Another way to set the value of a variable is to use the
directive. This directive has an unusual syntax which allows newline
characters to be included in the value, which is convenient for defining
canned sequences of commands
(see section Defining Canned Command Sequences).
define directive is followed on the same line by the name of the
variable and nothing more. The value to give the variable appears on the
following lines. The end of the value is marked by a line containing just
endef. Aside from this difference in syntax,
works just like `=': it creates a recursively-expanded variable
(see section The Two Flavors of Variables).
The variable name may contain function and variable references, which
are expanded when the directive is read to find the actual variable name
define two-lines echo foo echo $(bar) endef
The value in an ordinary assignment cannot contain a newline; but the
newlines that separate the lines of the value in a
part of the variable's value (except for the final newline which precedes
endef and is not considered part of the value).
The previous example is functionally equivalent to this:
two-lines = echo foo; echo $(bar)
since two commands separated by semicolon behave much like two separate
shell commands. However, note that using two separate lines means
make will invoke the shell twice, running an independent subshell
for each line. See section Command Execution.
If you want variable definitions made with
define to take
precedence over command-line variable definitions, you can use the
override directive together with
override define two-lines foo $(bar) endef
See section The
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