Speed Up The Maven Build

How to speed up a Maven project by using different tips.


In our team, we have a big codebase with hundred of thousands of lines of code. Building it locally is a huge pain. It contains Java, Scala, JavaScript code which use different technologies. And the main tool is Maven. In this post, we’ll try to understand why the build is slow, which are the real pain points and, how to speed it up using better Maven commands.

Actual Build Time Without Tests

Module Type Time
M1 POM 0.218 s
M2 POM 1.830 s
M3 Java 0.132 s
M4 Java 2.225 s
M5 Java 0.686 s
M6 Java 6.206 s
M7 JavaScript 01:15 min
M8 JavaScript 07:00 min
M9 Java 0.489 s
M10 Java 0.543 s
M11 Java / GWT 15.426 s
M12 POM 0.522 s
M13 Java 4.127 s
M14 Java 3.109 s
M15 Java 1.691 s
M16 Java 2.255 s
M17 Java 0.475 s
M18 JavaScript 27.649 s
M19 Java 1.760 s
M20 Ant 25.601 s
M21 Java 1.922 s
M22 Java 0.709 s
M23 Java 0.586 s
M24 Java / GWT 47.177 s
M25 Java 0.880 s
M26 Ant 35.509 s
M27 Java 2.012 s
M28 Scala 16.455 s
M29 Java 0.576 s
M30 Java 3.213 s
M31 Java / GWT 0.579 s
Total - 11:42 min

Skip JavaScript Modules

As you can see, the JavaScript modules are using much more time than any other Java modules. So skipping them will make the build much faster:

mvn clean install -DskipTests -pl '!m7,!m8,!m18'

The build is now done in 2:48 min.

Skip GWT Modules

The GWT modules are taking 1 minute from the build (15.4 + 47.1), if the changes were not related to these modules, they can be skipped too.

mvn clean install -nsu -DskipTests -pl '!m7,!m8,!m18,!m11,!m24'

Combined with skipping JavaScript, the build is now done in 1:41 min.

Parallel Builds

For now, I think the most painful parts are addressed: JavaScript modules and GWT modules are no longer built. But there’re still places for smaller optimization. For example, using parallel builds. It allows to use more threads for building Maven. Be careful when using this option for running tests—not all the tests support parallel executions. The test results might not be reliable. So if there’re no tests, we can do:

mvn -T 1C clean install -nsu -DskipTests -pl '!m7,!m8,!m18,!m11,!m24'

Which means Maven uses 1 thread per core for the build. The multiple-thread build is available since Maven 3. When running the project, you can see the message in the console (right after the Reactor Build Order):

[INFO] Reactor Build Order:
[INFO] ...
[INFO] Using the MultiThreadedBuilder implementation with a thread count of 8

Maven uses 8 threads because my machine has 8 logical CPU. Actually, the CPU is an Intel Core i7 2.9 GHz, which has Hyper-Theading Technology and makes one physical core appears as two processors to the operating system. So there’re 4 physical CPUs and appears as 8 logical CPUs.

$ sysctl hw.physicalcpu hw.logicalcpu
hw.physicalcpu: 4
hw.logicalcpu: 8

Here’s the result of execution:

Module Time
M1 0.142 s
M2 1.435 s
M3 0.274 s
M4 3.034 s
M5 0.469 s
M6 5.034 s
M7 -
M8 -
M9 3.271 s
M10 2.751 s
M11 -
M12 0.959 s
M13 5.452 s
M14 4.961 s
M15 3.857 s
M16 3.336 s
M17 3.752 s
M18 -
M19 4.178 s
M20 26.841 s
M21 3.344 s
M22 1.100 s
M23 3.741 s
M24 -
M25 1.637 s
M26 44.211 s
M27 1.941 s
M28 29.441 s
M29 3.305 s
M30 6.453 s
M31 3.553 s
Total 1:01 min (Wall Clock)

As you can see, the time for building each module is longer, but the Wall-Clock time is shorter now: -39%. This option is very useful when you only want to ensure your code compiles.

What is “Wall-Clock” time in Maven? Here’s an answer from Stack Overflow:

By default (without -T), Maven builds all modules sequentially rather than in parallel. So you only have one process, which (in your example) takes 40s.

You start the build with 4 threads, so the total time of 40s gets divided by 4 threads, so each thread runs for 10s.

The total CPU time stays the same (40s), but the time that passed for YOU is only 10s + some overhead for parallelization. It’s the time that you see when you look on your clock on the wall, therefore it’s called Wall-Clock time.

Only Build The New Changes

If you want the build to be even faster, you shoud build just the project specified in option -pl and all the dependent ones (flag -amd). For example, if I change a class called Foo.java, and rebuild the Maven as mentioned before, the command is (without parallel):

mvn clean install -DskipTests -nsu -pl 'm7' -amd

which takes 02:44 min to complete.

Now, run the same command again in parallel:

mvn clean install -DskipTests -nsu -pl 'm7' -amd -T 1C

which takes 01:55 min to complete.

Only Compile

The build is still not very optimal because of the Ant tasks which take too long to complete. If you don’t need to build the packages in localhost, skip them. This will make the build much faster. So here we will only compile the source code without packaging, and let CI to run the tests and package the software:

mvn clean -nsu compiler:compile compiler:testCompiler

which takes 35.123 seconds to complete.

Now, try again with parallel build:

mvn clean -nsu compiler:compile compiler:testCompiler -T 1C

which takes 18.499 seconds to complete.

What about building only the changes?

mvn clean -nsu compiler:compile compiler:testCompiler -T 1C -amd -pl 'm7'

still taking 18.404 seconds to complete. So I think we reach our limit now :)


I make the summary as Bash alias, so that they can be executed easily in your terminal:

# Maven CC (src compile + test compile)
#   Double compilation for both source code
#   and test code running in parallel.
#   Estimate: 18s
alias mvncc='mvn clean compiler:compile compiler:testCompile -nsu -T 1C'

# Maven NSU (no snapshot update)
#   Maven full build without snapshot update
#   running in parallel. Useful for the 1st
#   build.
#   Estimate: 8m33
alias mvnnsu='mvn clean install -DskipTests -nsu -T 1C'

# Maven NJS (non JavaScript)
#   Maven full build without JavaScript
#   modules. Useful when no changes on JS
#   code, and need to build the full project
#   locally.
#   Estimate: 2m01
alias mvnnjs='mvn clean install -DskipTests -nsu -T 1C -pl "!js1,js2,js3"'

# Maven NGWT (non GWT)
#   Maven full build without GWT (Google Web
#   Kit) modules. Useful when no changes on
#   GWT side, and need to build the full
#   project locally.
#   Estimate: 7m25 
alias mvnngwt='mvn clean install -DskipTests -nsu -T 1C -pl "!gwt1,!gwt2"'

# Maven Java (Java only)
#   Maven full build without GWT and
#   JavaScript, therefore Java only.
#   Estimate: 1m02
alias mvnjava='mvn clean install -DskipTests -nsu -T 1C -pl "!js,!gwt"'


There’re several ways to speed up a Maven project.

  1. Only build the necessary part of the project
  2. Use parallel execution if possible
  3. Execute the right goals, e.g. compilation, rather than all goals
  4. Build only the changes
  5. Split into multiple projects :)

Hope you enjoy this article, see you the next time!