Since Apache Ant 1.6


The preset definition generates a new definition based on a current definition with some attributes or elements preset.

The resolution of properties in any of the attributes or nested text takes place with the definition is used and not when the preset definition is defined.


Attribute Description Required
name the name of the new definition Yes
uri The URI that this definition should live in. No

Parameters specified as nested elements

another type with attributes or elements set

The <presetdef> task takes one nested element as a parameter. This nested element can be any other type or task. The attributes and elements that need to be preset are placed here.


The following fragment defines a javac task with the debug, deprecation, srcdir and destdir attributes set. It also has a src element to source files from a generated directory.

<presetdef name="my.javac">
   <javac debug="${debug}" deprecation="${deprecation}"
          srcdir="${src.dir}" destdir="${classes.dir}">
      <src path="${gen.dir}"/>

This can be used as a normal javac task—for example:


The attributes specified in the preset task may be overridden—i.e. they may be seen as optional attributes—for example:

<my.javac srcdir="${test.src}" deprecation="no"/>

One may put a presetdef definition in an antlib. For example suppose the jar file antgoodies.jar has the antlib.xml as follows:

   <taskdef resource="com/acme/antgoodies/"/>
   <!-- Implement the common use of the javac command -->
   <presetdef name="javac">
      <javac deprecation="${deprecation}" debug="${debug}"
             srcdir="src" destdir="classes"/>

One may then use this in a build file as follows:

<project default="example" xmlns:antgoodies="antlib:com.acme.antgoodies">
   <target name="example">
      <!-- Compile source -->
      <antgoodies:javac srcdir="src/main"/>
      <!-- Compile test code -->
      <antgoodies:javac srcdir="src/test"/>

The following is an example of evaluation of properties when the definition is used:

<target name="defineandcall">
   <presetdef name="showmessage">
      <echo>message is '${message}'</echo>
   <property name="message" value="Message 1"/>
   <antcall target="called">
      <param name="message" value="Message 2"/>
<target name="called">

The command ant defineandcall results in the output:

[showmessage] message is '${message}'
[showmessage] message is 'Message 1'

[showmessage] message is 'Message 2'

It is possible to use a trick to evaluate properties when the definition is made rather than used. This can be useful if you do not expect some properties to be available in child builds run with <ant ... inheritall="false">:

<macrodef name="showmessage-presetdef">
  <attribute name="messageval"/>
  <presetdef name="showmessage">
    <echo>message is '@{messageval}'</echo>
<showmessage-presetdef messageval="${message}"/>