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From "Craig R. McClanahan" <>
Subject Re: Ant rant
Date Mon, 13 Nov 2000 04:22:30 GMT
Nick Bauman wrote:

> I have all kinds of problems using new versions of Tomcat (and someone
> said that they are suprised at how few people try the milestone builds /
> betas) and many of them come from problems with Ant. So I think Ant is
> actually _preventing_ people from getting the most out of Tomcat. (just an
> opinion: no flame intended!)

Your comment prompted me to do a quick check of the download counts for
the latest betas and milestones:

Tomcat 3.2-b7 (posted last night):
    Binary distribution:  434 successful downloads
    Source distribution: 114 successful downloads
    (These numbers will undoubtedly climb rapidly
    since this is basically only people paying attention
    on a weekend.)

Tomcat 4.0-m4 (posted 11/1/2000):
    Binary distribution:  2922 successful downloads
    Source distribution: 533 successful downloads

In addition, there are also an unknown number of people keeping up to
date via anonymous CVS and/or nightly builds.

(Ant 1.2 binaries have been downloaded 7,563 times since they were
posted 10/25/2000.)

> Many many programs that use autoconf are out there in OSS. I feel like we
> aren't leveraging our own past.

One interesting note about your rant is that the only people who care
about Ant in the first place are those trying to build Tomcat from
(or want to use it for their own development).  If you just need a
binary build of Tomcat (which is definitely the majority case), Ant is

(And the particular classpath error that bit you would have shown up
with a makefile too :-)

Another note is a voice of personal experience.  I've been doing
primarily Java development for the last four years, and (until Ant came
along) creating Make files that knew how to deal with Java's package
structure correctly was always painful and error-prone.  The arcane
syntax and all the "magical" behavior is, quite frankly, a real pain. 
And it was never easy to port from the idiosyncracies of one "make" to
another.  Sure, I could have invested the time to become a "make maven",
but expertise in this area doesn't pay the rent -- getting programs
completed does.

Autoconf?  Well, the whole reason that autoconf exists is to make the
fact that platforms are not compatible less painful -- but well designed
programs don't suffer much from that.  The fact that Ant runs out of the
box on any platform with a JVM -- without having any configuration other
than getting the classpath right -- tells me that tools like autoconf
are no longer relevant to my life.  Good riddance to them ... :-)

A final note -- an increasing number of the Java based open source
projects I'm familiar with, including many outside *, have
adopted Ant as their portable build tool.  So I'm clearly not the only
one who feels this way.

> > My 2 cents
> > Michael Stanley
> >
> And only mine as well, summarized by "Stand on The Shoulders of Giants"

I am.  I hope that I will never ever have to write another makefile or
set up another config script.  Thank you Ant developers!

> Nick

Craig McClanahan

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