When comparing Apache Ant vs Apache Maven, the Slant community recommends Apache Maven for most people. In the question“What are the best Java build automation tools?” Apache Maven is ranked 2nd while Apache Ant is ranked 4th. The most important reason people chose Apache Maven is:
Maven is very opinionated and declarative. This means that most developers will easily understand how your build system works. They don't have to guess which file will end up in the `jar`. An IDE can also import any project and easily reason how everything is organized and fits.
Ranked in these QuestionsQuestion Ranking
Pro Agile Dependency Manager (Ivy)
Ivy is a powerful tool for managing dependencies. It's highly configurable and very flexible and is not tied to any specific structure or architecture.
Although it can also be used as a standalone tool, it's tightly integrated with Ant and provides all the dependency management services for it, basically transferring all of Ivy's flexibility in dependency management to Ant as well.
Pro Good for special projects
Ant is an imperative build system, this means that it's very good at controlling the build process. You "tell" Ant what to do during the whole process, for example: "compile these files and put them in that folder". This is great for special projects where you want as much control as possible during the build process.
Maven is very opinionated and declarative. This means that most developers will easily understand how your build system works. They don't have to guess which file will end up in the
jar. An IDE can also import any project and easily reason how everything is organized and fits.
Pro IDE Support
Almost all of the most used Java IDEs have special support for Maven built in out of the box or through plugins available to download.
Pro Massive central repository
Maven's central repository is very large and extensive and holds almost every open source Java project out there.
Apache Maven is very popular in the Open Source community. With many open source projects using it as their build tool of choice. Considering that the Open Source community is rather large and usually helpful so there are a lot of guides and tutorials out there written by third-party sources on Maven.
Pro Lots of plugins
The fact that it's open source and that it's very popular means that Maven has hundreds of open source plugins available.
Pro Clear configuration via XML
Maven uses XML as a configuration file format. This makes the configuration files very explicit, easy to parse and hard to mistype.
Pro Convention over configuration.
It's rather simple and works by convention. This also makes it easy to switch projects as the basic structure looks similar.
Pro Built-in Dependency Resolution
It saves lot's of time, even more when you know how to use it properly.
Con Too much freedom
While it's true that Ant gives you a lot of freedom and control over your builds, it also means that you will have to constantly reinvent the wheel on how your project structure and how everything fits together for every new project. This also makes it harder for other people to simply start working on your project because of the wide range of different ways to build a project with Ant. While tools that have more constraints generally end up looking the same and it's easier to understand how everything fits.
Maven uses XML syntax for it's configuration file, which is very verbose and tends to get complicated quickly.
Con Scripting missing extension by plugin only
Some build automation would easily be achievable with a tiny bit of scripting. Regrettably, maven forces everything to happen within XML or a plugin.
Con Log output can be verbose / messy
The output is very messy/talkative with information normally irrelevant making it sometimes hard to identify the important pieces.
Con Intransparency (due to declarative model)
The purpose of the tooling is to take away work from the developer. This comes here at the cost of an intransparent realization regarding the internal implementation. While the model may be clear on what should happen, how that happens is less clear and thus in the rare case something does not work as expected it can be a bit hard to understand why at the beginning.
Con Difficult to customize
If you want to do everything The Maven Way, great. If you want or need to deviate from that, good luck.