Random bits of information by a developer

12 April 2009

Ivy Configurations when pulling from a Maven Repository Part I

I heard about Ivy (http://ant.apache.org/ivy) some time ago, but never really took the time to look into it. After all, I had Maven, and that's what we were using at work. So I really had no incentive to look into it. As I'm sure many of you have found there are some issues with Maven. With all the things it does well, there are a few things where it really falls flat on it's face. How about transitive dependencies for example? Bane of my Maven experience. The standard project layout is very nice, but at the same time it is a hindrance if, for whatever reason, you need to go against it. As most of my readers have seen I'm pretty well entrenched in the Seam camp. Seam does not play well with Maven, or maybe it's Maven that doesn't play well with Seam (Embedded JBoss to be specific, but others have found ways around this [http://www.google.com/search?q=seamtest+maven&hl=en, http://www.seamframework.org/Community/SeamTestCoverageMavencobertura, https://jira.jboss.org/jira/browse/JBSEAM-2371, http://www.seamframework.org/Documentation/SeamWithMavenOverview to name a few]). For those that have been using Seam with Maven are familiar with not being able to run their Seam tests easily with Maven, unless you know to put your test scoped dependencies first in the pom. There are some other issues I have with Maven, but this is not a post about how much Maven sucks. You can google for those, there are a lot of them; back to Ivy. A few months ago my friend Dan Allen blogged about dependancy management in a seam-gen project with Ivy (http://in.relation.to/Bloggers/ManagingTheDependenciesOfASeamgenProjectWithIvy), see his post for a decent intro to Ivy. In his code download he was unable to setup the dependencies needed for testing his project. In this post I'm going to explain why Dan ran into problems, the relationship between Maven scopes and Ivy configurations, as well as provide an updated version of his Ivy-ized seam-gen download.


I believe a little background information about Ivy configurations may be in order. If you're coming from the Maven world they are somewhat similar to dependency scopes and profiles. Because Ant really has no concept of a build life cycle the way Maven does (one of the things I do like about Maven) Ivy doesn't either. So if Ivy configurations aren't really Maven Dependency scopes, what exactly are they? The official Ivy site calls them "views on your module" (http://ant.apache.org/ivy/history/trunk/tutorial/conf.html). Personally I still find that concept difficult to wrap my head around. The definition I have come up with is this: An Ivy configuration is a labeled grouping of a project's publications and that grouping's dependencies. Perhaps that's similar to the Ivy site's definition, but it helped me understand what was going on, and how to create my own configurations. Unlike Maven scope names, Ivy configuration names are completely arbitrary, which as you guessed is both a good and a bad thing. It's a bad thing when you go to share your application, module, whatever with someone else and they use it as a dependency. They'll have to see the ivy.xml you created to determine the correct configurations to use. With Maven, we were given the scopes and we couldn't change them. I would suggest defining a company wide set of configurations or at least list the public ones in a README or something if you are distributing your project. You could also use the makepom ant task, and use that to upload to a Maven Repository but that's a different post :) As I mentioned above, an Ivy configuration may also be used in mapping and tying together dependencies. A full discussion with examples is available at http://ant.apache.org/ivy/history/latest-milestone/ivyfile/dependency.html under the Configurations Mapping section (sorry, they didn't include an anchor for that section). In it's most basic form it looks like this: conf="my_conf->other_conf which translates to my_conf depends on other_conf. There are some special wild cards and other kinds of mappings you can do, which are in the above link. You can also specify multiple mappings within the same attribute by separating them with a semi-colon. Very handy for say depending on the module itself and also the source. I know it sounds a little odd to depend on the source of a module, but that's how Ivy sees it.


