Thursday, September 29, 2011

Ant: A common build system for Java deployment.

"You say: toe-MAY-toe..."

There often comes a time that language barriers are a difficulty in real life. Helping travelers find their way to the nearest mall is one example. With the ever increasingly fragmented state of computing, language barriers can cause problems, too. There are three main OSs that have their strange idiosyncrasies, Linux, Mac OS X and Microsoft Windows. Within these systems are differences in file structure, new-line symbols and a plethora of other things which make deployment a hassle. With build systems, it allows for a programmer to reach the most amount of people, automating the process to make code deployment a breeze.

Introducing Ant

Like its GNU couterpart, make, Ant provides a framework for interacting with the system to build a provided system. What Ant does is act like a translator between the system you provide to the user and the user's computer. This means that no matter what OS they're using, Ant would be able to configure your system to work with theirs. Using XML, all one needs to do is provide simple targets that Ant has to execute. Using Java, ant could do anything from compiling:

To archiving a system:

All through xml. All the user has to do is invoke ant on the xml file and they're done. Through automating the process, the user of the code doesn't have to go through the headache of trying to figure out what one needs to download/configure in order to use a great piece of code, and the group that provided the code can rest assured that their code will be the best to use.

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