Direct manipulation interfaces; Graphical user interfaces; GUIs
Visual interfaces are user interfaces that make extensive use of graphical objects (icons, diagrams, forms, etc.) that the user may directly manipulate on the screen through several kinds of pointing devices (including her/his fingers) and get an almost instantaneous feedback (near real-time interactivity). Information-intensive interfaces typically exploit one or more visual language, i.e., a language that systematically uses visual signs to convey a meaning in a formal way.
The importance of providing the user with an interactive environment where he/she could directly manipulate the computer content, and get an immediately graspable feedback out of his/her actions, was evident since the first demonstration of the Sketchpad system by Ivan Sutherland . This system was the basis of his 1963 MIT Ph.D. thesis. Sketchpad supported manipulation of visual objects using a light pen,...
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