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GUI - Graphical User Interface

Last Edit: 10/01/17

GUI stands for Graphical User Interface - although it is sometimes referred to as a General User Interface - and refers to the layout of images and icons displayed by electronic devices. The GUI is usually displayed on a two dimensional screen, and enables a user to graphically interact with a software application which controls the hardware components of an electronic device. Some of the most common electronic devices to feature a GUI are listed below.

  1. Computers, a prime example would be a desktop or laptop computer.
  2. Mobile Phones, a prime example would be a smartphone.
  3. Multimedia Devices, a prime example would be an iPod Touch.
  4. Gaming Devices, a prime example would be a Sony PSP.
  5. Printers/Scanner
  6. Electronically controlled household appliances like Fridge Freezers.

The GUI is part and parcel of a larger software application, shown below, is the GUI for the operating system Microsoft Windows 7.

a gui for a popular operating system for a home computer

GUI's have been developed so that user's can input data and issue commands to the system in question. Users enter data into a GUI using a keyboard or a pointer device; and usually a combination of the two. Pointer devices are ideal for clicking upon icons, whereas a keyboard is useful for inputing text information.

One of the key design structures of GUI's is referred to as WIMP: Wndows, Icons, Menus, Pointer. WIMP was first developed by Xerox PARC in the early 1970's, and was popularised by the Apple Macintosh in the 1980's. WIMP, of course, is now found within Microsoft's Windows operating system; Microsoft having named their operating system after one of the element of WIMP. While WIMP inspired GUI's compose the majority of GUI's, amongst mobile devices, there is a "move away" from this design structure to move advanced graphical movements (ability to rotate objects for example).