Apache Ant is a Java-based build tool (similar to Make). Ant projects are contained in XML files which specify a number of Ant targets and their dependencies. The body of each Ant target consists of a collection of Ant tasks. Each Ant task is a small Java program for performing common build operations (such as Java compilation and packaging).

Ant features

Ant includes the following features:

  • The configuration files are XML-based.

  • At runtime, a user can specify which Ant target(s) they want to run, and Ant will generate and execute tasks from a dependency tree built from the target(s).

  • Instead of a model extended with shell-based commands, Ant is extended using Java classes. Each task is run by an object that implements a particular task interface.

  • Ant build files are written in XML (and have the default name build.xml).

  • Each build file contains one project and at least one (default) target.

  • Targets contain task elements.

  • Each task element of the build file can have an id attribute and can later be referred to by the value supplied to this. The value has to be unique.

  • A project can have a set of properties. These might be set in the build file by the property task, or might be set outside Ant.

  • Dynamic or configurable build properties (such as path names or version numbers) are often handled through the use of a properties file associated with the Ant build file (often named build.properties).

Tip For more about Ant, see the Ant project page.

Writing an Ant build file by example

It is generally easier to write Ant build files by starting from a working example. The sample applications bundled with the Rhino SDK use Ant management scripts. They are good examples of how to automate the compilation and deployment steps. See rhino-connectivity/sip-*/build.xml in your Rhino SDK installation folder. Two Rhino tools can be used to create the build.xml file:

  • The Eclipse plugin creates a build.xml file that helps in building and creating components and deployable unit jar files.

  • The rhino-export tool creates a build.xml file that can redeploy deployed Rhino components to another Rhino instance. This feature is very useful during development — a typical approach is to manually install and configure a number of SLEE components, then use rhino-export to create a build.xml file, to automate provisioning steps.

The full set of Rhino Ant management tasks is available in the Rhino Management API.

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Rhino Version 3.2