The Maven Cookbook
Chapter 4. Ant and Maven
Ant and Maven? Yes, it is true.
Ant isn't a language as much as it is a build tool which allows you
to describe a build as a set of tasks grouped into build targets. Ant then
allows you to declare dependencies between build targets. When you are
using Ant you are essentially creating your own lifecycle. An Ant
build.xml might have an install target which depends
on a test target which depends on a compile target, but these
relationships are arbitrary and managed by the person who writes the Ant
Ant is something of a ancestor to Maven, it was the ubiquitous procedural build tool that almost every project used before Maven introduced the concept of wide-scale reusability of common build plugins and the concept of a universal lifecycle.