According to abbreviationfinder, GUI stands for Graphical User Interface. After World War II, the United States was the center of technological innovation. In the 1950s, computers were large and rare machines, and their users highly skilled specialists. These early computers were equipped with command line numeric interfaces.
Over time the technology evolved and the market with it; Smaller and smaller computers were incorporated into large companies along with the innovations that were produced. One of them was the GUI’s, which represented a huge improvement with respect to the command line interface in the fact that they made operations with computers more intuitive and easier to learn and use, it was no longer necessary to be a specialist. This fact meant that anyone could use a computer without having to have great knowledge or without having to learn numerous difficult-to-memorize commands and with multiple options each.
The great advantages of GUI over command line interfaces soon became effective. It is much easier for a new user to move, for example, a file from one directory to another by dragging its icon with the mouse than having to remember and type “mysterious” commands. This fact is based on the idea that a GUI derives from cognitive psychology, the study of how the brain interacts with communication.
The idea is that the brain works more efficiently with graphic icons and displays than with words, words add an extra layer of interpretation to the communication process. For example, if all the traffic signs that you see on the road were uniform white rectangles, with only words to differentiate the different notices, restrictions, the processing of the signals would be a much slower and more difficult process and there would be more accidents than with current signals. Therefore the idea of a direct manipulation of objects on a screen is essential to the concept of a good graphical interface.
In addition to the intuitiveness of the operations is the fact that the GUI generally immediately return to the user a reaction or effect to each action. For example, when a user deletes an icon representing a file, the icon immediately disappears, confirming that the file has been deleted (or put in the trash). This is in contrast to the situation for a command line interface (CLI), in which the user types a command to delete (in addition to the name of the file to delete) but receives no effect indicating that the file has been deleted.
On the other hand, GUI allow users to take great advantage of powerful multitasking. The result is a great increase in the flexibility of the use of the computer and a consequent increase in the productivity.
But the GUI has become much more than just a convenience. It has also become the standard in human-machine interaction, influencing the work of a generation of computer users. On the other hand it has led to the development of new types of applications and industries.
Despite the great convenience of the GUI, system administrators and other advanced users prefer to use the CLI for various operations because it is often more convenient and generally more powerful. In Unix-based operating systems, GUI is in fact attractive and comfortable wrappers for command line programs, and users rely on them for their operations. On the other hand, good administrators disown GUI because they put considerable unjustifiable computational load on the system.
One of the great attractions of Unix-based operating systems is that they have maintained their CLI capabilities while continuing to improve their GUI, allowing advanced users to get the most out of the computer while making tasks easier for users. Beginners and medium users, in fact, it is in many cases preferable to use the CLI for some tasks. On the contrary, the new versions of Microsoft Windows (like 2000 or XP) have been eliminating more and more functionalities to their CLIs.
All this helped to produce a gradual incorporation of computers into the daily lives of people around the world, becoming a common device in most homes today.
Currently, and for years now, graphical user interfaces are widely implemented. It could be said that all the computers in the world have some variety installed, as well as other types of devices: multimedia mobile phones, PDAs…
Currently, the most used interfaces are undoubtedly those of Microsoft Windows XP, KDE, Aqua and Gnome, the latter to a lesser extent. It does not seem that this distribution is going to change too much in the short term, since all of them are very established interfaces, but with the foreseeable appearance of Microsoft Vista in 2006, the XP will begin to be replaced. In addition, but already further on the horizon, Plasma appears to replace KDE and Enlightenment as another important bastion in free software interfaces. As for the foreseeable future substitute for the Water environment, it is not possible to know for sure when the first public demonstrations will take place due to Apple’s policy of not giving news of any of its developments until it is well advanced or completed.
What is clear is that this new batch of interfaces that is to arrive in the coming months or years will not be essentially different from what we know today. A radical change of conception is still quite distant in time, at least by what are the standards in computing, and also there is no known serious development that is being carried out in that sense. However, it is to be assumed that the evolution of graphical interfaces goes through the adoption of three dimensions and new paradigms, already far from the traditional WYSIWYG and WIMP, which are undoubtedly good solutions, but not the best, and could overcome widely. It would be very interesting if the new generation of GUI allowed to manipulate information in ways not linked to everyday reality, but adapted to what it is, something much more abstract. In this way, a new level of use of computers could be passed, predictably making the manipulation of large amounts of information easier and increasing productivity.