Commandline Tool? Command-line Tool? Command Line Tool?

Sorry for the repetitive title, but Apache Taverna is preparing a release that will include the Taverna Commandline Tool, or is it Command Line Tool, or Command-Line Tool? Or just Command Line?  Now you see the problem. The name for the tool is different throughout the documentation. Not good.

The project lead, not a native English speaker as it turns out, requested that those of us who are native English speakers weigh in on the correct name for the tool. Challenge accepted. How hard can this be? I know compound adjectives are frequently hyphenated when they modify a noun (think, Red-headed woodpecker), but maybe there is a different software-development convention for this particular term?

First, look online

It turns out there is some inconsistency in the online use of command line tool versus command-line tool.  First, I found some examples without hyphens: What is the Command Line Tools Package? and Top 10 Command Line Tools. Then I found a different use, from Wikipedia, that was hyphenated: Command-line interface. But the article has an “issues” flag and, oh yes, it’s Wikipedia; not a good academic reference. I next found Command-Line Reference from Microsoft – with a hyphen. And then I found another from Microsoft, this time without a hyphen: Using command line tools for networking information. And finally, two more from Microsoft – with hyphens: Windows 7 command-line tools and programs and How to create a command-line toolkit for Windows. It seems like the hyphens have an edge, but I wanted a more definitive answer. Continue reading “Commandline Tool? Command-line Tool? Command Line Tool?”