Apache Ant/Background

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What is Apache Ant?[edit]

  • An operating system and language neutral XML based "Build Tool"
  • A scripting language for executing any complex file-system processes that can be run from a command line interface
  • A.N.T. – Another Neat Tool
  • Used for Building the Project

History of Ant[edit]

  • Built by James Duncan Davidson
  • Frustrated with the UNIX "make"
  • Invented while turning a product from Sun into open source
  • Make used "tab" as a record separator
  • Tabs frequently got converted to spaces during copy/paste operations

Why is Ant Strategic?[edit]

Ant is important because it helps organizations create repeatable build processes.

Repeatability is critical to organizations reaching the next level of CMU's Capability Maturity Model :

  1. Initial
  2. Repeatable
  3. Defined
  4. Managed
  5. Optimized

Ant helps you get from the Initial to the Repeatable level.

Ant is a Process Discipline[edit]

  • Process discipline helps ensure that existing practices are retained during times of stress
  • When these practices are in place, projects are performed and managed according to their documented plans
  • Answers the Question: How did the prior developer compile, test and install their system?
  • Excellent aid for software archeologists

Software Project Lifecycle[edit]

  • Version 1 and version 2 of a software package are frequently done by different groups
  • Sometimes version 1 and 2 are done years apart by different teams in different countries
  • Contractors and internal staff need to use the same tools
  • Shared development processes, like those used in the Open Source community, would be almost impossible without tools like Ant

Ant is Operating System and Language Neutral[edit]

  • Builds run on both Windows and UNIX/Linux systems
  • Should run anywhere a Java VM runs
  • Ant files "know" about file separators "/" vs. "\"
  • Build targets can still do OS-specific tasks
  • Works with anything that can be done from the command line
  • Easy to extend (with Java)
  • It is possible to extend with other languages as long as they have Java bindings but in practice, most people use Java to extend Ant

Ant and XML[edit]

  • If you are familiar with XML (or even HTML) you will probably learn Ant quickly
  • If you are not already familiar with XML you will need to learn some XML before you use Ant
  • One of the best ways of doing this is to read many small Ant sample tasks
  • This book should help you do this

Next Chapter[edit]