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From "Chris Todd" <>
Subject RE: Experiences with Ant.
Date Wed, 18 Oct 2000 19:40:15 GMT
I would add that Netbeans, the Open-Source Java IDE from Sun Microsystems,
uses ant to build itself.  In fact, if I am not mistaken, Ant was originally
invented by James Duncan Davidson at Sun, and the Jakarta project inherited
it when Tomcat was open-sourced by Sun (someone please correct me if I have
that wrong).

Does anyone know (JDD, are you listening?) whether Sun still uses Ant
internally, and if so, to what extent?

I believe ArgoUML also uses Ant as well.

Sincerest regards,
Chris Todd
Software Engineer
Alabanza Corporation

>-----Original Message-----
>From: []
>Sent: Wednesday, October 18, 2000 2:32 PM
>Subject: Experiences with Ant.
>Hello Ant Users,
>A fellow developer is advocating switching from GNU make to Ant
>for a large,
>multiplatform Java development effort.
>I've read the Ant documentation and am experimenting with the
>tool, but I've
>seen too many build tools come and go over the years (whereas make is still
>around and used by 1,000s of projects) to get too excited about Ant.
>Attached is my review of Ant vs. Make.  Is there anything I'm
>saying that is
>Can anyone say anything, pro or con about making such a switch?
>Finally, why aren't any of the Jakarta lists web archived?  This
>fact makes it
>very difficult to judge the size, quality, and disposition of the user and
>developer communities.
>Joe Kiniry
>Joseph R. Kiniry          
>California Institute of Technology        ID 78860581      ICQ 4344804
>I've been reading and evaluating Ant 1.1 for the last hour or so.
>Here's what
>I've found.
>1. Specification of PATH and CLASSPATH elements are operating system
>independent; Ant transforms ';'s to ':'s and vice-versa as appropriate.
>2. File pattern-matching for building lists, including matching arbitrary
>directory trees with the "**" construct (nice).
>3. Large set of built-ins tasks including java, javac, javadoc,
>rmic, cvs, and
>many of the standard command-line tools like chmod, rename, patch,
>touch, etc.
>4. Supports "classic" (JDK 1.1/1.2), "modern" (JDK 1.3), and jikes
>5. Supports what are called "build events" which means that you
>can couple Ant
>with arbitrary Java code that uses a listener-based mechanism to receive
>signals from Ant for a set of built in events (e.g. build finishes, task
>started, etc.).  No examples are included though.
>6. Learning Ant isn't too bad - perhaps an hour of reading then regular use
>will be all that is necessary.
>7. Ant development is pretty active.  It looks like there are two or three
>main developers working semi-regularly on it.  There hasn't been a second
>stable release yet (1.1 was first public release), so it is unclear how to
>take advantage of new work in the build tree (junit, jlink,
>javacc, sql, ejb,
>Perforce tasks).  I've grabbed the latest checkout of the build tree to see
>how stable it is.
>0. Very weak reasoning for the first element in their
>documentation ("Why?").
>Summarized: The author of make didn't like any of the half dozen
>build tools
>out there for unspecified reasons and had misplace concerns about
>these tools in OS-specific ways (i.e. claims that the only way to
>do something
>"new" with make is to write a new command-line tool in C).  Also,
>of course,
>the infamous, "Makefiles are inherently evil as well.".  Why?  Because
>sometimes you put a tab in the wrong place.  That's all.
>1. The Jakarta projects at Apache use Ant, they are the ones that actually
>developed it.  I've found a few other projects that use Ant by
>searching for
>"build.xml" in Google.  Searches on several other terms yielded no
>new hits.
>The projects using Ant include TView, one of the free EJB servers (ejboss),
>Infozone (another XML server-side framework), and Ozone (an OS
>Java ODBMS).  I
>get no hits on Ant-using projects at SourceForge, though I'm sure
>there must
>be a few.
>2. To run Ant one has to set ANT_HOME and JAVA_HOME environmental variables
>and run a bourne shell script.  No such script is provided for
>Windows, so you
>either write your own batch file or run Ant "natively".
>3. When you are executing platform specific applications (like the
>exec task,
>or the cvs task), the property ant.home must be set to the directory
>containing a bin directory, which contains the antRun shell script
>to run execs on Unix.  No such script exists for Windows.  It is
>unclear how
>this works on Windows.
>4. A few of the built-in tasks only work under UNIX, but they are
>5. The Ant Users list is fairly quiet.  I subscribed a couple of
>days ago and
>no messages have been sent.
>Pro and Con all in one:
>1. Has some nice token-filtering stuff (kinda like a global
>a la #include)
>2. Ant uses XML as a structured data format, therefore it is
>parsable by other
>tools.  On the other hand, Ant's build files is much more sensitive to
>syntactic errors than makefiles (i.e. closing tags, proper
>quotation, use of
>properties and tags, etc. vs. proper tabbing).  In fact, when parsing an
>incorrect XML file Ant typically doesn't even tell you what is
>wrong, it just
>throw the exception from the parser.
>3. Tasks to fix CR/LF conversions to native/local system, convert tabs to
>spaces, adjust tab lengths, eofs.  Since these are fairly powerful
>one can easily mess up a whole build tree, but that is pretty typical with
>handing someone a large gun - they need to know where to point.
>(I like this
>feature, but in the wrong hands...)

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