I am writing a tool that enables a user to traverse a tree-structured data set, which describes a set of roads, each road can have n lanes.

The idle, starting prompt looks like this:


The user can then traverse to other roads using the DRIVE command

Jeep@CurrentlyDriving> DRIVE Road1


The user has the ability to change lanes using the LANE command.

The problem

Should the user use the LANE command (but only if he does so), I want to CLI to reflect that change, i.e, show that a lane has been changed since entering a certain road. i.e,

Jeep@CurrentlyDriving\Road1> LANE 1


What would be the best way to reflect the lane change (should be reflected where the ???`s are) without significantly 'damaging' the CLI structure?

1 Answer 1


Assumptions on usability requirements

Short recap what I understood: in your CLI

  • the promt adapts to user-input given by commands
  • the user should view the current state, i.e. reflect valid commands issued like Road 1 or Lane 1
  • the issued commands build a chain/hierarchy that can be visualized like a path (tree structure)

Visualize the path: commands

A path usually is visualized as concatenation of path-segments separated by a distinctive separator. Compare this to:

  • the bread-crumbs used on web pages to show the current position within the page hierarchy
  • a folder-path displayed in unix-like shell-prompts

This path visualization can also be applied here, e.g using given slash \ as separator:

Jeep@CurrentlyDriving\Road1> LANE 1

Visualize further details: arguments

To further distinguish the actual command (here: LANE) from its argument or parameter you could insert additional separators. For example a colon : would reveal command details like this:

Jeep@CurrentlyDriving\Road:1> LANE 1

Hope I understood your question & requirements correctly and my suggested visualization supports them.

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