Syntax Book Update

Kevin P. Fleming kpfleming at
Thu Jan 29 10:12:51 PST 2004

James Robertson wrote:

> I have a bunch of free time this weekend starting tonight.  I want to 
> finish the updates/cleanup of the current v3.1 syntax doc.  Besides the 
> obvious, does anyone see anything that I am missing from v3.1 of the 
> syntax?  Once that is stabilized/finished in cvs I am going to tag it 
> and then move to v3.2 for the updates you guys are making to the DTD.

Here are some notes relative to the 20031105 version I see on the 
website right now (which I think is current), some of them are nitpick 
spelling errors but I saw them anyway :-)

- the Acknowledgements page has some strange extra characters between 
Vassili/Gerard's names and the text

- there are multiple misspellings of parenthesis

- the second example for <configure> includes <prefix> elements but 
their content is not reflected in the "equivalent bash script" for the 

- the <copy> element has this text: "... can be used many times to 
provide multiple source locations for a file" for the <source> element, 
but this is an incorrect description. it should be "can be used more 
than once to provide multiple files to copy."

- the digest element could use a description of the "type" attribute, 
documenting that it allows the user to specify that the digest is a type 
other than MD5

- the <download> element description of the <url> element says "the url 
of the directory from which the download is performed." this is not very 
clear, better would be "the URL that will be used to obtain the file 

- the <download> element refers to the digest being MD5 (in lowercase 
:-) but this is only the default; better would be to not reference the 
digest type at all here and just refer to the <digest> element page

- we added <prefix> support to <execute> (in nALFS) as an add-on to 
syntax version 3.1; I don't know if this should be reflected in the 
document or not, since we can't mandate that other ALFS implementations 
support it

- the first example under <find> has a weird new-line in the 
<search_replace> element

- <prefix> was added to <make> as well, same issues as <execute>

- under <mkdir>, it might be good to tell the reader that the use of the 
  <option>parents</option> also keeps <mkdir> from reporting an error if 
the target directory already exists; then again, this is an 
implementation specific detail and an implementation that didn't 
actually use "mkdir -p" wouldn't behave this way, so maybe not such a 
good idea

- <prefix> support for <patch>, same issues as above

- the <unpack> element refers to <digest> and <reference> use inside 
<unpack> being deprecated; possibly this discussion occurred before I 
joined the team, but I don't know why whis would be true. I certainly 
intend to keep using and supporting this syntax.

- the <unpack> element refers to some specific compression/archiving 
types, but that is implementation specific, right?

- the <url> element description has the same problems as under 
<download>, see above

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