Putting out feelers

Apache Ant looks to Java 9 with new release

Lucy Carey

Whilst multitude of users are making first steps towards number 8, Java build tool gets a head start on preparing for next iteration of the platform.

Java library and command-line tool Apache Ant
(short for ‘Another Neat Tool’) has reached version 1.9.4 status.
Although the paint has barely dried on

Java 8
, the Ant colony is already
marshalling its forces in preparation for Oracle’s next big release
with Ant 1.9.4, which provides initial support for Java

Along with a multitude of bug fixes and tunings,
Apache Ant 1.9.4 also comes with functionality for running JUnit
test in multiple threads when they are forked. Ant’s test suite has
been refactored, and is now based on JUnit 4.

Due to the extreme flexibility of the tool, Ant
doesn’t impose coding conventions or directory layouts to the Java
projects utilizing it in their builds. Indeed, one of Ant’s key
strengths is the high degree of freedom it gives devs when putting
together a build. It can also be linked with
Apache Ivy for
software initiatives looking for a  solution with a blend of
build tool and dependency management.

Originally designed as a basic
platform-independent tool for building Tomcat from directives in an
XML “build file”, version 1.1 of Ant made its debut as a
stand-alone product in 2000. Although it looks a lot like a Java
fuelled Make (and it was in fact designed in part to solve the
latter’s portability issues), the biggest difference is that Ant
uses XML for describing the build process to Make’s respective
Makefile format.

Over the years, Ant has attracted a loyal
following, and its fans are ‘semi-religious’ in their conviction
when the ‘Apache Maven versus Ant’ debate inevitably arises. Whilst
Maven is a less complex alternative to the tool, both tend to work
best in distinctively different use case scenarios. A nice middle
ground is offered by Groovy-based system Gradle, which sits
somewhere between the two.

Regardless of your allegiance, if you’re interested in
ding out what’s new in Ant, you can find source and
binary distributions are on the Apache Ant download pages:

and http://ant.apache.org/srcdownload.cgi.

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