Thursday, January 11, 2007

The command line comeback

A look at the lingering Command Line Interface ...

The advent of the Graphical User Interface (GUI) forever revolutionized personal computing. A windowed system with point and click icons made computers usable for anyone who couldn't deal with a black screen and a prompt waiting for arcane textual commands. But in recent years, this enormous interface change is coming full circle. Amongst power users - and more and more, regular Joe's - the command line is making a comeback in modern web and desktop applications.

But I don't use the command line, you say. Oh but you do! Let's take a closer look at this surprising "circle of life" right back to the trusty old command line with some examples of CLI in modern personal computing.

I define a command line interface as a single input box that can execute complex operations based on what you type there. The command line isn't only used by Unix beards, Terminal freaks and Cygwin experts; you use it every day, probably several times a day. Case in point: the Google search box.

The search box
One might argue that a search box isn't a command line, but it is a single input box and specialized text commands (like Google's advanced operators) can do complex math, convert currency, specify filetypes, sites and more in deep, nested commands. For example, this valid Google search returns music files of certain types with the word Nirvana in the link from certain pages all over the web:

-inurl:(htm|html|php) intitle:"index of" +"last modified" +"parent directory" +description +size +(wma|mp3) "Nirvana"    (Continued via Lifehacker)    [Usability Resources]

Command Line Interface - Usability, User Interface Design

Command Line Interface


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