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If you're a java Java software developer that 's has worked in any type of team situationenvironment, you know that the having a proper process is important to developing a quality product. Also, you You also know , that rote methods can help maintain consistency and standardization among developers. Apache ANT does that for some of us very well. Maven kicked it up a notch provides most of this however Maven improves upon it in several areas. Maven took takes some of that classpath and jar dependency frustration frustrations out of the hands of the day-to-day developer. Most will would agree with me that maintaining the project structure, dependencies, J2EE packaging, etc. is very difficult . When and when things are not structured correctly, applications don't workcannot be built properly. Jars could be in the wrong place, jars could be the wrong version, an XML file might be missing a descriptor, and a host of other project infrastructure issues can bring a project to stop. When this happens it's its sometimes difficult to determine where things are wrong. And, most developers aren't up on all their J2EE archive types. Nor do they focus on the trivia of J2EE descriptors. Developers went wrong. Maven is an excellent tool that solves most of these problems.
While the stereotypical typical project manager might disagree with me, Maven meets the project manager and the development staff somewhere in the middle. Apache's ANT is a powerful tool, but there's no standardization in targets. In fact, it may be too customizable. Maven did right by holding to a distinct set of build lifecycle goals. If you're the do-it-yourself type, you can create your own plugins to extend the functionality of Maven. Project managers want control and Maven injects this technical control into the build process. Maven assures everyone that the build and deploy process is done the same everytime. Musician's every time. Musicians practice scale repetition for this very reason. Rote processes that work are very effective because their commonality consistency and effectiveness save time and assure quality.
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Material on Maven 2, outside the maven site.