5/06/2006

Industrious ANT

Apache Ant is a Java-based build tool. In theory, it operates the same way as a make file does, but it doesn't contain the baggage of Make. It also has the added advantage of encapsulation. Everything in ANT is configured using an XML file. All the details are hidden in jar files. You would hardly have to tweak with the sources for the jar files unless you have a compelling reason to do so. One reason I can think of is an incompatible operating system (I have personally experienced it and had to tweak some libraries for FTP/Telnet for Himalaya/NSK (a non-standard OS IMHO. Almost legacy :)).

The best part about ANT is it's easily configurable, easily extendable (very pluggable), hierarchical, universally accepted and above all open-source! Many IDEs have ANT plugins within them making life simple.

ANT like it's namesake is very industrious and can carry out arduous tasks with relative calm. It can be configured to almost do anything and if it cannot be done directly through ANT, you surely have the "" hat allows different commands to be executed based on the OS that it is executing on.



Benefits of using ANT are myriad but the most common use of ANT is in builds. With the whole programming community moving towards unit testing, continuous integration by adopting Agile Programming Practices, ANT comes very handy. It easily fits into tools like Cruisecontrol and it can be easily used even configured all on it's own to do continuous integration and continuous building.
ANT benefits can be realised fully depending on the creativity of the programmer. Using a hierarchical combination of targets, he can almost make it run like an application! We use ANT to do remote building, unit testing and report synchronization here in Sabre, but I am sure a lot of other people would have put it to even better use! ANT can also be used to fulfill batch jobs by executing queries and as you read this somebody somewhere would have added something to make it even more powerful!

Three Cheers to ANT !

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