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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?

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2 Answers

up vote 1 down vote accepted

Klfox,

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.

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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
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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: eclipsezone.com/eclipse/forums/t12936.html for more details. –  Desolate Planet Feb 17 '11 at 11:23
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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)

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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
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