Ant + Eclipse + Liferay Plugins = ECJ error

I am working on a way to programmatically create Liferay users for our upcoming portal release. In order to get my feet wet with the technologies that our team will be using, I want to build a quick and dirty test app that will create a user in Liferay and LDAP. But before I could even get far enough to look into that, I hit two stupid errors. They were easy enough to fix, but annoying nonetheless.

The first involved Eclipse, the Liferay Plugins SDK, and Ant. I created a new Liferay portlet project. I immediately wanted to test this app, to make sure everything was configured correctly and that it would deploy successfully. I was right in wanting to test it because I immediately, and consistently, got the following error upon a build.

Task cannot continue because ECJ is not installed.

ECJ was automatically installed. Please rerun your task.

Total time: 1 second

I have run in to this error on the command line before, except that the error only appears once. It seems that Ant copies the ecj.jar (Eclipse Compiler for Java, I think) to the appropriate directory and builds from there on out are fine.

My issue here stems from my use of the Eclipse IDE. This error occurred on each subsequent attempt to build. A quick search turned up a Liferay page that helped. It recommends copying the ecj.jar to your Eclipse Ant plugin directory. Perhaps its because I’m a control freak, or maybe its because I have been burned by builds in Eclipse before, but I opted for another solution. I followed the page’s directions to get to the Ant settings page:

Eclipse Preferences
Preferences dropdown

From this ‘Preferences’ menu, select ‘Ant’, then ‘Runtime’

Ant Options
Ant Options dialog

Here is where my changes differ from the Liferay instructions. I have a copy of Ant locally that I use for command-line builds. I clicked the “Ant Home…” button and pointed Eclipse to my local Ant installation, instead of using its Ant plugin.

Don’t rely on Eclipse’s Ant plugin. As you can see here, I am pointing to my local Ant installation.

Like I said, I guess this makes me a control freak, but I have had so many problems in the past when a system or IDE tried to manage things using its own libraries or plugins. This should also remove any possible discrepancies between any builds I may do on the command line versus Eclipse.