What Does Makefile Mean?

A makefile is a file that results from using the “make” processing tool, a tool used in software development to build a program in its final “.exe” file extension form together with its libraries. The make tool performs an interpretation process of make files to determine the final code of the destination .exe file.


Topological sorting is used to define the point at which “make” should start. Make is the most commonly used method among program-building systems and is typically used with Unix-based program building.

Techopedia Explains Makefile

Make has many more applications than just .exe program building from source files. Some of these applications include:

  • To transform dependency files to target results via multiple arbitrary commands
  • To detect changes made to an image file
  • To convert between different file formats via an automatic system that copies the final file to different emails targeting multiple users through a custom content management system.

This system’s advantages include that it works on building up a file dependency list, which allows it to be used in a general manner for many file conversion applications. Make’s disadvantages include the fact that if a certain dependency is forgotten, it will not be discovered immediately, but will appear later. Make allows more potential for human error.


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Margaret Rouse

Margaret Rouse is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical, business audience. Over the past twenty years her explanations have appeared on TechTarget websites and she's been cited as an authority in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine and Discovery Magazine.Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages. If you have a suggestion for a new definition or how to improve a technical explanation, please email Margaret or contact her…