Maven vs Jenkins: Which is the best?

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Today, there are hundreds and thousands of developers out there who are creating software every day. All of them will agree that software development is not an easy process. From the start of development, to the time when the user receives the final software, a lot of things happen in between. You need to package your application with all the necessary dependencies, then the compilation of the source files happens against the dependencies, then you need to run test cases on the application, and finally, you can package your application. Performing these tasks manually is not recommended at all.

This requires a tool that can do all the above-mentioned tasks automatically. And that is why automated build tools were created, to ease the life of a developer. In this article, I will talk about two very popular build automation tools – Maven and Jenkins. Both these tools are widely used by DevOps engineers as well.

What is Maven?

Maven is a popular open-source build tool that is developed by the apache group and the primary ownership of this tool is to build, publish and deploy several projects at once. Maven is written in java and it can be used to build projects written in other programming languages also such as C#, Scala, Ruby, etc. It is a pom-based project. POM stands for project object Model and it focuses on simplification and standardization of the building process. Maven tool is responsible for taking care of builds, dependencies, reports, distributions, releases, mailing lists. 

It is majorly used in java-based projects in building up the source code by downloading a few dependencies. These dependencies are something that is being configured by the developers as the project is dependent on those dependencies. It simplifies the day-to-day work of a java developer and helps them in their projects for performing daily activities.

Maven architecture consists of a local repository or the local machine that you work on, a central repository and a remote repository or the remote web server. Whenever you specify any dependency in the pom.xml file of maven, it will look for that file in the central repository, if the dependency is present in the central repository, maven will copy that dependency onto your local machine, but if it is not present, then maven will fetch it from the remote web server or the remote repository using the internet. So, the internet is very much mandatory for using maven. This is how maven architecture or maven works.

Benefits of Maven:

  • It can handle multiple projects simultaneously
  • It takes care of all the dependency management
  • It is backward compatible, which means it supports older versions
  • It allows you to schedule multiple builds in parallel, which helps in improving the performance
  • Easy to use M2Eclipse Maven plugin with your favorite Eclipse IDE
  • It can download libraries and plugins dynamically from the maven repository
  • It creates a report in the pdf format about all the dependencies used in the project

What is Jenkins?

Jenkins is an open-source continuous integration tool that helps to automate the process of development relating to testing, deployment, packaging and others. It is a server-based system that runs on apache tomcat and it supports version control systems like git, bitbucket, etc. It supports build automation tools like apache maven and ant. It is used for facilitating the continuous integration and continuous delivery (CICD) process.

Jenkins was first released in the year 2011 and it’s a completely open-source software as part of the MIT license. Jenkins is a plugin-based profile. In Jenkins, you have got plugins which are basically used to interact with different tools and components. These plugins are primary releases in languages other than java. Plugins are available to integrate Jenkins with most version control system tools and databases. Using these plugins, you set up purposes, for example, unit testing, compiling, packaging, reporting, logging, etc. 

It follows a typical master-slave topology. When you work in an organization, you have got multiple teams that want to build and deploy their own pipelines or deploy their own project codes. Teams don’t want that their piece of code to run on a server that is owned by some other team. So, you can set up a master-slave topology where Jenkins may run on a server (master machine) and you can connect to multiple other servers, which will act as slave machines. So, when you are deploying a code executing a pipeline, you can run those code on those slave machine servers. 

Jenkins can be deployed on any operating system. You can use Jenkins in a Windows node, Linux node, or Mac node. Similarly, your Jenkins master and slave can run on any OS. It is not required for both master and slave machines to have the same operating system. 

Benefits of Jenkins:

  • It is open-source, so free to use
  • Provides 1000+ plugins for easy integration with other tools and technologies
  • Supports almost all operating systems
  • Very easy to use and configure with the help of its web-based UI
  • Automates multiple integration tasks saving a lot of your time

Maven vs Jenkins: Key Differences

Purpose

Maven is a build tool that helps in building the project by managing its dependencies in the software lifecycle. With maven plugins, a developer can compile, test, package, install, deploy their application/project.

Jenkins is an open-source continuous integration tool that is used to trigger builds by leveraging build tools such as maven, ant, gradle, etc. It is a very popular DevOps tool used for the integration of multiple tasks, which forms a pipeline from development to deployment.

Programming Models

Maven is configured using the project object model (POM) files, which are written in XML. When working with multiple POM files, it can become challenging to modularize the build steps.

Jenkins model is very modular in nature. You can choose which version control system to use, which build tool and command to execute, which testing tool to use if the build succeeds, and finally, where to deploy if the test passes. All are configured separately.

Dependency Management

Java developers used to face a lot of dependency issues before maven was introduced. They used always get log4j dependency issues on the production server and SunCertPathBuilderException on the pre-production environment. Maven solves all these issues by consistently building the application at every stage of development

Jenkins has modular builds and highly parameterized to run multiple steps such as compile, test, package, etc. Using the Jenkins maven plugin, it uses maven to take care of the dependencies.

Community

Since maven is a very simple tool used for building the application with its dependencies, the community is not that strong as Jenkins, but it is still an active community. Apache Maven project on GitHub has 54 branches, 58 tags, 207 watches, 2.4K stars, 1.8K forks and 135 contributors.

Jenkins project on GitHub has 33 branches, 776 tags, 885 watches, 16.6K stars, 6.6K forks and 647 contributors. The community is very active and they are improving Jenkins usage experience regularly.

Maven vs Jenkins: Which is the best?

As mentioned in the above key differences section, the purpose of both the tools is different. Maven is the best build tool available, and Jenkins is a continuous integration tool. But Apache Maven and Jenkins are actually competing in the same space. In a Jenkins project, you can create a continuous integration pipeline, and a continuous deployment pipeline, in a way that you can’t with Maven. And with Maven, that was never even the intention. 

But Jenkins Maven integration is the new way now in the industry. Maven and Jenkins complement each other, and when you bring them both together, you get the best of both worlds. Getting the best of both worlds is doing something like using the Maven plugin for Jenkins. So, the two aren’t meant to compete, the two are meant to work together. With maven, you get incredible build capabilities and with Jenkins, you get modularity in executing the tasks.

Here is a table that shows the differences between Maven and Jenkins briefly.

Criteria Maven Jenkins
Founded On 2004 2011
Written In Java Java
Developed By Apache Software Foundation Kohsuke Kawaguchi while working for Sun Microsystems
Type It is a build tool It is a continuous integration tool
Configuration All the configuration is in the pom.xml file in the working directory of the workspace All the configuration is in the config.xml file in the working directory of the workspace
Management It is simple to use  Complex but modular
Community and Support 54 branches, 58 tags, 207 watches, 2.4K stars,  1.8K forks and 135 contributors 33 branches, 776 tags, 885 watches, 16.6K stars,  6.6K forks and 647 contributors

 

Final thoughts

Both Maven and Jenkins are among the most popular DevOps tools in the industry. If you want to use just a build tool in your organization, you can start with maven. But in case your organization has shifted to the DevOps way, you need to work with Jenkins for continuous integration, which will take care of the builds through the Jenkins maven plugin. Go ahead and choose your tool!

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