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Splitting up your fast and slow tests in Gradle to receive faster feedback

This article will show you how to run your slow unit/integration after the fast ones. This way you’ll get negative feedback quicker so you can spend your time more efficient.

Our project is growing and building it takes about 10 minutes because of our extensive integration test which is waiting a lot on Kafka messages. There also is an ArchUnit test which technically is a unit test, but takes tens of seconds to run. If there is an error I usually have to wait for those tests to finish since they’re executed early in the build flow. So running the fast tests separate from the long ones (with the fast ones first of course) will improve the response time of a build failure if there is an error.

Our environment

We build our project with Gradle and use JUnit 5 for our unit and integration tests. The integration tests talk to a Docker compose environment spun up with the Avast Docker Compose Plugin. Unit and integration tests are split with the itest :: gradle plugin, so splitting both in fast and slow will effectively become a build in four steps. A few things other projects might not have are:

What about --fail-fast?

It is tempting to think that the --fail-fast is the solution for this problem. It behaves a bit different since you have no control about the order. So let’s say the slowest test is executed first you still have to wait a long time for negative feedback. Of course you can combine the solution of this article with --fail-fast to squeeze the last seconds out of your failing build.

Note that you only can add --fail-fast in combination with a Test task. So ./gradlew build --fail-fast won’t work, but ./gradlew build test --fail-fast or ./gradlew build integrationTest --fail-fast will.


In order to split the tests I decided to mark slow tests with @Tag("slow"), a solution found in this article.

I picked slow as a name because that’s the path of least resistance since there are not a lot of slow tests.

Note that if you’re coming from JUnit 4:

@Category no longer exists; use @Tag instead

An example test class would look like:

class MySlowTest {
    // do slow tests here

Adapting the unit test task

Some searching on stackoverflow showed me this answer and inspired me to this solution:

task testFast(type: Test) {
    useJUnitPlatform {
        excludeTags 'slow'

    group 'verification'
    description 'run unit tests without @Tag("slow") < 2 seconds'

test {
    useJUnitPlatform {
        includeTags 'slow'

    description 'run unit tests tagged with @Tag("slow") > 2 seconds'

test.dependsOn tasks.testFast

So important to note here is that I let test depend on testFast. This means that if you run the test tasks it will also run testFast. My philosophy here is that if someone doesn’t know about testFast then running test should run all tests just like before so no tests are missed when testing locally.

If you don’t want this behaviour you can use test.shouldRunAfter tasks.testFast instead so they always run separate. Also add check.dependsOn(testFast) otherwise it won’t run as part of the check task.

Note that the group is just decorative here, it is good to have it show up in the right section when running ./gradlew tasks.

The only differences when you run all the tests is that a new report will show up in the build/reports/tests directory and a Jacoco coverage file (.exec) in build/jacoco.

To combine the coverage reports you can define the following task in your build.gradle :

jacocoTestReport {
    executionData(test, testFast)
    reports.xml.required = true

Adapting the integration test

To run the integration tests we use itest :: gradle plugin to run JUnit 5 tests.

We’re using the Avast Docker Compose Plugin to spin up our Docker containers.

Again we mark the slow tests with @Tag("slow") and redefine the task (note that this is slightly different than the test task) :

task integrationTestFast(type: Test) {
    useJUnitPlatform {
        excludeTags 'slow'

    group 'verification'
    description 'integration tests tagged without @Tag("slow") < 2 minutes'

integrationTest {
    testClassesDirs = sourceSets.itest.output.classesDirs
    classpath += sourceSets.itest.runtimeClasspath

    useJUnitPlatform {
        includeTags 'slow'

    group 'verification'
    description 'integration tests tagged with @Tag("slow") > 2 minutes'

integrationTest.dependsOn tasks.integrationTestFast

The original integrationTest is modified

Make sure the dockerCompose task is moved under the integrationTestFast since the isRequiredBy can’t point downwards and can only have one argument.

Add (or modify isRequiredBy) :


Otherwise you’ll get the following error:

Could not get unknown property 'integrationTestFast' for task set of type org.gradle.api.internal.tasks.DefaultTaskContainer

Since integrationTest depends on integrationTestFast the composeUp task will run before any integration test and composeDown runs after all the integration tests (or even if you run only integrationTestFast). This was also a reason to use dependsOn instead of shouldRunAfter. When you start experimenting yourself the ./gradlew <task> --dry-run command is useful to show all the tasks involved and make sure all the tasks are executed so you won’t end up in an inconsistent state.

Again we get an extra test report and Jacoco file so we have to include it in the report :

jacocoTestReport {
    executionData(testFast, test, integrationTestFast, integrationTest)
    reports.xml.required = true


For ArchUnit it is important to add @ArchTag("slow") (and also @Tag if you mix regular tests in the ArchUnit test class), otherwise the tag won’t be respected.


After some discussions with colleagues we went for the @Order annotation and the command line option --fail-fast which you probably didn’t expect after reading the article.

The @Order annotation on class level sounded interesting but it didn’t work with ArchUnit and since I was almost finished with this article I decided to publish it anyway since it still contains valuable information and our final solutions uses a lot of the techniques mentioned here. Source: Stackoverflow: JUnit test class order

I filed an issue with ArchUnit and got a quick reply that it is hard to support @Order because they (understandably) don’t want a dependency on JUnit Jupiter API so splitting ArchUnit in a separate task might be the best way to go.

If you have any comments, improvements or spotted a mistake please contact me on, thank you for reading!

First published on April 21, 2022 at