Java Build Automation with Maven


Java Build Automation with Maven

with Peggy Fisher

1. Get Started with Maven

What is Apache Maven?

Apache Maven, is a software project management, and comprehension tool, based on the concept of a project object model, or POM. Maven can manage a project’s build, reporting,and documentation from a central piece of information. A more comprehensive definition of Apache Maven, is that Maven is a project management tool, which encompasses a project object model.

It also ensures that programmers always get the most recent version of compilers, et cetera. Most Java projects rely on other projects, and open source frameworks, to function properly. It can be cumbersome to download these dependents manually, and keep track of their versions, as you use them in your project. Maven provides a convenient way to declare these project dependencies, in a separate,external, POM.XML file. It then automatically downloads these dependencies and allows you to use them in your project. This simplifies project dependency management greatly.

It is important to note, that in the POM.XML file, you specify the what, and not the how. The POM.XML file, can also serve as documentation tool, conveying your project dependencies and their versions. Software developers refer to Maven, as a build tool. Since it is used to build deployable artifacts from source code. On the other hand, if you asked a project manager they might call it a project management tool, since it follows a development life cycle. In reality, it is both.

Download Maven

Go to

From this page we can either use the link on the left that says Download, or we can just use the link in the middle where it says Use Download. 

Let’s look quickly at the system requirements. Probably one of the most important ones is that it requires Java Development Kit or JDK 1.7 or higher.

We’ll take a look at that in a minute, but for right now, under the link we have Binary tar file, a Binary zip file, and two source files.

I’m gonna go ahead and download the file. It doesn’t take long to download and you can see it’s only 8.2 MB.

The first thing we need to do is extract the archive file that I just download, so I’m gonna go down to my archive, and I’m gonna click on it and I’m going to click on Extract, and I’m gonna say Extract all. The Maven website recommends that you extract the file to the Program Files directory on your C: drive so I’m gonna do that. I’m gonna click on Browse, I’m gonna go into my C: drive, to my Program Files, and I’m going to go ahead and say Select Folder, and I’m gonna say Extract. Now I have a folder called apache-maven-3.3.9, and if I open it up, I’ll see there’s a bin folder, a boot folder, a conf folder, and a lib folder. At this point, I’ve completed my download. The instructions for using Maven depends on whether you’re running a Windows machine or a Mac OS or Linux machine.

Install Maven on Windows

Before the installation we must verify our Java version from the command line using java -version. Remember it must be 1.7 or higher.

So do this:

cmd -> java -version

To make life easier, we need to update our environment variables. We can do that using either the command window, but, if you use the command window you’re going to have to update them every time, or, we can go to the control panel.

For now, let’s use the control panel. I’m going to go back to start again and type “control panel”. From here, I’m going to go to System and Security. I want to go to System. Now, I need to go to my Advanced system settings. Then you’ll see at the bottom it says Environment variables. Let’s click on Environment variables. The top half of the screen are specific user variables for the producer profile. The second half, the bottom half, is my system variables.

What we want to do here is we want to add a variable to indicate where the Java home is. This is where we stored our JDK.

Let’s add a new system variable. We’re going to click on new and we’re going to call it java_home. The value for the variable will be the path that takes me to my JDK file. In our case it’s going to be c:\program files\java\jdk, mine was 1.8.0_91 and I’m going to click OK.

Now you’ll see it’s added to your list of system variables. The next thing we need to do is we need to add our new Apache Maven directory, which is also in my program files. Let’s go back and take a look. If I go to my C drive, to Program Files,the very first folder is Apache Maven 3.3.9. Inside there is the bin folder. That’s what I need, I need to know that path. Let me close that. What I want you to do is to click on the path variable that already exists and say “edit”.

We’re going to add a new variable. It’s going to say, c:\program files\apache-maven-3.3.9 this time I also want to include, \bin. Now, my environment knows where to find the Maven commands. I’m going to click OK. I’m going to click OK, again, and OK again, and I’ll close my control panel.

Now, we do need to open a new command prompt. If you have any command prompt windows open, go ahead and close them and start a new window so it will pick up those environment changes that we just made. Now, from the command prompt, I’m going to type mvn -v and hit enter. We can see that this is Apache Maven 3.3.9. It tells me my Maven home folder. It gives me the Java version that we’re using, the Java home, as well as the default local and operating system name.

At this point I’m ready to get started using Maven on my Windows machine.

2. Understand Maven

Project Object Model (POM) 

Maven use of the concept of a Project Object Model, or POM.

This model has a a set of standards, a project lifecycle, a dependency management system, and logic for executing plugin goals at certain phases in the lifecycle process. One of the things that makes Maven so powerful is that it relies on the concept that projects are set up with default behaviors. For example, the pom.xml file is always located in the base directory.The source code must be in a certain directory. Resources necessary for the project are in a another folder or directory. Test cases are in a specifically named folder. And a target folder is always created that’s used for the final JAR file.


