The toplevel Makefile supports a few targets to create a few types of distribution archives. The most heavily used is really called 'make dist'".
The current project stores the version number of the the project in just one place - the file "pfe.spec" in the toplevel directory. We use a "grep ' ver ' pfe.spec" to extract the line with the version number. This method is used by pfe/configure.ac and the dist-targets in the toplevel Makefile use it too.
To make things easier, quite some of the toplevel dist-target look for a subdirectory "pub" in either the project or parent directory. The tar.gz and tar.bz2 archive are placed there - this makes it easier to 'roll' micro-releases for revision control purpose.
The files that go into the source-release-archives are not specified explicitly in the Makefiles (what one would expect from a automake-based project), instead there is a list of file-extensions and file-names that are searched with a call to the posix "find" command. To see the complete list of files that will be rolled into the source-dist, type "make zipfiles". The current dist-scheme assumes that a zip-tool is indeed available to create a pfe-current.zip, from which a pfe-current.tar.gz is created (which adds the relase-subdir-path), which is the renamed to the release-name.tar.gz itself.
The doc-creation process does not need any information from the configure-process - it works independently. The toplevel doc-targets will forward usually to the doc/Makefile, and it will do so for quite a few other targets as well. The 'make install' will indeed not install these docs (which is a megabyte of html files), so you have to call 'make install-doc'. For the latter, we use a little trick - the install-doc is forwarded to the configure'd Makefile (which knows the configure'd prefix, e.g. /usr/local or /programs), and the configure'd Makefile forward this target in turn to doc/Makefile but adding a makfile-override prefix=@prefix@ - in makefile-speak: '$(MAKE) -C $(srcdir)/../doc/Makefile prefix=$(prefix) [sadly, bsd pmake does not support "-C"]
The doc-tarball created in the doc-subdir (e.g. words.tar, wordsets.tar and doc.tar) can be rolled into a toplevel dist-archive for the doc. This is also needed since the generated docs are so large (around a megabyte of data) and the doc-generation requires perl and a perl-based helper-package xm-tool (from xm-tool.sourceforge.net) to be made.
The "make rpm" is currently a bit weird in its assumptions - it looks in the local, parent, parentparent directory for a subdir called "packages". It then copy the "pfe-current.tgz" to "packages/SOURCES/" and call 'rpm -ba pfe.spec'", i.e. rpm-build-all
It is interesting to see that this scheme works for most people who create "rpm" files, but it could be just as well be a bit annoying to some other people.
The debian distro files are currently not shipped with the base pfe.
The windows archive-packages are not fully ready, currently it creates a simple zip-archive with prebuilt binaries for mingw32, but this target is not yet supported - I did this target largely to speed up the development process for this target (cygwin windows-pfe works fine for years).