Migrating 25K lines of Ant scripting to Gradle

Hanno EmbregtsThe Gradle guy

Most developers prefer to spend their time writing code instead of performing build script maintenance. Build scripting may be an essential part of the software development process, but it often lacks maintainability which makes applying and deploying changes a tedious job. So it’s important to make sure your build system encourages simplicity and that changes can be made in a fast and straightforward way. Industry standards Ant and Maven are not quite up to the task; Gradle is a better alternative. This presentation introduces Gradle – a modern build system that supports all JVM Languages – and shares the result of the Ant-to-Gradle migration that was performed at ‘Nederlandse Spoorwegen’ (or NS - Dutch Railways). The session will focus on the challenges we faced while trying to replace Ant scripting with the Gradle equivalent and how we handled them. After attending this session, you will have a good understanding of Gradle, its possibilities and its pros and cons compared to Ant and Maven. On top of that, you will be able to migrate your own project to Gradle, even if your project has a huge code base or relies on ancient technologies. The lessons we learnt at NS could be very helpful to your own situation.


Hanno Embregts is a Java Developer and Scrum Master at Info Support (Veenendaal, Netherlands). He has over 8 years experience developing enterprise software in various fields (insurance companies, banks, hospitals, industry) and currently works for the Dutch Railway Company (‘NS’). He loves building innovative software and has a passion for clean, elegant solutions. On top of that, he likes continuous delivery, behavior-driven development and all things agile.