Difference Between Ant and Maven (With Table)

Many languages are used for developing different software and tools to make different tasks easier. The build tool is one of these tools, which are used for developing new programs. Two types of build tools that are used are Ant and Maven. Both of them are used for the automation of repetitive specific tasks and have similar functions.

Following are all the required information and differences that will help in removing the confusion between both of them.

Ant vs Maven

The difference between Ant and Maven is that both of them are different types of tools. Ant is a type of build-up tool, whereas the Maven is a type of project management tool. Maven has a few advantages, such as has a formal built-in convention, reusable plugins, built-in dependency management, etc., whereas all of these advantages are absent in the case of Ant. Despite this absence, the Ant is more flexible and easier, which also requires the least maintenance making it a more preferable option, while Maven is relatively more complex and less flexible hence, preferred less. Other than these, they can be differentiated on several bases, such as their nature, framework type, information requirement, lifecycles, etc., which are mentioned below.

Ant or popularly known as Apache Ant, is a build tool. It is a java based command-line tool. It is used for the process of automation of repetitive specific tasks. It was created in July 2000 by James Duncan Davidson and was used to build the tomcat. The new version of it was then released in May 2014 with some advanced features. The latest version of it is 1.10.3 that was released in March 2018.

A maven is an automation tool used for Java Projects mainly. It is used for projects written in C#, Ruby, Scala, and many other languages. This tool is hosted by the Apache Software Foundation. It has reusable plugins and is declarative in nature. It was released on 13 July 2004, and the meaning of its name is ‘accumulator of knowledge. Java-based projects can be developed easily with the help of this tool.

Comparison Table Between Ant and Maven

Parameters of ComparisonAntMaven
ConventionsNo formal conventionsHave built-in formal conventions
Type of toolBuild ToolProject Management Tool
UsabilityNot reusableIt has Reusable plugins
PreferenceMore preferred due to flexibilityLess preferred due to more complications.
Nature Procedural NatureDeclarative Nature

What is Ant?

Following are the benefits of using this build tool:

  • Allows you to automate selected tasks that happen in repetition. For example, running software tests, creating files, compiling source code.
  • No graphical user interface is required for running the program.
  • Conversion of source code into the executable code is easy with the help.
  • Recompiling files is easier.
  • Compiling several files in a short period.

Features of Apache Ant:

  • Open-source project.
  • Run-on windows and UNIX/Linux system.
  • Require JVM for running.
  • Wide ranges of predefined tasks are offered.
  • Allow copying from different locations.
  • Help in developing custom tasks.
  • Deploy binaries to the test server.
  • Extensible Architecture.
  • Backward Compatibility.

Following are steps required for installing this on Windows:

  1. Download the Binaries.
  2. Unzip Files.
  3. Creation of environment variable.
  4. Add on system properties.
  5. Finding the environment variables.
  6. Create a new user.
  7. Fill in the details.
  8. Create user.

Every build of Ant consists of the following nodes:

  1. Project: everything under this is a project that has a name, Basedir, and default attributes.
  2. Target: these are specific tasks defining the specific state for the process. It has a name, description, depends, if, and unless attributes.
  3. Task: it is a section of code. This can be executed and has multiple attributes.

What is Maven?

Maven has the following functions:

  • Making the project easier to build.
  • Its project can be shared by all the maven projects.
  • Providing project information.
  • Easier to migrate for the advanced features of Maven.

It helps in managing:

  • Builds.
  • Documentation.
  • Reporting.
  • SCMs
  • Releases
  • Distribution

Following are the benefits of Maven:

  • Better Dependency Management: it has better dependency management. Therefore depended projects or tasks can be completed more easily as compared to other build tools.
  • More advanced: it has advanced features which make it more preferred by the professionals that deal with these functions on a daily basis. It has certain features, for example, reusable plugins that are absent in other similar tools.

Although it has several advantages with all of them, there is some disadvantage as well. It is more complex, difficult to work with, requires more maintenance, can be slow, and is unreliable.

Main Differences Between Ant and Maven

  1. Both of them are based on different frameworks. Maven is mainly based on the POM concept, while Ant is based on Java Library and Command-Line Toolbox.
  2. They can be differentiated based on formal convention. Maven has a formal convention that is used for placing the source of code, compiled code, etc., whereas Ant has the slight disadvantage of not having a built-in formal convention.
  3. Information of the project structure is not required in the pom.xml file in the case of Maven, whereas the information of the project structure is required in the build.xml file in the case of Ant.
  4. Both of them are different when it comes to lifecycle. While Maven has a lifecycle but Ant does not have any lifecycle.
  5. Both of them are different. Maven is declarative in nature which implies that the source needs to be present in the default directory only, whereas the Ant is of procedural nature, which means manual instruction of what and when to do it is required.
  6. Maven also has the advantage that it can self-download from a central repository the dependencies for building projects, whereas Ant has no such built-in support of the dependency management for carrying out such processes.
  7. Maven consists of reusable plugins, while no such reusable scripts have consisted with the Ant.
  8. Ant is far more flexible and less complicated, which makes it more preferred by the users. It also does not require heavy maintenance making it the best choice, whereas Maven is comparatively less flexible and more complex, making it less preferable.

Conclusion 

Therefore, there should be clarity of what Ant and Maven are and how they are different from one another. Both of them are hosted by the Apache Software Foundation, and therefore have several similarities except being a build tool.

Both of them are great at their functions, but if compared, Maven slightly has a more advanced function than the Ant and, therefore, can be used for more purposes, but this also makes it more complex to understand and work with. Therefore if a person is looking for an easier yet useful tool, Ant is a better option.

References 

  1. https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/abstract/document/5261053/
  2. https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-1-4302-0439-8_8
  3. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10664-011-9169-5
  4. https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/abstract/document/7832933/
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