Programmers Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for professional programmers interested in conceptual questions about software development. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I just started working at a company that has a very large ant build file that imports lots of other large/small ant files. Needless to say it's giving me a headache trying to figure out what is going on.

What are the best tools out there for:

  • Getting some kind of concise answer on what is happening
  • Visualizing the various targets
  • Seeing performance on tasks

Can be multiple tools. Any other tips/suggestions?

share|improve this question

closed as off-topic by GlenH7, MichaelT, Dan Pichelman, Tulains Córdova, gnat Feb 12 '15 at 4:38

This question appears to be off-topic. The users who voted to close gave this specific reason:

  • "Questions asking us to recommend a tool, library or favorite off-site resource are off-topic for Programmers as they tend to attract opinionated answers and spam. Instead, describe the problem and what has been done so far to solve it." – GlenH7, Community, Dan Pichelman, Tulains Córdova, gnat
If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

up vote 1 down vote accepted


If you are using Eclipse, it has a pretty good XML plugin that provides a view for looking at tasks. Netbeans also has a plugin, but I've only worked with the Eclipse plugin.

If you are looking at how long a particular task tasks, the Ant output will tell you how long it had taken to run. You can also use the verbose flag for more detailed output: ant -verbose or ant-v

For visualizing the Ant tasks in the form of a diagram, take a look at this: yed. It's got a filter for ant tasks.

I'd suggest taking a look at: ant projects as that gives a pretty good list of related projects you can use with Ant.

share|improve this answer
thanks for the feedback. I do use Eclipse, for huge build.xml files the outline view is not that great. There is too much information, and no easy way to understand it. Same with ant -v, too much information. I'll take a look at yed. I have taken a look at the ant projects, lots of projects in the list, and not clear which ones are better/worse/still maintained. – kfox Feb 16 '11 at 17:45
I looked at yed, it is just a graph editor. How would you use it to visualize ant tasks and dependencies? – kfox Feb 16 '11 at 17:48
Sorry for the late reply, I've been off with a nasty cold. You are correct, yed is just a graph editor, but you can open up xml files and make sense of you the build files. Take a look at: for more details. – Desolate Planet Feb 17 '11 at 11:23

Ant files are just XML, so if all else fails you can build your own tools. If you need to do something specific with them custom tools may be your best friend. (I don't do ant but I use lots of custom tools)

share|improve this answer
Building your own tools should be a last resort, especially since it seems like there are a lot of tools out there already. – kfox Feb 18 '11 at 19:39

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.