Skip to main content

Maven for Ant Users

My coworker asked me to describe how Maven compares and differs to Ant. I realized how hard it was for me to describe what a developer gets for moving their build process from Ant scripts to Maven. I can't make the argument that you can do X with Maven but not with Ant because I don't really have a valid example. However, I am inclined to make the argument that you can do X with both but with Maven it's easier.

With Maven, you collect metadata about your project instead of writing scripts defining the steps your build will take. For example, if you look at an Ant script you'll immediately see that it is organized as targets which many developers use to define and group the steps of their build process. In a Maven POM file, you won't see similar build steps defined. This can be confusing for a new Maven user coming from the world of Ant. I know it was for me. Instead, you'll see lots of metadata about the project such as dependencies, Maven plugins to use, locations for the source control repository and project website, the working directory structure, contributors and more, but nothing that defines what should happen when you want to build the project's jar, or generate a documentation site for the project. These steps are defined by various Maven plugins.

Maven plugins are the most tangible thing you get from using Maven over Ant. What the plugins provide are nothing you can't do with Ant, but they encompass many of the tasks Ant users have written and rewritten time and time again. Goals like compiling your classes, running your unit tests, jaring your classes, generating javadoc, building a JAR of your source files, and on and on. So if you want to build your project with Generics support, you'll define in your Maven POM file that the compiler plugin should target JDK 5.0, but you won't have to define what Maven needs to do to complete the goal.

So when it comes time to build your project, you haven't spent anytime rewriting goals, instead you've only spent time describing how your project differs from other projects. So when you call "mvn jar:jar" instead of "ant jar", you won't have written any of the boilerplate script to tell Ant how to build a jar and which steps it depends on (compile, test), you'll just have reused the jar goal that a Maven developer wrote.

With Maven you get to focus on the high-level task of defining your project instead of the low-level task of defining your build.

Comments

sheldon said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
jaXzin said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
sheldon said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
jaXzin said…
This comment has been removed by the author.

Popular posts from this blog

TeamCity build triggering by GitHub

So I started using GitHub for a side project and discovered their very cool feature of service hooks. A service hook allows a repository administrator to setup a callback to another service when a commit is made to the repository. For example it can send an email, or chat a message via Jabber.

Now continuous integration servers, like TeamCity, can poll source control systems every few minutes to see if any changes have been committed. But wouldn't it be more efficient to use a service hook to trigger a build?
Looking at GitHub's service hooks, there wasn't one already available to callback a TeamCity server, but right on that same page was a link to the open source repository for GitHub Service Hooks. They "eat their own dogfood" so to speak and make it very easy to contribute new service hooks back to them. So I took an evening, did my first Ruby coding in a while which included more time getting Ruby setup and working on my Macbook than actually coding. In a …

Paperless

I've been slowly going paperless over the past decade. The first step on my journey started in 2000 when I signed up to use a payment service, PayTrust, to receive my incoming bills, scan them, and put them online for me to pay. The next major step was probably when I got a digital camera to replace my traditional film cameras. It might not be considered a "paperless" use case, but it has lead to very little hardcopies over the years as monitors and HDTV with screensavers and AppleTVs have become so beautiful.  Back to the paperless office, my next big step was eFileing my taxes but that didn't come until about 5 years later. Then suddenly about two years ago, I hit a real shift in my desire to go completely paperless when I got my iPad and installed Evernote.

digital notes...
If you aren't familiar with Evernote its an excellent app, available on all the major desktop and mobile OSes, that makes note-taking and organizing really simple. The killer feature is …

Simplifying logging with Maven and SLF4J (Part 2)

So in my previous post I explained how to simplify your logging with Maven and SLF4J. If you haven't read it yet, please do before reading more.  Since then I've discovered an easier and cleaner way to remove the secondary frameworks from your Maven dependency tree.

Here's a revised overview of the steps:

Decided which logging framework will be your primary, aka who will actually write to your log file.Define the dependency scope of all the secondary frameworks to be 'provided'.Configure your project to depend on drop-in replacements of each secondary framework from SLF4J.
Define secondary frameworks as provided
Use the dependencyManagement section for this. Its used when you might have a dependency transitively.
Add dependency on SLF4J Add the following to your pom.xml
Conclusion
So now in only 3 steps you can redirect all your logging to your primary logging framework without changing a line of code!