Graphical User Interface or GUI is a kind of an interface which makes use of the computer’s graphic abilities to make a program easier and simpler to use. A well designed GUI can avoid the need for a user to learn a command or complex programming languages. It is a type of an interface which makes it possible for users to interact with electronic devices through graphical icons, as well as visual indicators like secondary notations rather than text-based interfaces. One of the most common examples of a Graphical User interface is Windows from Microsoft.

The First Graphical User Interface

The first ever GUI was designed in the year 1970s by Xerox Corporation’s Palo Alto Research Center. But only in the 1980s, on the arrival of Apple Macintosh did the graphical user interfaces become popular.

Basic components of Graphical User Interfaces

The following are the most basic components on which a GUI works:

  • Desktop – this is the area on the display screen where the various icons are grouped together.
  • Windows – the screen can be divided into different parts or areas and in each of these windows, a different program can be run at the same time. The windows can be moved around the display screen, can be adjusted in size and can be minimized as well.
  • Pointer – this is a symbol which can be seen on display screen and is one which is moved to select items and objects. A pointer mostly appears as a small arrow.
  • Pointing device – a pointing device is a device through which the pointer is controlled and is in the form of a trackball or a mouse.
  • Icons – another important component of a graphical user interface is an icon. Small pictures which represent commands, windows or files are known as icons, and one can execute a command by bringing the pointer on top of an icon and then pressing the button on the mouse. The icons are present on the screen and can be moved around as well.
  • Menus – GUIs also consist of another component which is known as menus. Menus bring a list of other icons and commands which further help users to select the action they wish to take.

Benefits of Graphical User Interfaces

A GUI has many benefits, and the following are some of the main ones:

  • Graphical user interfaces make it simpler to transfer information in between different applications besides the benefits of their visual components.
  • Unlike a command line operating system like MS-DOS or UNIX, a GUI is much easier to use, learn and customize. It is not important for a person to learn commands in order to use such a system, and almost anyone in the world can use it without troubles.
  • Because of their ease to use, GUIs have become the dominant operating system in today’s time and age.
  • Since the formats in GUIs are so well defined, data can be shared among many different programs which work under a common Graphical User Interface. This means that copying a graph made in a spreadsheet format to a document format is made easy by GUI.