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Setting a Project Based on an Existing ANT Build File

A Brief How-To

I was reading this article about new features in Eclipse 3.1. One feature mentioned that caught my eye was the ability to set a project based on an existing ANT build file, and the ability to export a project settings to an ANT build file. Unfortunately the article didn't explain how to do this import/export. I searched Eclipse's help, to no avail. After some messing around with eclipse I found out how to do it.

To export your project settings to an ANT build file:

  1. In your navigator window, look for a file called ".project"
  2. Right click on the file and click on "export"
  3. On the window that pops up, select "Ant Buildfiles" and click on "next"
  4. Select the appropriate project to use to generate the ANT buildfile
  5. Click "finish"

You should now have two new build files on your project, "build.xml" and build-user.xml.

Any custom targets you create should go on build-user.xml, since build.xml will be overwritten every time a build file is generated.

To create a project from an existing ANT buildfile:

  1. Click on File->New->Project
  2. Select "Java Project from existing Ant Buildfile" and click "next"
  3. Enter a project name, and select the build file to use to create the project
  4. Select the javac declaration to be used to define the project
  5. Click finish

I hope these instructions are helpful to others out there.

More Stories By David Heffelfinger

David Heffelfinger blogs at http://dheffelfinger.blogspot.com/.

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Most Recent Comments
Steve Cohen 04/10/08 02:22:37 PM EDT

I also have this problem. It would appear that the purpose of this function is to import build files that were created by exporting an existing Eclipse java project buildfile. It is not intended to be able to import any random build.xml, which might contain just about anything and could hardly be expected to work. Even relatively simple build.xml's do not necessarily yield projects that "work right" with the eclipse automated builder.

gary 05/16/06 09:56:12 AM EDT

I have the exact same problem as Erik does. A complex root build file that does not contain a javac task defined in the root build file but the sub projects do have a javac task defined. I cannot create an Eclipse project from an existing ant build file. What is the solution?

erik 09/08/05 08:00:05 AM EDT

this solution works only when you have defined a javac task in your build file.

when you have a more complex project structure, with sub projects (every sub project contains it's own build file system) and you have a root build file to build the whole project than this solution does not work.

on my experience eclipse don't walk through the ant tasks in the build file and search for javac tasks through the other build files in the project :(

for any solution about this problem feel free to inform me ;) - mailto:faithnomore@gmx.at