I've got on fairly well with Ant in the past. Where there is no build script at all then it is a good win to intoduce a basic Ant script. However, over time, it gets more complicated and many people have trouble doing more complicated stuff as it is XML based. It doesn't help with dependencies either. When it comes to building a heavy-duty webapp i've opted to use AppFuse and let Matt Raible sort out the dependencies for me…i've got enough troubles making an application, I don't want to have to sort out the can of worms of working out which jar works with which.
After playing with Ruby on Rails for a bit I found that I especially liked the whole gem idea. I was looking at the weekly JavaLobby News email, which I find very useful for it's roundup of open source releases, and it had a link to Raven a build tool for Java programs based on Rake and Ruby Gems.
Raven looks great and i'd like to give it a go, but i'm still in the position where I wish it was all 'just done for me'….I know that it sounds lazy…but it's the truth.