Apache Ant

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  • Author: Wikibooks, the open-content textbooks collection
  • Format: HTML
  • Price: free

Apache Ant (or simply Ant) is an XML-based build scripting language used heavily by the Open Source community. Ant automates tasks such as compiling source code, building deployment packages and automatically checking dependencies of what items need to be updated in a build set.

This wikibook was based on a presentation created by Dan McCreary for the Minnesota Java Open Source User Group. Dan felt strongly that a gentle introduction to Ant was necessary for new people to easily learn Ant. The existing Ant documentation, although useful for advanced Ant users, did not meet the needs of most beginners. For example in the Apache documentation, advanced concepts such as token filters were placed directly in the introduction for beginners. The introductory material also did not

contain full examples with complete sample build files and expected output. Something else was needed. At the same time the introductory material assumed that the reader was familiar with XML. This material covers some of the material you need to know about XML to build Ant scripts.

This Wikibook is also designed to work with other XML-related programming wikibooks such as XML Schema and Programming:XForms.

The book is a work in progress, and there may be incomplete or missing chapters.

Chapters include:

  • Background – History and motivation for Apache Ant
  • Adoption – How and why organizations should adopt Apache Ant
  • XML Summary – A short review of XML syntax for people that are not familiar with XML. This section can easily be skipped by users that already know about XML file structure.
  • Installation – How to download and install Apache Ant
  • Testing – How to test Apache Ant
  • Hello World – How to run a small ant program that prints “Hello World!”
  • Core Concepts – Core Terms and Concepts to be a useful Ant developers
  • Terminology – Terminology (projects, targets and tasks)
  • Build File Structure- The structure of a build file
  • Using Properties Property
  • Depends Setting up Dependencies
  • Fileset Using Fileset
  • Ant Best Practices – Best practices such as how to set up an Ant file
  • Standard Targets – A list of standard targets such as init and clean
  • Local Property Files – how to use a local property file
  • Local File Systems – removing local file system dependencies
  • Ant Cookbook – A set of small complete working example programs that demonstrate examples of how to use Apache Ant
  • Depends – shows how to use the targets depends attribute
  • Property – shows how to use an Ant property
  • Fileset – shows how to use an Ant fileset
  • XML – how Ant can be used to process XML documents
  • XMLwellformed – how to use Apache ant to check an XML file for well formedness
  • XMLvalidate – how to use Apache ant to validate an XML file agains an XML Schema
  • XSLT – how to use Apache ant to run an XML transform
  • Passing Parameters to XSLT – How to pass parameters to an XSLT transform from Apache Ant
  • References – where to get more information on Apache Ant


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