Hiding password input in Ant

  • November 12, 2009
  • David Epler
  • Ant

When writting Ant scripts I always have Ant prompt for passwords be it for SVN, SFTP, or anything else that needs to be logged into. Typically would have the following:

<input message="Please enter SVN password:" addproperty="svn.password" />

The only problem is that it echos the password back at you, there has to be a better way. So of to Google I went and found this with an interesting Ant script fragment:

<input message="secure-input:" addproperty="the.password">
    <handler classname="org.apache.tools.ant.input.SecureInputHandler" />
</input>

I did not know there could be nested elements in <input>. Apparently Ant 1.7 added <handler> nested element for <input>. But nowhere is there any documentation on SecureInputHandler.

So I tried out the fragment and as the post noted there are a few requirements to get it to work:

  1. Ant 1.7.1
  2. Java 6, if it is run on Java 5 it will fallback to a “normal” <input>

One downside, I have not been able to get it to work from within Eclipse 3.5 (since Ant 1.7.1 is bundled with it) and using Java 6 runtime. Eclipse will just hang when it gets to the SecureInputHandler and you have to stop the build script. It does work great from command line which is how I run all my Ant scripts anyway so it is not a real issue for me, but might be for others.