The Big Move II: Java Deployment Automation with javafx-gradle

Before cracking on to step 2 in the master plan, where we rewrite the app in javafx instead of swing, it might be possible to tidy up how I build releases for the users. Currently I take the jar (previously created by eclipse and now by gradle) and then run the javabuilder command from java 1.8 with a whole bunch of parameters to create the install package for each platform, e.g. for mac it’s this:

export JAVA_HOME=`/usr/libexec/java_home`
export JP=$JAVA_HOME/bin/javapackager
CMD="$JP -deploy -srcfiles ./DrumScoreEditor-2.00.jar -outdir ./outdir -outfile DrumScoreEditor -native installer -appclass org.whiteware.DrumScoreEditor -name Drum\ Score\ Editor -Bicon=Drum\ Score\ Editor.icns"
eval $CMD

Run it and you get:

➜ builder.test ./
No base JDK. Package will use system JRE.
Building DMG package for Drum Score Editor
Result DMG installer for Drum Score Editor: /Users/alanwhite/Development/export/builder.test/./outdir/bundles/Drum Score Editor-1.0.dmg
Building PKG package for Drum Score Editor
Building Mac App Store Bundle for Drum Score Editor

This results in a great dmg in outdir/bundles that has the usual drag to install experience for mac. It’s also signed, and for the life of me I have no recollection how it gets hold of my developer certificates from the keychain, probably a smart default/convention (on the ToDo list to investigate).

What I’d really like is to have gradle do all this for me, without me trying to remember each time what I need to do for Mac and Windows. This is what the plugin at promises, I think! This is what we’re discovering here, don’t want to gripe as it may be my lack of context but documentation seems very sparse.

First step was to download the 32MB repository and investigate the contents. Then following the readme and building a couple of the samples, it all seemed to make sense. What is really useful is the FullyExpressed sample, which shows most of the configuration you can specify if the built in defaults (called convention these days) aren’t suitable.

Then, when adding the plugin to my test gradle project for Drum Score Editor, it got messy. So the only way I could see to integrate is was to copy the file javafx.plugin into the gradle project directory and reference it in the build.gradle using plugin from: syntax. Once through this, I was simply not understanding the errors encountered when trying a gradle build, it seemed to be a clash between jar files / directives in the build.gradle. To save you the same pain, this is the point I realised that if I add the javafx plugin, I had to remove the java plugin from the build.gradle. From there, once I’d specified as a minimum the mainClass in the javafx closure in build.gradle, I could at least get a complete successful compile and deploy cycle, i.e. it produced the mac app, dmg, pkg etc. Short lived success though – running the app gave:

LSOpenURLsWithRole() failed with error -10810 for the file /Users/alanwhite/Development/gradletest/build/distributions/

I remember in the dim and distant past dealing with such obscure errors when trying to figure out in the bad old days, prior to javapackager, how to create the mac app. This one appears to say it can’t find a java runtime, but I learned a while back that there’s lots of misleading clues in this space. Turns out I’d mistyped the mainClass in the build.gradle – only telling you here in case anyone googles the error and maybe avoids a wasted hour tracking it down!

Time to move the last pieces of functionality explicitly stated in the old build scripts above, the name of the app is fairly simple, that’s a directive you can see in the final build.gradle below, however icons require some explanation, all became clear when I found this blogpost from the author of the javafx-plugin Don’t be put off by the age of some of these posts btw (it’s 2015 I’m writing this), I’ve seen comments about javafx-plugin not being maintained. This will be a problem when it stops working, right now, I’m getting close to liking it by this point!

Having found my original icons that made the iconset in use on the Mac builds, after copying them into src/deploy/package and prefixing them with shortcut_, a gradle build generated the icns needed and buried them in the app.

The last piece of customisation is the developer id for signing the app. Not sure how the prior method works, but I think now it works by providing my name (as specified in the developer cert), by concatenating with the well known strings Apple use, it pulled it out of the keychain. Very happy with the progress here, next – integrating the Windows build.


First the good news, taking all the work performed on the Mac, adding to a git repo, pushing and pulling down to the windows machine and “it just worked”. gradlew did what is was supposed to in loading the correct version of gradle etc – really useful feature.

The problem was my build was failing when trying to build the installer. I learnt a lesson here after an hour or so poking around the web and trying different things. Important lesson: if something doesn’t work use “gradlew build –debug”. The output is verbose but all I had to work on before this was error 2 on exec of iscc.exe. Nice, huh? With the debug output I could see that iscc.exe was complaining the icon being used for setup was too large.

A bit more digging and it looks like javafx-gradle combines all the different sized pngs in src/deploy/package into a multi-layered ico file so windows can choose the best fit resolution. Useful except if you’ve got the full complement of sizes required for a full Mac iconset, the generated ico is bigger than the 100Kb that Inno Setup supports (taken from the source code on github).

By trial and many errors, I thought the best solution I could come up with for maintaining the conventional directory structures and minimal customisation to the build.gradle file was to use the icon configuration statement and put it inside the windows platform specific section, which overrides the convention if invoked. That way there’s no need to complicate the Mac build with additional statements, nor compromise on file locations.

This however wasn’t actually why it worked, I’d clumsily also deleted a 512×512 png at the same time as it turns out from checking the javafx-plugin source code that the icons statement doesn’t apply within the platform specific scope statements. Grr, controlled testing needed.

apply plugin: 'eclipse'
apply from: 'javafx.plugin'

dependencies {
    compile fileTree(dir: 'libs', include: ['*.jar'])

sourceSets {
    main {
        resources {
            srcDir 'src/main/java'

javafx {
    appName 'Drum Score Editor'
    mainClass 'org.whiteware.DrumScoreEditor'

    profiles {
        macosx {
            bundleArguments = [
                'mac.signing-key-user-name' : 'Alan White'

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