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From Peter Donald <>
Subject RE: if and unless attributes for all Tasks
Date Wed, 16 May 2001 14:56:18 GMT

At 06:20  16/5/01 -0700, Roger Vaughn wrote:
>The complexity is inescapable.  I fully believe Ant's
>charter should be to handle that complexity -

Look to any good design principle in anything from building bridges to
software design. And they all emphasize one thing - monolithic designs
where implementors need to know all aspects of task are impossible to
maintain. Think modular - think maintainable. 

>I have serious concerns when posters start
>arguing for the inclusion of other solutions such as
>BSF scripting, or template approaches like the XSLT
>I've pushed a few times myself.  These are all
>attempts to handle the complexity that Ant refuses to
>deal with, and in the end make it harder for the build
>scripter to understand the system as a whole.  

this is false.

>Ok, so
>Ant is simple and easy to learn.  But what good is
>that if a real-life scripter also has to learn and add
>on other languages in order to make it perform?

it is almost like these other crazy layered designs. I mean IP - whoever
thought it should be separated from TCP or ethernet frames. Hell why not go
one step further and add HTTP into the mix - obviously most people use HTTP
and TCP together with IP - so lets merge them all into one monstrosity -
that would help us all right? 

You see the absurdity of that arguement - it is the same as the one you are
offering ;)

>I think this was the original requestor's intent - his
>better way was putting if/unless directly on tasks, so
>you didn't need several meaningless targets to do a
>few sequential steps.
>If anyone has yet a better way, I'm all ears.  But
>remember - programmers *understand* 'if'.  The more
>esoteric you make the solution, the more audience you

Why do people choose ant over make? If you want all this then I suggest
using make or more likely a python/javascript script with a few "modules"

>Peter brings up auto* as a way around make's
>complexities.  Again, I think this is entirely
>backwards.  Those tools exist because of make's
>*simplicity*.  It doesn't have the expressiveness to
>do iteration, templates, etc. and the make community
>was reluctant to add those features, so add-on tools
>were the only way to accomplish the things that real
>people needed.  Is this a better solution?  Which is
>more complicated?  make, or auto*+make?  How many
>people understand each?  If you really study it, I
>think you will find that auto*, Imake, and all of the
>add-on solutions are *much* more complicated and less
>understood (and thus less used) than make itself.

I am not sure you understand the situation quite correctly. Everything that
can be done in auto* can be done in make (All my make files integrate it as
I hate m4). Separating it out was done to simplify makefiles - not because
make didn't natively offer those features.

>How does this apply to Ant?  In my opinion, I see the
>Ant authors following the same path - simply creating
>a Java version of make.  To handle complexity, we're
>supposed to use BSF, or XSLT, or multiple build files
>or some other "unnatural contortion".  The names have
>changed but the game is the same.  Yes, I realize this
>is a bit insulting, but my hope is that you guys will
>seriously consider it.  Complexity is here to stay. 
>You will serve your community best by giving them the
>tools to handle that complexity - natively.

Actually you are the one who is proposing to follow in makes path. You want
us to integrate everything into one tool. This will force all our users to
deal with the complexity and eventually tools will be built to reduce the
complexity (enter auto-*). Before too long there will be little reason to
use Ant because it would just be a java version of make - and makes been
around for ever - so why not use that.

Tool chains are layered for a purpose - I suggest you look carefully at the
reasons because you seem to have some funny opinions.



| "Faced with the choice between changing one's mind, |
| and proving that there is no need to do so - almost |
| everyone gets busy on the proof."                   |
|              - John Kenneth Galbraith               |

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