Ant - Introduction

ANT stands for Another Neat Tool. It is a Java-based build tool from computer software development company Apache. Before going into the details of Apache Ant, let us first understand why we need a build tool.

Need for a Build Tool

On an average, a developer spends a substantial amount of time doing mundane tasks like build and deployment that include −

  • Compiling the code

  • Packaging the binaries

  • Deploying the binaries to the test server

  • Testing the changes

  • Copying the code from one location to another

To automate and simplify the above tasks, Apache Ant is useful. It is an Operating System build and deployment tool that can be executed from the command line.

History of Apache Ant

Ant was created by software developer James Duncan Davidson who is also the original creator of webserver application Tomcat.

Ant was originally used to build Tomcat, and was bundled as a part of Tomcat distribution.

It was born out of the problems and complexities associated with the Apache Make tool.

It was promoted as an independent project in Apache in the year 2000. The latest version of Apache Ant as on October 2021 is 1.10.12.

Features of Apache Ant

The features of Apache Ant are listed below −

  • It is the most complete Java build and deployment tool available.

  • It is platform neutral and can handle platform specific properties, such as file separators.

  • It can be used to perform platform specific tasks such as modifying the modified time of a file using 'touch' command.

  • Ant scripts are written using plain XML. If you are already familiar with XML, you can learn Ant pretty quickly.

  • Ant is good at automating complicated repetitive tasks.

  • Ant comes with a big list of predefined tasks.

  • Ant provides an interface to develop custom tasks.

  • Ant can be easily invoked from the command line and it can integrate with free and commercial IDEs.