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From Rick Moynihan <r...@calicojack.co.uk>
Subject Re: AW: Using ant as a cross platform java process launcher
Date Tue, 24 Apr 2007 11:12:21 GMT
Jan.Materne@rzf.fin-nrw.de wrote:
>> So my questions to the ant community:
>>
>> * What is commons launcher doing that ANT alone isnt?
> 
> Personally I havent heard from commons-launcher before. As you said it
> seems
> that commons-launcher is a modified copy of ant-launcher. So the best
> place
> to ask this would be (IMHO) the user@commons list.
> 

I have already made inquiries on the user/dev@commons lists, and I have 
also tried contacting the project developers directly.  Unfortunately I 
have had little response, which I why I feel that perhaps there is some 
interest within the ANT community.  Hence my posting here.

> 
> 
>> * Can ANT be used as a launch process for Java 
>> processes/daemons without significant problems?
> 
> The ant-launcher is implemented in the package oata.launch [1]. It was
> designed
> as a replacement to the very heavy start scripts (bat,sh...). So it
> focused on
> Ant's needs.
> The launcher [2] does not start any new process - it uses the current
> one. So I dont think that you can launch processes/deamons with the
> launcher. BUT: maybe a buildfile with <exec>/<java> and fork="true"
> would help.
> 
> As this is beyond Ant's focus I would not say that there are no
> significant problems. But _maybe_ it works ;-)
> 

Thanks for the code pointers.  I'll be sure to take a look at them.

> 
>> * Is there any interest within the ANT community to support this
>> use-case natively within ANT?
> 
> Mmmh - there was a discussion earlier. The only future I would see is a
> base or utility class without any Ant specific stuff in ant-launcher
> which could be reused in Ant's own launcher. I think that was the
> intention in commons-launcher.
> 
> But Ant does not want to depend on a 3rd party library in that core
> area. Have in mind: 400+ projects are using Ant for their bootstrapping
> just in Gump ... And having a circular dependency between Ant and
> commons-launcher is also not a good thing ...

Obviously I understand that ANT is a critically important piece of 
infrastructure for a huge number of projects, and I understand that 
ANT's primary focus is and always will be as a build tool.

My only point is that *MAYBE* if it is not too much work, ANT can be 
adapted to also fill this role.  I have looked at other projects such as:

* http://classworlds.codehaus.org/launchusage.html
* http://wrapper.tanukisoftware.org/doc/english/introduction.html

However I personally feel that reusing ANT build files for this sort of 
thing is a more elegant solution, as it can leverage knowledge of ANT 
for configuration of classpaths, properties, etc...

*If* the ant-launcher could be modified to support this use-case without 
any external dependencies etc, I feel it would nicely fill a need in the 
Java community.  Obviously adopting ANT to a task it was not designed 
for is not a decision that should be taken lightly, but I feel it would 
be valuable, and can't see why it should impact ANT's use as a build tool.

At the end of the day, I like commons launcher and would be completely 
happy with it, if it had a community behind it, willing to fix the few 
bugs I have encountered and drive some more features.

So, my current options appear to be either:

1. Suggest the ANT project adopts the use-case of an application launcher.

2. Patch commons-launcher myself (which I may well do) and persuade the 
project maintainers to accept my patches (unlikely given the projects 
lack of developers/community).

3. Fork commons-launcher and maintain it outside of Apache.

The first suggestion is the lowest cost to me, as it means others can 
maintain, run and manage the project.  I appreciate that many factors 
are likely to prevent this.  If ANT can be modified in the manner you 
suggest, what are the barriers?

The other two options require a significant investment of my (and 
hopefully others) time.

What does the ANT community think?


R.

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