In this question on SO, the asker had to deal with some textual responses that could be in a rather ambiguous format. One person commented there that that could be interpreted in two different ways:

The intended way:

v number found        platform number v
1 OpenCL device(s) found on platform: 0


v line number            number found v
1 OpenCL device(s) found on platform: 0

Since text like this is sometimes displayed in system dialogue boxes or in TUI (Textual User Interface) environments, it would seem to be desirable to eliminate this type of possible confusion. Is there some standard way to format this sort of message to avoid this sort of ambiguity, or is this not really a problem?

Also, is there a tag for Textual User Interfaces? I can't seem to find one (and I can't create one).

  • What is TUI? Your question is really ambiguous.. can you please update it to better reflect what you are asking
    – Mervin
    Jun 27, 2013 at 16:22
  • @Mervin I would assume Tangible User Interfaces if it is in UI/UX domain.
    – rk.
    Jun 27, 2013 at 16:25
  • @Mervin, rk It stands for Textual User Interface. Old checkout machines and some tools that run in a terminal use that sort of thing. Jun 27, 2013 at 16:28
  • I can't speak to the problem directly, but the top row could benefit from a concise, sentential format... question is slightly confusing.
    – ewittke
    Jun 27, 2013 at 18:50
  • 1
    @rk. That might be slightly different, as CLI refers more to the command line aspect, which not all TUIs have. Seems close enough, though. Jun 27, 2013 at 23:31

1 Answer 1


What is at issue is the use of the colon. In a text message, it's assumed that the sentence is a real sentence and does not contain jargon (or punctuation which is jargon-like).

Colons introduce a result which is described by the introduction at the start of the line (rather like this sentence itself):

Trains to Jonesville run at: 1053, 1153 and 1253
Trains from Jonesville run at: 1123, 1223 and 1323.

You have a colon followed by a figure; that's going to be interpreted as a result, not a platform number. [Sorry, the trains example was rather inappropriate.]

OpenCL device(s) found on platform: 2

If you want the result figure to be unambiguous, it must follow the colon. If the number following the word platform is a platform identifier, it's part of the description and should precede the colon.

OpenCL device(s) found on platform 0: 1

In this case, the ambiguity can be further resolved by not using device(s). The descriptive phrase means "The number of OpenCL devices found on platform 0 was..." so you can use devices quite legitimately.

OpenCL devices found on platform 0: 1

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