A Java based build tool created by the Apache Jakarta project. Ant allows you to specify a target to build and executes a series of tasks for that target, which can include compiling files, copying files, creating documentation, and so forth. Ant uses a build file written in xml, making the file easy to process and easy to read. It features a fairly extensible architecture, allowing you to define new tasks by creating new Java classes.

One of the most common FAQs on the ant-user and ant-dev mailing lists is, "Why is it called Ant?" In my brief time on these lists I have not seen a definitive answer provided. The most common one is that an ant can lift many, many times its own body weight. The explanation I prefer, however, is that in Jakarta (the actual place), there is a type of walking stick that people use, the name of which sounds to Westerners like the word 'ant'.

I have seen an occasional complaint that ant is redundant and that the Jakarta project should have stuck with make. However, for my money, Ant is far preferable to make, for the following reasons:

  • It is much more platform-independent, being based on Java
  • Since the buildfiles are based on XML, they aren't subject to the same irritating foibles as make files
  • You don't have to have a separate buildfile in every damn subdirectory
  • It took me weeks to figure out make, whereas it took me ten minutes to figure out ant.

Hi there, I'm Ant, one of the strongest insects in the world. You think you're special? Well, I have my own food servants..and huge strangers they are. Sometimes my servants leave food outside, in plastic bags and in baskets in the grass or on the sidewalk, but other times, inside, on tables and in pantries. Oh yeah, I'm real strong too. I can haul a grasshopper without your help.

Most important though, is how damn smart I am. It shows in the size of my head. I can plan organized military strategies of attack with my troops of fellow ants, and I have lots to choose from worldwide...yellow, red, brown, black, and some metallic ones. Some of us even have built-in weapons, like powerful stingers at the tips of our bellies.

Just because we have it all doesn't mean we're lazy. Queen Ant lays eggs like clockwork. Worker ants build and defend our homes. Too bad we don't live too long, usually just 8 to 10 weeks but we go through four stages of egg, larva, pupa, and adult.

Ah, here comes someone with more food... Ahhhh.. SQUISH!

How can ants carry so much weight in proportion to their size?
The answer's over here: http://www.madsci.org/posts/archives/may99/927263695.Gb.r.html

Ant (#), n. [OE. ante, amete, emete, AS. aemete akin to G. ameise. Cf. Emmet.] Zool.

A hymenopterous insect of the Linnaean genus Formica, which is now made a family of several genera; an emmet; a pismire.

⇒ Among ants, as among bees, there are neuter or working ants, besides the males and females; the former are without wings. Ants live together in swarms, usually raising hillocks of earth, variously chambered within, where they maintain a perfect system of order, store their provisions, and nurture their young. There are many species, with diverse habits, as agricultural ants, carpenter ants, honey ants, foraging ants, amazon ants, etc. The white ants or Termites belong to the Neuroptera.

Ant bird Zool., one of a very extensive group of South American birds (Formicariidae), which live on ants. The family includes many species, some of which are called ant shrikes, ant thrushes, and ant wrens. -- Ant rice Bot., a species of grass (Aristida oligantha) cultivated by the agricultural ants of Texas for the sake of its seed.


© Webster 1913.

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