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From Peter Donald <>
Subject Re: Ant to manipulate URL's and not only files ?
Date Mon, 26 Nov 2001 22:22:06 GMT
On Tue, 27 Nov 2001 05:47, Jean-Marc Vanel wrote:
> Thank you for all your comments and good news about <style> task
> improvement going on.
> First thing about listing the contents of a http: directory; it ' s not
> true that you can't. With Apache, if the webmaster didn't provide an
> index.html file, an HTTP response like this is generated for an  http:
> directory :

yep - the problem is that there is no standard for this and while we could 
create a sophisticated screen scraper that handled Apache, IIS, Netscape and 
whatever httpds - I think it would be better to use a virtual file system 
that abstracted some of this for us.

> Second I would like to share with you my vision of using Ant as an
> installation tool.

ohhhh yes. Thats a big wish of mine. One thing I have been pushing for 
strongly is to make ant embeddable in other contexts. Installshield type 
apps, and cronab like apps and virtually anything that consists of a sequence 
of tasks.

> Allready with the current Ant 1.4 one can use <get> and
> <ftp> tasks to install a software in a declarative way. A single build.xml
> can manage all: download sources or binaries, compare MD5 sums, compare
> timestamps, compile, add a command in the user's PATH, etc. For instance
> this could be done for Ant 's Optional Tasks. 

sounds good. Some of it is already there but  not all of it.

> As a further improvement I
> would like, by using URL's, to abstract from the actual protocol used to
> get files for installation: FTP, HTTP, files, CVS, WebDAV, ... This was the
> subject of my original post. So instead of <get> and <ftp> tasks, just
> <copy> would be used, while the actual URL's would be parameters or
> environment.

Thats definetly something we want but as I said I believe that URL objects 
are lacking - we would need a VFS of some sort. I believe netbeans has a good 
one already so we may be able to reuse it ..

> Another cool idea :
> ant -buildfile  install-from-sources

Yep - something planned for Ant2. Also 

ant -buildfile jar:file:somefile.jar!/install.xml

is another that has been requested.

> This would achieve the same result, and would be probably easy to implement
> in Ant. It would be the application's developpers' responsibility to write
> the suitable build.xml with the current Ant <get> and <ftp> tasks.


> Would'nt this greatly simplify installation (and de-installation) of any
> Web-distributed software ? In this time when some monopolistic software
> vendors ;=) claim to be fully Web-oriented, the free software must leverage
> on its openness ...

works for me. Need people to implement it though - are you volunteering ? ;)



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