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Programming Make, part I: Pattern Rules

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A short walk-through of pattern rules in Makefile, targetted at people who have a little scripting experience. Notionally, at this point we have:

  • Introduced a motivating problem (comparing AirBnB prices in two similar-sized cities in different countries, Toronto and Chicago)
  • Talked about the reasons for wanting reproducibility/automation and Make in particular
  • Gone through the process of translating a bash script into Make in two steps (literally, then breaking out each output-file individually) and seen the advantage of incremental rebuilds; this introduces
    • targets
    • dependencies
    • order dependencies
    • SECONDARY: for keeping intermediate targets
    • Multi-line commands; each line is run in a different shell
  • Added some canonical targets (clean and all) and introduced PHONY

Now we're taking that and introducing pattern rules for DRY - maintainability and extensibility.

The worked example uses python, with seaborn and pandas, although no python experience is necessary; for our purposes, they are just command line tools we're running. However, you'll have to make sure the modules are installed:

virtualenv make_pattern
source make_pattern/bin/activate
pip install -r requirements.txt

and make sure you have GNU, not BSD, Make installed; the precise version shouldn't matter:

$ make -v
GNU Make 3.81
...

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Tutorial for using Makefile pattern rules

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