ant-dev mailing list archives

Site index · List index
Message view « Date » · « Thread »
Top « Date » · « Thread »
From Mansour Al Akeel <>
Subject Re: Ant 2 design (was Re: NIO 2.0 == Ant 2.0?)
Date Sat, 18 Feb 2012 21:13:50 GMT

The current design is simple, and proven successful and easy to
maintain. Here's a quick pseudo:

1- parse the build file, initializing all the "DataStructures" and
references to the tasks and macros. Populate them all to the running
context. Maybe OSGI has something like this.

2- if there's sub modules declared then do the same, and populate them
all the current context, adding name space to the references for the
tasks in the sub modules. For example assuming the current project has
a task called "build", then the one for the sub module will be
"submodule1:build". (assuming you want multi module support built-in
and not added by an OSGI bundle).

3- If you want parent project support then we can do the same.

4- Depeding on the task called, execute the corresponding task and
pass it an object of the Data Structure you want to process. The
reason for this is to make it easy to unit test it.

5- additional tasks and dataType can be added through OSGI bundles.
For example, let's say I want a task to compile a war file, I can just
extend the dataStructure (TypeDef, or any other name), with default
values. Write my task, and test the execute method by passing it a
reference to my WarDataStructure. Initializing a task requires only
the path to the current directory. So instead of passing an object of
type (Project), I will just it a path, and it knows the path it should
execute in. (This is for multi module).

6- A generic data structure can be used (ie, hashmap) and passed to
execute method. This has a copy of all the data initialized in the
build file.

7- I am not sure what you mean by parallelism, but I am assuming
running more that one task at the same time. This can be added through
bundles, but then again, we will run into the same issue like Gradle.
If you want a task to run continuously on even (ie, a file change),
then you have to write a different task to do so, as parallelism
requires a flag to tell if a task has been executed or not. I think
the way ant doing it already is the best (ie. using <parallel>).

Trying to keep the core as simple as possible, will make maintenance
easy, and prevent bugs. Once a bundle proven useful and required
always by the users, then it can be merged with the core.