Thanks for humoring me through that long block of text to finally get to the point of this post. As Dan mentioned in his blog post, Ivy can read from Maven repos (very good move on Ivy's part I believe), but in order to do this they have to convert the Maven POM to an Ivy file. When you setup a Maven Repository as an Ivy Resolver within an Ivy settings file there are a couple of attributes which affect the resulting Ivy file (http://ant.apache.org/ivy/history/latest-milestone/resolver/ibiblio.html). The first one is m2compatible, which if you're using a Maven 2 repository is always going to be true. The second attribute, which is true by default if m2compatible is true is usepoms. I can understand why you would select false to conserve bandwidth (although minor), and reduce network traffic (one less call to make) but you do lose some things when it is set to false when Ivy creates the ivy.xml file for the dependency. Below are the same ivy.xml files converted from a Maven repository. The first one is not using the pom:
<ivy-module version="1.0">
 <info organisation="org.testng" module="testng" revision="5.6"
               status="release" publication="20081031232755" default="true">
      <conf name="default" visibility="public">
          <artifact name="testng" type="jar" ext="jar" conf="default"></artifact>
<ivy-module version="1.0" m="http://ant.apache.org/ivy/Maven">
 <info organisation="org.testng" module="testng" revision="5.6" status="release" publication="20071116012303">
  <license name="Apache License, Version 2.0" url="http://apache.org/licenses/LICENSE-2.0">
  <description homepage="http://testng.org">
  TestNG is a unit testing framework.
  <conf name="default" visibility="public" description="runtime dependencies and master artifact can be used with this conf" extends="runtime,master"/>
  <conf name="master" visibility="public" description="contains only the artifact published by this module itself, with no transitive dependencies"/>
  <conf name="compile" visibility="public" description="this is the default scope, used if none is specified. Compile dependencies are available in all classpaths."/>
  <conf name="provided" visibility="public" description="this is much like compile, but indicates you expect the JDK or a container to provide it. It is only available on the compilation classpath, and is not transitive."/>
  <conf name="runtime" visibility="public" description="this scope indicates that the dependency is not required for compilation, but is for execution. It is in the runtime and test classpaths, but not the compile classpath." extends="compile"/>
  <conf name="test" visibility="private" description="this scope indicates that the dependency is not required for normal use of the application, and is only available for the test compilation and execution phases." extends="runtime"/>
  <conf name="system" visibility="public" description="this scope is similar to provided except that you have to provide the JAR which contains it explicitly. The artifact is always available and is not looked up in a repository."/>
  <conf name="sources" visibility="public" description="this configuration contains the source artifact of this module, if any."/>
  <conf name="javadoc" visibility="public" description="this configuration contains the javadoc artifact of this module, if any."/>
  <conf name="optional" visibility="public" description="contains all optional dependencies">
  <artifact name="testng" type="jar" ext="jar" conf="master">
  <artifact name="testng" type="source" ext="jar" conf="sources" classifier="sources">
  <dependency org="ant" name="ant" rev="1.6.5" force="true" conf="">compile(*),master(*)">
  <dependency org="junit" name="junit" rev="3.8.1" force="true" conf="">compile(*),master(*);runtime->runtime(*)">
  <dependency org="qdox" name="qdox" rev="1.6.1" force="true" conf="">compile(*),provided(*),runtime(*),master(*)">
  <dependency org="org.beanshell" name="bsh" rev="2.0b4" force="true" conf="">compile(*),provided(*),runtime(*),master(*)">
The ivy.xml generated with the pom contains much more information, notably more configurations, publications, and dependencies. The configurations that are in the last file are configurations that Ivy places in every ivy.xml which is converted from a Maven POM. You can always rely on them being there if usepoms is set to true. This part, as well as really not understanding Ivy configurations (yes, they are difficult to understand as the official documentation isn't that great for configurations) is where I believe Dan had problems. I suggest always enabling usepoms, because you get everything you would normally if you were using Maven, and it easier to craft your own configurations with dependencies. In the download (a modified version of what is in Seam 2.1.2) you'll see how powerful this can be for your builds and dependency management with Ivy. If you find / know of a better way to accomplish what I've done, please post a comment and I will make corrections as needed. I hope this helped at least one person better understand Ivy configurations. I spent about a week diving through documentation, forum postings and the Ivy source code to figure this out, I hope you don't have to go through the same experience :) In the next part I will demonstrate how to use Ivy to manage your dependencies without needing to add them to your source control repository.


Stephen Haberman said...

Thanks for the tip of reading the converted ivy files--very handy to see what is going on under the covers.

Unknown said...

Glad to hear it's helped out someone :)

Anonymous said...

On lines 26 - 29 of the ivy.xml the conf attribute is empty and AFAIK should read something like:


Hope this helps,


Unknown said...

You may be seeing what Ivy does now, those were copied from the ivy files back when I created the post, it's quite possible they have since changed.

araujoao said...

Thanks a lot. Really informative post including the first part:)

Unknown said...

Thanks, still useful in 2014!