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Console menu for Makefiles

Project description


Provide a console menu interface for a Makefile.

The canonical use of the system is to have a quick and stupid way to document commands one would like to run, while at the same time making it extremely easy to run, without memorizing anything. Because I'm (ab)using "make", it is also very easy to run a particular target from the command line without using the menu system.

Of course nothing stops you from using the tool for a more regular Makefile.


This is a very simple system to create a menu from the Makefile. You annotate your Makefile as follows:

# menu title: My title

# menu item: a
.PHONY: hello
	echo hello world

# menu item: b
.PHONY: foo
	echo foo bar

# menu comment: Section 2

# menu item: c
.PHONY: world
	echo 42

In other words, just add "# menu title" in the file once, and "# menu item: <ch>" to create a command from a make file target. Then running "makefilemenu Makefile" shows:

===== My title =====
a: hello  b: foo  q: quit
Section 2
c: world


You can choose one of the commands, and the corresponding target is made. Note that a "quit" command is automatically added to quit the program. If you don't want it, you can use "--quit_cmd ''" to disable it. In such case, to exit, press Control-C or Control-D.

Regular "make" usage is not interfered, so you can still say "make foo hello" on the command line to make both targets.

You can also add a few clauses to the Makefile, so that running makefilemenu is the default target, and your file can be simply executed:

#!/usr/bin/env -S make -f
# -*- makefile -*-

thisfile := $(lastword $(MAKEFILE_LIST))

.PHONY: menu
	@makefilemenu $(thisfile)


Two types of variables may be set using makefilemenu: environment variables and Makefile variables. Environment variables are set using # menu envvar, like this.

# menu envvar var
# menu envvar d:var

This adds an initially unset variable var, and a menu entry to set the variable. In the first case the menu entry is invoked by var, in the second case it is by d.

You can set the initial value of the variable to be val as follows:

# menu envvar var=val
# menu envvar d:var=val

In this case, if an empty value is set on the command line, it is given an empty value (if there is no default value, an empty value would unset the variable).

After the environment variable is given a value, when a command is invoked the make command is invoked with the environment variable set.

You can replace envvar by makevar in the # menu directive above. In this case, the environment variable is not used, but instead the make command is invoked like:

make var=val ...

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