Using Bitrise CI for Android apps

Read Khoa Pham's story of moving from BuddyBuild to Bitrise and setting it up for an Android app.

This is the story of Khoa Pham moving from BuddyBuild to Bitrise and setting it up for an Android app.

Guest post by Khoa Pham. Original appeared on Hackernoon.

Khoa is an iOS and Android engineer at @hyperoslo and he likes to do open source and write a blog.

CI, short for Continuous Integration, is a good practice to move fast and confidently where code is integrated into a shared repository many times a day. The ability to have pull requests get built, tested and release builds get distributed to testers allow teams to verify automated builds and identify problems quickly.

I was using BuddyBuild for both iOS and Android apps and was very happy with it. The experience from creating new apps to deploying builds was awesome. It worked so well that Apple acquired it, which then lead to the fact that Android apps are no longer supported and new customers can’t register. We are one of those who were looking for new alternatives: we’ve been using TravisCI, CircleCI and Jenkins to deploy to Fabric. There is also TeamCity that is promising. But after a quick survey of friends and other people, Bitrise was the most recommended. So I decided that I should try that.

The thing I like about Bitrise is its wide range support of workflows. They are just scripts that execute certain actions, and most of them are open source. There’s also yml config file, but all things can be done using a web interface, so I don’t need to look into pages of documentation just to get the configuration right.

This post is not a promotion for Bitrise, it is just about trying and adapting to new things. There is no eternal thing in tech, things come and go fast. Below are some of the lessons I've learned using Bitrise, hope you find them useful.

Variant to build

There is no Android Build step in the default 'primary' workflow, as primary is generally used for testing the code for every push. There is an Android Build step in the deploy workflow and the app gets built by running this workflow. However, I like to have the Android Build step in my primary workflow, so I added it there.

Usually, I want app module and stagingRelease build variant as we need to deploy staging builds to internal testers.

If you go to Bitrise.yml tab you can see that the configuration file has been updated. This is very handy. I’ve used some other CI services and I needed to look up their documentation to make this yml work.

Bump version code automatically

I’ve used some other CI services before and the app version code surely does not start from 0. So it makes sense that Bitrise can auto bump version code from the current number. There are some predefined steps in Workflow but they weren't enough for my needs

For the Set Android Manifest Version code and name step, the source code is here so I understand what it does. It works by modifying AndroidManifest.xmlfile using sed . The article on Adjusting your build number is not clear enough for me.

sed -i.bak “s/android:versionCode=”\”${VERSIONCODE}\””/android:versionCode=”\”${CONFIG_new_version_code}\””/” ${manifest_file}
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In our projects, the versionCode is from an environment variable BUILD_NUMBER in Jenkins, so we need to look up the same thing in Available Environment Variables, and it is BITRISE_BUILD_NUMBER , which is a build number of the build on

This is how versionCode looks like in build.gradle

versionCode (System.getenv("BITRISE_BUILD_NUMBER") as Integer ?: System.getenv("BUILD_NUMBER") as Integer ?: 243)
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243 is the current version code of this project, so let’s go to app’s Settingsand change Your next build number will be

Deploy to Fabric

Bitrise might have its own Crash reporting tool, but for now I use Crashlytics in Fabric. And even if Bitrise can distribute builds to testers, I still need to cross deploy to Fabric for historical reasons.

There is only a step for deploying an IPA file for iOS apps (steps-fabric-crashlytics-beta-deploy), so we need something for Android. Fortunately, I can use the Fabric plugin for gradle.

Add Fabric plugin

Follow Install Crashlytics via Gradle to add Fabric plugin. Basically, you need to add these dependencies to your app ‘s build.gradle

buildscript {
    repositories {
        maven { url '' }

    dependencies {
        classpath ''

apply plugin: 'io.fabric'
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dependencies {
    compile('[email protected]') {
        transitive = true;
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and API credentials in Manifest file

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Deploy command

Modern Android Studio usually includes a gradlew execution file in the root of your project. Run ./gradlew tasks for the list of tasks that your app can perform: look for Build tasks that start with assemble . Read more Build your app from the command line

You can execute all the build tasks available to your Android project using the Gradle wrapper command line tool. It’s available as a batch file for Windows (gradlew.bat) and a shell script for Linux and Mac (, and it's accessible from the root of each project you create with Android Studio.

As for me, I want to deploy a staging release build variant, so I run the following:

./gradlew assembleStagingRelease crashlyticsUploadDistributionStagingRelease
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Note that the build is on Fabric.

Manage a tester group

Go to your app on and create a group of testers. Note that alias is generated for the group

Go to your app’s build.gradle and add ext.betaDistributionGroupAliases=’my-internal-testers' to your desired productFlavors or buildTypes . As for me, I add them to staging under productFlavors

productFlavors {
   staging {
     // …
   production {
     // …
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Now that the command is run correctly, let’s add that to Bitrise.

Gradle Run step

Go to the Workflow tab and add a Gradle Run step and place it below the Deploy to step.

Expand Config, and add assembleStagingRelease crashlyticsUploadDistributionStagingRelease to Gradle task to run .

Now start a new build in Bitrise manually or trigger a new build by making a pull request. You can see that the version code is increased for every build, crossed build gets deployed to Fabric to your defined tester groups.

Where to go from here

I hope those tips are useful to you. Here are some more links to help you explore further

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