I like using Danjean and Legrand's latex-make package to handle automated compilation of my LaTeX documents. Unfortunately, there are several other packages with very similar names and functions, and this isn't the most popular one, so it's often hard to find on the Net when I want to install it on a new computer or recommend it to collaborators. In fact, I've ended up checking a copy into my own SVN repository so I can just check out from there when I want to create a new installation. Another gotcha is that it doesn't know about XeLaTeX, which has become an issue now that I'm using XeLaTeX for a lot of my newer documents (to achieve Japanese/Unicode and OpenType font support).
Below the cut: a Makefile fragment to add XeLaTeX support to latex-make. This can be used instead of the one-line default Makefile for a directory full of LaTeX document stuff, to replace the default invocation of pdflatex with xelatex.
define lu-define-flavor-XELATEX $$(eval $$(call lu-create-flavor,XELATEX,tex,XELATEX,.pdf,pdf,\ .pdftex_t .$$(_LU_XELATEX_EXT))) endef LU_FLAVORS=XELATEX XELATEX=xelatex include LaTeX.mk