Command line vs. menu driven interface

23 Mar 2009 - 10:12am
5 years ago
15 replies
3872 reads
Oleh Kovalchuke
2006

Katie Albers wrote in another thread:

"Let's take a really obvious example: Every test I've ever seen shows that
people are measurably faster using a mouse-based interface than a
command-based interface. At an extremely high level of expertise both in
typing and in the app, people do, in fact, become faster using the
commands... but "membership" in this group is much smaller than the number
of people who believe they are in the group. Thus, we have people using
commands when the menus would be faster for them, and swearing by their
mothers and their puppies that the commands are faster..."

Hello Katie,

When you tested the menus, were those contextual (accessed via right-click
or, perhaps, data mouseover) or global (action bar at the top of the app)
menus?

I am working on the application, where command line interface seems to be a
more efficient way to perform tasks. Context: this is a data processing
application used by operators every day all day long, hundreds of commands
(hence unwieldy global menu structure), CLI is used with predictive typing
and "cheat-sheet" list of commands. I think in this case a combination of
CLI for all commands with *some* contextual menus should be more efficient.

Here is an interesting article by Richard Wareham suggesting that
"discussion-based" CLI is easier to learn due to high consistency, focus on
specific task and paucity of choices: http://www.osnews.com/story/6282; and
another one in the same vein "The Paradox of the Assisted User: Guidance can
be Counterproductive":
http://www.cs.uu.nl/docs/vakken/uem/2-vannimwegen%20et%20al.%20CHI%202006.pdf.
Quote: "Our research shows that a computer mediated task can take advantage
of interfaces that are designed from considerations that run deeper than
plain usability... Our findings, especially if extended to even more
realistic tasks can be valuable ... when ... making as little mistakes as
possible or speed are important."

Thanks,
Oleh Kovalchuke
Interaction Design is design of time
http://www.tangospring.com/IxDtopicWhatIsInteractionDesign.htm

On Sat, Mar 21, 2009 at 12:43 PM, Katie Albers <katie at firstthought.com>wrote:
Let's back up a step here...why does stuff have to be measurable? Is it no
longer possible to assess without numbers? On the whole (and yes, I
acknowledge that there are significant exceptions) the SMART methodology did
design no service. There are things we know or notice that are simply
ineluctable. To say something is "better" is an explicitly non-measurable
statement. There are decisions we make that are in spite of data to the
contrary...and they result in something "better".

Let's take a really obvious example: Every test I've ever seen shows that
people are measurably faster using a mouse-based interface than a
command-based interface. At an extremely high level of expertise both in
typing and in the app, people do, in fact, become faster using the
commands... but "membership" in this group is much smaller than the number
of people who believe they are in the group. Thus, we have people using
commands when the menus would be faster for them, and swearing by their
mothers and their puppies that the commands are faster. You can demonstrate
to them that they are slower this way and they will simply not believe you
(although some of the reasons" people come up with are really entertaining).
Take away their commands, and you will get a lot of people dropping out. If
one of the data points you're supposed to be designing to is speed of use,
do you take away the commands anyway? (Mind you, I don't think anyone in
this field will probably acknowledge being one of those who benefits from
menus, so it's almost impossible to get them to consider the possibility of
removing the commands anyway).

How do you reconcile data and design (in its broadest sense) here? Why do
you need to? Why do we have this aversion to simply admitting that people
have non-measurable, but critically important, preferences and we need to
acknowledge those and incorporate them into design? (Obviously, in the case
of commands, we do just that, but often that's more a matter of default than
decision.)

Katie Albers
Founder & Principal Consultant
FirstThought
User Experience Strategy & Project Management
310 356 7550
katie at firstthought.com

Comments

23 Mar 2009 - 2:06pm
Angel Marquez
2008

When using a command line and I identify a reoccurring task or navigation
pattern(s) I either create a shell script or create an alias in the .bashrc
When using the UI I've used nothing but quick keys to navigate and execute
OS & apps never touching the mouse. It is extremely faster. I've had
supervisors (more than one) say it took me a day what it took others months
to do.

I use both for different modes of thinking that suite my individual needs.

If someone wanted do the opposite of me I wouldn't punish them for it and I
wouldn't expect anyone else to rock like I do.

