Incremental Builds and Caching - Tutorial

Welcome to this tutorial on incremental builds and caching in Apache Maven. Incremental builds and caching are powerful techniques that can significantly improve the build performance of Maven projects. By rebuilding only what is necessary and leveraging caching mechanisms, you can save time and resources during the build process.


When working on Maven projects, it's common to perform frequent builds during development. However, rebuilding the entire project from scratch every time can be time-consuming, especially for large projects. Incremental builds and caching provide solutions to this problem by recompiling and rebuilding only the parts of the project that have changed, as well as caching dependencies to reduce redundant downloads.

Incremental Builds

Incremental builds enable Maven to rebuild only the necessary parts of a project that have changed since the last build. This reduces the time and resources required for the build process. Maven's incremental build feature is enabled by default, but you can verify that it is activated in your project by checking the .m2/maven-metadata-local.xml file.

During an incremental build, Maven analyzes the dependencies and source files to determine which parts of the project need to be rebuilt. It compares the timestamps of the source files and their compiled counterparts to identify changes. Only the modified source files and their dependencies are recompiled and rebuilt, while the rest of the project remains unchanged.


Maven provides caching mechanisms to optimize the build process and reduce redundant downloads of dependencies. There are two main types of caching:

1. Local Repository Caching

Maven caches downloaded dependencies in the local repository located on your machine. When you build a project, Maven checks the local repository first for required dependencies. If the dependencies are already present, Maven uses the cached versions instead of downloading them again. This saves time and bandwidth during subsequent builds.

2. Plugin Caching

Maven caches plugin artifacts to avoid re-downloading them for every build. When you use a plugin in your project, Maven checks the local repository for the plugin artifacts. If they are already cached, Maven uses the cached versions. This caching mechanism improves build performance by eliminating unnecessary downloads of plugins.

Common Mistakes

  • Disabling incremental builds, leading to longer build times
  • Deleting the local repository, causing Maven to re-download all dependencies
  • Ignoring cache-related warnings or errors during the build process
  • Failure to configure proxy settings, preventing caching mechanisms from working

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Can I disable incremental builds?

    Yes, incremental builds can be disabled by setting the maven.compiler.useIncrementalCompilation property to false in the pom.xml file or the settings.xml file. However, it is not recommended unless there is a specific need, as it will result in longer build times.

  2. How can I clear the local repository cache?

    You can delete the contents of the local repository cache by deleting the appropriate directory. By default, the local repository is located in the .m2/repository directory in your user home directory.

  3. Can I configure a remote repository as a cache for faster dependency resolution?

    Yes, you can configure a remote repository like Apache Archiva, JFrog Artifactory, or Sonatype Nexus as a cache for faster dependency resolution. Maven can be configured to use the remote repository as a mirror for the Central Repository, caching frequently used dependencies.


In this tutorial, you learned about incremental builds and caching in Apache Maven. By enabling incremental builds, you can reduce build times by only rebuilding what is necessary. Leveraging caching mechanisms, such as the local repository cache and plugin caching, further improves build performance by avoiding redundant downloads. Remember to keep incremental builds enabled, maintain the local repository cache, and configure caching settings for optimal performance.