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Maven2 detractors are right

There is a crisis going on within the Maven community. Some think that Maven has become something too complicated, too difficult to maintain and evolve. I say it loud (even if few people care): I fully support these detractors.

Being a Maven2 users on a daily basis, I’ve been looking for a replacement for a long time. I tried Buildr (wasn’t convinced). I’ll give a try to Gradle soon. The reason? Maven is the kind of tool that solves a lots of problems but invents new ones. At the end of the day, I’m not sure it helps my team to be more productive.

Why? Maven relies on two lies:

  • First lie: Transitive dependencies.
  • Second lie: Universality.

Transitive dependencies This will never work. Bad poms, library conflicts, runtime dependencies… At the end of the day, it’s better to explicitly declare all dependencies. Relying on implicit dependencies is a short term gain. A build system is here to stay so it shouldn’t rely on short term gains.

Universality You can build with maven, and run tests, and integration tests and deploy, and generate reports, and, and… Stop, stop, this is already too much. Yes the plugin system is a nice to have but it tends to make users think everything can be done within Maven. Me included thought that I should put as much as possible in my pom.xml when a simple ant file could replace in a very reliable manner a bunch of buggy plugins. Maven should do one and only one thing right: build jars from sources.

Complexity is ok, lies are not For most people, it’s hard to accept that a system too powerful is dangerous for the users. I think a system can be powerful. It can even be complex but it shouldn’t make users believe in lies. Same thing for Spring. It’s powerful. It’s complex. I like it. But it makes people think that JavaBeans is a good design.

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