23 Mar 2009 - 3:19pm
Alan James Salmoni
2008

That's curious Katie. I seem to remember when I did my human factors
component of my psych degree, my lecturer had done research way back
when with systems administrators and found that they accomplished
tasks far more quickly with the command line than a GUI based system.
Sorry but I don't have a reference to hand.

I would imagine that differences between performances on each mode of
interaction will depend in large part upon the competency of the user:
so experienced sys admins will whizz through a CLI and stumble on a
GUI whereas new users need to learn the commands for a CLI but can
explore and figure out menus of even a new application.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=40330

23 Mar 2009 - 10:01pm
John Vaughan - ...
2004

This is a bit of Ye Olde Schoole, but in '95 we were migrating a "green
screen" commandline-driven online equity trading system (one of the first:
Instinet) from keyboard-only entry to this newfangled, glitzy, graphical
Windows interface. One of the major challenges - and a design mandate - was
to include the keyboard shortcuts along with the gooey/mousey UI.

And with good reason: The experienced traders could execute a trade task in
no time flat - in an environment that values speed and is very keyboard
friendly. They already knew the keystroke shortcuts and the Ticker symbols
by heart. They didn't want to be slowed my mousing around or learning a new
interaction mode, for that matter. And they were, of course, generating
money hand over fist (That was then, this is now...)

How many of us DON'T use keyboard shortcuts for simple repetitive tasks that
share a common keyboard convention across multiple apps, like delete, cut &
paste? Have you ever tried to fill out an online form that DOESN'T conform
to tab-order conventions?

IMHO (It's an oversimplification, but):

Browsey page-wandering features lend themselves to the mouse. Doing
relatively complex stuff (esp. texty content entry & management) can be
improved tremendously by effective keyboard shortcut tools.

The mouse-oriented interface serves newbies. High octane "professional"
users often prefer the keyboard for speed.

Seems obvious, but Web design is often Seduced by the Rodent.

----- Original Message -----
From: "Angel Marquez" <angel.marquez at gmail.com>
To: "Oleh Kovalchuke" <tangospring at gmail.com>
Cc: "IxDA" <discuss at ixda.org>
Sent: Monday, March 23, 2009 3:06 PM
Subject: Re: [IxDA Discuss] Command line vs. menu driven interface

> When using a command line and I identify a reoccurring task or navigation
> pattern(s) I either create a shell script or create an alias in the
> .bashrc
> When using the UI I've used nothing but quick keys to navigate and execute
> OS & apps never touching the mouse. It is extremely faster. I've had
> supervisors (more than one) say it took me a day what it took others
> months
> to do.
>
> I use both for different modes of thinking that suite my individual needs.
>
> If someone wanted do the opposite of me I wouldn't punish them for it and
> I
> wouldn't expect anyone else to rock like I do.
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help

23 Mar 2009 - 10:47pm
Jared M. Spool
2003

On Mar 23, 2009, at 11:01 PM, John Vaughan wrote:

> This is a bit of Ye Olde Schoole, but in '95 we were migrating a
> "green screen" commandline-driven online equity trading system (one
> of the first: Instinet) from keyboard-only entry to this newfangled,
> glitzy, graphical Windows interface. One of the major challenges -
> and a design mandate - was to include the keyboard shortcuts along
> with the gooey/mousey UI.

AOL had this in '89

If you really want to get Old School, in 1985, at Symbolics (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Symbolics
), we had a combined window-based and command line system. (You can
see what a screen looked like here: http://is.gd/oE1s)

At the bottom was a command line prompt. Commands were context-
sensitive and had auto-completion capabilities. While entering a
command, you could click on any object on the screen and its semantic-
equivalent would be inserted in the command appropriately.

This was back 7 years before the introduction of Windows 3.0 and Excel.

The Symbolics machines had many amazing interaction design innovations
that have never (or rarely) been seen since. It was an honor to work
on them back then and I miss them frequently.

Jared

Jared M. Spool
User Interface Engineering
510 Turnpike St., Suite 102, North Andover, MA 01845
e: jspool at uie.com p: +1 978 327 5561
http://uie.com Blog: http://uie.com/brainsparks Twitter: jmspool
UIE Web App Summit, 4/19-4/22: http://webappsummit.com

23 Mar 2009 - 11:13pm
Angel Marquez
2008

neat

symbolic. i like the name.

