Ant: An Open Source, Java-Based Build Tool
By Mark Volkmann, OCI Principal Software Engineer
Ant was developed as part of the Apache Jakarta project. It is used to build many open source software packages, such as Tomcat and JDOM. It can also be used to build your software.
When building software, developers are faced with a variety of potential strategies.
They can . . .
- Perform the steps manually
- Use functionality built into an IDE
- Use make
- Use custom scripts
Performing the steps manually requires a lot of memorization and expertise. It is also error prone.
Using IDE functionality is fine if all the developers on a project are using the same IDE. Even then, it's unusual that an IDE can perform all the build steps you need.
UNIX developers have been using make for a long time. It's a great tool, but it has three drawbacks.
- It doesn't run under Windows (unless Cygwin is installed).
- It has a cryptic syntax.
- It doesn't provide any special support for Java development.
Ant addresses all these issues.