Knit 🧶

Test Workflow Go Reference Go Report Card MIT License

Knit is a build tool inspired by Make and Plan9 mk. You define rules with a Make-like syntax within a Lua program. Knit also tracks more of your build to give you better incremental builds. For example, Knit automatically tracks recipes that are executed across builds, so changing a variable (even at the command-line) can cause a rule to be rebuilt because Knit can see that the recipe depends on the variable.

Knit is very much in-progress and there may be bugs. I am still in the process of adding enough features so that I can convert my projects to Knit.

Improvements over Make

  • Knit uses Lua for customization, rather than the Make custom language.
  • Knit tracks recipe changes, so if you update a variable (in the Knitfile or at the command-line), any dependent rules will be automatically rebuilt.
  • Knit supports % meta-rules and regular expression meta-rules. Make only supports % meta-rules.
  • Make requires tab characters for indentation, Knit does not.
  • Make uses special targets such as .SECONDARY to indicate special processing. Knit uses rule attributes.
  • Knit supports virtual attributes that are independent of the file system.
  • Knit uses sane variable names like $input, $output, and $match instead of $^, [email protected], and $*.
  • Knit builds using all cores by default.


Prebuilt binary:

eget zyedidia/knit

From source:

go install[email protected]

Example Knitfile

Here is an example Knitfile used for building a simple C project.

knit = import("knit")

cc = or "gcc"
debug = tobool(cli.debug) or false

cflags := -Wall

if debug then
    cflags := $cflags -Og -g
    cflags := $cflags -O2

src = knit.glob("*.c")
obj = knit.extrepl(src, ".c", ".o")
prog := hello

$ $prog: $obj
    $cc $cflags $input -o $output

$ %.o: %.c
    $cc $cflags -c $input -o $output

$ clean:V:
    rm -f $obj $prog

See the docs for more information.

See this repository’s Knitfile and the tests for more examples.


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