As you can see the base directory is called calculator.Inside calculator we have our src folder, as well as our target folder, and our pom.xml file.

Inside the source folder is where we’ll find our main Java programs and our source code, as well as any needed resources. And, the test folder, which contains again, the Java test programs. And any resources needed for that. Finally, the JAR file will be stored in the target folder. This folder structure is an important example of how Maven has adopted convention over configuration. By always using a standard folder structure, it allows developers to concentrate on coding. Once the code and resources are placed in the correct directories,and the POM file is updated.

Maven handles the rest. A project model includes: A project description, a unique set of coordinates, project attributes, the project’s license information. The project version, any authors or contributors to the project, and a list of project dependencies.


Before we go further,let’s take a look at a sample POM file. This is the file for the calculator project. The POM file is stored as an XML file. XML files use tags similar to HTML.When you create a sample program using Maven,it automatically adds a j unit dependency to allow us to do unit testing for our Java program. In the case of Maven, we have tags such as group ID, artifact ID, packaging, version, etc. The artifact ID is used for the name of the program. In our case, calculator. Since it’s a Java program, the packaging is going to be to create a JAR file. And the version in this case is 1.0. The description, name, and URL are all optional. Below that are the dependencies. When you create a sample program using Maven,it automatically adds a j unit dependency to allow us to do unit testing for our Java program.

You might have noticed the three red asterisks next to the three fields: group ID, artifact ID,and version. That’s because these three fields together, make up what we call the coordinates of the project, and they must be a unique combination. So, if I wanted to create a second version of my calculator project. I’d have to change the version number from 1.0 to 2.0, or 1.1, or something, to make it unique.

Maven Life-cycle


When using Maven it’s important to understand the Maven life cycle. Let’s take a look at a high level overview of the flow when using Maven. Maven starts by generating a project. A project consists of a POM or Project Object Model and source code that’s assembled in the Maven standard directory layout. Next, we execute Maven with a life cycle phase as an argument that prompted Maven to execute a series of plugin goals. After that, we can install a Maven artifact into our local Maven repository.And finally, we can run the app.

Let’s take a closer look at the default life cycle phases.

One of the phases is Validate. Validate is used to validate the project to make sure it is correct and all necessary information is available.

Another phase is Compile. We compile the source code of the project.

Test: Test compiles the source code using a suitable unit testing framework.These tests should not require the code be packaged or deployed just yet.

Package, take the compiled code and package it in its distributable format. For example, a Java program will be packaged as a Java file or a Java archive file.

Integration-test. Process and deploy the package if necessary into an environment where integration tests can be run.

Verify runs any checks to verify the package is valid and meets quality criteria.

Install. Install the package into the local repository for use as a dependency in other projects locally.

And finally, Deploy. This is done in an integration or release environment. It copies the final package to the remote repository for sharing with other developers and projects.

Plugin goals can be attached to each lifecycle phase. As Maven moves through the phases in a lifecycle it will execute the goals attached to each particular phase. Each phase may have zero or more goals bound to it. For example, when we run mvn install we will see that more than one goal is executed.

Maven Repository

It’s usually located on your home drive in a folder called .m2. This directory contains your Maven repository. When you download a dependency from a remote Maven repository,Maven stores a copy of the dependency in your local repository. In addition, it also places a copy of your jar file and the pom.xml file for each installed project. Let’s take a look at both of these.

Maven’s dependency management


As you can see, there’s a tag called dependencies, and inside these, there is one dependency called junit. The three tags groupID, artifactId, and version are the coordinates that make this particular dependency unique. The scope identifies what part of the life cycle this dependency is going to be used in. In this case, it’s the test phase. It is easy to add additional project dependencies by updating this pom.xml file. By adding a list of dependencies here in one place, it is also easy for someone to identify what dependencies are required for this particular project. Finally, by including the dependencies in this external file, it is easy to update the version numbers in one place as dependencies might change.

3. Project Object Model (POM)

POM categories and configuration


The POM file contains all the information about a project. The file is stored with an .XML extension. Here’s an example of POM.XML file that has the minimum amount of information required. As you can see, it has a groupId, an artifactId, and a version.Remember those three things make up the Maven coordinates and are required for all projects.

4. Maven Plugins

Core plugins

A plugin is a collection of one or more goals. And a goal consists of a unit of work in Maven.

A plugin may have one or more goals. Maven consists of several core plugins.

These core plugins include a JAR plugin, which creates the JAR, or Java Archive files. A compiler plugin, which contains goals for compiling source code and unit tests. And a Surefire plugin, which is used for executing unit tests and generating reports.

