Java News from Monday, September 18, 2006

The Apache Project has posted the second beta of version 1.7 of Ant, the popular XML based, open source build tool for Java.

Ant 1.7 introduces a resource framework. Some of the core ant tasks such as <copy/> are now able to process not only file system resources but also zip entries, tar entries, paths, ... Resource collections group resources, and can be further combined with operators such as union and intersection. This can be extended by custom resources and custom tasks using resources.

Ant 1.7 starts outsourcing of optional tasks to Antlibs. The .NET antlib in preparation will replace the .NET optional tasks which ship in Ant. Support for the version control system Subversion will be only provided as an antlib to be released shortly.

Ant 1.7 fixes also a large number of bugs.

Ant 1.7 has no support for Java6 features, but first tests on Java6 did not fail.

It's not immediately clear what's changed in beta 2, probably just bug fixes.

Martin Jericho has released the Jericho HTML Parser 2.3, an open source (LGPL) Java library for parsing, analyzing and modifying HTML that ignores any server-side code/markup or invalid HTML. It includes an HTML form analyzer. Version 2.3 fixes bugs and improves indenting.

Allatori has released the Allatori Java Obfuscator 1.2, a $775 payware program for obfuscating Java .class files to prevent understanding and delay decompilation. Why anyone cares about such products is beyond me. Most software doesn't require preventing users from inspecting its code, and the very little software that does require such protection can't be adequately protected by such tools. The only way to really protect algorithms is to not run them on a client computer: run them on a server that accepts inputs and provides outputs, but never actually runs code on the client. The whole obfuscation game is even more flawed than DRM. To paraphrase Bruce Schneier, trying to prevent software from being reverse engineered is like trying to prevent water from flowing downhill. I suggest renaming this product "Canute".