EAR (Enterprise Application aRchive) is a file format used by Java EE for packaging one or more modules into a single archive so that the deployment of the various modules onto an application server happens simultaneously and coherently.

EAR contains XML files called deployment descriptors which describe how to deploy the modules.

Ant, Maven, or Gradle can be used to build EAR files.

An EAR file (see Figure 5-1) contains Java EE modules and, optionally, deployment descriptors. A deployment descriptor, an XML document with an .xml extension, describes the deployment settings of an application, a module, or a component. Because deployment descriptor information is declarative, it can be changed without the need to modify the source code. At runtime, the Java EE server reads the deployment descriptor and acts upon the application, module, or component accordingly.

Deployment information is most commonly specified in the source code by annotations. Deployment descriptors, if present, override what is specified in the source code.

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