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Makefile Macros

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The make program allows you to use macros, which are similar to variables. Macros are defined in a Makefile as = pairs. For example:

MACROS=  -me
PSROFF=  groff -Tps
DITROFF= groff -Tdvi
CFLAGS= -O -systype bsd43
LIBS = "-lncurses -lm -lsdl"
MYFACE = ":*)"
  • Special Macros

Before issuing any command in a target rule set there are certain special macros predefined.

  • $@ is the name of the file to be made.

  • $? is the names of the changed dependents.

So, for example, we could use a rule

hello: main.cpp hello.cpp factorial.cpp
	$(CC) $(CFLAGS) $? $(LDFLAGS) -o $@


hello: main.cpp hello.cpp factorial.cpp
        $(CC) $(CFLAGS) $@.cpp $(LDFLAGS) -o $@

In this example $@ represents hello and $? or $@.cpp will pickup all the changed source files.

There are two more special macros used in the implicit rules. They are

  • $< the name of the related file that caused the action.

  • $* the prefix shared by target and dependent files.

Common implicit rule is for the construction of .o (object) files out of .cpp (source files).
        $(CC) $(CFLAGS) -c $<


        $(CC) $(CFLAGS) -c $*.c

NOTE: You will get more detail about Makefile Rules in another section.

  • Conventional Macros

There are lots of default macros (type "make -p" to print out the defaults). Most are pretty obvious from the rules in which they are used:

These predefined variables ie. macros used in implicit rules fall into two classes: those that are names of programs (like CC) and those that contain arguments for the programs (like CFLAGS).

Here is a table of some of the more common variables used as names of programs in built-in rules: makefiles.

AR Archive-maintaining program; default `ar'.
AS Program for compiling assembly files; default `as'.
CC Program for compiling C programs; default `cc'.
CO Program for checking out files from RCS; default `co'.
CXX Program for compiling C++ programs; default `g++'.
CPP Program for running the C preprocessor, with results to standard output; default `$(CC) -E'.
FC Program for compiling or preprocessing Fortran and Ratfor programs; default `f77'.
GET Program for extracting a file from SCCS; default `get'.
LEX Program to use to turn Lex grammars into source code; default `lex'.
YACC Program to use to turn Yacc grammars into source code; default `yacc'.
LINT Program to use to run lint on source code; default `lint'.
M2C Program to use to compile Modula-2 source code; default `m2c'.
PC Program for compiling Pascal programs; default `pc'.
MAKEINFO Program to convert a Texinfo source file into an Info file; default `makeinfo'.
TEX Program to make TeX dvi files from TeX source; default `tex'.
TEXI2DVI Program to make TeX dvi files from Texinfo source; default `texi2dvi'.
WEAVE Program to translate Web into TeX; default `weave'.
CWEAVE Program to translate C Web into TeX; default `cweave'.
TANGLE Program to translate Web into Pascal; default `tangle'.
CTANGLE Program to translate C Web into C; default `ctangle'.
RM Command to remove a file; default `rm -f'.

Here is a table of variables whose values are additional arguments for the programs above. The default values for all of these is the empty string, unless otherwise noted.

ARFLAGSFlags to give the archive-maintaining program; default `rv'.
ASFLAGSExtra flags to give to the assembler (when explicitly invoked on a `.s' or `.S' file).
CFLAGSExtra flags to give to the C compiler.
CXXFLAGSExtra flags to give to the C compiler.
COFLAGSExtra flags to give to the RCS co program.
CPPFLAGSExtra flags to give to the C preprocessor and programs that use it (the C and Fortran compilers).
FFLAGSExtra flags to give to the Fortran compiler.
GFLAGSExtra flags to give to the SCCS get program.
LDFLAGSExtra flags to give to compilers when they are supposed to invoke the linker, `ld'.
LFLAGSExtra flags to give to Lex.
YFLAGSExtra flags to give to Yacc.
PFLAGSExtra flags to give to the Pascal compiler.
RFLAGSExtra flags to give to the Fortran compiler for Ratfor programs.
LINTFLAGSExtra flags to give to lint.

NOTE: You can cancel all variables used by implicit rules with the `-R' or `--no-builtin-variables' option.

You can also define macros at the command line such as
          make CPP = /home/courses/cop4530/spring02

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