Free Report: Java Build Tools - Part 1

An Introductory Crash Course to Getting Started with Maven, Gradle and Ant + Ivy

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Build tools have evolved over the years, becoming progressively more sophisticated and feature rich. This provides developers with useful additions, such as the ability to manage your project dependencies as well as automate tasks beyond compiling and packaging. 

We broke it down into this reasonable list of main tasks and requirements a good build tool should be good at:

  • Incremental compilation
  • Properly handling compilation and resource management tasks
  • Handling different profiles (development vs. production)
  • Adapting to changing product requirements
  • And last but not least: designed to automate builds

Tools we'll cover in this report: Maven, Gradle and Ant + Ivy

Although it's not possible to give proper coverage to all the build tools in the world, we hope that by covering the top 3–Maven, Gradle and Ant + Ivy–in relative detail will be enough for most readers. If not, feel free to introduce us to some new technology!

What is a build tool and what does it do?

Let's start at the beginning. What is a build tool? Well, as its name suggests, it is a tool for building – shocker! OK, that's a bit too simple: build tools are primarily used to compile and construct some form of usable software image from your source code. This software image might be a web application, a desktop application, a library for other code bases to use or even a full product.