Specifying dependencies in the build.gradle file using various dependency configurations

In the world of Gradle, a powerful dependency management system, it is crucial to understand how to specify dependencies in the build.gradle file. The build.gradle file acts as a central configuration file for your project, and understanding the different dependency configurations available can make your build process more efficient and reliable.

What are dependency configurations?

Dependency configurations in Gradle are a way to categorize dependencies based on their intended usage and scope. Each configuration represents a specific set of dependencies that fulfill a particular purpose. By defining dependencies within appropriate configurations, you can manage their inclusion in your project's build process.

Default dependency configurations

When you create a new Gradle project, it includes a few default dependency configurations for you to work with:

  1. implementation: This is the most common configuration used for compiling your project. Dependencies declared as implementation are visible at the compile-time and runtime classpaths of the main source set.

  2. testImplementation: This configuration is similar to implementation, but specific to the test source set. Dependencies declared as testImplementation are only visible during the compilation and execution of unit tests.

  3. runtimeOnly: Dependencies declared as runtimeOnly are not needed for compilation, but they are required for the execution of your project at runtime. These dependencies are not visible during compile-time.

  4. testRuntimeOnly: Similar to runtimeOnly, testRuntimeOnly dependencies are only used during the execution of tests.

Some examples to illustrate dependency configurations

Let's consider a few scenarios to better understand how different dependency configurations can be utilized:

  1. If you have a library that is only required during compilation, but not at runtime, you can declare it using the compileOnly configuration. This is useful for tools or code generators that are necessary during development but do not contribute to the final artifact.

  2. For platform-specific dependencies, such as native libraries, you can use the implementation or runtimeOnly configurations with a specific platform qualifier. For example, implementation("com.example:my-library:1.0:windows-x86").

  3. If your project has optional features that are not essential for the core functionality, you can declare those dependencies using the optional configuration. These dependencies are not resolved by default, but can be included if needed.

Customizing dependency configurations

Gradle allows you to create your own custom dependency configurations based on your project's requirements. To create a custom configuration named customConfig, you can add the following code to your build.gradle file:

configurations {

After declaring the custom configuration, you can add dependencies to it using the dependencies block:

dependencies {
    customConfig "com.example:custom-library:1.0"

Using custom configurations can be helpful to differentiate dependencies meant for specific tasks or modules within your project.


Understanding and utilizing the different dependency configurations in Gradle is essential for managing dependencies effectively. By categorizing your dependencies appropriately, you can ensure that your project builds correctly and that only the necessary dependencies are included. Whether you use the default configurations or create custom ones, dependency configurations in Gradle provide a flexible approach to dependency management.

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