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From Ittay Dror <>
Subject Re: [DISCUSS] EasyAnt: Ant based pre packaged build system for java projects
Date Wed, 30 Apr 2008 06:19:37 GMT

I've read this thread and would like to maybe try and take this discussion

The way I see it is that Ant and Maven came to being in order to simplify
building projects. The philosophy (as I see it) was either "create an xml
file with a few lines calling some tasks" or "create an xml with a short
configuration". Along the way, it became apparent that building a project
involves a lot of logic and thus these two frameworks grew until now they
are both not simple to use.

The root of this is, I think, because while dealing with all this build
logic, both frameworks refused to embrace the principals behind OOP. Both
obviously need a backing language to actually do things and have chosen
Java, but the front end is not OO. 

And now this discussion seem to try to invent new ways of accomplishing
logic by creating a 'before' attribute or macro redefinition etc. Why? 

Now, creating a full blown OO language in XML will also defy the 'easy'
purpose, mainly because XML was not designed to be a language (verbose
syntax, no debugger, etc.). 

But what about prototype oriented syntax? The benefit is that there's no
introduction of 'class' concept, modifying objects is easy. 

General idea is that the framework defines objects (mainly containers of
methods  == tasks). Then the user creates his own object (data), and defines
the prototype of that object to be one of the frameworks, thus getting all
functionality. If he wants, he can override whatever methods he wants.
Having an object that encapsulates methods allows creating helper methods
which can easily be overridden , without complexity.

So something like:



where 'jar_project' is defined by the framework (more like a toolkit) and
contains methods like 'compile', 'clean', etc. It can also have
'create_eclipse_project' method based on the data passed to it.

I hope I was clear enough.


Oh, one more thing, with all this logic around, there really should be a
better way of debugging than 'echo'. Maybe the framework can convert the XML
code to some language for easy debugging? 

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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