The Graphical Keyboard User Interface
I just happened to stumble upon Alex Faaborg‘s latest blog entry, The Graphical Keyboard User Interface. I think he makes a lot of great points about the tradeoffs between using a command-line vs. using a GUI. However, I don’t think that command-line vs. GUI is necessarily the real debate as much as it is keyboard vs. mouse.
I think that GUIs are great, as they have made it possible for the masses to enjoy and utilize these great tools called computers that were once only used by those adventurous enough to learn all the various text commands. I grew up using DOS for many years so I guess I was one of those nerds, but nowadays my eyes appreciate a well-designed GUI since I spend a good majority of my day staring at it and manipulating it as I work. So in my mind it isn’t the GUI that slows me down as much as it is the mouse. I use the keyboard almost exclusively for navigating between windows, launching applications and using shortcuts. I really only use the mouse when I’m feeling lazy or it’s a faster means to accomplish something.
Needless to say, I’m really excited to see Alex’s idea take place for navigating with the keyboard through Firefox. However, what I’d really like to see is a more unified framework built directly into the OS for accomplishing this very idea. For example, someone could use the new Core Animation framework in OS X to build a framework that provides an interface similar to Quicksilver that application developers could directly tie into for application navigation. It would significantly reduce the burden on application developers while giving a consistent UI feel across the various applications that utilize it.
*Note: Side effects may include making you crazy when trying to use your friend’s computer and they don’t have it installed.