On Sat, Feb 18, 2012 at 2:48 PM, Bruce Atherton <> wrote:
> Of course you are right, and initially parallelism and distributed builds
> will probably not be in the initial alpha release (unless it is on someones
> scratching list). Just getting something to run existing build files
> reliably will be fine.
> But you have suggested that we tag build files that require Ant 2 features
> with something that identifies them as requiring Ant 2. I think this is
> reasonable for the leap from Ant 1 to Ant 2, but one thing HTML has shown is
> that version numbers are an anti-pattern, which is why the DOCTYPE for HTML5
> has done away with them (although that introduced its own "version" ie. no
> version). What is important is the list of features that are needed to
> interpret and run the file correctly.
> One can imagine a version tag listing Ant 2 as a minimum for a build file
> with an attribute for a comma separated list of the features that are
> required from Ant for the build. With this and the kind of packaging system
> that OSGI and possibly Java 8 will introduce, Ant could dynamically
> configure itself to load the parallelizing implementation of the state
> machine or the distributed implementation.
> So long as the design is flexible enough that the kinds of usecases that
> Dominique and Gilles are suggesting can be implemented eventually, then the
> KISS principle can still be followed.
> I would also note that features like DSLs for custom builds, automatic
> parallelism, and distribution to a fault tolerant cluster are exactly the
> kinds of features that would allow many users that I know of to justify
> allocating resources to rewrite major build scripts.
> On 2/18/2012 11:26 AM, Mansour Al Akeel wrote:
>> Keeping it simple, is a great idea.
>> I am not sure if introducing parallelism is a good idea or if it's
>> easy to implement and maintain.
>> If it is design is modular, I think all these can be added as plugins.
>> Performance ??!!
>> On Sat, Feb 18, 2012 at 1:47 PM, Bruce Atherton<>
>>  wrote:
>>> This too I find a great idea. Multicores mean we need more ways of
>>> exploiting parallelism, particularly if they can be identified
>>> automatically
>>> by the application.
>>> For backward compatibility it would have to be optional, though, either
>>> specified on the command line or at the build file level or using a
>>> different kind of target tag. Of course, the additional information you
>>> suggest on targets would make that the case anyway, but in some cases I
>>> think we might be able to automate it based just on what we have if the
>>> build system is written properly so that dependencies on targets that
>>> provide needed resources are explicitly identified.
>>> Too many build systems in my experience rely on the order the
>>> dependencies
>>> are resolved on a higher order target rather than explicitly identifying
>>> dependencies on the targets that they are required on. This despite the
>>> fact
>>> that we have some language somewhere that you can't rely on the order of
>>> resolution of the dependencies. Sometimes that has proved a requirement
>>> to
>>> avoid targets that depended on each other, but I've seen it used as a
>>> shortcut instead far too often.
>>> Creating Ant clusters is also a great idea, at least to plan for. Perhaps
>>> something like Zookeeper to coordinate builds and a message bus like
>>> ActiveMQ or perhaps better QPid to schedule and report back to other
>>> nodes
>>> on the results.
>>> The idea of turning the dependency tree into a state machine is also
>>> interesting. It would combine the tree and the resolving of the tree with
>>> execution of tasks into a single entity. I worry, though, that some
>>> flexibility in our current system might be lost if the two portions are
>>> combined into one. Perhaps not. It could also introduce the possibility
>>> of
>>> cycles. Currently the dependency tree gets executed as a DAG but there
>>> have
>>> been a lot of requests for looping which a state machine could more
>>> easily
>>> support.
>>> On 2/18/2012 2:02 AM, Gilles Scokart wrote:
>>>> For me, one feature for a 2,0 would be a different style of dependency
>>>> tree that would allow better parallel execution (on the same machine,
>>>> or why not on distributed machines).
>>>> I see the 'targets' being more declarative, becoming a state
>>>> transition saying : I need this resources in that state, I will use
>>>> this other resources (and I don't want the to change during my
>>>> execution, and I will produce this other resources in that other
>>>> state.
>>>> The dependency tree would be an logical engine finding the shortest
>>>> path to go to the desired state, using parallel/distributed processing
>>>> when possible.
>>>> That's what I miss with existing build system : I want to go as
>>>> quickly as possible to a desired build state (from a current state).
>>>> Gilles Scokart
>>>> On 17 February 2012 20:07, Bruce Atherton<>    wrote:
>>>>> It doesn't require a rewrite, but a rewrite could simplify integrating
>>>>> a
>>>>> usecase like this as well as integrating other features that we already
>>>>> have
>>>>> into it and making them simpler and unified inthe code. I agree the
>>>>> usecase
>>>>> is an excellent one which could simplify the lives of exactly the type
