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Hoping beyond hope that someone can answer this without making me feel stupid.

I would like to create a makefile that incorporates .jar files as well as compiling several class files into one executable.

There's some data that the program references as well, so if someone could explain how that works, I'd really appreciate it, which is to say I need to know if the data gets rolled into the executable, or if the data is just necessarily in teh same folder as the .exe.

I've looked around the web more than once, and I found a couple of pretty convoluted answers, but nothing definitive.

To quote lilu: please halp
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Does it have to be a makefile?  I'm assuming you're on a Unix-like system.   Other options are Maven, Ant, and most IDEs have some sort of way to create executable jars.
Java Cowboy
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Welcome to the Ranch.

In the Java world, people don't usually use the 'make' tool to build projects. There are other build tools which are specifically made for Java; Knute already mentioned Maven and Ant, and there's also Gradle. These are more or less the standard build tools that are used for Java.

If you want to learn a Java build tool, then Maven is a good one to start with. Ant is a bit older and Gradle is maybe a bit more complicated to get started with.
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I'll offer a different opinion: Maven is hopelessly complicated, Gradle is even more hopelessly complicated, Ant is a better choice to start out with. My 2¢

I will agree that make in the Java environment is just not done.
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