The graphical user interface ( GUI ), is a type of user interface that allows users to interact with electronic devices through graphical Computer icon and visual indicators such as secondary notation, instead of text-based user interfaces, typed command labels or text navigation. GUIs were introduced in reaction to the perceived steep learning curve of command-line interfaces (CLIs), Computerhope.com Technet.com Technet.com which require commands to be typed on a computer keyboard.
The actions in a GUI are usually performed through direct manipulation of the graphical elements. Beyond computers, GUIs are used in many handheld such as MP3 players, portable media players, gaming devices, and smaller household, office and industrial controls. The term GUI tends not to be applied to other lower-display resolution types of interfaces, such as (where head-up display (HUD) is preferred), or not including flat screens, like volumetric displays because the term is restricted to the scope of two-dimensional display screens able to describe generic information, in the tradition of the computer science research at the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center.
The visible graphical interface features of an application are sometimes referred to as chrome or GUI (pronounced gooey). The Jargon Book, "Chrome" Typically, users interact with information by manipulating visual GUI widget that allow for interactions appropriate to the kind of data they hold. The widgets of a well-designed interface are selected to support the actions necessary to achieve the goals of users. A model–view–controller allows a flexible structure in which the interface is independent from and indirectly linked to application functions, so the GUI can be customized easily. This allows users to select or design a different skin at will, and eases the designer's work to change the interface as user needs evolve. Good user interface design relates to users more, and to system architecture less.
Large widgets, such as windows, usually provide a frame or container for the main presentation content such as a web page, email message or drawing. Smaller ones usually act as a user-input tool.
A GUI may be designed for the requirements of a vertical market as application-specific graphical user interfaces. Examples include automated teller machines (ATM), point of sale (POS) touchscreens at restaurants, The ViewTouch restaurant system by Giselle Bisson Self checkout used in a retail store, airline self-ticketing and check-in, information kiosks in a public space, like a train station or a museum, and monitors or control screens in an embedded industrial application which employ a real-time operating system (RTOS).
By the 1980s, cell phones and handheld game systems also employed application specific touchscreen GUIs. Newer automobiles use GUIs in their navigation systems and multimedia centers, or navigation multimedia center combinations.
A series of elements conforming a visual language have evolved to represent information stored in computers. This makes it easier for people with few computer skills to work with and use computer software. The most common combination of such elements in GUIs is the windows, icons, menus, pointer (WIMP) paradigm, especially in personal computers.
The WIMP style of interaction uses a virtual input device to represent the position of a pointing device, most often a computer mouse, and presents information organized in windows and represented with icons. Available commands are compiled together in menus, and actions are performed making gestures with the pointing device. A window manager facilitates the interactions between windows, applications, and the windowing system. The windowing system handles hardware devices such as pointing devices, graphics hardware, and positioning of the pointer.
In personal computers, all these elements are modeled through a desktop metaphor to produce a simulation called a desktop environment in which the display represents a desktop, on which documents and folders of documents can be placed. Window managers and other software combine to simulate the desktop environment with varying degrees of realism.
As of 2011, some touchscreen-based operating systems such as Apple's iOS (iPhone) and Android use the class of GUIs named post-WIMP. These support styles of interaction using more than one finger in contact with a display, which allows actions such as pinching and rotating, which are unsupported by one pointer and mouse. Reality-Based Interaction: A Framework for Post-WIMP Interfaces
The Xerox PARC user interface consisted of graphical elements such as windows, menus, radio buttons, and . The concept of icons was later introduced by David Canfield Smith, who had written a thesis on the subject under the guidance of Kay.Lieberman, Henry. "A Creative Programming Environment, Remixed", MIT Media Lab, Cambridge.Salha, Nader. "Aesthetics and Art in the Early Development of Human-Computer Interfaces", October 2012.Smith, David. "Pygmalion: A Creative Programming Environment", 1975. The PARC user interface employs a pointing device along with a keyboard. These aspects can be emphasized by using the alternative term and acronym for windows, icons, menus, pointing device (WIMP). This effort culminated in the 1973 Xerox Alto, the first computer with a GUI, though the system never reached commercial production.
