# Make

Make is a cross-platform build tool to test and build software and it is used as an interface between the CI/CD server and the application code. A single Makefile per application defines and encapsulates all the steps for testing, building, and deploying that application. Of course other tools like rake or ant can be used to achieve the same goal, but having Makefile pre-installed in many OS distributions makes it a convenient choice

Having a clean Makefile is key. It helps to understand it quickly and is easier to maintain. Therefore, having some conventions like target vs _target, and Pipeline targets really aim to make the developer's life easier. The conventions are for the context of the 3 Musketeers.


The snippets in this section bring support for the documentation but may be incomplete or missing context. If you wish to see complete code, go over the examples section.

# target vs _target


This is mainly for the Make pattern.

Using target and _target is a naming convention to distinguish targets that can be called on any platform (Windows, Linux, MacOS) versus those that need specific environment/dependencies.

# buid target uses Compose which is available on Windows, Unix, and MacOS
	docker-compose run --rm serverless make _deploy

# This _deploy target depends on a NodeJS environment and Serverless Framework which may not be available on the hosts.
# It is executed in a Docker container that provides the right environment for its execution.
# If the host has NodeJS and Serverless Framework installed, `$ make _build` can be called.
	serverless deploy


A phony target is one that is not really the name of a file; rather it is just a name for a recipe to be executed when you make an explicit request. There are two reasons to use a phony target: to avoid a conflict with a file of the same name, and to improve performance. - GNU (opens new window)

By default .PHONY can be left out unless the target collides with the name of file/folder. One case is a target test which often conflicts with a folder named test.

# can be written into a single line with other targets that need .PHONY
.PHONY: test targetA targetB

	docker-compose run --rm node make _test
.PHONY: test # can be put here for the target test

	npx jest

Sometimes you want the target to match the name of a file in which case .PHONY would not be used. See Environment variables & .env file for an example.

# Docker and Compose commands as variables

Docker and Compose commands can be assigned to variables.

COMPOSE_RUN_NODE = docker-compose run --rm serverless

	$(COMPOSE_RUN_NODE) make _deploy


NODE_RUN = docker-compose run --rm serverless

	$(NODE_RUN) make _deploy

# Target dependencies

To make the Makefile easier to read, avoid having many target dependencies: target: a b c. Restrict the dependencies only to target and not _target. Even more, restrict target to file dependencies only. This allows one to call a specific target without worrying that other targets will be executed too.


Use Pipeline targets as a way to describe the list of dependencies.

deploy: package.zip
	$(COMPOSE_RUN_NODE) make _deploy

# Pipeline targets

Section Target dependencies suggests to limit target dependencies as mush as possible but there is one exception: pipeline targets.

We call Pipeline targets the targets that have a```list of dependencies, usually other targets. They are often used in CI to reduce the number of Make calls and keep the CI pipelines clean.

It is best having them at the top of the Makefile as they give an understanding of the application pipelines when reading the Makefile.

# pipeline targets first
stageTest: build test clean

# other targets below

# make and target all

Running only $ make will trigger the first target from the Makefile. A convention among developer is to have a target all as the first target. In the 3 Musketeers context, all is a perfect pipeline target to document and test locally the sequence of targets to test, build, run, etc.

# first target
all: deps test build clean

# other targets below
$ make # will run the target all

# Ordering targets

Ordering targets in some ways may help maintaining the Makefile in the long run. Here are some suggestions:

  • Variables defined at the top

  • Targets all and pipeline target at the top of the file (after the variables)

  • Ordering targets in a build pipeline flow

    	# ...
    	# ...
    	# ...
    	# ...
  • Group target and _target together

    	# ...
    	# ...
    	# ...
    	# ...
  • Alternatively, target and _target can be separated if too verbose.

    	# ...
    	# ...
    	# ...
    	# ...
  • Utility targets defined at the bottom of the Makefile

# Target and Single Responsibility

It is a good idea to make the target as focus as possible on a specific task. This leaves the flexibility to anyone to manually test/call each target individually for a single purpose.

Targets can be composed as a pipeline target which ensures the right order of targets to call for executing a specific task.

# Idempotency

Ideally, a target should be idempotent so that the result of running it once is the same as running it multiple times.

# Targets .env and envfile

The target envfile creates the file .env which is very useful for a project that follows the 3 Musketeers pattern. See Environment Variables & envfile for more details.

# Project dependencies


Refer to project dependencies section for more information.

It is a good thing to have a target deps for installing all the dependencies required to test, build, and deploy an application.

A tar file of the dependencies can be created as an artifact to be passed along through the CI/CD stages. This step is useful as it acts as a cache. Subsequent CI/CD stages will have the exact same dependencies. Moreover, it is faster to pass along a tar file than a folder with many files.

