ANT Tutorial

Introduction

Ant is a Java library and command-line tool. The main known usage of Ant is the build of Java applications. Ant supplies a number of built-in tasks allowing to compile, assemble, test and run Java applications.

According to its original author, James Duncan Davidson, the name is an acronym for another neat tool. Build tools are used in software development to transform source code and other input files into an executable form (and maybe into installable product images as well). As an application's build process becomes more complex, it becomes increasingly important to ensure that precisely the same build steps are carried out during each build, with as much automation as possible, in order to produce consistent builds in a timely manner. Traditional projects in C or C++ often use the make tool for this purpose, where the build tasks are performed by invoking shell commands, and dependencies are defined between each of the build tasks so that they are always performed in the necessary order. Ant is similar to make in that it defines dependencies between build tasks; however, instead of implementing build tasks using platform-specific shell commands, it uses cross-platform Java classes. With Ant, you can write a single build file that operates consistently on any Java platform (as Ant itself is implemented in the Java language); this is Ant's greatest strength. Ant's other key strengths are its powerful simplicity and its ability to be seamlessly extended with custom capabilities.

Advantages of Ant

  • Built using Java and hence ANT only requires a JVM to execute.
  • XML based configuration file. This makes the configuration file easier to write, read and maintain. This is one major advantages over cryptic shell commands.
  • XML Build File is Easier to Build, Read, and Maintain than MAKE file
  • Easier to Extend. Java classes can be written to build extensions to the core functionality.
  • Supports cross platform Java Development ie same ant build script can be used across platforms.
  • Easier to do Java-specific tasks like jar, war, javadoc, etc
  • Tools like javac are new threads not new process. Hence Ant is much faster than MAKE.
  • Ant's Debug Options are very helpful