Re: on the fly

Subject: Re: on the fly
From: Maynard Hogg <maynard -at- GOL -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 14 May 1997 09:07:35 +0900

At [Mon, 12 May 1997 15:37:30 -0400]
Phillip Wilkerson <phillipw -at- allensysgroup -dot- com> wrote:

> I guess "on the fly" would be termed a colloquialism (i.e., too
informal for
> technical writing); however, it has been used so much in the computer
> that it is tantamount to computer jargon (i.e., too esoteric for technical
> writing). In either case, Arlen is right: better to use common words to
> communicate the idea.

Note that Java virtual machine implementations (in MSIE and Netscape, for
use "just in time" compilers that compile Java bytecodes into native
machine language "on the fly". I don't know why Sun and followers went
with Toyota's term instead of the latter.

It didn't take me long to remember the Japanese translation for the term
in a programming context: sono tsudo, a term used in regular speech to
mean things like "each time" or that old buzzword "on demand".

In my limited programming experience, "on the fly" refers to things like
pick lists and other dialog box components that are built as needed and
then *thrown away* as soon as the user closes the dialog box. (There are
programs that build dialog boxes on the fly, but that is probably A Bad
Thing from the internationalization viewpoint, if only because of the
way that string lengths change.) It is this temporariness that makes me
suspicious of Peter Brown's <pbrown -at- mks -dot- com> "on-the-fly updating".
(That doesn't stop me from using his company's products, however. <g>)

Perhaps this is an example of the type of overuse warned by Susan W.
Gallagher <sgallagher -at- EXPERSOFT -dot- COM> and Phillip Wilkerson
<phillipw -at- allensysgroup -dot- com>.

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