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From "Erik Hatcher" <>
Subject Re: Determine target's name
Date Fri, 01 Mar 2002 11:16:54 GMT
Welcome to ant-user, Drew my friend!  :)  I was waiting to post on this
issue until others had gotten a chance to weigh in on it.

I have corresponded with Drew on this issue via private e-mail quite a bit
and have even pushed back on him with the same "give me a use-case" speech.
I certainly cannot do justice to his scenario by explaining it myself, but
the idea is that he wants to drop in sub-projects into his directory
structure and have them "auto-detected" and incorporated into a master build
routine automatically.  Drew, is this accurate?  Could you elaborate on your
scenario a bit if I'm not explaining it properly?

I have even pushed back on Drew to get involved with ant-dev to explain this
to everyone and to even make a patch and submit it.  I have even prodded him
to write a "crawler" task to be bascially an <anton>.

After mulling this over a fair bit, I do believe his use-case is valid
(because I can't think of a reason to *not* provide the target name). While
some will say this is a slippery slope to Ant becoming a scripting language,
I don't think so. Why shouldn't Ant provide this context to to tasks?  I
liken Ant to JSP/Taglibs a fair bit, and within a taglib you have access to
page, request, session, and application scope contexts.  Is there a reason
Ant should not provide similar "scoping"?  Taglibs are all about making
JSP's *not* scripty - to get rid of <% %> junk.

So, for the record, I am +1 on us adding the main target name being executed
to Ant (probably as "").  I'm CC'ing ant-dev.  While Drew's
rant on ant-user was certainly harsh, he's been brewing this issue over with
me privately some in the past so he was not posting on this issue for the
first time, only for the first time on the list.

It may likely get veto'd by ant-dev.  And I personally don't have the time
to make this change, so if it gets accepted, Drew, will you supply the patch
for it?

But, in the mean time, I have these requests/suggestions for Drew:

1) Why not make this change to a local copy of Ant yourself and save
yourself the trouble of writing your own build file generator?  Then the
patch is ready, you'll learn the good/bad/ugly of Ant's source code, and you
can always run your own version of Ant forever!  :)

2) If you do continue on the build file generator path (as others have done,
so you may be reinventing the wheel on this, check the archives of ant-dev),
would you submit it back to ant-dev at the very least for archive purposes,
or perhaps we even commit it to our CVS?

3) Question: how are you able to determine the target at run time with your
template pre-processor?  You mean you are just able to supply it statically
into the generated build files, correct?


p.s. No offense to any other Java developers out there that I know
personally, but Drew is by far the sharpest and most innovative Java
developer/architect I've ever had the pleasure of working with. He is truly
"ahead of his time" architecturally and the things I've seen him build push
the envelope of my comprehension.

----- Original Message -----
From: "Drew Davidson" <>
To: "Ant Users List" <>
Sent: Thursday, February 28, 2002 4:11 PM
Subject: Re: Determine target's name

> Diane Holt wrote:
> > --- Drew Davidson <> wrote:
> > > Well if you want to reduce the maintenance burden then rm -fr * the
> > > whole repository.
> > >
> > > Ok, that was rude.
> >
> > [Additional barking deleted]
> >
> > Yes, it was -- but then, so was all the rest, so why single that one
> I don't believe the rest of the post was rude, only that one comment, and
> was a joke (should have put :-) perhaps).  The rest is a rational
> of what I feel is going on with ant development.
> > Recommendation: Recall the honey/vinegar adage and resubmit your
> > a bit more graciously. People working on open-source projects do it for
> > free, in their (usually exceedingly limited) free time, and the last
> > they need is some snippy snide little rant being thrown at them.
> This proposal for determining target at runtime occurs extremely often on
> list and it shot down every time for what I see is no good reason; that is
> frustration that I feel.  You are now entering a new excuse: we don't have
> time to do it right, so be grateful for what you are getting and shut up
> your annoying comments.  Thanks, Diane.  I believe that I will shut up
> this from now on.
> I'm giving up on trying to use ant directly, BTW (i.e hand-writing ant
> files).  I am writing a templating preprocessor that will give me the
> functionality that I need that will output Ant XML and run that for the
> build.  I am also able to determine the build target at runtime :-)
> - Drew
> --
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