Documenting project information with Maven

In most projects I’ve worked on, the project information is captured in some sort of README.md file. While this has its strengths, such as ability to write free form text and embed images, it doesn’t quite fit with the project because when the artifact is produced during the build time, the read me is not checked into the artifact repository along with it. So how do I know who the contributors were for that specific artifact version? How do I know where the project was hosted at the time?

Well, today I learned that maven provides ability to capture some of those attributes and some more! I like this because it means that when the artifact gets checked in (along with its pom.xml) the details about the project are captured for that version, frozen in time.

Great thing about these attibutes is that when you run mvn site they are used in the project information html page that maven produces. Technically, then you can upload this to any statically hosted site location, all versioned up and ready to be explored.

Ok so lets begin exploring these attributes. The first three attributes are the basic ones:

For people working in corporations and companies, the following might be useful, especially when open sourcing the project:

Additionally, the licenses tag can be used to describe some licensing information. How many times have you come across a project that has changed the licensing information half way through versions? This is a life saver (at least legally)!

Some source control information is also useful, however, whats more useful is knowing where to go in order to raise issues. In most companies, people use source control to store code but then use an alternative mechanism like Jira or Trello to mange issues. The scm and issueManagement tags are useful here in clarifying such information:

Developer information on projects is very useful. Companies don’t usually like this because, well, developers are supposed to be expendable, however, in my humble opinion, it is useful to list developers who were working on the project at the time. This way the versions can be tracked, at least to the lead working on it at the time. Use it thusly:

For contributors, people who have worked on the project, although not necessarily part of it exclusively, use:

Lastly, it is useful to capture some information about pipeline that was used to create the project. For this, maven has ciManagement tag:

The above is just a small example of what you can do with these attributes, there are many more sub-attributes that you can explore. Hope this is a good introduction and kicks off some ideas of what you can do with this information.

Update all pom versions at once using maven versions

Most of the projects I work on are multi-module projects so updating versions of pom files manually is a bit pain. As always, here’s a command you can run that will update all pom versions in one go:

Make sure all your modules are discoverable. You can do this by enabling all your profiles in case some of your sub-modules are not visible from the main pom.

Source: https://stackoverflow.com/a/5726412

Making executable jar using maven

I was trying something out the other day and wanted to write a really simple application. So I created a simple application backed by Maven.

Now I could run the jar file that maven built using the standard -e flag that lets java know the entry point but all that is too main stream. I wanted maven to handle that for me.

After doing some googling, I found a plugin provided by codehaus. This one allowed me to run the application through maven. As you can see below, the configuration is quite simple.

Make sure you update the value inside mainClass with fully qualified name of your class that you want to run. This class must have a public static void main method in it.

Once you are happy with the configuration, you can run your application by executing the following in your terminal

While this is great, I cannot run the jar on its own on a server somewhere. If I wanted to, I’d have to get the source code with maven and then run it using the above command. Thats sub-optimal. So I went googling again.

Finally, I found this wonderful plugin provided by our friends at Apache. This is the maven-jar-plugin. This is a standard jar plugin but one of its features is ability to specify a mainClass attribute – just like the codehaus plugin. But unlike the codehaus plugin, I can run the jar as a standalone application without needing to pass in any other flags or parameters indicating the main class.

Here’s the maven build plugin configuration to use the maven-jar-plugin.

As it is standard with maven, package up your application using:

If the build was successful, just run your jar file using standard java -jar path/to/app.jar command. In my case, I ran: