The definition of an Ant build script is the fundamental basis for automating the software build and release process. This script acts as the central control point for the project, describing how applications are compiled, tested, packaged, and deployed. As we move on through the different phases of the process, you will see that I will keep coming back to Ant and creating new targets for the different aspects of this process. I therefore recommend investing some time and effort in understanding as much about Ant as you can. I recommend reading Hatcher and Loughran [Hatcher02] as a start and subscribing to the Ant users mailing list at http://ant.apache.org/mail.html.
Now that you have a basic understanding of Apache Ant, we can move on to look in more detail at some Ant best practices. In particular, we will look at using Ant to meet the needs of differing projects and how best to integrate it with IBM Rational ClearCase.