COMPOSE_RUN_NODE = docker-compose run --rm node
DEPS_DIRS = node_modules

	$(COMPOSE_RUN_NODE) make _depsNPMInstall

	$(COMPOSE_RUN_NODE) make _packDeps

	$(COMPOSE_RUN_NODE) make _unpackDeps

	npm install


_depsUnpack: $(DEPS_ARTIFACT)
	rm -fr $(DEPS_DIRS)
	tar -xzf $(DEPS_ARTIFACT)

It is up to the CI/CD pipeline to call the targets explicitly in the right order, i.e: make deps depsPack and make depsUnpack test. Alternatively, the Makefile can have targets like ciDeps: deps depsPack and ciTest: depsUnpack test.


DEPS_DIRS is language agnostic and can include many directories: DEPS_DIRS = node_modules vendor packages/**/dist/*

# Calling multiple targets in a single command

Make allows you to call multiple targets in a single command like this $ make targetA targetB targetC. This is useful if you want to use a different .env file and call another target

# create .env with the default
$ make envfile anotherTarget
# create .env from another file
$ make envfile anotherTarget ENVFILE=your.envfile

# Prevent echoing the command

The symbol @ prevents the command to be printed out prior its execution. Useful when there are secrets at stake.

# If '@ 'is omitted, `DOCKER_PASSWORD` would be revealed.
	@echo "$(DOCKER_PASSWORD)" | docker login --username "$(DOCKER_USERNAME)" --password-stdin docker.io
	docker push $(IMAGE)
	docker logout

# Continue on error

The symbol - allows the execution to continue even if the command failed.


# _tag creates a new tag and fails if the tag already exists
	git tag $(TAG)
	git push origin $(TAG)

# _overwriteTag creates a new tag or re-tags the existing one
	-git tag -d $(TAG)
	-git push origin :refs/tags/$(TAG)
	git tag $(TAG)
	git push origin $(TAG)

# Clean Docker and files

Using Compose creates a network that you may want to remove after your stage or pipeline is completed. You may also want to remove existing stopped and running containers. Moreover, files and folders that have been created can also be cleaned up after. A pipeline would maybe contain a stage clean or call clean after test for instance: $ make test clean.

clean could also have the command to clean Docker. However having the target cleanDocker may be very useful for targets that want to only clean the containers. See section Managing containers in target.

It may happen that you face a permission issue like the following

rm -fr bin vendor
rm: cannot remove ‘vendor/gopkg.in/yaml.v2/README.md’: Permission denied

This happens because the creation of those files was done with a different user (in a container as root) and the current user does not have permission to delete them. One way to mitigate this is to call the command in the docker container.

	docker-compose down --remove-orphans

	$(COMPOSE_RUN_GOLANG) make _clean
	$(MAKE) cleanDocker

	rm -fr files folders

# Managing containers in target

Sometimes a target needs to run a container in order to execute its task.

For instance, a target test may need a database to run prior executing the tests.

# target test calls cleanDocker before starting a postgres container
test: cleanDocker startPostgres
	$(DOCKER_RUN_NODE) make _test
	# cleanDocker stops the postgrest container and removes it
	$(MAKE) cleanDocker
.PHONY: test

	docker-compose up -d postgres
	sleep 10

	docker-compose down --remove-orphans

# Multiple Makefiles

The Makefile can be split into smaller files.

# makefiles/deploy.mk
	docker-compose run --rm serverless make _deploy

	serverless deploy
# Makefile
include makefiles/*.mk

# Complex targets

In some situations, targets become very complex due to the syntax and limitations of Make or you may simply prefer to write the task in Bash or other languages. Refer to the patterns section for other Make alternatives.

# Self-Documented Makefile

This (opens new window) is pretty neat for self-documenting the Makefile.

# Add the following 'help' target to your Makefile
# And add help text after each target name starting with '\#\#'
DOCKER_RUN_MUSKETEERS = docker run --rm -v $(PWD):/opt/app -w /opt/app flemay/musketeers

help:           ## Show this help.

	@fgrep -h "##" $(MAKEFILE_LIST) | fgrep -v fgrep | sed -e 's/\\$$//' | sed -e 's/##//'

# Everything below is an example

target00:       ## This message will show up when typing 'make help'
	@echo does nothing

target01:       ## This message will also show up when typing 'make help'
	@echo does something

# Remember that targets can have multiple entries (if your target specifications are very long, etc.)
target02:       ## This message will show up too!!!
target02: target00 target01
	@echo does even more
# Output
help: Show this help.
target00: This message will show up when typing 'make help'
target01: This message will also show up when typing 'make help'
target02: This message will show up too!!!