This guide shows how to

  1. Build a simple C++ library using the Gradle cpp plugin, and

  2. Build and Run unit tests written with GoogleTest using the google-test plugin.

What you’ll need

  • About

  • A text editor

  • A command prompt

  • The Java Development Kit (JDK), version 1.7 or higher

  • A Gradle distribution, version 4.7 or better

  • An installed C++ compiler. See which C++ tool chains are supported by Gradle and whether you have to do any installation configuration for your platform.

  • GoogleTest static library and the header files


The first step is to create a folder for the new project and add a Gradle Wrapper to the project.

$ mkdir building-and-testing-cpp-libraries
$ cd building-and-testing-cpp-libraries
$ gradle wrapper (1)


1 This allows a version of Gradle to be locked to a project and henceforth you can use ./gradlew instead of gradle.

Create a build.gradle file that has the following content:

apply plugin: 'cpp' (1)
apply plugin: 'google-test' (2)

model { (3)
    repositories {
        libs(PrebuiltLibraries) { (4)
            googleTest { (5)
                headers.srcDir new File(projectDir, "3rdparty/googletest-master/googletest/include") (6)
                binaries.withType(StaticLibraryBinary) {
                    staticLibraryFile = file(projectDir.getPath() + "/3rdparty/googletest-master/googletest/build/" + findGoogleTestStaticLib(targetPlatform)) (7)
    components {
        greeter(NativeLibrarySpec) { } (8)
        // Let's try using the library
        main(NativeExecutableSpec) { (9)
            sources {
                cpp.lib library: "greeter" (10)

    binaries {
        withType(SharedLibraryBinarySpec) {
            if (toolChain in VisualCpp) {
                cppCompiler.define "DLL_EXPORT" (11)
        withType(GoogleTestTestSuiteBinarySpec) {
            lib library: "googleTest", linkage: "static" (12)

            if (targetPlatform.operatingSystem.linux) {
                cppCompiler.args '-pthread'
                linker.args '-pthread'

def findGoogleTestStaticLib(Platform p) {
    if ( {
        return "Release/gtest.lib"
    } else {
        return "libgtest.a"
1 C++ libraries and binaries are built using the cpp plugin.
2 GoogleTest based unit test binaries are built using the google-test plugin
3 Native builds use the model block
4 You should already have the static library for GoogleTest. Hence this is defined as PrebuiltLibraries.
5 The name of the library component is googleTest. This can be any meaningful name you choose.
6 Specify the path where the header files of GoogleTest is located. Test suites will include the header files from this location.
7 Specify the path of the static library. The file name depends on the platform. So, a utility function that returns the library filename based on the target platform is used.
8 Native libraries are specified as a component of type NativeLibrarySpec and defined by a name - greeter in this case.
9 Native executables are specified as a component of type NativeExecutableSpec and defined by a name - main in this case.
10 The main binary uses the greeter {c++} library and is specified using cpp.lib
11 When using the VC++ compiler, the library methods should be declared with __declspec(dllexport) for shared library. This defines the macro DLL_EXPORT based on which the declaration is modified.
12 The test binaries should be linked with the GoogleTest static library to be able to run. We specify the linkage as static to tell the linker to statically link the binary with the googleTest library defined in step 5 above.

Now run

$ ./gradlew tasks

You should see a number of tasks that has been added by Gradle

greeterSharedLibrary - Assembles shared library 'greeter:sharedLibrary'.
greeterStaticLibrary - Assembles static library 'greeter:staticLibrary'.

Build Dependents tasks
assembleDependentsGreeter - Assemble dependents of native library 'greeter'.
assembleDependentsGreeterSharedLibrary - Assemble dependents of shared library 'greeter:sharedLibrary'.
assembleDependentsGreeterStaticLibrary - Assemble dependents of static library 'greeter:staticLibrary'.
assembleDependentsGreeterTestGoogleTestExe - Assemble dependents of google test exe 'greeterTest:googleTestExe'.
buildDependentsGreeter - Build dependents of native library 'greeter'.
buildDependentsGreeterSharedLibrary - Build dependents of shared library 'greeter:sharedLibrary'.
buildDependentsGreeterStaticLibrary - Build dependents of static library 'greeter:staticLibrary'.
buildDependentsGreeterTestGoogleTestExe - Build dependents of google test exe 'greeterTest:googleTestExe'.

Verification tasks
check - Runs all checks.
checkGreeterTestGoogleTestExe - Check google test exe 'greeterTest:googleTestExe'

There are a few things to note here

  • The names Greeter and Main in the task names are derived from the names of the components defined in build.gradle.

  • The NativeLibrarySpec, by default, generates both static and shared(dynamic) libraries. By default, the shared library is used by the binaries that use this library

  • The google-test plugin automatically generates testsuites for each of the component declared as a NativeLibrarySpec or NativeExecutableSpec. The testsuites are of type GoogleTestSuiteBinarySpec

  • The google-test plugin has also added a new verification task. The verification tasks are check tasks that assemble and test a binary.

