Execution failed for task ':app:mergeDebugResources

Troubleshooting "Execution failed for task ':app:mergeDebugResources'" Error in Android XML Files


In Android app development, encountering errors during the build process is not uncommon. One such error that developers may come across is the "Execution failed for task ':app:mergeDebugResources'" error, accompanied by the message "Unable to locate resourceFile." This error typically occurs when making changes to XML files in the project and trying to run it. This article will explore the problem in detail and provide a solution to resolve it.

Caption: Error kind of looks like this.

Understanding the Error

The "Execution failed for task ':app:mergeDebugResources'" error arises due to a failure in merging and compiling the resources required for the Android application. Specifically, it indicates that the build process cannot locate a resource file, resulting in the unsuccessful compilation of resources.

Root Cause Analysis

Upon examining the provided Gradle file (build.gradle), it appears that the issue lies in the configuration of the "debug" build type. By default, when minifyEnabled is set to true in the debug build type, the Android Gradle plugin performs resource shrinking, which removes unused resources. However, this process sometimes encounters problems when handling certain XML files.


To resolve the error and successfully build the project without the need for a manual clean every time an XML file is modified, the following changes can be made to the Gradle file:

    buildTypes {
        release {
            isMinifyEnabled = false

By setting shrinkResources to false in the debug build type, we disable resource shrinking specifically for the debug build variant. This ensures that all resources, including XML files, are retained during the build process and no longer trigger the "Unable to locate resourceFile" error.


The error occurs because the resource shrinking process may mistakenly remove XML files that are referenced or required at runtime, leading to the build failure. By disabling resource shrinking in the debug build variant, we allow all resources, including problematic XML files, to be preserved and merged successfully during the build.

It's important to note that disabling resource shrinking in the debug build variant might result in a slightly larger APK size. However, since this configuration is specific to the debug variant, it won't affect the release build where resource shrinking is still enabled.


    1. Android Developers - Resource Shrinking

    1. Android Developers - Configure Build Variants


The "Execution failed for task ':app:mergeDebugResources'" error is a common issue when modifying XML files in an Android project. By adjusting the configuration in the Gradle file, specifically disabling resource shrinking for the debug build variant, we can overcome this error and ensure that all resources, including XML files, are correctly merged during the build process. Remember to keep resource shrinking enabled for the release build variant to optimize the APK size.

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