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From "Peter Arrenbrecht" <>
Subject Re: [DISCUSS] EasyAnt: Ant based pre packaged build system for java projects
Date Thu, 10 Jan 2008 18:21:45 GMT
I like the idea very much. One crucial aspect, however, would be to
provide a graceful path from using the prepackaged building blocks
towards inlining and customizing them. If this is not possible, the
thing will most likely start feeling as unwieldy as maven itself in a
while. The advantage of ant would really come into play when users can
pull in the building blocks and immediately see how everything was
done, learn from that, and then tweak to their liking. Providing
override hooks is all well and good, but that is still basically the
very controlled and rigit maven approach, I think. It's like the
difference between an interpreter and a code generator. IIRC, in Rails
you normally get interpretation (on the fly code generation, in fact),
but you can always switch to full blown code generation which you can
then inspect and tweak. I think that is part of the reason for its
success. It makes the whole thing transparent, but let's people stick
to the standard where that suffices.


On Jan 10, 2008 3:25 PM, Xavier Hanin <> wrote:
> Hi,
> It's been a long time since I'm thinking about this, and thought it might be
> interesting to share with you and see where the idea can go.
> I see many developers adopt Maven because they want a build system able to
> provide common features with no effort. Most of them don't want to spend
> much time writing an Ant script, or have seen or heard that maintaining Ant
> build scripts is troublesome. So they choose to use Maven only because it's
> easy to use for common use cases: install, write a simple pom of a few lines
> or generate it using an archetype, and you're ready to compile, test and
> package your new project following the Maven standard structure. They also
> get dependency management for free, and with only a few more effort they
> have multi module builds, and some nice features like code analysis,
> coverage, and a set of report gathered in a web site. That's really nice and
> that's what I like about Maven.
> But Maven suffers from a lack of flexibility and robustness IMHO. And later
> the same people who first adopted Maven because of its perceived ease of use
> become frustrated when they need to tweek the system to their own needs or
> don't understand how the release plugin work. Then some of them go back to
> Ant, first having to go through a sometimes painful road to describe their
> whole build system in xml, especially if they aren't Ant experts. Others try
> to use new build tools like raven, buildr or others.
> I really like Ant, and think it is a very good basis for robust and flexible
> build systems. People with enough knowledge of Ant can write very good build
> systems, testable, maintainable and adaptable. But you need to get your
> hands dirty, and you need to get a good knowledge of some of the mechanisms
> which can make an Ant based build system manageable: import, scripts and
> scriptdef, macrodef, presetdef, and so on.
> Hence I'm wondering if it wouldn't be a good idea to package a set of Ant
> build files, providing all the basic features of a build system for java
> projects: dependency management, compilation, testing and packaging, plus
> maybe some more advanced features like code coverage and code auditing.
> Multi module build support would be nice to have too. Then someone needing
> only those features could simply have a build file per project mostly
> consisting of a single import of the common build file provided. Some
> needing more could provide plugins to the build system itself. Some needing
> to tweak the system could simply override some target definitions or
> properties. Others with very specific needs could simply use the build
> scripts as examples or basis.
> I guess most people on this list know the benefit of having such a build
> system and how well it scales, and most of us already have developed such a
> set of build files. But providing the basis of such a good build system well
> packaged and documented could improve the Ant community IMO. With some
> efforts from our community we could end up with something interesting pretty
> easily. Most of us don't have much time, but we probably already have a good
> basis from the build files we work with around, and if this can be done in a
> community effort it could remain affordable in terms of time required.
> So, what do you think? Do you think this would be useful? Would you be
> interested in contributing? Do you think a new Ant sub project would be a
> good fit?
> Xavier
> --
> Xavier Hanin - Independent Java Consultant

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