Building and testing Java with Ant

You can create a continuous integration (CI) workflow in GitHub Actions to build and test your Java project with Ant.

GitHub Actions is available with GitHub Free, GitHub Pro, GitHub Free for organizations, GitHub Team, GitHub Enterprise Cloud, GitHub Enterprise Server, and GitHub One. GitHub Actions is not available for private repositories owned by accounts using legacy per-repository plans.

In this article

Note: GitHub Actions was available for GitHub Enterprise Server 2.22 as a limited beta. The beta has ended. GitHub Actions is now generally available in GitHub Enterprise Server 3.0 or later. For more information, see the GitHub Enterprise Server 3.0 release notes.

Note: GitHub-hosted runners are not currently supported on GitHub Enterprise Server. You can see more information about planned future support on the GitHub public roadmap.


This guide shows you how to create a workflow that performs continuous integration (CI) for your Java project using the Ant build system. The workflow you create will allow you to see when commits to a pull request cause build or test failures against your default branch; this approach can help ensure that your code is always healthy. You can extend your CI workflow to upload artifacts from a workflow run.

GitHub-hosted runners have a tools cache with pre-installed software, which includes Java Development Kits (JDKs) and Ant. For a list of software and the pre-installed versions for JDK and Ant, see "Specifications for GitHub-hosted runners".


You should be familiar with YAML and the syntax for GitHub Actions. For more information, see:

We recommend that you have a basic understanding of Java and the Ant framework. For more information, see the Apache Ant Manual.

Using self-hosted runners on GitHub Enterprise Server

When using setup actions (such as actions/setup-LANGUAGE) on GitHub Enterprise Server with self-hosted runners, you might need to set up the tools cache on runners that do not have internet access. For more information, see "Setting up the tool cache on self-hosted runners without internet access."

Starting with an Ant workflow template

GitHub provides an Ant workflow template that will work for most Ant-based Java projects. For more information, see the Ant workflow template.

To get started quickly, you can choose the preconfigured Ant template when you create a new workflow. For more information, see the "GitHub Actions quickstart."

You can also add this workflow manually by creating a new file in the .github/workflows directory of your repository.

name: Java CI

on: [push]

    runs-on: ubuntu-latest

      - uses: actions/checkout@v2
      - name: Set up JDK 1.8
        uses: actions/setup-java@v1
          java-version: 1.8
      - name: Build with Ant
        run: ant -noinput -buildfile build.xml

This workflow performs the following steps:

  1. The checkout step downloads a copy of your repository on the runner.
  2. The setup-java step configures the Java 1.8 JDK.
  3. The "Build with Ant" step runs the default target in your build.xml in non-interactive mode.

The default workflow templates are excellent starting points when creating your build and test workflow, and you can customize the template to suit your project’s needs.

Running on a different operating system

The starter workflow template configures jobs to run on Linux, using the GitHub-hosted ubuntu-latest runners. You can change the runs-on key to run your jobs on a different operating system. For example, you can use the GitHub-hosted Windows runners.

runs-on: windows-latest

Or, you can run on the GitHub-hosted macOS runners.

runs-on: macos-latest

You can also run jobs in Docker containers, or you can provide a self-hosted runner that runs on your own infrastructure. For more information, see "Workflow syntax for GitHub Actions."

Specifying the JVM version and architecture

The starter workflow template sets up the PATH to contain OpenJDK 8 for the x64 platform. If you want to use a different version of Java, or target a different architecture (x64 or x86), you can use the setup-java action to choose a different Java runtime environment.

For example, to use version 9.0.4 of the JDK for the x64 platform, you can use the setup-java action and configure the java-version and architecture parameters to '9.0.4' and x64.

  - uses: actions/checkout@v2
  - name: Set up JDK 9.0.4 for x64
    uses: actions/setup-java@v1
      java-version: '9.0.4'
      architecture: x64

For more information, see the setup-java action.

Building and testing your code

You can use the same commands that you use locally to build and test your code.

The starter workflow will run the default target specified in your build.xml file. Your default target will commonly be set to build classes, run tests and package classes into their distributable format, for example, a JAR file.

If you use different commands to build your project, or you want to run a different target, you can specify those. For example, you may want to run the jar target that's configured in your build-ci.xml file.

  - uses: actions/checkout@v2
  - uses: actions/setup-java@v1
      java-version: 1.8
  - name: Run the Ant jar target
    run: ant -noinput -buildfile build-ci.xml jar

Packaging workflow data as artifacts

After your build has succeeded and your tests have passed, you may want to upload the resulting Java packages as a build artifact. This will store the built packages as part of the workflow run, and allow you to download them. Artifacts can help you test and debug pull requests in your local environment before they're merged. For more information, see "Persisting workflow data using artifacts."

Ant will usually create output files like JARs, EARs, or WARs in the build/jar directory. You can upload the contents of that directory using the upload-artifact action.

  - uses: actions/checkout@v2
  - uses: actions/setup-java@v1
  - run: ant -noinput -buildfile build.xml
  - uses: actions/upload-artifact@v2
      name: Package
      path: build/jar

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