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Graphical User Interface

Graphical User Interface

A graphical user interface (GUI, pronounced "gooey") is a computer environment that simplifies the user's interaction with the computer by representing programs, commands, files, and other options as visual elements, such as icons, pull-down menus, buttons, scroll bars, windows, and dialog boxes. By selecting one of these graphical elements, through either use of a mouse or a selection from a menu, the user can initiate different activities, such as starting a program or printing a document. Prior to the introduction of GUI environments, most interactive user interface programs were text oriented and required the user to learn a set of often complex commands that are unique to a given program. The first GUI was developed in the 1970s by Xerox Corporation, although GUIs did not become popular until the 1980s with the emergence of the Apple Macintosh computer. Today, the most familiar GUI interfaces are Apple Computer's Macintosh and Microsoft Corporation's Windows operating systems.

Computer software applications, such as word processing and spreadsheet packages, typically use the set of GUI elements built into the operating system and then add other elements of their own. The advantage of the GUI element of any software program is that it provides a standard method for performing a given task (i.e., copying a file, formatting text, printing a document) each time the user requests that option, rather than creating a set of commands unique to each potential request. Many GUI elements are standard across all packages built on the same operating system, so once a user is familiar with the GUI elements of one package, it is easier to then work in other packages.

GUI interfaces typically offer more than one method for initiating a particular action. For example, to print a document from a program within the Windows environment, a user can select the "Print" option from the "File" menu, click the printer icon, or, as an alternative, use the keyboard shortcut of holding down the Ctrl key and pressing the letter "P." A user can then employ the option that feels most comfortable to him or her across all Windows programs.

The GUI interface has also been instrumental in making the World Wide Web easily accessible to individuals through the use of GUI-based "browser" programs. Netscape Navigator, Internet Explorer, and similar programs enable a user to access and search the Web using the familiar GUI format.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Compact American Dictionary of Computer Words. Houghton Mifflin Company, 1998.

                                 Hillstrom, Northern Lights

                                   updated by Magee, ECDI

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graphical user interface

graphical user interface (GUI) An interface between a user and a computer system that makes use of input devices other than the keyboard and presentation techniques other than alphanumeric characters. Typical GUIs involve the use of windows, icons, menus, and pointing devices. The windows can contain control objects such as dialog boxes, slider bars, radio buttons, check boxes, and pick lists, as well as textual or graphical information. The objects forming the interface display have attributes such as the ability to be resized, moved around the display, shrunk down to an icon, or given different colors. Perhaps the best-known GUIs are those used on Microsoft Windows PCs and Apple Macintosh computers, although there are several others in common use.

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graphical user interface

graphical user interface (GUI) Computer program enabling a user to operate a computer using simple symbols. Early personal computers used operating systems that were text based. Commands were often obscure combinations of letters and numbers, which made using the systems difficult. A GUI replaces these commands with a screen containing symbols called icons. The user manipulates these using a ‘mouse’.

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