The importance of reliable, reproducible and independent build process

Categories Development, Java

It’s a known fact: I like maven.
It improves some aspects of the development process but it also has a lot of drawbacks.
One of these drawbacks comes directly from maven’s online distributed repository architecture and can make your build process unbearable and worst of all non-reproducible.

The usage of maven assumes the presence of all required repositories and most of all the presence of a reliable Internet connection.
What happens when you need artifacts that are temporarily unreachable or you are bound behind an unreliable connection? In the worst case you get build failures but more frequently you get build times that are measured by the tens of minutes.
This would be ok if it happened once a week but it’s not ok when it happens daily to you and a dozen other team members working on the same project.

The solution we used in the past to fix this problem was a maven repository proxy called Proximity.
Proximity introduces other small problems and latencies and has proven a little unstable, requiring weekly restarts. Plus it included some settings.xml modifications in our previously hands-off newbie development setup. If you want to read a little more about Proximity you can take a look at the project website.

Proximity 1 has been deprecated and until the new Nexus will be out I decided to look for something different.

Introducing Artifactory
Artifactory is not (exactly) a caching proxy, like Proximity, it works by simulating and acting as a maven repository.

Every artifact cached is available as part of the local Artifactory repository and when offline, the build process is exactly the same.
It is installed in a copy/unzip and run process and works right out of the box. Some customization is needed only if you use exotic repositories that are not included in the defaults.

Artifactory also returned the development setup to its hands-off svn checkout, mvn eclipse:eclipse or idea:idea nature. It contains a good graphical interface with artifact cache invalidation, which really helps sometimes.

Take a look at the live demo, it’s worth the 5 minutes.

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