Learn how to REALLY use Ant with Eclipse…

Let me start by saying I have only been using Eclipse professionally (at work) for about a year. I’ve played with it on-and-off for a couple years, but in the last year I’ve really “dug in” and tried to learn some of the more advanced concepts that go with using Eclipse. One thing I never really liked was the Ant integration in Eclipse.

Yes, I know Eclipse has some “nifty” ways to see your build.xml file in it’s Outline view, and you can hide private properties and targets, but that wasn’t enough for me. The thing that made me crazy with Eclipse was that using it’s Java Builder and an Ant compile task (and clean) didn’t work well together unless you used TWO build directories. If you pointed both Ant and Eclipse at the same “build” dir Eclipse would act strange. It made me crazy. I wrote about it last summer hoping somebody would have some insight, but I didn’t get much feedback.

I gave up and just used two build dirs until early December when I was tasked with coming up with a common build system for some projects at work. It got me looking at the problem again. I’m happy to report, after much research, work, and hacking that I figured out how to suscessfuly replace the Java Builder in Eclipse with an Ant Builder. The best part is that there really isn’t much too it if you have a good, working build.xml file.

Right after I made this discovery and got it working I had to pack up and head to The Spring Experience. While there I got in a conversation with Matt Raible about Eclipse and it’s Ant integration and he mentioned he was having the same problems I was. I proudly showed him what I figured out while we were attending a session. I got back from The Spring Experience fully expecting to write a long blog entry about configuring Eclipse to use an Ant Builder over their Java Builder but I got busy reviewing what I learned at TSE. Then Christmas came along. Then the knee surgeries. Anyhow……..

I was very happy to see that Matt Raible ended-up writing a great post on the whole process of setting up an Ant Builder in Eclipse, complete with screenshots to boot. So I’m off the hook and I’ll simply link to his post.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Frank Merenda


    And glad that your knees are doing better!

    Take care,

  2. Erik Weibust

    Howdy Frank,

    Glad you liked the tip. I really dig using the Ant builder. It makes it much easier to work with Eclipse IMO.


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