Using Ant to build J2EE Applications

Apache Ant (Another Neat Tool) is a build tool, mainly for Java projects. A build tool can be used to automate certain repetitive tasks, e.g. compiling source code, running software tests, creating jar files, javadocs, etc.

A build process typically includes:

  • the compilation of the Java source code into Java bytecode
  • creation of the .jar file for the distribution of the code
  • creation of the Javadoc documentation

Ant uses a xml file for its configuration. This file is usually called “build.xml”. Within this build file you specify the targets for ant. A target is a step which ant will perform. You also can specific dependencies. If target A depends on target B, ant will first do B and then A. Also you specify the main target. This target is the target ant will try to execute per default. If this target depends on other targets then ant will automatically perform these task first and so on and so on.