Need advice about which tool to choose?Ask the StackShare community!


+ 1

+ 1
Add tool

CMake vs Make: What are the differences?


CMake and Make are both build automation tools used in software development. Although they serve a similar purpose, there are key differences between the two.

  1. Build System Language: CMake uses its own scripting language called "CMake language" to define the build process, while Make uses Makefile, a declarative language, to specify instructions for compiling and linking code.

  2. Platform Independence: CMake aims to provide a cross-platform build system by generating native build files for various platforms, such as Makefiles for Linux/Unix systems. In contrast, Make is primarily used on Unix-like systems, and the Makefiles it generates may not be compatible with other platforms.

  3. Dependency Tracking: CMake has built-in support for automatic dependency tracking. It can detect changes in source code files and automatically regenerate the build files when necessary. Make, on the other hand, relies on manually specifying dependencies in the Makefile, requiring developers to update these dependencies manually.

  4. Ease of Use: CMake provides a more user-friendly and intuitive syntax compared to Make. Its scripting language is designed to be less verbose and more readable, making it easier for developers to understand and maintain the build process. Makefiles, on the other hand, can be complex and difficult to grasp, especially for beginners.

  5. Customizability: CMake offers a greater level of customization and flexibility compared to Make. It provides a wide range of built-in functions and variables that developers can use to fine-tune the build process. Make, although powerful, has a more limited set of built-in features and may require more manual configuration for advanced customization.

  6. Integration with IDEs: CMake has better integration with modern Integrated Development Environments (IDEs) like Visual Studio and CLion. It can generate project files that IDEs understand and provide an easier and more feature-rich development experience. Make, on the other hand, lacks such seamless integration and often requires additional plugin/configuration to work with IDEs.

In summary, CMake differs from Make by using its own build system language, providing cross-platform compatibility, automatic dependency tracking, being more user-friendly, offering greater customization options, and having better IDE integration.

Get Advice from developers at your company using StackShare Enterprise. Sign up for StackShare Enterprise.
Learn More
Pros of CMake
Pros of Make
  • 1
    Has package registry
  • 1
    No-nonsense approach to builds. Just works
  • 0
    One-line Execution

Sign up to add or upvote prosMake informed product decisions

What is CMake?

It is used to control the software compilation process using simple platform and compiler independent configuration files, and generate native makefiles and workspaces that can be used in the compiler environment of the user's choice.

What is Make?

The GNU Compiler Collection and GNU Toolchain (Binutils, GDB, GLIBC)

Need advice about which tool to choose?Ask the StackShare community!

What companies use CMake?
What companies use Make?
See which teams inside your own company are using CMake or Make.
Sign up for StackShare EnterpriseLearn More

Sign up to get full access to all the companiesMake informed product decisions

What tools integrate with CMake?
What tools integrate with Make?
What are some alternatives to CMake and Make?
Bazel is a build tool that builds code quickly and reliably. It is used to build the majority of Google's software, and thus it has been designed to handle build problems present in Google's development environment.
Apache Maven
Maven allows a project to build using its project object model (POM) and a set of plugins that are shared by all projects using Maven, providing a uniform build system. Once you familiarize yourself with how one Maven project builds you automatically know how all Maven projects build saving you immense amounts of time when trying to navigate many projects.
JavaScript is most known as the scripting language for Web pages, but used in many non-browser environments as well such as node.js or Apache CouchDB. It is a prototype-based, multi-paradigm scripting language that is dynamic,and supports object-oriented, imperative, and functional programming styles.
Git is a free and open source distributed version control system designed to handle everything from small to very large projects with speed and efficiency.
GitHub is the best place to share code with friends, co-workers, classmates, and complete strangers. Over three million people use GitHub to build amazing things together.
See all alternatives