The Ant Goes Marching…

Ant, for those of you who don't know, is a Java-based build system that was designed to replace 'make' for Java projects. I've been using it a lot recently to automate various repetitive tasks that I have to do. Ironically, I've yet to build any software with it.

The two most recent things I've used it for are for automatically publishing web sites from CVS and for managing my DNS server. In the former case, ant takes care of the check out, assembling the needed modules, switching to production mode (in fusebox.xml), and publishing to the web server, all from a single command. The latter involves not only generating all my zone files from templates, but also parameterizing various bits of info (like the SOA values) based on external property files. If I ever need to change a given timeout, I just update the property file, regenerate, and all my zones are instantly switched.

It's a really useful tool, and well worth the bit of time to figure out how to write the build files.

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