RAKE – Ruby Make








Rake is a Make-like program implemented in Ruby. Tasks and dependencies are specified in standard Ruby syntax.

Rake has the following features:

  • Rakefiles (rake’s version of Makefiles) are completely defined in standard Ruby syntax. No XML files to edit. No quirky Makefile syntax to worry about (is that a tab or a space?)

  • Users can specify tasks with prerequisites.

  • Rake supports rule patterns to synthesize implicit tasks.

  • Flexible FileLists that act like arrays but know about manipulating file names and paths.

  • A library of prepackaged tasks to make building rakefiles easier. For example, tasks for building tarballs. (Formerly tasks for building RDoc, Gems, and publishing to FTP were included in rake but they’re now available in RDoc, RubyGems, and rake-contrib respectively.)

  • Supports parallel execution of tasks.


Gem Installation

Download and install rake with the following.

gem install rake


Simple Example

First, you must write a “Rakefile” file which contains the build rules. Here’s a simple example:

task default: %w[test]

task :test do
  ruby "test/unittest.rb"

This Rakefile has two tasks:

  • A task named “test”, which – upon invocation – will run a unit test file in Ruby.

  • A task named “default”. This task does nothing by itself, but it has exactly one dependency, namely the “test” task. Invoking the “default” task will cause Rake to invoke the “test” task as well.

Running the “rake” command without any options will cause it to run the “default” task in the Rakefile:

% ls
Rakefile     test/
% rake
(in /home/some_user/Projects/rake)
ruby test/unittest.rb
....unit test output here...

Type “rake –help” for all available options.


Rake Information

Presentations and Articles about Rake

Other Make Re-envisionings …

Rake is a late entry in the make replacement field. Here are links to other projects with similar (and not so similar) goals.


Jim Weirich

Who originally created Rake.

Ryan Dlugosz

For the initial conversation that sparked Rake.

Nobuyoshi Nakada <[email protected]>

For the initial patch for rule support.

Tilman Sauerbeck <[email protected]>

For the recursive rule patch.

Eric Hodel

For aid in maintaining rake.


Maintainer of Rake 10 and later


Rake is available under an MIT-style license.

:include: MIT-LICENSE

Other stuff


Jim Weirich <[email protected]>


Ruby 2.0.0 or later


Copyright Jim Weirich. Released under an MIT-style license. See the MIT-LICENSE file included in the distribution.


This software is provided “as is” and without any express or implied warranties, including, without limitation, the implied warranties of merchantability and fitness for a particular purpose.


Rake was originally created by Jim Weirich, who unfortunately passed away in February 2014. This repository was originally hosted at github.com/jimweirich/rake, however with his passing, has been moved to ruby/rake.

You can view Jim’s last commit here: github.com/jimweirich/rake/tree/336559f28f55bce418e2ebcc0a57548dcbac4025

You can read more about Jim at Wikipedia.

Thank you for this great tool, Jim. We’ll remember you.