A user interface is the method by which the user and the computer exchange information and instructions. There are three main types: command-line, menu driven and graphical user interface (GUI).
A command-line interface allows the user to interact with the computer by typing in commands [command: a directive given to a computer program ]. The computer displays a prompt, the user keys in the command and presses enter or return.
In the early days of personal computers, all PCs used command-line interfaces.
Features of a command-line interface
- Commands must be typed correctly and in the right order or the command will not work.
- Experienced users who know the commands can work very quickly without having to find their way around menus.
- An advantage of command driven programs [program: a list of instructions written in a programming language ] is that they do not need the memory [memory: used to store data ] and processing power [processing power: a measurement of a processor's ability to process instructions, the greater its power the faster it processes instructions ] of the latest computer and will often run on lower spec machines.
- Command driven programs do not need to run in Windows [Windows: Microsoft's branding that precedes the operating systems name, eg Windows 98, Windows XP, Windows Vista etc. ].
- A command-line interface can run many programs, for example a batch file could launch half a dozen programs to do its task.
- An inexperienced user can sometimes find a command driven program difficult to use because of the number of commands that have to be learnt.
An example of a common command driven interface is MS-DOS. The MS-DOS command to display all files on c:\ would be: dir c:\