GNU Make Review

Full-featured syntax allows building strategies as simple or as complex as needed


How has it helped my organization?

GNU Make is such an essential tool that it is almost impossible to imagine working without it. Not having it, developers would probably have to resort to doing everything manually or via shell scripts. Tools such as automake and various IDEs that depend on GNU Make would be rendered useless.

What is most valuable?

Lack of any GUI, full-featured declarative syntax, wide adoption. Makefiles are extremely easy to work with using any preferred editor. GNU Make can be run directly from the terminal, not requiring any time wasted on clicking. Full-featured syntax allows building strategies as simple or as complex as one wishes, and declarative approach fits the task really well. Wide adoption also means that everybody knows what GNU Make is and how to use it.

What needs improvement?

Vanilla GNU Make does not support any kind of colored output. A wrapper named colormake exists to work around this, but native (opt-in) support would be welcome.

For how long have I used the solution?

More than five years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

No, I have not encountered any stability issues with GNU Make. It is one of the most stable tools I have ever used.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

No, I have not encountered any scalability issues with GNU Make. It is as scalable as the project's structure is, and then some. And if yet not enough, there's Automake.

How are customer service and technical support?

There is no technical support. As with all GNU software, GNU Make is distributed "as-is" with no warranty and no support package. Documentation for GNU Make and a plethora of advice and examples on the Web make support unneeded anyway.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

I did not used anything different before. GNU Make was always there for me.

How was the initial setup?

Very straightforward. Just learn basics of GNU Make language and you're ready to go. Then learn more to be more terse or efficient with it.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

GNU Make is free and open source software. Free as in "freedom." Just download the last version from your repository if you don't have it yet.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

No, I did not evaluate other options. GNU Make is the standard tool, and I wished to work with it, as such.

What other advice do I have?

GNU Make is an extremely helpful and automatic building tool, useful in many diverse appliances. It is extremely hard to imagine contemporary C/C++ development without help of GNU Make.

Read the docs. You'll be surprised at how much GNU Make can actually do when used correctly. It is definitely worth the time to read through the documentation and try out different concepts.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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