Java Heap Space Error During IntelliJ Gradle Plugin Build

In this guide, you will learn how to resolve Java heap space errors in IntelliJ IDE for Gradle builds.

Table of Contents


Introduction

To begin with, you may see an issue related to Java heap space when building a new plugin for IntelliJ using Gradle. In particular, this can happen if your computer has a relatively small amount of memory. For instance, 8GB of memory or less.

To demonstrate, the error looks like this:

A problem occurred configuring root project.
A build operation failed.
Java heap space
Java heap space

What is Java heap space?

A heap is a type of data structure. In the context of Java, it is a key part of the JVM. According to the JVM documentation from Oracle:

The Java Virtual Machine has a heap that is shared among all Java Virtual Machine threads. The heap is the run-time data area from which memory for all class instances and arrays is allocated.

If a computation requires more heap than can be made available by the automatic storage management system, the Java Virtual Machine throws an OutOfMemoryError.

Oracle Documentation, The Structure of the Java Virtual Machine

This means that the error that you see in IntelliJ is a result of Gradle needing more memory than the heap has available.

Adjusting Java heap space

There are several different places in IntelliJ where you can set memory options for Java. First, it is important to point out that your computer needs to have enough memory. If you’re using a computer for development with anything less than 8GB of RAM then you should consider adding more memory to your workstation. Assuming that your computer has enough memory, the specific place that you need to make an adjustment for this problem is under the build configuration.

Select Run and then Edit Configurations… from the main toolbar.

A screenshot showing IntelliJ menu options for build configuration.

Select Gradle and then Plugin In the Run/Debug Configurations window that opens up. Enter -Xmx2048m into the VM options: field. Select Apply and then OK.

A screenshot of IntelliJ Run and Debug Configuration screen where you can set the Java heap space configuration.

You should now be able to successfully run a build.

Conclusion

In summary, adding this VM option setting should resolve the Java heap space error for Gradle builds.


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