Introduction to graphical user interface (GUI)
GUI is an interface that uses icons or other visual indicators to interact with electronic devices, rather than only text via a command line. For example, all versions of Microsoft Windows is a GUI, whereas MS-DOS is a command line. The GUI was first developed at Xerox PARC by Alan Kay, Douglas Engelbart, and a group of other researchers in 1981. Later, Apple introduced the Lisa computer with a GUI on January 19, 1983.
The actions in a GUI are usually performed through direct manipulation of the graphical elements. Beyond computers, GUIs are used in many handheld mobile devices such as MP3 players, portable media players, gaming devices, smartphones 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 video games (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.
How does a GUI work?
A GUI uses windows, icons, and menus to carry out commands, such as opening, deleting, and moving files. Although a GUI operating system is primarily navigated using a mouse, the keyboard can also be used to navigate using keyboard shortcuts or the arrow keys.
As an example, if you wanted to open a software program on a GUI operating system, you would move the mouse pointer to the program’s icon and double-click the icon.
Benefits of GUI
Unlike a command line operating system or CUI, like Unix or MS-DOS, GUI operating systems are much easier to learn and use because commands do not need to be memorized. Additionally, users do not need to know any programming languages. Because of their ease of use, GUI operating systems have become the dominant operating system used by today’s end-users.
What are examples of a GUI operating system?
- Microsoft Windows
- Apple System 7 and macOS
- Chrome OS
- Linux variants like Ubuntu using a GUI interface.
Are all operating systems GUI?
No. Early command line operating systems like MS-DOS and even some versions of Linux today have no GUI interface.
What are examples of a GUI interface?
- Any Microsoft program (e.g., Word, Excel, and Outlook).
- Internet browser (e.g., Internet Explorer, Chrome, and Firefox).
How does the user interact with a GUI?
The user uses a pointing device such as the mouse to interact and use most aspects of the GUI. However, it is also possible to interact with a GUI using a keyboard or other input devices.