Developers Guide


This guide addresses developers who intend to learn something about the ant4eclipse internals. It is especially meant as a starting point so other developers will be capable to participate to the development process. It also provides some insights for people generally interested to know how other developers are handling things.

If you intend to have a deeper look into this guide we suggest to initially prepare a development environment with the source code, since we will refer to the sources for further explanations.


The supported Python framework

As of this moment there are currently two commonly used python frameworks for eclipse: PyDev and DLTK. The PyDev framework is a complete set of language specific bundles where DLTK is a general purpose framework for dynamic languages including python support.

Both do have it's pro's and con's whereas I personally prefer PyDev since it has a higher level of maturity.

Nevertheless the Python ant tasks contains support for both of these frameworks so in theory you should be able to use them the same way whether you use the one or the other framework.

Parsing the project files

Since both frameworks are generally using a different way to store their information there are two parsers: PyDevParser and DLTKParser. The PyDevParser just parses the file .pydevproject where the DLTKParser parses the local .buildpath file.

NOTE: The PyDev framework uses the general project dependencies mechanism from eclipse in order to declare relationships between python projects. Therefore these project dependencies are processed after the .pydevproject file has been parsed which means that referenced projects are always located at the end of the pythonpath affecting the path order. Nevertheless this should be rarely an issue for developers.

Resolving filesystem locations

The previously mentioned parsers only create records of type RawPathEntry. It is just a simple datastructure providing a common representation of the records stored within the projects, thus we don't need to distinguish between PyDev and DLTK anymore.

The class PythonResolver is responsible to transform these RawPathEntry into corresponding ResolvedPathEntry instances. Therefore it is following each record (f.e. a project record might cause the inclusion of the referred projects pythonpaths). It's also maintaining the PathEntryRegistry so each resolving process is executed once.

The last step is established by the class PathExpander which just calculates the filesystem locations depending on the type of record.

Supported python installations

As of these days there are different implementations of python available. Generally they should be capable to run the same code but there are obviously differences. The python ant task allow to manage multiple installations at the same time using the pythonContainer declaration. F.e.:

  <ant4eclipse:pythonContainer default="python-2.5">
    <ant4eclipse:pyre id="python-2.5" location="/usr/lib/python/cpython/2.5"/>

The corresponding class PythonContainer will register a runtime for each pyre element. This registration process is provided by the service class PythonRuntimeRegistryImpl which performs the following actions:

  1. Identify the interpreter
  2. Determine python version
  3. Determine the pythonpath of the runtime

Identifying the interpreter

The PythonRuntimeRegistry supports different interpreter types using the class PythonInterpreter. If you take a look into the file you will see the following declarations:


Each declaration allows to setup a PythonInterpreter which will be able to look for the corresponding executable file through the supplied values. The ironpython instance would look for the following executables: ipy, ipy.exe, ipy.bat,, ipyw, ipyw.exe, ipyw.bat, Just in case a declaration is missed a user can alter just that file with an additional entry to support his type of python installation (hopefully informing us about this).

Determine the python version and the pythonpath

When the executable is known we still should know the used language version and more important the pythonpath provided by this installation. It would be a pain if we would try to create an internal list of paths per python installation since it would be really hard to maintain such an internally used database (especially since there might be often changes due to versionings).

Therefore we wrote a simple python application you will find as part of the tasks:

import sys
if __name__ == "__main__":
    print("_".join([".".join([repr(x) for x in sys.version_info[:-2]]),sys.version_info[3]]))
    for i in sys.path:
        print("[" + i + "]")

Using the interpreter we're just executing this application and analysing it's output afterwards. The literals ANT4ECLIPSE-BEGIN and ANT4ECLIPSE-END are just helpful to make sure that the launched python interpreter did not dump some kind of strange error information. Whenever we can find these literals we can be sure that execution worked fine (the returncode is just not reliable enough). The first line will always contain the versioning information while the following line will contain the pathes as desired by our tasks.

Some interpreters like f.e. Jython do list symbols rather than real pathes (f.e. __classpath__). If such a record determines a non-existing filesystem resource it will be ignored. If the user requested to ignore the site packages (can be set on the pyre element) they're discared, too.