be generated.

Example of Gradle build

In the image shown below, I have opened a project.

The first thing that happens is Gradle starts to build

It is recommended to wait until Gradle finishes to build so as to add other features

Differences between Gradle build and Gradle Sync in android

What is Gradle Sync

For some Gradle sync is a new term but it is important in android apps development. Gradle sync means Gradle synchronization which is the process used to add new features to an android project.

In a case where you want to use a library that is not inbuilt in android studio for your project, you will need to import the library from either GitHub or other source to your project through the app Gradle file (build.gradle (Module: projectname))

Once you add the library in the app Gradle, you will need to sync it so that the features can be imported into your project so that they can be available for use.

For you to use the library features you have imported, Gradle must successfully sync the files.

Gradle sync requires the use of a strong internet connection since some libraries are bulk in size.

Example of using Gradle sync

In my project, I have added the fast networking library in the app Gradle as shown below

dependencies {implementation ''}

The next thing, I will be required to update the Gradle file using the sync button as shown in the below image

Differences between Gradle build and Gradle Sync in android

You will be required to click the sync now button to apply the changes.

Once you click the sync now button, Gradle build will start processing the changes.


From the above discussion, the major differences we can note between Gradle build and Gradle sync is that Gradle build occurs every time you open a project, building a project, rebuilding a project, cleaning a project, and when you want to generate an apk or aab.

The Gradle sync is used when a new library is added to the build Gradle file and also when the Gradle file is updated.

The Gradle build is used throughout the project development cycle while Gradle sync is used only when changes have been made to the Gradle file.