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Command Line vs. GUI Reality Check

Apr 30, 2009, 23:01 (6 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Jim Sansing)

[ Thanks to JJS for this link. ]

"Before I dive into the firepit, let me explain that I spent the first half of my career in the IBM mainframe world, which meant writing Job Control Language (JCL) to submit batch jobs. Part of that time, I spent maintaining a TCP/IP stack written in assembler language. Compared to that, the distance between the command line and the GUI is much smaller than their advocates seem to realize.

"To be honest, I didn't use GUIs for a quite a while after they became available. I didn't fight them so much as I just didn't find them intuitive or efficient. However, as usability studies improved the interfaces and processor speeds increased their capabilities, I gradually came to appreciate what they provide.

"I think that much of the bias in favor of GUIs comes from the saying, "A picture is worth a thousand words." And certainly, pictures of cityscapes or family reunions or battlefields convey much more information than even the best description. However, imagine having to draw a picture to say, "I'm thirsty," or, "Turn left at the next light," or even to describe how to use a graphical user interface to a first time user. Very often, a few words are more efficient than any picture."

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