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From "Chris Todd" <>
Subject RE: Ant GUI
Date Tue, 31 Oct 2000 05:16:53 GMT
Here are some cool things I would like to see in the Ant GUI:

1)  a text editing pane with user-configurable syntax highlighting, auto
indentation and "XML-aware" tag completion.  By "XML-aware" tag completion I
mean that if I type "<javac ... >" the editor automagically inserts
"</javac>" on the next line (properly auto-indented, of course), whereas if
I type "<echo ... />", the editor is smart enough to know not to insert the
closing tag.

2)  two JTree components that represent the build.xml file - one that
represents it's physical structure, the other that represents the
dependancies (e.g. if target A depends on B, and B depends on C, then the
JTree would show target C as the parent of B, and B as the parent of A,

3)  updating the build.xml file in the text editing pane would automatically
trigger a reparsing of the document for the JTree components, and vice versa
(see next feature)

4)  right-clicking on any node of the JTree components brings up a menu that
lets you execute that target or task, or allows you to edit the attributes
of that target or task or property

5)  it would be nice to be able to edit the attributes of a given target,
task or property using an IDE-style "property editor"; perhaps a JTable
would be good for this?  The property editor would be smart enough to know
all of the possible attributes for a given task, and offer an appropriate
interface (drop-down list for one of several possibilities, check boxes for
boolean values, text field for editable content, etc.) for that attribute

6)  a wizard for creating new build files would be shweet.  There are
probably a million and one ways to implement such a wizard, so I won't
suggest any particular features.

7)  this one is a no brainer, but a text area to which the ant output is
sent would be a necessity (and appears to be fairly trivial to implement)

Finally, I am not sure to what extent the Ant GUI should be targeted as a
"Project Management" tool...I think just making it a very good GUI for Ant
would be an excellent goal, and in keeping with the spirit of keeping Ant
simple to use.  Then again, I'm not violently opposed to the idea either.

Of course, none of these ideas is original; several of these features are
available in the Ant module for Netbeans, and the screenshot posted to
Ant-Dev by AntHill's author appeared to hint at some of this functionality,
and some have been mentioned already in this thread, but I thought I would
put them all in one place for posterity.  While I am a Java and GUI novice,
and have never contributed to an OSS project, I would love to help develop a
GUI for ant, since I really don't like hand-writing XML.  :-)

Chris Todd

>-----Original Message-----
>From: Simeon Fitch []
>Sent: Monday, October 30, 2000 10:34 AM
>To: Ant Developers
>Subject: Ant GUI
>A couple of days back someone posted a question asking
>for an update on the so called "Anthill" GUI, and no
>one seemed to reply. Can I assume from this that there
>is no ongoing effort with respect to this tool, and
>that it is a task still needing contributors?
>If it is not currently active, does anyone know if
>there have been any design decision made on it, e.g.
>list of requirements, screen mockups, architectures,
>wishes, etc? I'm interested to know what the group's
>thoughts have been relative to this in the past. If
>this discussion has already come and gone, a pointer
>to a list of archived messages would be great!
>Simeon Fitch
>Do You Yahoo!?
>Yahoo! Messenger - Talk while you surf!  It's FREE.

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