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From Conor MacNeill <>
Subject Re: target dependencies
Date Wed, 18 May 2005 13:49:58 GMT
Michael Cepek wrote:
> Ah, I see.  The key point is that invoking a series of targets from the
> command line:
>   $ ant clean-all build-all
> doesn't work the same as:
>   <target name="clean-and-build-all" depends="clean-all, build-all">


> That's fine.  I wasn't suggesting that Ant be changed.  It's just
> confusing and perhaps should be clarified in the manual.
> I have also noticed that targets invoked using the <antcall> and <ant>

<antcall> is just a shortcut for <ant this>, if you know what I mean. In 
particular antcall results in a separate Ant execution context. This has 
a few implications:

Properties created in the <antcall> are not visible once the call is 

All the target deps are evaluated in the new context.

> tasks have this "command-line target behavior" as well.  This can be
> even more confusing to an Ant script writer, since (particularly with
> <antcall>) the subordinate task seems like it is being called in the
> context of other executing targets.
> This "command-line target behavior" is easily explained by pointing out
> its equivalence to typing:
>   $ ant clean-all
>   $ ant build-all

Well it's not actually the same :-). When you run

ant clean-all build-all

these targets are evaluated independently but within the same context. 
Properties set in clean-all would be visible to build-all. This would 
not be the case in separate executions. I realize this might be a little 
confusing :-)

The usefulness of this approach is to allow property setting targets 
which can affect the operation of later targets. For example,

ant with.debug compile

would enable the creation of properties and types which allow for a 
debug build.

> This explanation easily extends to the <ant> task too.
> The <antcall> task, however, seems like a much more likely candidate to
> ''play well with <target depends="">''.  Has anyone ever suggested some
> mechanism to enable this?  Perhaps a command-line option for Ant, or an
> attribute to <antcall> (and maybe <ant> as well)?

Personally, I use antcall when I want to execute a target in a separate 
context with different properties. If that's not the case you can 
usually achieve the required behaviour with simple depends="...", which 
most long time Ant developers would recommend strongly over <antcall>.

> As things are, any use of <antcall> causes additional calls to dependent
> targets which usually don't need to be executed again.

Just to reiterate the above point in a slightly different way. If the 
targets don't need to be executed again, you can probably avoid the 
antcall altogether in favour of depends="..."


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