  • You might see a few more tasks than what has been listed above.

Add source code

In build.gradle, there are two components. greeter is the library you will be building and main is a simple executable to consume this library. The sources are structured as below

  • greeter library - src/greeter/cpp for sources and non-exported header files and src/greeter/headers for exported header files

  • main binary - src/main/cpp for sources.

The google-test plugin will automatically create two components named greeterTest and mainTest respectively for the greeter component and main component declared in te build scrpt. Place the test sources for the greeterTest test component at src/greeterTest/cpp.

In general, the sources are located at src/{name}/cpp where name is the name of the component.

mkdir -p src/greeter/cpp src/greeter/headers
mkdir -p src/main/cpp
mkdir -p src/greeterTest/cpp

Place a greeter.hpp in src/greeter/headers and a greeter.cpp in src/greeter/cpp.

#ifndef _GREETER_H_
#define _GREETER_H_

#include <string>
#include <algorithm>

#if defined(DLL_EXPORT)
#define DECLSPEC __declspec(dllexport)
#define DECLSPEC

class DECLSPEC Greeter {
    Greeter(std::string name_) : name(name_) {};
    Greeter() : name("World") {};
    void greet();
    int getNameLength();
    std::string name;

#include <iostream>
#include "greeter.hpp"

void Greeter::greet() {
    std::cout << "Hello, " << name << ", your name has " << getNameLength() << " chars." << std::endl;

int Greeter::getNameLength() {
    return name.length();

Now place a greeting.cpp under src/main/cpp.

#include "greeter.hpp"

int main(int argc, char* argv[]) {
    Greeter g("Gradle User");
    return 0;

Place a greetertest.cpp under src/greeterTest/cpp.

#include <gtest/gtest.h>
#include "greeter.hpp"

TEST(GreeterTest, CheckCapitalisation) {
    Greeter g("GradleUser");
    EXPECT_EQ(g.getNameLength(), 10);

int main(int argc, char **argv) {
  ::testing::InitGoogleTest(&argc, argv);
  return RUN_ALL_TESTS();

Build the project

Gradle adds tasks to the build for both static and shared form of the library. To build just the static library, run

$ ./gradlew greeterStaticLibrary
:compileGreeterStaticLibraryGreeterCpp (1)

1 Gradle does not show the compiler commands or only show an excerpt of the compiler output if the compilation failed in order to keep the output from Gradle itself clean. But the compiler output can be found in build/tmp/compileGreeterStaticLibraryGreeterCpp/output.txt and the compiler flags can be found in build/tmp/compileGreeterStaticLibraryGreeterCpp/options.txt

This builds the static library under build/libs/greeter/static

$ find build/libs/

In a similar fashion, the shared library can be generated by running

$ ./gradlew greeterSharedLibrary
$ find build/libs/

Since the main component depends on the greeter library, running the mainExecutable task will generate the static for exported symbols only and shared libraries and the executable binary as well.

$ ./gradlew mainExecutable


You can run the binary that uses this library (you need to set the LD_LIBRARY_PATH as needed so that the shared library can be located).

$ LD_LIBRARY_PATH=build/libs/greeter/shared/ ./build/exe/main/main
Hello, Gradle User, your name has 11 chars.

Test the project

As mentioned earlier, the google-test plugin automatically adds the testsuite components and verification tasks to the project. When you run the build task, gradle runs the compile tasks for source code and the test suites. It then runs the testsuite binary as well. The test binary in this case will be named greeterTest and the task will be named runGreeterTestGoogleTestExe.

$ ./gradlew build
:checkGreeterSharedLibrary UP-TO-DATE
[==========] Running 1 test from 1 test case.
[----------] Global test environment set-up.
[----------] 1 test from GreeterTest
[ RUN      ] GreeterTest.CheckCapitalisation
[       OK ] GreeterTest.CheckCapitalisation (0 ms)
[----------] 1 test from GreeterTest (0 ms total)

[----------] Global test environment tear-down
[==========] 1 test from 1 test case ran. (0 ms total)
[  PASSED  ] 1 test.
Hello, Gradle User, your name has 11 chars.

You should see the output from the GoogleTest testsuite that you had written for the greeter library as part of the output for the build task.


You have created a C++ library (both static and shared) and written unit tests for it. In doing so, you saw

  • How to create gradle build scripts for C++ libraries.

  • How to generate static and/or shared libraries from C++ soruces.

  • How to use our library in a C++ binary.

  • How to build and run testsuites written with GoogleTest

Help improve this guide

Have feedback or a question? Found a typo? Like all Gradle guides, help is just a GitHub issue away. Please add an issue or pull request to gradle-guides/building-cpp-libraries and we’ll get back to you.