Ant: "Another Neat Tool", is basically make for Java, except that instead of a makefile, you use a build.xml file, and instead of the eclectic make syntax, your build.xml file is written in XML. ant was created and is maintained by the Apache Foundation.
Ant is written in Java and can be extended by Java classes. While Ant may be run from the command line, it is not shell-based. XML-based configuration files create target trees where tasks like compiling and deployment are executed.