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Graphical User Interface is a type of user interface designed especially for human-computer interaction. It allows users to interact with computing devices through graphical icons, and visual indicators instead of text-based interfaces, command labels or text navigations. For example Microsoft Windows Operating Systems, Chrome OS, Apple MacOS, Ubuntu etc.

Components of GUI

There are certain elements in GUI that offer a consistent visual language to represent information stored in computers. WIMP (Windows, Icon, Menu, and Pointer) is the most commonly used visual language interface in any software application.

Structural Elements in WIMP:

Window: An area which displays information and contents on the screen independently. For example, A separate window appears on screen when ‘My Documents’ icon is clicked. The windows can be hidden by clicking on the icon, or dragged to any area on screen or placed beside and behind any other window.

Menus: Menus allow users to select a list of options through a mouse or keyboard, or a pointing device within a GUI. Example: A word document has menu bars, which shows a list of options when clicked.

Icons: An Icon is a representation of objects present in a system like files, webpage, or command. Example: Tapping on a mobile phone to access WhatsApp application.

Pointers: The actions like a drag, click and touch is initiated through the movements of a pointing device like mouse or touchpads. Example: An arrow like the image displayed on the screen is the mouse pointer.

Operating a GUI operating system is much easier than dealing with a command line operating system like MS-DOS, Linux. GUIs are easy to handle, easy to use and learn without having to memorize the commands. It is not necessary to have knowledge of computer programming even a person with least knowledge of computer operation can also learn using interfaces. And, today the GUI operating systems have become the most dominant operating systems used by the end-users. The key aspect of designing GUI’s is to allow effective operation and control of the machines from the human end, whilst feeding back the necessary information required for decision making.

Today, nearly all digital devices provide a graphical user interface. The first GUI was developed at PARC by Xerox for their Palo Alto personal computer. After 4 years Apple developed and released their first GUI-based OS included Macintosh and later in 1985 Microsoft released their first GUI-based OS, Windows 1.0.

The GUI’s are controlled by the input devices mouse and keyboards, which may not work well for the mobile devices, smartphones, and tablets. With technological advancements, mobile operating systems are designed with a touchscreen interface and now being controlled by voice or speech instructions. Example: The Pixel phones by Google is featured with an intelligent personal assistant app ‘Allo’ which has ‘whisper-shout’ functionality allows users to send and reply messages automatically without typing.

The GUI features have evolved through the 1990s and began appearing in more general software applications. With the advent of computer appliances, the devices like personal digital assistants, automobile control systems, telephones, and other home appliances started gaining computational powers with the embedded microprocessors. By making use of the advanced technologies like speech recognition systems and natural language processing these interfaces have become more intuitive and effective than ever.





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