Panics coda is rather new skool and it has a built in terminal feature.
Leopards Terminal introduced the tabbed terminal that iTerminal had over
it.... cygwin is pretty cool for a windows environment. This is all right
here right now.
I just worked with two developers that battled over command line and a gui
and I was stuck in the middle. I really think for me command line is more
appropriate for a certain task set and the UI route for another. I like
deleting everything and starting from scratch and not getting hung up on
something that is going to be defunct in a nano-second. Learning new
UI/command lines etc is like snowboarding a new mountain. The challenge
is exhilarating and it's even better when it happens to be made for you.

The best jobs I've had were where I had to be chained to a desk are the ones
when you ask what machines and software do you use and they say 'you can
pick the machine and list your software'.

I have the luxury of working from home at the moment and it rules. I think
their was a post awhile back about the pros and cons of the two. I think
people that allow the offsite guy are far more organized to be able to break
off a module of work and trust you'll return what they ask. Onsite gigs are
always haywire and kind of a waste of time.

Old schoolers should return and set things straight. The mac was so
instrumental because they standardized the keyboard shortcuts and all the
apps made for it had to conform and it was easy to do the same key
combinations.

Love those days...

On Mon, Mar 23, 2009 at 8:47 PM, Jared Spool <jspool at uie.com> wrote:

>
> On Mar 23, 2009, at 11:01 PM, John Vaughan wrote:
>
> This is a bit of Ye Olde Schoole, but in '95 we were migrating a "green
>> screen" commandline-driven online equity trading system (one of the first:
>> Instinet) from keyboard-only entry to this newfangled, glitzy, graphical
>> Windows interface. One of the major challenges - and a design mandate - was
>> to include the keyboard shortcuts along with the gooey/mousey UI.
>>
>
> AOL had this in '89
>
> If you really want to get Old School, in 1985, at Symbolics (
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Symbolics), we had a combined window-based
> and command line system. (You can see what a screen looked like here:
> http://is.gd/oE1s)
>
> At the bottom was a command line prompt. Commands were context-sensitive
> and had auto-completion capabilities. While entering a command, you could
> click on any object on the screen and its semantic-equivalent would be
> inserted in the command appropriately.
>
> This was back 7 years before the introduction of Windows 3.0 and Excel.
>
> The Symbolics machines had many amazing interaction design innovations that
> have never (or rarely) been seen since. It was an honor to work on them back
> then and I miss them frequently.
>
> Jared
>
> Jared M. Spool
> User Interface Engineering
> 510 Turnpike St., Suite 102, North Andover, MA 01845
> e: jspool at uie.com p: +1 978 327 5561
> http://uie.com Blog: http://uie.com/brainsparks Twitter: jmspool
> UIE Web App Summit, 4/19-4/22: http://webappsummit.com
>

24 Mar 2009 - 8:54am
nuritps
2010

AutoCAD 2009 still has a command line and from what I see many users
prefer it. But they did invest in moving to a Ribbons menu recently.
I would love to see their data about CLI vs. menu (if they have
any...)

Nurit Peres
www.sivandesign.com

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=40330

24 Mar 2009 - 9:14am
Håkan Reis
2006

In one aspect windows vista / 7 have returned to command line. And thats in
the application execution. You just fire up the start menu and start typing,
finding every application in just 3-4 keystrokes (including the windows key)
is extremely fast. For me it has gone into such a habit I now find windows
XP very hard to navigate.

It's not full command line off course but for its purpose it's even more
powerful with the build in search.

---
Håkan Reis
User experience and .NET Consultant at Dotway AB
Øredev Program Committee
+46(768)510033

Our conference || http://oredev.org - It's going to be great in 2009
My company || http://dotway.se
My blog || http://blog.reis.se

24 Mar 2009 - 9:31am
djlittle
2009

As an aside, has anyone any experience of using Mozilla Ubiquity?

http://labs.mozilla.com/2008/08/introducing-ubiquity/

Which introduces elements of a CLI to web browsing? I haven't used it
yet so I'm in *absolutely* no position to comment :). But, my first
thoughts were how potentially complex it looked. Looking in more
detail at the manual (yes, you have to read a manual before you can
use it), I can definitely see how it would be useful in some
situations for advanced tasks like "first find this, then do that,
then send this to x", although that would assume that you'd planned
out your tasks that far in advance.

