Ant-Eclipse - Eclipse projects generator from Ant scripts

What is it?

Ant-Eclipse is a task for the Java build tool Ant generating Eclipse projects to be just imported and used easily. Ant build scripts are used as a central place for the configuration of sources and libraries which the generated projects are based on.


The most usual way to develop a software is to write, run and debug the source code in an IDE. However, as long as the first source files are compilable the software finds its way into a package and it must be possible to compile it, run it and test it in other environments where the IDE is not available. Build tools used for this job usually cannot read the project files where IDEs store information about packages and sometimes there are more IDEs used by developers. It seems obvious that the build tool needs its own description of the package.

Keeping the package configuration on two places is more error-prone and looking for errors caused by diffrerences in these configurations can cost much time when the error occur first during the run-time of an application.

It is allways the better to keep the configuration on a single place and not to maintain its copies on more places. If there are more tools used for the development one of them should be chosen as the owner and provider of the package configuration. The others have to base ther configuration on this central one either by using it directly or by refreshing their one if the central one changes.

Which tool is the best one for keeping the package configuration? It depends on the package and the development process. The most important tool is usually the one which automates compiling packaging and running tests because it produces the final package to be delivered to end-users. This automated production usually runs unattendedly reporting results from processing the current source code base. The configuration of this tool can be taken as the source for all the others.

Ant is the most favourite build tool for projects written in the Java language. Eclipse with JDT is a state-of-the-art IDE for Java developers. Unfortunately, Eclipse cannot use Ant build scripts to base configuration of its projects on them. Ant can be run from the Eclipse IDE but the configuration is kept separately.

Ant-Eclipse automates the task of creating an Eclipse project making the developer to write an automated build script as the first thing and to generate an Eclipse project from it whenever it changes. It keeps the Eclipse project always up-to-date with the last changes in the build script. This project refreshing is usually automated when more developers are working on a software project. They have to synchronize regularly their workspace with a central source code repository to integrate changes made by the others. This usually involves:

The regeneration of Eclipse projects fits exactly to the last phase of such sychronizing process. This is the recommended usage of the Ant-Eclipse task.

A formerly existing Eclipse project will be overwritten if a new one is to be generated. Files for an Eclipse project are not generated if they exist and they are not older than the Ant build script (the Ant build script has not been changed). This update can be forced, however.


This may be the smallest build script creating an Eclipse project for sources in a single directory:

<project name="test" default="eclipse" basedir=".">
  <target name="eclipse">
  <taskdef name="eclipse" classname="prantl.ant.eclipse.EclipseTask" />
      <project />
        <source path="src" />
        <output path="bin" />

See the documentation of the task for more information.

The Latest Version

The latest version can be downloaded from the section files of the project pages.


Copyright 2005-2006 Ferdinand Prantl
Copyright 2001-2004 The Apache Software Foundation
All rights reserved.

Licensed under the Apache License, Version 2.0 (the "License"); you may not use this file except in compliance with the License. You may obtain a copy of the License at

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