The New User Interface

It’s not unusual for IT to slide back and forth between extremes–thin client to fat client, back to thin client and back, etc. One of those pendulums has been UI programming. Back in the early 90’s user interface programming was either CHUI or roll your own custom GUI. Standardization was not common until Windows 3.1. In the years since standardized GUI components have contributed to massive productivity gains. But standardization of the UI has largely played out. Today the new frontier is again customized user interfaces. But a lot has changed—graphics hardware is far more powerful and enabling technologies like “WPF” and Seadragon abstract away the complexity.

Right now it’s mostly people playing with photographs, but I see an emerging wave of more general applications. For the last ten years web technology has been the big thing. (Supplanting programming languages which was the big thing of the 1990’s) In the next 10 years UI technology has a good chance of becoming the dominant trend-setter.


Note on this Post:

Joel Arthur Baker in Paradigms: The Business of Discovering the Future discusses how shifts between patterns of thought (paradigms) create significant opportunities. Software development has historically been a pace where paradigm shifts are common–but today it seems we are seeing more than ever.  This post is one of a series discussing some of these paradigm shifts.


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