Neal Ford argues that Maven's plugin architecture is great to get projects started, but that its lack of composability makes things like Rake or Gradle more useful as time goes on (in a more sophisticated way, of course).
I kind of feel this way about frameworks: I generally wish they were either a lot smaller than they tend to be or broken down into smaller, orthogonal-but-composable modules.
As for Maven, I haven't hit the kind of wall Neal has, but I try to stick to basic features and defaults (that's my general approach, actually).
Or looking at it the other way, people like Neal lack the discipline and rigour to keep their builds a first class part of the development process. They treat it unlike the way they treat their code, which is, odd to be at its most polite.
I am sure having met and spoken to Neal he has discipline and rigour....he focuses on delivery not just development, which has lead to this arguement. Gradle aims to provide solutions to some issues the developers had with alternatives. Its not about tools...its about delivery and maintainability. Everyone has experienced Maven pain....when it is hindering the delivery governance it is time to look for something that suits you better....
Just read Dean Wampler's rejoinder: http://blog.polyglotprogramming.com/2013/1/25/more-thoughts-on-modularity
"In the courseware I develop for Think Big Analytics, I use ant to build the Java code, but make for all other tasks, like building documents, staging resources, and packaging releases"
Falling back to Ant and make rather than learning how Maven plugins work seems extreme. Though I do wish writing Maven plugins felt less like writing an old-style JSP taglib.
Sometimes i wonder if aliens looking down on earth think building is the core discipline of development, and actual coding in your IDE is well about as important as drinking a cup of tea with a spot of warm beef.
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