The Maven Ecosystem

Last night I went to see Jason van Zyl of sonatype talking about various bits of the maven ecosystem, and where they’re going. The main bit for me was what’s coming up in maven 3.0. There was a great deal of talk about OSGI related issues, but it reinforced my belief that whilst there’s some good technology in there, it’s still quite complicated to use and manage. Steps are being taken to address this (better tooling support), but they’re not there yet. Also, for the kind of things I do (simple, content-driven, somewhat static webapps), it doesn’t seem to be necessary anyway.

So what’s coming up in maven 3.0? Fundamentally, there won’t be that many new user-visible features (wait for 3.1!). Internally, there have been huge refactorings by the sound of things (along with integration tests to ensure no user-visible regressions). They’re switching away from plexus and towards guice + peaberry. But that’s internal detail. And in theory, it shouldn’t matter even if you’re a plugin author.

What sounded really nice was the focus on making life much easier for users of the embedded maven. Primarily, this means IDE authors. Things like plugin & lifecycle extension points, and incremental build support should allow m2eclipse to be much, much more intelligent about the work they do. Jason mentioned that a version of m2eclipse which builds on the trunk of maven 3.0 can now build the trunk of maven in seconds rather than minutes. Why? Because it’s not duplicating work that’s already been done by Eclipse.

The main change is to the artifact resolution system. It’s been one of the main source of bugs in maven 2.0. It’s been completely junked in 3.0 and replaced with mercury, which handles both transport and resolving artifacts. It should be better tested, and things like version ranges much closer to how OSGI does things.

One (minor) change is that the error messages should be much better. That’s a welcome relief.

There are other tidbits that I think are scheduled for 3.1 that should be really nice:

  • everybody’s favourite: versionless parent elements
  • attributes in the POM β€” hooray, that should make POMs vastly smaller.
  • mixin POMs β€” should allow much more flexibility in constructing dependencies on both groups of artifacts and groups of plugins.

There were further talks about hudson & nexus, but I’m fairly familiar with these, so I didn’t see much of news to me.

My thanks go to Peter Pilgrim for organising and EMC/Comchango for hosting.

3 replies on “The Maven Ecosystem”

Thanks for publishing this. It’s useful to get maven info from people not in the maven kool-aid bubble — the more I see reasonable people using and getting into maven, the closer I’ll get to giving it another try. (I was damaged by maven many moons ago…)

@Chris Winters Maven is definitely better than it used to be. But it’s still got a steep learning curve. For me, the usefulness far outweighs the disadvantages. I’ve not totally drunk the kool-aid. πŸ™‚

If you do look at maven, there are a couple of things to check out. First Maven: the definitive guide is a good intro text. Secondly, you should install nexus. It takes a minute or two and it improves the maven experience greatly.

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