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From Ariel Partners LLC <>
Subject "Depend" task for XML?
Date Sun, 08 Apr 2001 02:21:47 GMT

First of all, thanks to all for helping to create such a fun and useful tool.
We have been using Ant 1.3 heavily since the day it came out with
excellent results. I am especially impressed with the Ant group's release
engineering prowess; I know that is not an easy job.

We at Ariel are creating a software component registry web site builder
(a la ComponentSource or flashline). We are using XML as an intermediate
format for our content, and are transforming it to HTML using the Ant 
"style" task.

The main problem we have observed isn't anything specific to Ant, but is a
general problem regardless of the particular build tool used: that of managing
dependencies. I believe the optional "Depend" task was introduced because
of similar problems experienced by Java developers.

Imagine a style target that produces an HTML file by applying an XSL 
to an XML file. The task will only rebuild the HTML file if the XSL 
stylesheet or
XML input file are out of date with respect to HTML output file.
This is all well and good, but what about changes to:

- the DTD mentioned in the XML file,
- other DTDs included in the main DTD using the standard ENTITY include 
- XSL stylesheets either included or imported into the main stylesheet, or
- other XML files accessed within the XSL stylesheet(s) via the document() 

....and you thought Java was bad...:-}

As you might imagine from the above, during development we are obliged to
force recompilation every time. One alternative might be to have some kind of
"XSLDepend" task that would do the same kind of thing as the "Depend" task, 
but for XML.

We at Ariel are prepared to write such a task, but wanted to first put the 
question to the group to see if
- anyone else is already working on it (and might possibly want some help), or
- anyone else would like to work on it.

Well, that's it. Thanks again for the tool. I am looking forward to release 
especially the possible new validate and rpm tasks...


--Craeg Strong
Ariel Partners LLC

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