Interfaces

An interface is defined as the point where two objects meet.

Human/computer interfaces are the point where people meet machines and allow the user to tell the computer what to do. At the same time the computer can interact with the human user by producing a response.

Graphical User Interface (GUI)

At a glance: A Graphical User Interface (GUI) is not text-based and is described as a What You See Is What You Get (WYSIWYG) interface.

A GUI uses:

  • Windows
  • Menus
  • Icons
  • Mouse or touchscreen/pointer
  • Desktop

Main features of a GUI

A mouse is used as the main input device. By moving a mouse, the cursor can be made to move across the screen. The left mouse button is used to make selections. The right mouse button shows hidden menus such as 'open in new tab' and cut, copy and paste options.

Overlapping windows are used. Many windows, even in different applications, can be opened at the same time. You can therefore have a spreadsheet and a word-processed document on the screen at the same time which makes it much easier if you are going to import data from one package into another.

They make use of many graphical features. These include:

  • Icons
  • Pull-down menus
  • Toolbars
  • Scrollbars
  • Selection boxes
  • Dialogue boxes

AdvantagesDisadvantages
Intuative approach: GUI is easy to use, especially for a beginner than command line.System resources: Graphical information, by nature, means greater demands are placed on a computer's resources (HDD space, processing power and memory).
Multitasking: GUI systems offer a simple means of multitasking. Users can maintain multiple open applications and transition between them with a click of the mouse.Control: GUI systems provide the end-user with less control over the operating and file systems than a Command Line Interface.
Visuals: GUI systems provide a more pleasant visual environment with which to work on the computer. The interface is made up of standard objects and ensures a standard or a consistent look and feel.