2009/3/24 Nurit Peres <nuritps at gmail.com>:
> AutoCAD 2009 still has a command line and from what I see many users
> prefer it. But they did invest in moving to a Ribbons menu recently.
> I would love to see their data about CLI vs. menu (if they have
> any...)
>
>
> Nurit Peres
> www.sivandesign.com
>
>
>
>
>
> . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
> Posted from the new ixda.org
> http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=40330
>
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help
>

--
David Little
w: www.littled.net
t: twitter.com/djlittle

24 Mar 2009 - 10:00am
Dante Murphy
2006

Ubiquity is fabulous, and abundantly simple. All of the commands I use are denotative terms for the action I want to execute, like "map" or "wikipedia". Sure, there are more complex commands, but the concept of a ubiquitous web CLI is simply brilliant.

Dante Murphy | VP/D User Experience| D I G I T A S H E A L T H
100 Penn Square East| Wanamaker Building, 11th Floor | Philadelphia, PA 19107 | USA
Email: dmurphy at digitashealth.com
www.digitashealth.com

-----Original Message-----
From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com [mailto:discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On Behalf Of David Little
Sent: Tuesday, March 24, 2009 10:32 AM
To: discuss at ixda.org
Subject: Re: [IxDA Discuss] Command line vs. menu driven interface

As an aside, has anyone any experience of using Mozilla Ubiquity?

http://labs.mozilla.com/2008/08/introducing-ubiquity/

Which introduces elements of a CLI to web browsing? I haven't used it
yet so I'm in *absolutely* no position to comment :). But, my first
thoughts were how potentially complex it looked. Looking in more
detail at the manual (yes, you have to read a manual before you can
use it), I can definitely see how it would be useful in some
situations for advanced tasks like "first find this, then do that,
then send this to x", although that would assume that you'd planned
out your tasks that far in advance.

2009/3/24 Nurit Peres <nuritps at gmail.com>:
> AutoCAD 2009 still has a command line and from what I see many users
> prefer it. But they did invest in moving to a Ribbons menu recently.
> I would love to see their data about CLI vs. menu (if they have
> any...)
>
>
> Nurit Peres
> www.sivandesign.com
>
>
>
>
>
> . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
> Posted from the new ixda.org
> http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=40330
>
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help
>

--
David Little
w: www.littled.net
t: twitter.com/djlittle
________________________________________________________________
Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help

24 Mar 2009 - 10:29am
Gregor Kiddie
2008

Yes, love it! The plugin system is very nice, just subscribe to a set of
commands and away you go.
( Example http://anirudhs.chaosnet.org/blog/2008.09.04.html )
I much prefer it to hunting manually through docs when I know what I'm
looking for.

Gk.

Gregor Kiddie
Senior Developer
INPS

Tel: 01382 564343

Registered address: The Bread Factory, 1a Broughton Street, London SW8
3QJ

Registered Number: 1788577

Registered in the UK

Visit our Internet Web site at www.inps.co.uk

The information in this internet email is confidential and is intended
solely for the addressee. Access, copying or re-use of information in it
by anyone else is not authorised. Any views or opinions presented are
solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of
INPS or any of its affiliates. If you are not the intended recipient
please contact is.helpdesk at inps.co.uk

-----Original Message-----
From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
[mailto:discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On Behalf Of
David Little
Sent: 24 March 2009 14:32
To: discuss at ixda.org
Subject: Re: [IxDA Discuss] Command line vs. menu driven interface

As an aside, has anyone any experience of using Mozilla Ubiquity?

http://labs.mozilla.com/2008/08/introducing-ubiquity/

Which introduces elements of a CLI to web browsing? I haven't used it
yet so I'm in *absolutely* no position to comment :). But, my first
thoughts were how potentially complex it looked. Looking in more
detail at the manual (yes, you have to read a manual before you can
use it), I can definitely see how it would be useful in some
situations for advanced tasks like "first find this, then do that,
then send this to x", although that would assume that you'd planned
out your tasks that far in advance.

