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From Dale Anson <>
Subject Re: Cutting Ant overhead (was "Could Ant build scripts be compiled?")
Date Tue, 25 Nov 2003 21:31:38 GMT
Hi Rich,

The Ant front-end you mention already exists, see Antelope 
( and Antidote (on the Ant web site). I 
haven't really followed the development of Antidote, but Antelope does 
what you are asking -- it creates a Project and keeps it in memory for 
the next run, reloading only if a property has changed (properties can 
be edited via the GUI) or the build file itself has been edited.


Rich Wagner wrote:

> Well, not to discourage anyone from actually implementing a compiler, if 
> they so desire...
> Maybe concentrating on the 80/20 rule-of-thumb is best first.  I mean, 
> yes, compiled Ant code would no doubt be fastest (theoretically), but...
> What if an Ant front-end existed which did two things...  First, the 
> front-end would be Java-based, have either a GUI or a simple stdin-based 
> command interpreter.  But most importantly, the front-end would NOT quit 
> (a la "System.exit") after one Ant invocation and before the next Ant 
> invocation.  For instance, the front-end could call Ant's "main" 
> directly, instead of spawning a new sub-process for each "Ant" 
> invocation.   (Calls to System.exit in Ant would need to be "caught", 
> e.g. via a SecurityManager restriction...)
> What does that buy ?  Well, you then incur JVM (and a LOT of 
> class-loading) start-up costs only once, instead of once PER Ant 
> invocation.
> Secondly, and going one step farther...  Instead of the front-end 
> calling Ant's "main" method, the front-end could potentially use a 
> modified version of that "main" method's code -- specifically an 
> implementation which uses cached XML Dom trees which correspond to 
> formerly read and parsed Ant build files.  Doing so would again replace 
> the once-per-Ant-invocation XML parsing cost with a once-per-buildfile 
> parsing cost.
> Again, these things would fall short of what a compiler could do (though 
> the compiled code should ideally avoid the JVM-startup per Ant 
> invocation cost, right ?).
> Just some thoughts...
> Rich Wagner
>> >From: Stirling, Scott []
>> >Subject: Could Ant build scripts be compiled?
>> >
>> >Hi,
>> >
>> >Just a thought I've been holding onto for a while.
>> >
>> >Could we benefit from compiling Ant build scripts?  They would
>> >load faster if the XML didn't have to be parsed.  They would
>> >be less open to unwanted modification (if you ship build
>> >scripts with a product, for example).  They might run faster,
>> >although I'm not as sure about that.
>> >
>> >What would they be compiled down to?  I guess the best answer
>> >would be, a Java class.  Ant would have to be able to load a
>> >class rather than a build script for this to work.
>> >
>> >Any thoughts?
>> >
>> >Scott Stirling
>> >Workscape, Inc.
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