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From Daniel Barclay <>
Subject Re: executing task for each file in file set
Date Wed, 23 May 2001 14:18:08 GMT
Peter Donald wrote:
> At 04:25 PM 5/22/01 -0400, Daniel Barclay wrote:
> >I was asking more about how solid a set of standard features Ant tries
> >to provide.
> >
> >(Obviously, Ant provides a lot, but with its inconsistencies and
> >limitations and the frequent suggestions to just write custom tasks for
> >(arguably) generally-useful features made me wonder what the philosophy
> >of the designers was and whether arguing for cleaning up various features
> >would be likely enough to be successful to be worth the effort.)
> I say go for it ;)
> We will probably have a Task API (similar to Servlet API) and a task
> framework (similar to turbine/struts/other). The task framework is where
> all the "work" is done like defining filesets, filtersets etc. As far as I
> am concerned we should clean up all tasks to use same conventions and reuse
> framework where possible.

I was more thinking about things from the build-file-writer's point of
view, things like:
- only certain things can appear at the top level (outside a target)
  (e.g., <property...> but not <available...>)
- file sets only take patterns; they don't take direct file names
  (Windows absolute file pathnames don't work, relative file pathnames
  with ".." segments don't seem to work, etc.)

For ideas that have been rejected, are they permanently rejected?

Do the Ant designers seem to recognize the value of making things regular
and consistent for better "composability" of features even if a specific 
need isn't imagined yet?

I'm thinking about constructs that can appear at the top level.

I know some (maybe you?) reject the idea of allowing arbitrary tasks at 
the top level, feeling that that would allow someone to write an Ant build 
file with everything done at the top level (with no targets), and since 
that's not considered to be a good idea, Ant should not allow that.

However, just because a feature lets you do something "bad" doesn't mean 
the feature shouldn't exist; maybe it has legitimate uses and should be
available, and just shouldn't be misused.  

(E.g., most people agree that one shouldn't normally write thousand-line 
methods or functions.  However, no mainstream programming language prevents
doing that, because no particular arbitrary line limit would satisfy 
everyone.  Additionally, uses not originally envisioned (e.g., generated
code) might be perfectly valid but made impossible or much more difficult
by a line limit.)

(Also, note that Ant currently allows one to put every task in one big 
target anyway.)

I know there's concern about leading people into bad practices (more than 
just allowing them) but I don't think that's a problem for this particular

Anyway, I'm zoning out a bit, so I don't really have a coherent 

Daniel Barclay
Digital Focus

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