HP Labs Technical Reports

User Interface Tools: Past, Present, and Future Trends

Zarmer, Craig L.; Johnson, Jeff A.



Abstract: Despite advances in user interface technology, the task of writing computer applications that are both usable and useful remains difficult. We begin by describing our view of the ideal user interface (UI) tool. We argue that UI tools should support task-specific interfaces, allow both programmers and non-programmers to work on application development at different levels of detail, support rapid prototyping, encourage conformance to known UI design rules, and couple to a high-level view of the application semantics. We then discuss the history and current state of the three major types of user interface tools currently available: toolkits, User Interface Management Systems, and builders. We present some examples of current tools as well some recent research efforts. We conclude that current UI tools provide only a poor approximation to our ideal, and recommend the incorporation of certain recent research developments as a first step towards the ideal.

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