“Multiple dex files define” Error in Android development Caused by IntelliJ IDEA bug.

Recently I encountered a “Multiple Dex Files Define” error when writing and building Android libraries. After a lot of work, the root reason is attributed to a IntelliJ IDEA bug which appears when you are using .classpath(Eclipse style) project configuration file format. I reported this bug to Jetbrains and they had confirmed my report on it. It is now being tracked in their bug system. Before Jetbrains fix the bug, you can avoid it by using .iml(IntelliJ style) project configuration file format.

Here is how I encountered and reproduced this bug, which is also available through https://youtrack.jetbrains.com/issue/IDEA-144038.

When exporting jars, the same configuration will have different output behaviors using different config file style (.classpath/.iml)

How to reproduce:

Suppose here is my project structure:

AndroidLibraryModuleA depends on AndroidLibraryModuleB, RootAndroidApplication depends on both AndroidLibraryModuleA and AndroidLibraryModuleB.
Now we want to export AndroidLibraryModuleA and AndroidLibraryModuleB as jar without resources. In other words, we are only using the Java code part.

In artifacts settings, we add to jar configurations. For AndroidLibraryModuleA we only include AndroidLibraryModuleA compile output. For AndroidLibraryModuleB we only include AndroidLibraryModuleB compile output.

In AndroidLibraryModuleA we change the compile level of dependency AndroidLibraryModuleB to “provided”. Then we build the artifacts of AndroidLibraryModuleA.

If we open the jar file exported, we can see only compiled classes from AndroidLibraryModuleA is listed here.

However, if we keep everything unchanged, just switch the project file format from IntelliJ’s .iml to Eclipse’s .classpath of AndroidLibraryModuleA. Then we rebuild the artifacts.

Then the compiled classes from AndroidLibraryModuleB is listed in AndroidLibraryModuleA’s jar file.

I believe the .iml’s behavior is the intended one while the .classpath one’s behavior may result from a bug.

This difference will lead to a “Multiple dex files define” error when AndroidLibraryModuleA.jar and AndroidLibraryModuleB.jar are added to another project as jar dependency as there are duplicate class files in two jars.

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