It’s all about speed: The latest version of Ant, the Java built tool and library from the Apache Software Foundation, improves the performance of directory scanning, which in turn improves build times dramatically when large directory trees are involved.

Ant 1.8 also improves the “if” and “unless” attributes. According to the change log, “The if and unless attributes have been rewritten to do the expected thing if applied to a property expansion (i.e. if=“${foo}” will mean ‘yes, do it’ if ${foo} expands to true. In Ant 1.7.1 it would mean ‘no’ unless a property named ‘true’ existed). This adds ‘testing conditions’ as a new use case to property expansion.”

There are a few breaks with the past in this release, however. Ant now requires Java 1.4 or higher, and its property-expansion algorithm has been rewritten to be easier to use, butbreaks the older API.

The import function also received attention. According to the change log, “<import> can now import from any file- or URL-providing resource—this includes <javaresource>.”
There is also a new task, called include, which “provides an alternative to <import> that should be preferred when you don’t want to override any targets.”