OK, you can use BNF



  • This was back in the 1970's.  I had to write a routine that would parse commands or some such thing.  I had to document the form the commands would take.  You know:

       <command> ::= <operator> | <operator> <operand>

    etc.

    My manager looked at it and said, "What's that?"

    I said, "Backus-Naur Form.  It's the standard way of documenting grammars."

    She said, "Well, I've never heard of it.  Nobody has ever heard of it.  You can't use it in the documentation.  Nobody will be able to understand it."

    I said, "No, really, it's used everywhere.  It's the standard and it's what everybody expects."

    She said, "OK, I'll tell you what.  I have this friend named Kathy Jensen.  She knows a lot about computer languages and stuff.  I'm sure she's never heard of it.  But if she knows what BNF is, you can use it."

    A few days later:  "Kathy says people know about BNF.  You can use it."

     

     



  • [quote user="newfweiler"]

    This was back in the 1970's.  I had to write a routine that would parse commands or some such thing.  I had to document the form the commands would take.  You know:

       <command> ::= <operator> | <operator> <operand>

    etc.

    My manager looked at it and said, "What's that?"

    I said, "Backus-Naur Form.  It's the standard way of documenting grammars."

    She said, "Well, I've never heard of it.  Nobody has ever heard of it.  You can't use it in the documentation.  Nobody will be able to understand it."

    I said, "No, really, it's used everywhere.  It's the standard and it's what everybody expects."

    She said, "OK, I'll tell you what.  I have this friend named Kathy Jensen.  She knows a lot about computer languages and stuff.  I'm sure she's never heard of it.  But if she knows what BNF is, you can use it."

    A few days later:  "Kathy says people know about BNF.  You can use it."

    [/quote]

     

    Let me guess, the real WTF is that she didn't suggest using EBNF? 



  • The real WTF is that you actually won an argument with your manager.  You are an inspiration to us all.



  • Good story!

    Your manager wins some points for knowing Kathleen Jensen, of course, but unfortunately failed to know her work.

    Moral: formal techniques rule!



  • [quote user="newfweiler"]

    She said, "OK, I'll tell you what.  I have this friend named Kathy Jensen.  She knows a lot about computer languages and stuff.  I'm sure she's never heard of it.  But if she knows what BNF is, you can use it."

    A few days later:  "Kathy says people know about BNF.  You can use it."

    [/quote]

    I'm sure that nobody knows Kathy Jensen.  I'll tell you what.... I have a friend that knows a lot of people, and if he knows Kathy Jensen, we can use her expert testimonial. 



  • The irony here, for those that missed it, is that Kathleen Jensen was one of the authors of the book that first presented EBNF to the world - along with Wirth, who invented EBNF.



  • [quote user="newfweiler"]

    She said, "Well, I've never heard of it.  Nobody has ever heard of it.  You can't use it in the documentation.  Nobody will be able to understand it."

    [/quote]

    Oh oh, I would have some fun working on a compiler project with her as my boss. She might end up hiring lawyers to document language grammars if she had her way.



  • Imagine what would have happened had your manager said: "OK, I'll tell you what.  I have this friend named Van Wijngaarden."



  • [quote user="TGV"]Imagine what would have happened had your manager said: "OK, I'll tell you what.  I have this friend named Van Wijngaarden."
    [/quote]

    Now that I think about it, the story could have had a very different ending.  My boss could have said "Kathy says you have to use the railroad tracks notation."

     


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