At 17:52 11/09/2001 -0700, Alejandro Abdelnur wrote:

i do not think that the way of avoiding *evil practices* should be achieved
by trimming the capabilities or the power of expresion of Ant but by
provinding guidelines on how to use things. always there are things that
look like *evil practices* to purists but are needed by a real task.

The key here is "trimming the capabilities or the power of expression" of Ant.

There are always decisions to be made in the development of any tool. One of the most important areas is to decide what the tool shouldn't do.  Any application that tries to be a Swiss-army-knife or a jack-of-all-trades inevitably ends up being a poorer tool.

A great example here is MS Word - which tries to be Word Processor, Desktop Publisher, Content Reviewer, Document Designer, Mail Client (and more) all rolled into one. The first it does extremely well - the others less so.

The specific functionality that has been rejected from Ant seems, to me, to fall into two categories:

-- Shortcuts to functionality already present

Rejecting these doesn't reduce the power of Ant in any way - and does serve to keep Ant simple. A good example here is the presence of if/unless attributes on the fail task.

-- Dangerous Features

ie Functionality that provides a moderate level of increased ability at the expense of great danger.

One common problem common to any tool is the fact that new users tend to blame the tool for their own mistakes or misunderstandings. Make a tool with too many Dangerous features and new users will find the tool too quirky and discard it, looking for something simple.

I applaud the Ant Team (take a Bow, all of you) for having the courage to "keep the vision".

I might (in fact I do) disagree with some of their decisions - however I can't ignore the fact that it is their dedication to "what might be" that has given us such a fine tool.

My 3c,


"Programming is an Art Form that Fights Back"

Bevan Arps (
Senior OO Analyst, ACT Financial Systems

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