Web development projects often rely on third-party libraries that don’t really belong in version control alongside the application source code. For example, a PHP web application might depend on Zend Framework, Doctrine 2, and jQuery. To support a fully automated build process, I want to be able to retrieve and install the right versions of these dependencies into my application code base automatically.
There are several package management tools out there that support this kind of thing, but most seem overly complex or overly restrictive. Enter Apache Ivy, a simple and flexible dependency manager that integrates with the Apache Ant build tool. Unlike the other dependency managers I found, Ivy makes it easy to run your own repository and choose your own directory layouts and file formats.
The one drawback is that Ivy is designed to work with individual Java JAR files: archives that are typically extracted in memory by Java at runtime. I want to work with dependencies that are directories of library code, already extracted from their archives. This article shows how to set up Ivy and Ant to work together to manage such directory dependencies.