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From David Stagner <>
Subject Re: very basic question
Date Wed, 19 Sep 2001 18:44:08 GMT
Josiah Slack wrote:
> Hi everyone. I'm new to the list, and am in the process of evaluating ant to
> see if it's appropriate for a project my group is undertaking. I've been
> looking at FAQs, and reading the traffic on this list for the past few days,
> but haven't found an answer to the following question: what, in detail, are
> the strengths and weaknesses of ant vs. make?
> Any pointers would be appreciated. Thanks!

First pointer - assuming you're using Java, or primarily Java, try
building a project of moderate complexity, and writing both Ant files
and makefiles for the project.  See which one works better for you.  

Second pointer - make a list of requirements for *your* project, and
determine how you would implement each requirement in ant or make. 
Decide from that which one makes more sense, rather than looking for a
list of "strengths" and "weaknesses" that is pretty arbitrary and
probably biased.  Some sample questions... do you need your build system
to interact with your version control system?  Do you need your build
system to deploy to a testing or production environment?  Are you
building for multiple languages?  Are you building on multiple
platforms?  Are you dealing with proprietary IDEs that have their own
build requirements?

Quite frankly, either ant or make can be coerced into performing
virtually any build-related task, and it's largely a personal
preference.  And there are other options, too, like the excellent Cons
(written in Perl), or the built-in tools of an IDE, or even custom build
scripts.  Personally, i like ant for its regularity and extensibility,
and its clean cross-platform behavior.  I dislike make because i've had
the unpleasant experience of maintaining a large, cross-platform make
system.  But that's my experience, and my preferences.  

The tools we choose for development color the entire development
experience.  They should be matched to both the needs of the project and
the personalities of the developers, or they will cause pain.  "Best of
breed" is a myth to get you to buy whatever they're selling.  The only
way to really learn how a tool feels is to USE it.

David Stagner

National Marrow Donor Program
3001 Broadway Street NE
Broadway Ridge Suite 500
Minneapolis, MN  55413


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