If you work on a program by compiling single components at a time using gcc, you typically keep track of the units you modify. In order to build a consistent system, you compile not only these units, but also any units that depend on the units you have modified. For example, in the preceding case, if you edit gmain.adb, you only need to recompile that file. But if you edit greetings.ads, you must recompile both greetings.adb and gmain.adb, because both files contain units that depend on greetings.ads.
gnatbind will warn you if you forget one of these compilation
steps, so that it is impossible to generate an inconsistent program as a
result of forgetting to do a compilation. Nevertheless it is tedious and
error-prone to keep track of dependencies among units.
One approach to handle the dependency-bookkeeping is to use a
makefile. However, makefiles present maintenance problems of their own:
if the dependencies change as you change the program, you must make
sure that the makefile is kept up-to-date manually, which is also an
The gnatmake utility takes care of these details automatically. Invoke it using either one of the following forms:
$ gnatmake gmain.adb $ gnatmake gmain
The argument is the name of the file containing the main program; you may omit the extension. gnatmake examines the environment, automatically recompiles any files that need recompiling, and binds and links the resulting set of object files, generating the executable file, gmain. In a large program, it can be extremely helpful to use gnatmake, because working out by hand what needs to be recompiled can be difficult.
Note that gnatmake takes into account all the Ada 95 rules that establish dependencies among units. These include dependencies that result from inlining subprogram bodies, and from generic instantiation. Unlike some other Ada make tools, gnatmake does not rely on the dependencies that were found by the compiler on a previous compilation, which may possibly be wrong when sources change. gnatmake determines the exact set of dependencies from scratch each time it is run.