When an explicit rule has multiple targets they can be treated in one of two possible ways: as independent targets or as grouped targets. The manner in which they are treated is determined by the separator that appears after the list of targets.
Rules that use the standard target separator,
independent targets. This is equivalent to writing the same rule once
for each target, with duplicated prerequisites and recipes. Typically,
the recipe would use automatic variables such as ‘$@’ to specify
which target is being built.
Rules with independent targets are useful in two cases:
kbd.o command.o files.o: command.h
gives an additional prerequisite to each of the three object files mentioned. It is equivalent to writing:
kbd.o: command.h command.o: command.h files.o: command.h
bigoutput littleoutput : text.g generate text.g -$(subst output,,$@) > $@
is equivalent to
bigoutput : text.g generate text.g -big > bigoutput littleoutput : text.g generate text.g -little > littleoutput
Here we assume the hypothetical program
generate makes two
types of output, one if given ‘-big’ and one if given
See Functions for String Substitution and Analysis,
for an explanation of the
Suppose you would like to vary the prerequisites according to the target, much as the variable ‘$@’ allows you to vary the recipe. You cannot do this with multiple targets in an ordinary rule, but you can do it with a static pattern rule. See Static Pattern Rules.
If instead of independent targets you have a recipe that generates
multiple files from a single invocation, you can express that
relationship by declaring your rule to use grouped targets. A
grouped target rule uses the separator
&: (the ‘&’ here is
used to imply “all”).
make builds any one of the grouped targets, it understands
that all the other targets in the group are also created as a result
of the invocation of the recipe. Furthermore, if only some of the
grouped targets are out of date or missing
make will realize
that running the recipe will update all of the targets.
As an example, this rule defines a grouped target:
foo bar biz &: baz boz echo $^ > foo echo $^ > bar echo $^ > biz
During the execution of a grouped target’s recipe, the automatic variable ‘$@’ is set to the name of the particular target in the group which triggered the rule. Caution must be used if relying on this variable in the recipe of a grouped target rule.
Unlike independent targets, a grouped target rule must include a recipe. However, targets that are members of a grouped target may also appear in independent target rule definitions that do not have recipes.
Each target may have only one recipe associated with it. If a grouped target appears in either an independent target rule or in another grouped target rule with a recipe, you will get a warning and the latter recipe will replace the former recipe. Additionally the target will be removed from the previous group and appear only in the new group.
If you would like a target to appear in multiple groups, then you must
use the double-colon grouped target separator,
declaring all of the groups containing that target. Grouped
double-colon targets are each considered independently, and each
grouped double-colon rule’s recipe is executed at most once, if at
least one of its multiple targets requires updating.