Maven: The Complete Reference

4.1. Introduction

Maven models projects as nouns which are described by a POM. The POM captures the identity of a project: What does a project contain? What type of packaging a project needs? Does the project have a parent? What are the dependencies? We’ve explored the idea of describing a project in the previous chapters, but we haven’t introduced the mechanism that allows Maven to act upon these objects. In Maven the "verbs" are goals packaged in Maven plugins which are tied to a phases in a build lifecycle. A Maven lifecycle consists of a sequence of named phases: prepare-resources, compile, package, and install among other. There is phase that captures compilation and a phase that captures packaging. There are pre- and post- phases which can be used to register goals which must run prior to compilation, or tasks which must be run after a particular phase. When you tell Maven to build a project, you are telling Maven to step through a defined sequence of phases and execute any goals which may have been registered with each phase.

A build lifecycle is an organized sequence of phases that exist to give order to a set of goals. Those goals are chosen and bound by the packaging type of the project being acted upon. There are three standard lifecycles in Maven: clean, default (sometimes called build) and site. In this chapter, you are going to learn how Maven ties goals to lifecycle phases and how the lifecycle can be customized. You will also learn about the default lifecycle phases.

4.1.1. Clean Lifecycle (clean)

The first lifecycle you’ll be interested in is the simplest lifecycle in Maven. Running mvn clean invokes the clean lifecycle which consists of three lifecycle phases:

  • pre-clean
  • clean
  • post-clean

The interesting phase in the clean lifecycle is the clean phase. The Clean plugin’s clean goal (clean:clean) is bound to the clean phase in the clean lifecycle. The clean:clean goal deletes the output of a build by deleting the build directory. If you haven’t customized the location of the build directory it will be the ${basedir}/target directory as defined by the Super POM. When you execute the clean:clean goal you do not do so by executing the goal directly with mvn clean:clean, you do so by executing the clean phase of the clean lifecycle. Executing the clean phase gives Maven an opportunity to execute any other goals which may be bound to the pre-clean phase.

For example, suppose you wanted to trigger an antrun:run goal task to echo a notification on pre-clean, or to make an archive of a project’s build directory before it is deleted. Simply running the clean:clean goal will not execute the lifecycle at all, but specifying the clean phase will use the clean lifecycle and advance through the three lifecycle phases until it reaches the clean phase. Triggering a Goal on pre-clean shows an example of build configuration which binds the antrun:run goal to the pre-clean phase to echo an alert that the project artifact is about to be deleted. In this example, the antrun:run goal is being used to execute some arbitrary Ant commands to check for an existing project artifact. If the project’s artifact is about to be deleted it will print this to the screen

Triggering a Goal on pre-clean. 

        <plugins>... <plugin>
                                <!-- adds the ant-contrib tasks (if/then/else used below) -->
                                <taskdef resource="net/sf/antcontrib/" />
                                     property="file.exists" value="true" />

                                        <isset property="file.exists" />
                                            ${}.${project.packaging} to

Running mvn clean on a project with this build configuration will produce output similar to the following:

[INFO] Scanning for projects...
[INFO] ----------------------------------------------------------------------
[INFO] Building Your Project
[INFO]task-segment: [clean]
[INFO] ----------------------------------------------------------------------
[INFO] [antrun:run {execution: file-exists}]
[INFO] Executing tasks
[echo] Deleting your-project-1.0-SNAPSHOT.jar
[INFO] Executed tasks
[INFO] [clean:clean]
[INFO] Deleting directory ~/corp/your-project/target
[INFO] Deleting directory ~/corp/your-project/target/classes
[INFO] Deleting directory ~/corp/your-project/target/test-classes
[INFO] ------------------------------------------------------------------------
[INFO] ------------------------------------------------------------------------
[INFO] Total time: 1 second
[INFO] Finished at: Wed Nov 08 11:46:26 CST 2006
[INFO] Final Memory: 2M/5M
[INFO] ------------------------------------------------------------------------

In addition to configuring Maven to run a goal during the+ pre-clean+ phase, you can also customize the Clean plugin to delete files in addition to the build output directory. You can configure the plugin to remove specific files in a fileSet. The example below configures clean to remove all .class files in a directory named target-other/ using standard Ant file wildcards: * and \**.

Customizing Behavior of the Clean Plugin. 


4.1.2. Default Lifecycle (default)

Most Maven users will be familiar with the default lifecycle. It is a general model of a build process for a software application. The first phase is validate and the last phase is deploy. The phases in the default Maven lifecycle are shown in Table 4.1, “Maven Lifecycle Phases”.

Table 4.1. Maven Lifecycle Phases

Lifecycle Phase Description


Validate the project is correct and all necessary information is available to complete a build


Generate any source code for inclusion in compilation


Process the source code, for example to filter any values


Generate resources for inclusion in the package


Copy and process the resources into the destination directory, ready for packaging


Compile the source code of the project


Post-process the generated files from compilation, for example to do bytecode enhancement on Java classes


Generate any test source code for inclusion in compilation


Process the test source code, for example to filter any values


Create resources for testing


Copy and process the resources into the test destination directory


Compile the test source code into the test destination directory


Run tests using a suitable unit testing framework. These tests should not require the code be packaged or deployed


Perform any operations necessary to prepare a package before the actual packaging. This often results in an unpacked, processed version of the package (coming in Maven 2.1+)


Take the compiled code and package it in its distributable format, such as a JAR, WAR, or EAR


Perform actions required before integration tests are executed. This may involve things such as setting up the required environment


Process and deploy the package if necessary into an environment where integration tests can be run


Perform actions required after integration tests have been executed. This may include cleaning up the environment


Run any checks to verify the package is valid and meets quality criteria


Install the package into the local repository, for use as a dependency in other projects locally


Copies the final package to the remote repository for sharing with other developers and projects (usually only relevant during a formal release)

4.1.3. Site Lifecycle (site)

Maven does more than build software artifacts from project, it can also generate project documentation and reports about the project, or a collection of projects. Project documentation and site generation have a dedicated lifecycle which contains four phases:

  1. pre-site
  2. site
  3. post-site
  4. site-deploy

The default goals bound to the site lifecycle is:

  1. site - site:site
  2. site-deploy -site:deploy

The packaging type does not usually alter this lifecycle since packaging types are concerned primarily with artifact creation, not with the type of site generated. The Site plugin kicks off the execution of Doxia document generation and other report generation plugins. You can generate a site from a Maven project by running the following command:

$ mvn site

For more information about Maven Site generation, see Chapter 10, Site Generation.