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Sonatype helps make Maven repository tool a pleasure to use

Maven is a software project management and comprehension tool aiming to take on Microsoft Visual Studio.

If you're a Java developer and use Ant or Maven to build your software, there's news coming out this morning that should catch your attention. Sonatype, the company built around supporting Maven, is announcing its Nexus 1.0 release, a repository manager that allows developers and teams to quickly and easily manage internal and external repositories, including the Maven Central Repository.

Behind a build and release framework, managing big repositories of artifacts and tools adds a level of complexity to software development that can slow or kill a build. Great idea, having a big bucket of stuff to pull out code snippets and tools whenever you need, but not simple. Nexus 1.0 addresses this directly.

Jason van Zyl, creator of Maven, the popular Java development framework, has quietly founded an open-source company around the popular build framework. Maven has over 2 million downloads and the Maven Central Repository--home, incidentally, to more than 50,000 main artifacts and averaging 100 million hits a month--has made access to and integration of Maven crucial to Java developers worldwide.

Sonatype has done a couple press releases this summer about joining the Eclipse Foundation and releasing a plug-in that integrates the two. But otherwise they've remained quiet about their audacious goal. Maven plus Eclipse going after Visual Studio plus .Net. This is a serious and popular open-source alternative to Microsoft's development juggernaut.

This is an open-source company worth keeping an eye on.

BONUS: O'Reilly and Sonatype have published a much-needed reference book, "Maven: The Definitive Guide," covered by a Creative Commons license and replete with examples. It's free online in html or PDF or can you can order it through O'Reilly.

Disclosure: My company shares investors with Sonatype.