[erlang-questions] Use of makefiles

Toby Thain toby@REDACTED
Fri Feb 29 20:56:26 CET 2008

On 29-Feb-08, at 7:21 AM, Matthias Lang wrote:

>     James> As much as I like Joe's book, the use of makefiles jumped
>     James> at at me as clunky and outdated against the background of
>     James> the other topics discussed in it.  There are simpler
>     James> options:
> Chandru> I don't agree that Makefiles are outdated. Clunky? Probably.
> ...
> Chandru> I personally am not very familiar with the Makefile syntax
> Chandru> but I don't think it would've been easy to achieve the same
> Chandru> results, in quite the same time, by rolling our own  
> version of make.
> Makefiles are declarative, so in theory they should be really neat and
> the Erlang world should love them. There are two flies in the
> ointment. One is that the syntax is batshit crazy.

i.e. Nobody reads the manual.

> The other is that
> people tend to force large doses of imperativeness into Makefiles,
> which defeats half the point. One widespread example is recursive
> makefiles.

i.e. Nobody learns how to use it properly.

I don't blame make for these issues.

> A while back, Bengt Kleberg pointed me at a paper titled "Recursive
> Make Sux" (ok, "Recursive Make Considered Harmful"). I got all
> inspired and spent a day or two changing our make system to something
> which wasn't recursive anymore. It got faster, didn't do unnecessary
> work and 'make clean' actually worked reliably, but it was still ugly
> as sin. At that point, my patience expired and I went back to doing
> interesting work.
> Make is so widespread that resistance is futile.

No need to resist: It's a great tool.


> Matthias
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