>>>>> of
>>>>> users I am talking about.
>>>>> It sounds like you are suggesting that the dependency tree be
>>>>> extensible
>>>>> and
>>>>> modifiable, perhaps manipulable, within targets as well so long as that
>>>>> part
>>>>> of the tree hasn't run yet. In a sense that is what macros do because
>>>>> they
>>>>> allow you to swap in some static block of tasks to replace a single
>>>>> task.
>>>>> There is also the feature from EasyAnt for changing target
>>>>> dependencies.
>>>>> But
>>>>> what I'm hearing is that you want more flexibility than that.
>>>>> Something to walk the existing dependency tree, perhaps, with
>>>>> conditional
>>>>> behaviors to modify the metadata on existing element such as
>>>>> dependencies
>>>>> and if/unless, replacing the element with another or a subtree (perhaps
>>>>> itself dynamically walked and created), adding branches, perhaps
>>>>> deleting
>>>>> elements or subtrees. Kind of like what we can do with a tree of files
>>>>> and
>>>>> directories already. Does that sound like what the design you'd like
>>>>> see
>>>>> would have?
>>>>> And perhaps it could encompass providing both the macro and target
>>>>> dependency changes to the tree as well, along with any other code we
>>>>> have
>>>>> that alters the dependency tree. I'm not sure which of the various ways
>>>>> to
>>>>> call back into Ant do this. I'm sure there are other examples in the
>>>>> codebase.
>>>>> I'm not familiar enough with this part of the code any more to know
>>>>> whether
>>>>> there is already a single elegant solution in Ant 1 that all the code
>>>>> which
>>>>> modifies the dependency tree shares, but given our BC requirements I
>>>>> doubt
>>>>> it.
>>>>> One example of a FileSystemProvider that Java 7 suggests in its API
>>>>> docs
>>>>> is
>>>>> a "memory" file system, one identified by the URL "memory://". Perhaps
>>>>> our
>>>>> dependency tree could be a kind of file system, then we could reuse
>>>>> vast
>>>>> swathes of code we already have, both in the standard class libraries
>>>>> and
>>>>> in
>>>>> Ant itself. Just an idea off the top of my head.
>>>>> On 2/17/2012 5:53 AM, Dominique Devienne wrote:
>>>>>> 2012/2/17 Bruce Atherton<>:
>>>>>>> A lot of companies have their own, internally written build file
>>>>>>> generators
>>>>>>> just so their build systems are consistent and exactly what they
>>>>>>> want.
>>>>>>> Our
>>>>>>> Related Projects and External Tools page has some of these that
>>>>>>> made
>>>>>>> public, I suspect.
>>>>>>> Surely there is a better way than requiring users of Ant to write
>>>>>>> generators
>>>>>>> to deal with the complexity and keep it customized.
>>>>>> At one point I did write a build(s) (XSLT-based) generator
>>>>>> specifically for a large and hairy project. Later I rewrote the whole
>>>>>> thing with macrodefs. But my point is that I don't view build
>>>>>> generators as bad, in fact it often helps IMHO to have a declarative
>>>>>> custom DSL (in XML in my case, so read "DSL" with a grain of salt)
>>>>>> that's used as the input for generating Ant build fragments, and
>>>>>> those fragments be able to "insert" them into the target graph. I've
>>>>>> also long felt Ant needed generalized if/unless/os (and my own
>>>>>> extensions like ifTrue, unlessTrue, when) on any "XML tag" (or
>>>>>> UnknownElement if you prefer), just read the recent "add if/unless
>>>>>> <javac>'s<compilerarg>" thread.<macrodef>    
 is nice, but you can't
>>>>>> use
>>>>>> it for arbitrary, *and conditional*, XML "fragments" inside tasks.
>>>>>> those things you can often do more easily with a generator, but that's
>>>>>> often cumbersome, doesn't play well with IDEs, etc... I guess I'm
>>>>>> saying I've often wished for generator-like features as a built-in
>>>>>> part of Ant. Do you see what I'm saying? Ant now does late
>>>>>> "conversion" from UnkownElement to actual configuration of the Java
>>>>>> code it maps to, and a way to influence/transform that almost AST-like
>>>>>> graph would make Ant more powerful and flexible, perhaps at the
>>>>>> expense of creating "dialects" unreadable to someone not familiar
>>>>>> them. Given Ant's XML roots, perhaps a tighter built-in integration
>>>>>> with XSLT to dynamically "rewrite" the build at runtime/buildtime
>>>>>> would be one way to achieve what I envision (notwithstanding the
>>>>>> of non-XML front-ends of course).
>>>>>> Stepping of my soapbox now :)  What I'm saying has nothing to do
>>>>>> Java7, nor necessarily require a rewrite either. --DD
>>>>>> ---------------------------------------------------------------------
>>>>>> To unsubscribe, e-mail:
>>>>>> For additional commands, e-mail:
>>>>> ---------------------------------------------------------------------
>>>>> To unsubscribe, e-mail:
>>>>> For additional commands, e-mail:
>>>> ---------------------------------------------------------------------
>>>> To unsubscribe, e-mail:
>>>> For additional commands, e-mail:
>>> ---------------------------------------------------------------------
>>> To unsubscribe, e-mail:
>>> For additional commands, e-mail:
>> ---------------------------------------------------------------------
>> To unsubscribe, e-mail:
>> For additional commands, e-mail:

To unsubscribe, e-mail:
For additional commands, e-mail:

View raw message