[arch-projects] Groovy ant-builder

Dusty Phillips buchuki at gmail.com
Wed Apr 13 16:14:28 EDT 2005

A while ago I posted my interest in using Groovy instead of ant for
scripting my build file. I spent the last couple of days working on
this. I thought people might be interested in my results.

Summarizing my previous post, I don't like ant because I don't like
XML. I think that's about all the important points...

I have two comparable build files, though they do not perform
identically. Here's a comparison of them based on size:

dusty:~ $ wc build.groovy build.xml 
 138  319 3630 build.groovy
 158  584 6262 build.xml

The xml build file has 20 more lines, and almost twice as many words
and characters as the groovy build file. In other words, a groovy
build file is less typing, although you would tend to press the enter
key about an equal number of times.

Here are the two files, for visual comparison (NOTE: I removed some
targets from the xml file that haven't been implemented in the groovy
script yet, but they still aren't identical):

Unfortunately, firefox won't syntax-highlight the groovy file. Aside
from that, which one do people think is easier to read? I personally
prefer the groovy markup, but maybe I'm strange.

The main observation I found coding the groovy file is that its much
easier to reduce duplication of code in a groovy script (just toss it
in a method) than in an ant file (put it in a target and depend on it,
sometimes conditionally). Also, its easier to group properties
together into maps and having generic code manipulate them. This
reduces both the number of total properties and the total amount of

Most articles I've read have been anti-groovy scripting, and I doubt
this would become a standard either within the Java community (ie:
where ant currently dominates) or across all projects that need build
management. I just find it interesting, and I must confess that I
prefer it.



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