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Excluding files from a Cordova build

Quick post to explain how to remove files from a Cordova (also works for Ionic2) project at build time.

See the original issue on github.

Why would I need to do this?

Your project lifecycle creates artifacts in www/build that you do not want going into the .apk.

In our case we needed to delete the output of our test build phase from www/build/test.

Don’t touch the builder

Originally it seemed the correct approach would be to override the builder configuration. However that brings with it a few problems:

  • The builders are platform specific (e.g. if you build Android and iOS you’ll need two changes)
  • There are different builders for Android - ant or gradle - depending on which version of Cordova you’re running
  • Currently the override does not work in gradle

Use the Cordova build hooks

We went for an after_prepare Cordova hook. cordova build is shorthand for cordova prepare then cordova compile. cordova prepare copies your assets over in prepraration for compilation.

We can therefore make use of the after_prepare hook to remove these assets from platform/**/assets so they don’t make their way into the .apk, whilst leaving the output in www/build intact.

If you add your hook into ./hooks/after_prepare, no changes to config.xml are required - more info.

Node is recommended for the hooks to keep your project cross-plaform. Here’s what we came up with, inspired by an existing hook in Ionic’s app base

#!/usr/bin/env node

var del  = require('del');
var fs   = require('fs');
var path = require('path');

var rootdir = process.argv[2];

if (rootdir) {

  // go through each of the platform directories that have been prepared
  var platforms = (process.env.CORDOVA_PLATFORMS ? process.env.CORDOVA_PLATFORMS.split(',') : []);

  for(var x=0; x<platforms.length; x++) {
    // open up the index.html file at the www root
    try {
      var platform = platforms[x].trim().toLowerCase();
      var testBuildPath;

      if(platform == 'android') {
        testBuildPath = path.join('platforms', platform, 'assets', 'www', 'build', 'test');
      } else {
        testBuildPath = path.join('platforms', platform, 'www', 'build', 'test');

      if(fs.existsSync(testBuildPath)) {
        console.log('Removing test build from assets after prepare: ' + testBuildPath);
      } else {
        console.log('Test build @ ' + testBuildPath + ' does not exist for removal');

    } catch(e) {

When running cordova build or ionic build, Cordova will invoke your hook after it has prepared your code for compilation, removing those pesky files.


Clickers is a work in progress. If you’d like to help out or have any suggestions, check the roadmap sticky.

This blog is on github, if you can improve it, have any suggestions or I’ve failed to keep it up to date, raise an issue or a PR.


If you can’t get any of this working in your own project, raise an issue and I’ll do my best to help out.