Re: on the fly

Subject: Re: on the fly
From: Peter Brown <pbrown -at- MKS -dot- COM>
Date: Mon, 12 May 1997 12:55:13 -0400

Cathy Carr wrote:
> Techwhirlers,
> We've tended to use the adverbial phrase "on the fly" a good bit in our
> documentation at my company, as in "this feature updates your
> gobbledy-gobbledies on the fly."
> Do you think this phrase is in common use as computer jargon, so folks know
> what it means? I've had varying responses from my programming pals.
> And can an anyone suggest an alternative word or phrase to "on the fly"?
> For one thing, I'm in a quandary about whether to hypenate it. Looks dumb
> either way. :-)

I wouldn't use that particular phrase in technical documentation; it's a
bit chatty. Marketing material would be more appropriate. As far as
hyphenation, I wouldn't in the example you gave: "This features updates
your **** on the fly."

But if you used it as an adjective, then yes: "Our product uses an
on-the-fly updating process."

"Opinions? I've had a few. But then again, too few to mention."
Peter Brown, Technical Writer (pbrown -at- mks -dot- com)
Mortice Kern Systems Inc. (

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