24 Mar 2009 - 10:31am
Gregor Kiddie
2008

Of course if you go too far you end up with this
http://vimperator.org/trac/wiki/Vimperator

Gk.
Gregor Kiddie
Senior Developer
INPS

Tel: 01382 564343

Registered address: The Bread Factory, 1a Broughton Street, London SW8
3QJ

Registered Number: 1788577

Registered in the UK

Visit our Internet Web site at www.inps.co.uk

The information in this internet email is confidential and is intended
solely for the addressee. Access, copying or re-use of information in it
by anyone else is not authorised. Any views or opinions presented are
solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of
INPS or any of its affiliates. If you are not the intended recipient
please contact is.helpdesk at inps.co.uk

-----Original Message-----
From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
[mailto:discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On Behalf Of
Dante Murphy
Sent: 24 March 2009 15:00
To: David Little; discuss at ixda.org
Subject: Re: [IxDA Discuss] Command line vs. menu driven interface

Ubiquity is fabulous, and abundantly simple. All of the commands I use
are denotative terms for the action I want to execute, like "map" or
"wikipedia". Sure, there are more complex commands, but the concept of
a ubiquitous web CLI is simply brilliant.

24 Mar 2009 - 3:20pm
Angel Marquez
2008

ooh
vim is crafty, i like it.

On Tue, Mar 24, 2009 at 8:31 AM, Gregor Kiddie <gkiddie at inpses.co.uk> wrote:

> Of course if you go too far you end up with this
> http://vimperator.org/trac/wiki/Vimperator
>
> Gk.
> Gregor Kiddie
> Senior Developer
> INPS
>
> Tel: 01382 564343
>
> Registered address: The Bread Factory, 1a Broughton Street, London SW8
> 3QJ
>
> Registered Number: 1788577
>
> Registered in the UK
>
> Visit our Internet Web site at www.inps.co.uk
>
> The information in this internet email is confidential and is intended
> solely for the addressee. Access, copying or re-use of information in it
> by anyone else is not authorised. Any views or opinions presented are
> solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of
> INPS or any of its affiliates. If you are not the intended recipient
> please contact is.helpdesk at inps.co.uk
>
>
> -----Original Message-----
> From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
> [mailto:discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On Behalf Of
> Dante Murphy
> Sent: 24 March 2009 15:00
> To: David Little; discuss at ixda.org
> Subject: Re: [IxDA Discuss] Command line vs. menu driven interface
>
> Ubiquity is fabulous, and abundantly simple. All of the commands I use
> are denotative terms for the action I want to execute, like "map" or
> "wikipedia". Sure, there are more complex commands, but the concept of
> a ubiquitous web CLI is simply brilliant.
>
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help
>

25 Mar 2009 - 2:46am
Fredrik Matheson
2005

I've witnessed the insane efficiency of insurance reps working green
screens. The entry barrier is huge, but after striving to learn it, most of
them became extremely adept at making the software do what *they* needed.
OS X enables searching for a command from the help menu. This inelegant hack
lets me execute shortcutless commands without running through e.g. CS4's
vast menus. If anyone here knows about a more elegant option, let me know

The committed user can become more efficient using keyboard shortcuts. In
the end, however, they're coincidental key-to-command mappings. Why not just
tell the app what it is you want to do? (Reducing user errors and increasing
feedback through a context-sensitive, suggestive command mode, of course.

I don't use Ubiquity for many things, but for the things I do, it's
unbeatable (Try "amaz interaction design")

Which other apps that mix a GUI & a rich command mode should we all know
about?

25 Mar 2009 - 3:28pm
isaacw
2009

Humanized is a software company that has a lot of great stuff to say
about command-line interfaces.
http://humanized.com/weblog/

-isaacw

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=40330

25 Mar 2009 - 3:56pm
Fredrik Matheson
2005

Indeed, Humanized sports Aza Raskin, who helped create the Ubiquity
plugin/interface for Mozilla Firefox.
The Humane Interface, written by Jef Raskin, is well worth a read, and
discusses many of the CLI/GUI details we've touched upon here.
http://www.amazon.com/dp/0201379376

Syndicate content Get the feed