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Walter Higgins > TinyMake > TinyMake



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Module Version: 0.06   Source  


TinyMake - A minimalist build language, similar in purpose to make and ant.


   use TinyMake ':all';

   # a file statement without a rule is like a symbolic target
   file all => ["codeGen", "compile", "dataLoad", "test"];

   file codeGen => ["database.spec"], sub { 
     # generate code here
     sh "touch $target";
   } ;

   file compile => ["codeGen"], sub { 
     # compile code here
     sh "touch $target";
   } ;

   file dataLoad => ["codeGen"], sub { 
     # load data here
     sh "touch $target"
   } ;

   file test => ["compile", "dataLoad"], sub { 
     # test code here
     sh "touch $target";
   } ;
   # a file statement without prerequisites will be executed
   # if the target doesn't exist.
   file clean => sub { 
     # perform cleanup here
     sh "rm compile codeGen dataLoad test" 
   } ;

   make @ARGV


This Perl Module allows you to define file-based dependencies similar to how make works.Rather than placing the build rules in a separate Makefile or build.xml, the build rules are declared using standard Perl syntax. TinyMake is effectively an inline domain-specific language. Using make you might write a makefile that looks like this...

 test: compile dataLoad
   # test
   touch test

 codeGen: database.spec
   # generate code
   touch codeGen

 compile: codeGen
   # compile code 
   touch compile

 dataLoad: codeGen
   # load data
   touch dataLoad

 database.spec: # source file

The equivalent perl code using TinyMake would look like this...

 use TinyMake ':all';

 # some perl code
 file test => ["compile","dataLoad"], sub { # test
   `touch test`;
 } ;

 file codeGen => "database.spec", sub {  # generate code
   `touch codeGen`;
 } ;
 # some more perl code
 file compile => "codeGen", sub { # compile code
   `touch compile`;
 } ;

 file dataload => "codeGen", sub { # load data
   `touch dataLoad`;
 } ;

 make @ARGV;

Using TinyMake you declare a file dependency using the file subroutine. This subroutine accepts a target filename as its first parameter, and an arrayref of prerequisites and a rule coderef as its 2nd and 3rd parameters. The coderef passed in as the 3rd parameter will only be executed if the target file is out of date. A target file is considered to be out of date if ...

  1. the target file doesn't exist or...
  2. any of the prerequisite files have been modified more recently than the target.

TinyMake (as its name implies) is lacking in features, there are no implicit rules. TinyMake doesn't know about C or any other language. All rules must be declared explicitly. TinyMake provides the following subroutines...

   file $target => \@prerequisites, $code_reference;

The file subroutine is used to declare a target, its prerequisites and a rule to invoke if the target file is out of date. The supplied coderef does not get executed immediately. It will only be executed if the target is out of date. Typical usage would be...

 file "index.html" => ["bookmarks.txt", "site.xml"], sub {
   `xslfm -xsl index.xsl -files bookmarks.txt site.xml > index.html`;
 } ;

In the above example, index.html is the target and both bookmarks.txt and site.xml are prerequisites. If any of these two files change then index.html should be rebuilt. The rule to rebuild index.html is the anonymous subroutine supplied as the 3rd parameter.

Just like Perl's native sort subroutine, TinyMake exports some global variables which have special meaning within the scope of the supplied rule subroutine. These special variables are...


This is the target filename. This is equivalent to make's automatic variable $@.


This is the list of prerequisite files which are newer than the target. This may not necessarily be all of the prerequisites supplied - only those which have changed since the target file was last modified. This is equivalent to make's automatic variable $?.


This is the list of all prerequisite files which are dependents of the current target. This is equivalent to make's automatic variable $^.