5. Create a Project with Maven

Create a sample with NetBeans


NetBeans always puts projects inside of the NetBeans folder that’s created on My Documents folder, within my producer, within my users, on my C drive. The group ID is com dot my company. I’m gonna change mine to com dot lynda.

On the left hand side you can see the mavenhelloworld project, let’s go ahead and take a look at the source packages. Inside there we have our com.lynda.mavenhelloworld. Let’s open that, and there’s our And as you can see I didn’t do any coding. Maven automatically created this little simple app that just says “Hello World”, on the left hand side of the project folder, you can see there’s the source packages, the test packages, any dependencies, test dependencies, java dependencies, and project files.

Let’s go ahead and run this new application by clicking on the green run arrow. In my output window I gotta scroll up a little bit. And there’s my Hello World output. Even if you don’t want hello world application, by using the quickstart to create the shell, you can now go in and make changes to the java application and create your own.

But it’s a great way to get the file and folder structure set up for a Maven project. If you have NetBeans installed, go ahead and give it a try.

Challenge: Create a web app

In this challenge you’re gonna use Maven to create a new project. You’ll do this using the Maven Archetype Tool from the command prompt. The new project will be a very small, simple web application.


Here is the command that you’ll need to use at the command line. You’ll type mvn space archetype colon the word generate space dash DgroupId equals, I’m using com.lynda, but you can use your organization ID if you want, space dash DartifactId. The artifactId that we’re gonna use is the name of the program. I’m calling mine sampleWeb. Space dash DarchetypeArtifactId equals maven-archetype-webapp.

This tells Maven that we want to create a web app. Finally, dash interactiveMode equals false.Once you enter the command and hit Enter, Maven will create the project for you. From there you can navigate to your directory, look for sampleWeb/src/main/webapp folder and launch the index.jsp file.

6. Test with Maven

Write unit tests

Let’s talk a little bit about unit testing. As I’m sure you’ll agree, unit testing is a critical step in any programming project. What’s really nice about Maven is that it providesbuilt-in support for unit testing. JUnit plug-in is used to easily test our application. When we first created our project using the archetype quick start to get our project created, it automatically created a test directory with a test application.

Add dependencies

There are times when you need to add dependencies. This is one of the benefits of using Maven. It makes adding dependencies easy. Remember, Maven supports both internal and external dependencies. Whenever a project references a dependency that isn’t available in a local repository, Maven will download the dependency from a remote repository into the local repository. So far, all of our projects have included the JUnit dependency. It is sometimes going to be necessary to add other dependencies required by your project.


Let’s say we’ve added some logging to our code for debugging purposes, and we need to add the Log4j as a dependency. Let’s add this dependency to our calculator project. In order to add the dependency, we need to edit the pom.xml file. So I’m going to go to my file explorer, I’m already in my calculator project. I’m going to go into my pom file. To open the file, I’m going to right click and say edit with Notepad++. And right below the dependency for JUnit, I’m going to add a new dependency.

The group ID is going to be Log4j. The artifact ID is also Log4j. The version number is 1.2.17.It’s always a good idea to check the version number by going to Google and just look up Log4j version. And, finally, the scope parameter. The logging is used in the compile phase of the life cycle.

And we don’t want to end our dependency tag. Okay, let’s save our pom file, and now we can go ahead and run our calculator program again. In the command prompt I’m in the calculator folder so I’m going to just go ahead and run mvn install.

Add resources

Maven makes adding resources really easy. It is often helpful to allow your program to retest input from a file. To use a file for testing, you must add the file to your Resources folder in your test directory. Then we must update our code to read from the fileand I’m gonna add print line statements to help with debugging to make sure that everything is working as expected.

We have our main folder, but then we also have our test folder which was created by Maven.Inside Test, you should have a Java folder, but you’re probably gonna need to add a resources folder. To do that, you can right click and say New, Folder, and just name it Resources.

Packaging your app

The last part of the process is packaging your application. The packaging information is stored in your pom.xml file. Some sample packaging types include jar, for Java Archive Files, war, for Web Archive File, EAR. Remember, the default is a jar file. If the type is omitted, Maven will automatically create a jar file. Let’s take a look at the pom.xml for our calculator app. Remember, the last time we updated it, we added the log for dependency,which starts on line 18.


But if we go back up to where the Maven coordinates are, embedded within the coordinates is, on line 6, a packaging tag. That packaging tag says jar, because our application was a Java application. So it will automatically create a Java archive. When we’re ready, we can go to the Command Prompt, and from within the base project folder, we can type MVN Package, and it will create the jar file. This is also done when you run the MVN Install as well as even the MVN Test.

But now we have our jar file, we have a copy of it in our local repository, and we’re ready to go. So remember, when you’re ready to package your application, check your pom.xml file to see what packaging type you have declared.