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Ant Developer's Guide (Developer's Library) Paperback – 22 Oct 2002

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From the Back Cover

Ant has emerged as the preferred building tool for Java developers, automating tedious compilation, test, and code management. Many Java developers are aware of Ant but there is little documentation to assist in getting started with the Ant tool. Even experienced developers who already use some of the features of the Ant tool, struggle with the more advanced aspects. This book will educate those devlopers in these more advanced topics, and help them get more out of the tool. The Ant Developer's Handbook begins with a rapid introduction to obtaining, installing, and configuring Ant and covers all major feature sets and use practices.

Ant is a cross-platform build and configuration management tool. It is written in Java, and uses XML as its file format, thereby allowing entire development teams to share Ant build files, regardless of the operating system each developer is using. Ant can perform nearly any common configuration management function, including:

  • compiling application source code.
  • running test suites and building archive files.
  • moving/copying files to server machines.
  • interacting with source control systems.

About the Author

Alan Williamson is as much a veteran of the Java world as one can be with a language that is still very much finding its feet in the world. Alan has more than 15 years experience in the world of software development, graduating with full honors in computer science from the University of Paisley. Alan worked in mainly research and development roles until starting up the UK's first pure Java consultancy company five years ago, specializing in Java on the server side ( Alan has also worked his way up to the dizzy heights of editor-in-chief of the world's largest Java magazine, Java Developers Journal, and can be found talking at various conferences all over the place!

Kirk Pepperdine has more than 15 years of experience in informatics. During that time, he has focused on applying object-oriented methodologies and technologies to the field of distributed computing, where Kirk has functioned as a researcher, developer, designer, architect, and consultant. Kirk has been heavily involved in the performance aspects of applications since the start of his career, and has tuned applications involving a variety of languages from Cray Assembler through C, Smalltalk, and on to Java. Kirk has focused on Java since 1996. He can be reached at

Joey Gibson has been working in the technology industry since 1990. He is a Sun Certified Programmer for the Java 2 Platform and has been working with Java since early 1996. He is a Senior Consultant and instructor for BravePoint (, located in Atlanta, GA, specializing in J2EE development. He is a "collector" of programming languages whose favorites include Java, Smalltalk, Ruby and Python. He can be reached at or

Andy Wu has been involved in software development for more than five years. He is a software enthusiast who thrives on new technologies. Andy currently applies his Java expertise as a developer at n-ary consultancy in Scotland. Prior to joining n-ary, he worked in research and development roles, and achieved a full honours degree in software engineering from the University of Glasgow.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0x8b6eaeb8) out of 5 stars 4 reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8b6fd774) out of 5 stars I am happy I bought this book 24 Jan. 2005
By Texas Techie - Published on
I needed a reference on Ant, and I decided to buy this one despite a negative review. The book is well-organized and well-written in a style that most developers will like.

The first three chapters do a wonderful job of introducing Ants capabilities and what you should use it for. I was already using Ant, but I learned a lot more about how I can make better use of it.

The fourth chapter is a reference of all the tags and how to use them. So far I have found that they are pretty accurate, and as an experienced user I assume that I can figure out anything that turns out to be changed (since this software is always subject to change) or even wrong.

The final chapters discuss advanced material, such as extending Ant with custom tasks, debugging build scripts, and setting up nightly builds. I feel that the book does a good job of explaining the how and why of these topics, too.

Overall, the organization of the book is similar to Oreilly's Unix in a Nutshell, where there are several chapters of reference material and a catalog of commands. I like that kind of book because it cuts to the chase for experienced users. Part of the reason I wanted this book was to structure my Ant projects intelligently, and I got my money's worth for that.
HASH(0x8b70227c) out of 5 stars A good introduction to Ant 3 April 2003
By Thomas Paul - Published on
Ant has become a widely used tool and should be part of every developer's toolkit. This book is a nice introduction for the developer who is unfamiliar with Ant and is looking to get started using it. If you are a developer who is experienced with Ant then this book will not be of much interest to you. The book starts with a nice introduction to Ant showing how to create and use a typical build script. The first three chapters cover the basics of Ant and the authors do a nice job of making Ant simple to understand. The next two chapters cover all the built-in and optional tasks that are part of Ant. This section is of limited use to the new Ant user. Since the tasks are listed in alphabetical order and broken out into separate chapters for built-in and optional tasks, you have to know what you are looking for in order to find it. It would have been nice to have a list of all the tasks with a brief description all in one or two pages which would have made it much easier to find a task. There is one brief chapter explaining how to write your own Ant tasks. Troubleshooting Ant scripts is followed by two chapters showing real world examples of using Ant. The book ends with a discussion of tool support. Conclusion: the authors have done a very nice job of explaining Ant for the novice Ant user.
9 of 14 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8b702b4c) out of 5 stars DO NOT BUY 19 Mar. 2004
By Jay Colson - Published on
This book is absolutely worthless as an ant reference. EVERY time that I go to read a particular section of the book for fine-grained information it has proven to be a disaster. The book is simply WRONG on many of it's definitions and statements of functionality.
I have never taken the time to actually write a quick review, but fealt that I would be doing a huge disservice to fellow coders if I didn't in this case.
Heed my warning: DO NOT BUY THIS BOOK.
1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8b705294) out of 5 stars Excellent book for Java Development 13 Oct. 2003
By A Customer - Published on
This is one of the best books I have read to date on developing Java applications with ANT. I'd highly recomend it to anyone interested in saving time writting JAVA applications.
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