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Java compilation: I don't like Ant

From: David Copeland
Subject: Java compilation: I don't like Ant
Date: Wed, 17 Apr 2002 15:01:10 -0400

(Please, when responding, cc my email address, as I do not currently subscribe to the list)

As you may know, the majority of open source (and presumably closed source) Java development not using a standard IDE uses ant ( as it's build tool, as opposed to make.

On many occasions I have come up against ant when trying to do something, and I think "this would be so much easier with make". The reasons for this are due to either ant's immaturity, ant's design philosophy, or inflexibility with ant's built-in tasks or some combination.

From what I've experienced, the only real advantage ant has over make is
that make prefers to compile one .java file at a time, whereas ant compiles everything at one time, making ant compile EXTREMELY faster. Now, make can be made to do it the ant way, but ant cannot be made to do it the make way, however, for the ant/make newbie, make is harder to use to get up and compiling Java (thus it's widespread adoption).

Were it up to me, I would just use make, but that is not always my call, and I'm wondering if anyone on this list has had similar experiences and how they can best convince Java programmers who do not know make that make is a more flexible tool, and generally a better choice?

Furthermore, my largest criticism of the ant developers is that if they had a problem with make, they should have examined changing make to accomodate Java better than it does rather than re-inventing the wheel. At this point, I don't see ant getting better anytime soon; they still have to learn all of make's lessons and implement all the features that make/unix has had for years that are necessary for a real build system. I am not even sure it can be done, given the way ant is designed.

So, for the make developers/maintainers out there: is there an answer in adding features to make to facilitate Java development the way it facilitates C development? Is this a case where a separate tool really is needed?

Anyway, thanks for the info and please at least CC my email address with your replies!


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