It's been a couple of years since I've looked into this ... I've known people that tried maven and moved back to ant. Now I'm looking at starting a new project and thinking about looking into maven again ... but ... I thought it might be good to have some discussion along these lines with folks in the know.
Personally, I still prefer Ant over Maven. The main reason being, while Maven let's me get started in a couple of minutes rather than several minutes, extending the built-in Maven functionality seems to be much more difficult than with Ant.
Last time I looked into Maven, I got the impression that it really was more aligned with the needs of an open source project than with the needs of in inhouse commercial one. Which is fine, but not what I wanted at that time.
The soul is dyed the color of its thoughts. Think only on those things that are in line with your principles and can bear the light of day. The content of your character is your choice. Day by day, what you do is who you become. Your integrity is your destiny - it is the light that guides your way. - Heraclitus
Maven is better if you want to set up your project in the exact structure that Maven tells you too. If you want to use a different structure or have to convince people to change their structure, Ant is better.
Maven makes it harder to create a big messy build file by limiting how you can extend it. So it does what it does well. Ant does everything, even if it is sometimes yuckier to do. There are lots of extensions for both. Most of the things you'd want are written for Ant and Maven.
I've been used ant in several projects. Now I have to migrate 5 projects to maven. I can say that ant and mavan are different. Maven is not just a building tool, it provide an organization and a structure layer. All you do in ant can be done in Maven because you can call ant target. Projects I'm working on have very big and complex ant builds and don't have exactly the structure of maven convention but it's still possible to migrate them. The most advantage to migrate to Maven are : standardization of how to handle a project, dependencies are clearly defined, the concept of artifacts that can be shared to other projects, documentations and reports, remote and local repository concepts.
I'm currently evaluating whether to recommend that my software development group adopt Maven. My last exposure to Maven was with 1.0 at a different company. It was well received because there were no standards in place for project management and maven helped to establish and define those standards. Now that I'm with a new company with established practices however, I'm having second thoughts about Maven. While the 2.0 product does seem to be better organized, my first impression is that it may not be worth the trouble trying to migrate well established ant practices to maven. The obvious lure of Maven is the documentation and project management features which are currently lacking in my organization, yet if one can't cleanly migrate existing project structures and workflows it may not be worth the trouble. The way we're doing things now isn't necessrily broken, but it could be done better with better results. The problem I think I'm having is that Maven does so much for you that you may have to radically alter development practices in order to adopt it. In larger organizations, this is usually not an option.
I saw in some of the previous replies that some of you have migrated existing ant projects to Maven. I am trying to migrate an existing project to maven, but I am having some existing in-house library jar files which I want to use as a dependcy for compiling my project. I do not have idea about how to do it. Can anyone guide me PLEASE.....?