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ant-intellij-tasks: Automated build at your fingertips


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An overview of ant-intellij-tasks (an open source, Ant-based build system for IntelliJ IDEA, see

An overview of ant-intellij-tasks (an open source, Ant-based build system for IntelliJ IDEA, see

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  • 1. ant-intellij-tasks
    Automated build at your fingertips
  • 2. Agenda
    Mission statement
    Overview and limitations
    Customizing tests
    Customizing packaging
    What’s next?
  • 3. Mission statement
    Developers typically employ at least three tools:
    Code editor;
    Project structure manager (modules, dependencies and compilation options);
    Build system
    In the Java world, the first two are typically handled by the IDE (Eclipse, IntelliJ IDEA etc.)
    The build system is typically separate, and requires duplicating the project structure in the form of Ant or Maven scripts
  • 4. Mission statement
    Keeping two different project structure definitions means:
    Duplication of effort;
    Manual synchronization is error-prone;
    Synchronization issues are often subtle, hard to detect and resolve
    ant-intellij-tasks is an open source (Apache license) build system which complements IntelliJ IDEA and builds on its project structure.
  • 5. Architecture
    ant-intellij-tasks comprises three components:
    ant-intellij-tasks.jar - Extends Ant with IntelliJ-IDEA-related tasks
    common.xml - Provides common functionality (e.g. “build module”, “test module” etc.)
    build-all.xml: A project-wide build script
    Typically these three are enough to enable automated builds with no further customizations
  • 6. Architecture
    ant-intellij-tasks.jar is an Ant task library primarily capable of:
    Parsing project (.ipr) and module (.iml) files
    Resolving module build order
    Per-module resolution of:
    Source/test directories
    Source/test output paths (relative, absolute or project-inherited)
  • 7. Architecture
    common.xml implements the four classic build targets:
    Clean module output
    Build module – currently only Java is supported
    Package module - currently only JARs and WARs are supported
    Test module – currently only with JUnit. Test classes must follow the convention *, * or Test*.java)
  • 8. Architecture
    build-all.xml extends the module targets to the entire project
    Entire codebase can be built with one command:ant –f build-all.xml package
    Modules are resolved and processed in the correct build order
    A module can override the default behavior by providing its own build.xml
  • 9. Customization
    Typically the build is “customized” by tweaking the project settings within IntelliJ IDEA
    It may, however, be necessary to additionally customize the build process
    Typically this is done by adding a custom build.xml to a module directory
    The four targets (clean, build, test, package) are then delegated to the custom script
    Set the project-file property to the project file location
    Override by defining a new target with the same name
    Call the default script using<antcall target=“” />
  • 10. Customization: Tests
    Maximum heap size can be set with the junit.maxmemory property. (The default is defined by junit.maxmemory.default)
    Pass system properties by prefixing junit.propertiesto the system property name
    <?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
    <import file="../libraries/ant/common.xml" />
    <target name="test">
    <property name="project-file" location="../Delver.ipr" />
    <property name="" value="2.9-dev" />
    <property name="junit.maxmemory" value="128m" />
    <antcall target="common.test" />
  • 11. Customization: Limitations
    ant-intellij-tasks was designed to resolve IntelliJ IDEA metadata files, and leave most of the heavy lifting to Ant
    Due to time constraints, this design goal is not always met:
    Global libraries are not supported
    Packaged JARs and WARs cannot only be customized by tweaking the packaging instructions or manually manipulating the output
  • 12. What’s next?
    Better script documentation
    Better JavaDocs
    Significant work on test corpus
    Apache license headers
    Testing on Linux
    Caching parsed modules/projects
    Reusing build artifacts if they’re up-to-date
    Reusing build artifacts for packaging
  • 13. Questions, comments and groans are welcome!
    Visit the project page at or send feedback directly to