In 1998 one programmer changed the world of Java. Frustrated by his efforts to create a cross-platform build of Tomcat using the build tools of the day (GNU Make, batch files, and shell scripts), James Duncan Davidson threw together his own build utility on an airplane flight from Europe to the U.S. Named Ant because it was a little thing that could build big things, James's quick-and-dirty solution to his own problem of creating a cross-platform build has evolved into what is perhaps the most widely used build management tool in Java environments.
If you're developing in Java and not using Ant, you owe it to yourself to invest in this little book. Ant is a reliable, cross-platform build tool that takes full advantage of the Java environment. Ant is itself written in Java. Ant works on multiple platforms-Unix, Linux, Windows, etc. so your investment in learning Ant won't be wasted when you switch development platforms. Ant is easily extensible.
Does your project have a requirement not currently met by any of Ant's functionality? No problem! Do like James, and write your own Ant task. Who knows, you too may change the world. Here's a sampling of what you can accomplish using Ant:
• Define build chunks, the results that they must produce, and the dependencies between them
• Automatically retrieve source code from source control systems such as CVS
• Build applications by having Ant not only compile the necessary source files in the proper order, but also generate the JAR files you need for deployment
• Do all of the above from a single build file (or set of build files) that will function identically on every platform that Ant supports.
Doing any eXtreme Programming? Ant is a must-have tool, enabling frequent builds to be done conveniently, which in turn facilitates test-driven development using JUnit and related technologies.
Ant buildfiles are written using XML-a well-established standard-so your use of Ant will not require you to learn yet another scripting language. Ant is an open source effort, part of the Jakarta
project hosted by the Apache Software Foundation.