Prashant Deva's blog

Talks on technology and the latest developments in Placid Systems.

The making of Virtual Ant

Thursday, November 30, 2006

When the first time I wrote an ant build script for ANTLR Studio, it was extremely frustrating.

I had to look into all these manuals and and all the descriptions of all these tasks and attributes.

And all the time I was thinking, oh god, all i want to do is right click on this folder and select the 'Add to Archive' button but I need to learn these tons of commands for that. And not only that I even had to go back and debug the file after I had created it to get it working properly.

This was for the first release of ANTLR Studio. For the next update, I needed to make some slight modifications to the build process. So, I went ahead opened my build script to edit some stuff, and my gosh, i couldnt make out a thing i had written a week ago. I had to sit with manuals and the eclispe ant debugger for hours before I could get the whole thing back in my brain. Of course, making the actual changes took even more time.

My whole experience with ant build scripts reminded me of the old days of DOS and command lines where you had to learn each command, and simple things like moving files around and archiving needed quite some expertise.

Thus after completing ANTLR Studio, I set out to design a system that would be as easy to use as Windows Explorer and would allow me to perform all the operations on it with the same kind of functionality that Ant allows. Something that wouldnt require me to look into manuals or go about debugging any scripts.

After a lot of trials and errors, the result of is Virtual Ant. This is by far the easiest and most intuitive system ever designed where you can create your build scripts. A lot of care has gone into it so that you can create highly complex build scripts even as a non-programmer and not knowing even a bit of xml.

I believe that software development has seen the lowest amount of innovation since the dawn of computer science. You still code with basically the same tools as those available 10 years ago. Virtual Ant is the beginning in the next generation of truly revolutionary development tools that you will be seeing coming out of Placid.


posted by Prashant Deva, 4:50 PM


Hi Prashant....
That was truely amazing,i have spent some hours trying to understand how my project build scripts work,sometimes needed to modify them for other releases to check out from a certain CVS branch and further build it into an ear.

That was truely relief for me and others.

Tell me can we also write a CVS task among others, here.

Hi Prashant that was truely amazing job,i used to spend hours to modify a build for my project release after release to check out from another CVS branch.

Tell me can we also write a CVS task here as well.

Really Excited seeing the Virtual Ant Video.

Great Job Prashanth. I'm waiting for the release.

mastering Ant commands is headace. An easy drag and drop visual tool for ANT will make our lifes lot easier.

commented by Anonymous, 3:34 PM, December 18, 2006  

When is this set to release? Can we beta test? I have a potential 300+ line build.xml file that I would love to do automatically. Thanks!

When does this release? Can we beta test? I need to work on a huge build.xml file and this would seemingly make it a whole lot easier! Thanks!

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