Android Shell Tool Guide

This guide shows how to use Cordova's set of platform-centered shell tools to develop Android apps. This development path, discussed in the Overview, may offer you a greater range of development options than the cross-platform CLI tool described in The Command-Line Interface. For example, you need to use shell tools when deploying a custom Cordova WebView alongside native components. Before using either development path, you must first configure the Android SDK environment as described in the Android Platform Guide.

To enable shell tools for Android, download Cordova from The download contains separate archives for each platform. Expand each you wish to target, android in this case. The relevant tools are typically available in the top-level bin directory, otherwise consult the README file for more detailed directions.

These tools allow you to create, build, and run Android apps. For information on the additional command-line interface that enables plugin features across all platforms, see Using Plugman to Manage Plugins. See Application Plugins for details on how to develop plugins.

Create a Project

Run the create command, specifying the existing path to the project, the reverse-domain-style package identifier, and the app's display name. Here is the syntax for both Mac/Linux and Windows:

    $ /path/to/cordova-android/bin/create /path/to/project com.example.project_name ProjectName

    C:\>\path\to\cordova-android\bin\create.bat \path\to\project com.example.project_name ProjectName


This cleans then builds a project.

Debug, on Mac/Linux or Windows:

    $ /path/to/project/cordova/build --debug

    C:\>\path\to\project\cordova\build.bat --debug

Release, on Mac/Linux or Windows:

    $ /path/to/project/cordova/build --release

    C:\>\path\to\project\cordova\build.bat --release

Run the App

The run command accepts the following optional parameters:

  • Target specification. This includes --emulator, --device, or --target=<targetID>.

  • Build specification. This includes --debug, --release, or --nobuild.

    $ /path/to/project/cordova/run [Target] [Build]
    C:\>\path\to\project\cordova\run.bat [Target] [Build]

Make sure you create at least one Android Virtual Device, otherwise you're prompted to do so with the android command. If more than one AVD is available as a target, you're prompted to select one. By default the run command detects a connected device, or a currently running emulator if no device is found.

Signing the App

You can review Android app signing requirements here:

To sign an app, you need the following parameters:

  • Keystore (--keystore): Path to a binary file which can hold a set of keys.

  • Keystore password (--storePassword): Password to the keystore

  • Alias (--alias): The id specifying the private key used for singing.

  • Password (--password): Password for the private key specified.

  • Type of the keystore (--keystoreType): pkcs12, jks (Default: auto-detect based on file extension)

These parameters can be specified using the command line arguments above to build or run scripts.

Alternatively, you could specify them in a build configuration file (build.json) using (--buildConfig) argument. Here's a sample of a build configuration file:

     "android": {
         "debug": {
             "keystore": "..\android.keystore",
             "storePassword": "android",
             "alias": "mykey1",
             "password" : "password",
             "keystoreType": ""
         "release": {
             "keystore": "..\android.keystore",
             "storePassword": "",
             "alias": "mykey2",
             "password" : "password",
             "keystoreType": ""

For release signing, passwords can be excluded and the build system will issue a prompt asking for the password.

There is also support to mix and match command line arguments and parameters in build.json file. Values from the command line arguments will get precedence. This can be useful for specifying passwords on the command line.


    $ /path/to/project/cordova/log



    $ /path/to/project/cordova/clean


Building with Gradle

As of cordova-android@4.0.0, project build using Gradle. For instructions on building with ANT, refer to older versions of documentation.

Gradle Properties

These properties can be set to customize the build:

  • cdvBuildMultipleApks (default: false)

If this is set, then multiple APK files will be generated: One per native platform supported by library projects (x86, ARM, etc). This can be important if your project uses large native libraries, which can drastically increase the size of the generated APK.

If not set, then a single APK will be generated which can be used on all devices.

  • cdvVersionCode

Overrides the versionCode set in AndroidManifest.xml

  • cdvReleaseSigningPropertiesFile (default:

Path to a .properties file that contains signing information for release builds. The file should look like:


storePassword and keyPassword are optional, and will be prompted for if omitted.

  • cdvDebugSigningPropertiesFile (default:

Same as cdvReleaseSigningPropertiesFile, but for debug builds. Useful when you need to share a signing key with other developers.

  • cdvMinSdkVersion

Overrides the value of minSdkVersion set in AndroidManifest.xml. Useful when creating multiple APKs based on SDK version.

  • cdvBuildToolsVersion

Override the automatically detected android.buildToolsVersion value.

  • cdvCompileSdkVersion

Override the automatically detected android.compileSdkVersion value.

Extending build.gradle

If you need to customize build.gradle, rather than edit directly, you should create a sibling file named build-extras.gradle. This file will be included by the main build.gradle when present. Here's an example:

# Example build-extras.gradle
# This file is included at the beginning of `build.gradle`
ext.cdvDebugSigningPropertiesFile = '../../'
# When set, this function allows code to run at the end of `build.gradle`
ext.postBuildExtras = {
    android.buildTypes.debug.applicationIdSuffix = '.debug'

Note that plugins can also include build-extras.gradle files via:

<framework src="some.gradle" custom="true" type="gradleReference" />

Example Build

export ORG_GRADLE_PROJECT_cdvMinSdkVersion=14
cordova build android -- --gradleArg=-PcdvBuildMultipleApks=true