The first commercially available computer with a GUI was the 1979 PERQ, manufactured by Three Rivers Computer Corporation. In 1981, Xerox eventually commercialized the Alto in the form of a new and enhanced system – the Xerox 8010 Information System – more commonly known as the Xerox Star. The first GUIs Xerox Star user interface demonstration, 1982 These early systems spurred many other GUI efforts, including Lisp machines by Symbolics and other manufacturers, the Apple Lisa (which presented the concept of menu bar and Window manager) in 1983, the Apple Macintosh 128K in 1984, and the Atari ST with Digital Research's GEM, and Commodore Amiga in 1985. Visi On was released in 1983 for the IBM PC compatible computers, but was never popular due to its high hardware demands. Nevertheless, it was a crucial influence on the contemporary development of Microsoft Windows.
Apple, Digital Research, IBM and Microsoft used many of Xerox's ideas to develop products, and IBM's Common User Access specifications formed the basis of the user interfaces used in Microsoft Windows, IBM OS/2 Presentation Manager, and the Unix Motif toolkit and window manager. These ideas evolved to create the interface found in current versions of Microsoft Windows, and in various desktop environments for Unix-like , such as macOS and Linux. Thus most current GUIs have largely common idioms.
In 1984, Apple released a television commercial which introduced the Apple Macintosh during the telecast of Super Bowl XVIII by CBS, with to George Orwell's noted novel, Nineteen Eighty-Four. The goal of the commercial was to make people think about computers, identifying the user-friendly interface as a personal computer which departed from prior business-oriented systems,
In 2007, with the iPhoneMather, John. iMania, Ryerson Review of Journalism, (February 19, 2007) Retrieved February 19, 2007 and later in 2010 with the introduction of the iPad,"the iPad could finally spark demand for the hitherto unsuccessful tablet PC" --Eaton, Nick The iPad/tablet PC market defined?, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 2010 Apple popularized the post-WIMP style of interaction for multi-touch screens, and those devices were considered to be milestones in the development of .Bright, Peter Ballmer (and Microsoft) still doesn't get the iPad, Ars Technica, 2010
The GUIs familiar to most people as of the mid-late 2010s are Microsoft Windows, macOS, and the X Window System interfaces for desktop and laptop computers, and Android, Apple's iOS, Symbian, BlackBerry OS, Windows Phone/Windows 10 Mobile, Palm OS-WebOS, and Firefox OS for handheld (smartphone) devices.
GUIs can be made quite hard when dialogs are buried deep in a system, or moved about to different places during redesigns. Also, icons and dialog boxes are usually harder for users to script.
WIMPs extensively use modes, as the meaning of all keys and clicks on specific positions on the screen are redefined all the time. Command line interfaces use modes only in limited forms, such as for current directory and environment variables.
Most modern provide both a GUI and some level of a CLI, although the GUIs usually receive more attention. The GUI is usually WIMP-based, although occasionally other metaphors surface, such as those used in Microsoft Bob, 3dwm, or File System Visualizer.
Some environments use the methods of 3D graphics to project virtual three dimensional user interface objects onto the screen. These are often shown in use in science fiction films (see below for examples). As the processing power of computer graphics hardware increases, this becomes less of an obstacle to a smooth user experience.
Three-dimensional graphics are currently mostly used in computer games, art, and computer-aided design (CAD). A three-dimensional computing environment can also be useful in other uses, like molecular graphics, aircraft design and Phase Equilibrium Calculations/Design of unit operations and chemical processes.
Several attempts have been made to create a multi-user three-dimensional environment, including the Croquet Project and Sun's Project Looking Glass.
Interfaces for the X Window System have also implemented advanced three-dimensional user interfaces through compositing window managers such as Beryl, Compiz and KWin using the AIGLX or XGL architectures, allowing use of OpenGL to animate user interactions with the desktop.
Another branch in the three-dimensional desktop environment is the three-dimensional GUIs that take the desktop metaphor a step further, like the BumpTop, where users can manipulate documents and windows as if they were physical documents, with realistic movement and physics.
The zooming user interface (ZUI) is a related technology that promises to deliver the representation benefits of 3D environments without their usability drawbacks of orientation problems and hidden objects. It is a logical advance on the GUI, blending some three-dimensional movement with two-dimensional or 2.5D vector objects. In 2006, Hillcrest Labs introduced the first zooming user interface for television, Macworld.com November 11, 2006. Dan Moren. CES Unveiled@NY ‘07: Point and click coming to set-top boxes?