Prerequisites must be enclosed in [ ... ] square brackets. If there is only one prerequisite then no square brackets are required. E.g. The following two file statements are valid...

   file "../classes/Sample.class" => "", sub {
     sh "javac @changed"


   file "../classes/Sample.class" => [""], sub {
     sh "javac @changed"

To create Ant-style tasks, simply don't bother updating or touching the target file. No file modification dates are checked so the task will be executed if it is in the dependency tree for the active target. The @changed variable will contain all of the task's prerequisites, not just those that are newer than the target.

  make @targets

The make subroutine kicks off the build process. make takes 1 or more filenames/targets as its parameters and determines ...

  1. The order in which the target and its prerequisites should be built.
  2. Which (if any) prerequisites are out of date and must be built.

If no arguments are supplied to make then (like make and Ant) it assumes the first target that was defined using file is the target to check. For this reason you should create an "all" file/synonym at the start of your perl script. make returns a list of changed targets.

  filetree @dirs

This is a helper function which returns a list of all of the files in the specified directory and subdirectories.

  sh $command

This is a helper function which executes the supplied string using qx() after printing the string to STDOUT. sh returns the value returned from qx()

 group  $symbolicTarget => \%target_source_map, sub { rule code }

Imagine a scenario in which you have a directory with a number of .txt files in it. Each of the .txt files must be converted to corresponding .html files. Using standard makefile syntax you would do something like this...

   .SUFFIXES: .txt .html
       ${HTML_COMPILER} $< > $@

Using TinyMake there are 2 ways to do this. The first is to create a hash of html-to-txt files. This could be done as follows...

   my %html2txt = map {/(.*)txt$/; "$1html" => $_ } glob "*.txt";

The next step would be to call file for each key/value combination as follows...

   foreach (keys %html2txt){
     file $_ => $txt2html{$_}, sub {
       # convert all .txt files to .html files
       `cp $changed[0] $target`;
     } ;

Once we've create a file target for each html file with a corresponding .txt file as the prerequisite, we would probably want to create a catchall target under which to group all of the html files...

 file html => [keys %html2txt];

We can now build all of the html files by calling make 'html';. Since this kind of construct is pretty common there is a shorthand way to do this...

   group html => {map {/(.*)txt$/; "$1html" => $_} glob "*.txt"}, sub {
     # convert .txt file to .html
     `cp $changed[0] $target`;
   } ;

What this effectively does is create multiple file targets for each .html file and create a synonym called "html". Remember - the rule block for a group applies to each key/value pair in the supplied hash reference, not the group name which is really just a synonym. The rule block above will never be called with "html" as the target. Instead it will be called for each key/value combination where key is the target and value is the the prerequisite/s.


The following code is a sample perl script that uses TinyMake to compile a tree of java source code and construct a .JAR archive file from the built tree.

   use strict;
   use TinyMake ':all';
   my $sourcepath  = "./java";
   my $classpath   = "../lib/classes";
   my $outputpath  = "../bin";
   my $project_jar = "$outputpath/project.jar";
   # build full jar by default
   file default => $project_jar;
   # create a map of .class to .java files
   my %CLASS_JAVA =  map {
     "$outputpath$1class" => $_ 
   } grep /\.java$/, filetree $sourcepath;
   # group the class-to-java map under the
   # 'compile' synonym
   group compile => \%CLASS_JAVA, sub { 
     sh "javac -d $outputpath -classpath $classpath @changed" 
   } ;
   # rebuild the jar if any of the .class files change
   file $project_jar => [keys %CLASS_JAVA], sub {
     sh "jar -cvf $target -C $outputpath com";
   } ;

   # clean build
   file clean => sub { 
     sh "rm -R $outputpath/com";
     sh "rm $project_jar"; 
   make @ARGV;


Walter Higgins


'file' prerequisites must be filenames, you should not use a synonym as a prerequisite to a 'file'. e.g.

   # WRONG !!!
   file compile => ["project.html", "project.exe"];
   file "project.tgz" => "compile", sub { ... } ;

This is incorrect because TinyMake assumes that all prerequisites are files. The correct way to do it is like this...

   my $compile = ["project.html", "project.exe"];
   file compile => $compile;
   file "project.tgz" => $compile, sub { ... };

Please also refer to the java compilation example above.


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