Re: How you say... ?

Subject: Re: How you say... ?
From: "Dana Worley (MVP/JB)" <dana -at- campbellsci -dot- com>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Thu, 16 Feb 2012 09:31:30 -0700

I would agree with using the BNF convention as Guy suggests. It's well-known among command line programmers and is very effective at removing ambiguity.

Dana W.

On 2/15/2012 9:24 AM, McLauchlan, Kevin wrote:

We still have a command-line interface for some products.

I want to tweak the syntax a smidgen, to clarify a distinction... but opinions vary as to an existing standard.

Here are three takes on a command:

partition resize -partition<name> [-size<size>] [-allfreestorage] [-force]

partition resize -partition<name> [-size<size>] | [-allfreestorage] [-force]

partition resize -partition<name> [-size<size> | -allfreestorage] [-force]


Does one of those renditions convey to you that you can specify -size or -allfreestorage or neither?

Does one convey that you can specify -size or you can specify -allfreestorage, but you must choose one?

Does one imply that you can specify both, if you wish? (maybe the system determines which one is possible or advisable...)

... and here's the kicker.... Why do you get that meaning from one-or-the-other use (or omission) of square brackets, pipe symbol, etc.?

Campbell Scientific, Inc.
Product Manager, Software Products
Microsoft Help MVP 2002-2012
Jester's Baubles Fused Glass Designs
Create and publish documentation through multiple channels with Doc-To-Help.
Choose your authoring formats and get any output you may need.

Try Doc-To-Help, now with MS SharePoint integration, free for 30-days.


You are currently subscribed to TECHWR-L as archive -at- web -dot- techwr-l -dot- com -dot-
To unsubscribe send a blank email to
techwr-l-leave -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com

Send administrative questions to admin -at- techwr-l -dot- com -dot- Visit for more resources and info.

Looking for articles on Technical Communications? Head over to our online magazine at

Looking for the archived Techwr-l email discussions? Search our public email archives @

Previous by Author: Re: Technical Writing and Software Testing
Next by Author: RE: Tools for Producing Datasheets
Previous by Thread: Re: how about Toronto? (was: New York Meetup Feb 22?)
Next by Thread: Re: Facebook and Twitter (was RE: REST vs. RESTful)

What this post helpful? Share it with friends and colleagues:

Sponsored Ads