TechWhirl (TECHWR-L) is a resource for technical writing and technical communications professionals of all experience levels and in all industries to share their experiences and acquire information.
For two decades, technical communicators have turned to TechWhirl to ask and answer questions about the always-changing world of technical communications, such as tools, skills, career paths, methodologies, and emerging industries. The TechWhirl Archives and magazine, created for, by and about technical writers, offer a wealth of knowledge to everyone with an interest in any aspect of technical communications.
Subject:Railroad Diagrams From:"Wayne J. Douglass" <wayned -at- VERITY -dot- COM> Date:Wed, 20 Nov 1996 09:01:51 -0800
> I remember IBM going from the linear approach with the brackets and
> braces and | bars to the syntax diagrams (which somehow acquired the
> name 'railroad' diagrams - tho i'm not sure why). The idea was that
> the linear approach was difficult to read and understand and remember
> the various distinctions between what brackets means and braces meant
> and brackets inside braces and braces inside brackets and .....
The railroad diagrams I have seen to document command syntax give no doubt
why they are so called. Basically, the command is a line with parameters,
etc. as branches. When the whole system is documented it looks like a map of
a railroad yard. They haven't been all the popular, but folks who like them
are fanatical about it. I find them good a memory jogger or job aid, but no
substitute for a good reference.
The other systems mentioned in this thread look like variations of BNF
notation (I think that's what it was called). I don't remember what the
acronym stands for. Some folks' names, I think.
Verity, Inc. Email: wayned -at- verity -dot- com
894 Ross Drive Telephone: 408-542-2139
Sunnyvale, CA 94089 Facsimile: 408-542-2040