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12.4 Including Texinfo Documentation

Automake provides a few facilities to make the maintenance of Texinfo documentation within projects much simpler than it used to be. Writing a ‘Makefile.am’ for Texinfo documentation is extremely straightforward:


The ‘TEXINFOS’ primary will not only create rules for generating ‘.info’ files suitable for browsing with the GNU info reader, but also for generating ‘.dvi’ and ‘.ps’ documentation for printing.

You can also create other formats of documentation by adding the appropriate make rules to ‘Makefile.am’. For example, because the more recent Texinfo distributions have begun to support generation of HTML documentation from the ‘.texi’ format master document, I have added the appropriate rules to the ‘Makefile.am’:


For ease of maintenance, these make rules employ a suffix rule which describes how to generate HTML from equivalent ‘.texi’ source – this involves telling make about the ‘.html’ suffix using the automake SUFFIXES macro. I haven’t defined ‘MAKEINFO’ explicitly (though I could have done) because I know that Automake has already defined it for use in the ‘.info’ generation rules.

The ‘html’ target is for convenience; typing ‘make html’ is a little easier than typng ‘make sic.html’. I have also added a .PHONY target so that featureful make programs will know that the ‘html’ target doesn’t actually generate a file called literally, ‘html’. As it stands, this code is not quite complete, since the toplevel ‘Makefile.am’ doesn’t know how to call the ‘html’ rule in the ‘doc’ subdirectory.

There is no need to provide a general solution here in the way Automake does for its ‘dvi’ target, for example. A simple recursive call to ‘doc/Makefile’ is much simpler:

docdir                        = $(top_builddir)/doc

        @echo Making $@ in $(docdir)
        @cd $(docdir) && make $@

Another useful management function that Automake can perform for you with respect to Texinfo documentation is to automatically generate the version numbers for your Texinfo documents. It will add make rules to generate a suitable ‘version.texi’, so long as automake sees ‘@include version.texi’ in the body of the Texinfo source:


version.texi’ sets Texinfo variables, ‘VERSION’, ‘EDITION’ and ‘UPDATE’, which can be expanded elsewhere in the main Texinfo documentation by using @value{EDITION} for example. This makes use of another auxiliary file, mdate-sh which will be added to the scripts in the $ac_aux_dir subdirectory by Automake after adding the ‘version.texi’ reference to ‘sic.texi’:

$ ./bootstrap
+ aclocal -I config
+ libtoolize --force --copy
Putting files in AC_CONFIG_AUX_DIR, config.
+ autoheader
+ automake --add-missing --copy
doc/Makefile.am:22: installing config/mdate-sh
+ autoconf
$ make html
/bin/sh ./config.status --recheck
Making html in ./doc
make[1]: Entering directory /tmp/sic/doc
Updating version.texi
makeinfo --html sic.texi
make[1]: Leaving directory /tmp/sic/doc

Hopefully, it now goes without saying that I also need to add the ‘doc’ subdirectory to ‘AC_OUTPUT’ in ‘configure.in’ and to ‘SUBDIRS’ in the top-level ‘Makefile.am’.

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This document was generated by Ben Elliston on July 10, 2015 using texi2html 1.82.