graphics interface

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graphics interface

[′graf·iks ¦in·tər‚fās]
(computer science)
A user interface that displays icons to represent objects.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

graphics language

A high-level language and programming interface used to create graphics images. Graphics applications make programming calls to the APIs of the language, and the graphics drivers render the images on the screen or printer. The major graphics languages are GDI, DirectX, QuickDraw, Display PDF and OpenGL. Windows uses GDI and DirectX, while the Mac uses QuickDraw and Display PDF. OpenGL drivers are available for Windows and Unix and the Mac via X Window. See graphics engine, GDI, DirectX, QuickDraw, Display PDF and OpenGL.


(Graphical User Interface) The common method of interacting with a computer that allows any image to be displayed on screen. Except for entering text on the keyboard, the primary way the computer is operated is with a mouse or touchpad pointing device. The mouse/touchpad is used to select icons and menu options as well as move and resize windows that frame the application and elements within it. The major GUIs are Windows and Mac along with GNOME and KDE for Linux.

From Characters to Graphics
With the advent of the Mac in the mid-1980s and Windows in the 1990s, GUIs replaced the character-based display with a graphics display that eliminated the need to enter cryptic commands in a required sequence. In addition, fonts could be changed and resized on screen, providing a what-you-see-is-what-you-get (WYSIWYG) capability for creating printed materials. However, all major operating systems still include a command line interface that lets programmers and power users enter commands to perform certain tasks faster and more easily than with a mouse (see command line). See user interface, UI types, drag and drop, desktop manager, window manager and Star.

The First Commercial GUI
Xerox's Star workstation was the first commercial implementation of the GUI. Introduced in 1981, the Star was the inspiration for the Mac, which debuted in 1984. (Image courtesy of Xerox Corporation.)

The Mac GUI
The top screenshot is an early Mac desktop ("Power Dude" was the name of the hard disk). Notice the difference between the icons, fonts and window borders on the old interface compared to the Mac window (bottom). (Top screenshot courtesy of Peter Hermsen.)

The Mac GUI
The top screenshot is an early Mac desktop ("Power Dude" was the name of the hard disk). Notice the difference between the icons, fonts and window borders on the old interface compared to the Mac window (bottom). (Top screenshot courtesy of Peter Hermsen.)

Early Windows
This was the Windows 2.0 interface in the late 1980s. As rigid as it looks, it was an improvement over Windows 1.0 because it supported resizable windows that could overlap. (Image courtesy of Ian Albert,

Unix Workstations
The Motif graphical interface was added to the command-line world of Unix workstations in the 1980s. (Screenshot courtesy of The Santa Cruz Operation, Inc.)

A Design Revolution
GUIs enabled imaginative interfaces. In this earlier Bryce 3D modeling program, the bottom left symbols were camera controls (trackball and x, y, z axes). On top were primitive graphic elements. (Screenshot courtesy of MetaCreations Corporation.)

Custom Looks for Windows
Stardock's WindowBlinds allows Windows users to have a unique desktop with thousands of pre-built designs to choose from. (Image courtesy of Stardock Corporation, Inc.,
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References in periodicals archive ?
Held annually since 1969, the Graphics Interface conference is devoted to computer graphics, interactive systems, and human-computer interaction.
The machines' control combines a 3D graphics interface with touch-screen operation.
"By adopting MXM and building notebooks around a consistent graphics interface, Quanta can be more responsive to our customers and deliver notebooks to market faster," said Roger Huang, vice president, Mobile Research and Development at Quanta.
It also includes an AGP-4X graphics interface and a double data rate SDRAM at 400 Megatransfers/second memory interface with error correcting code as an option.
A graphics interface card (GIG) is a little computer dedicated to producing graphics for the computer.
The DCC GAGE comes equipped with PC-DMIS PROsoftware, featuring on easy-to-use, shop-floor graphics interface that guides operators through part programming, setup and execution of the inspection routine.
However, Dan Vivoli, Nvidia's VP of marketing, questions how long it will be before the graphics interface is as robust as Silicon Graphics Inc's OpenGL standard.
The graphics interface was designed by looking at how we operate in the real world.
Easily completed in three hours, this tutorial begins with fun animations and teaches you to use the trackball that controls the cursor on Macintosh's famous graphics interface with its intuitive icons and menus; to produce short memos with TeachText, Macintosh's built-in rudimentary word processor; to draw simple maps with Let's Draw, a rudimentary graphics program; to combine text and graphics generated from these two programs into a single document; and to save the document you have produced as a file inside a folder.
An easy-to-understand, icon-driven graphics interface aids users in creating their applications.