Chapter 1. Introduction

Many of the Antelope tasks are now part of the Ant-Contrib project, http://ant-contrib.sourceforge.net. In this version, 3.4.0, the tasks contained in the Antelope distribution are identical to those in Ant-Contrib other than the package name. The Antelope tasks will continue to be distributed as part of the Antelope distribution, but eventually, the package and code base will reside entirely with Ant-Contrib. Additionally, it is likely that the Ant-Contrib tasks that are not part of Antelope will be included in this distribution as well. The intent is to make Ant-Contrib the central location for additional Ant tasks.

Ant was not designed to be a scripting language. It was meant to replace 'make' and has done an outstanding job in doing so. However, in day to day use in building even small-scale applications, Ant is being used in ways never foreseen by its creators. Complete applications are being build using Ant as the coding language. Build files call other build files, which in turn call other build files. Regardless of the original intent, Ant has become a replacement for batch files, shell scripts, perl scripts, and make files.

Ant is also extensible. The API is nicely defined to allow any number of new tasks to be added, and each new release of Ant includes new and useful tasks. The tasks described here help developers to create more robust build files, and to assist in structuring build files more like a programming or scripting language than is possible with the standard issue tasks.

Several of the tasks described in this manual are based on Java language counterparts:

The Assert task is modeled after the Java assertkeyword.

The If task is modeled after the Java if/else construct.

The Try task is modeled after the Java try/catch construct.

The Variable task is modeled after Java variable declaration and assignment.

These tasks have become indispensible for me in daily use. I think you will find that your Ant build files are more robust and better structured through the use of these tasks. I've tried to incorporate real-world examples, in fact, many come from the unit tests for the tasks. If you have a source code distribution, you can look at the unit tests for more examples.