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The Semantic Line Interface

Unknown Lamer posted more than 2 years ago | from the do-what-i-mean-not-what-i-click dept.

GUI 123

First time accepted submitter yuriyg_ua writes "[The] semantic line interface may combine features of both command line and graphical interface, which would allow even more complex applications than we have seen before." The idea is that the layer underlying user interfaces should define the semantic relations between data enabling the UI to provide better contextual information. Kind of a modern version of the CLIM presentation system.

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123 comments

Uhhhh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38568018)

Isn't this like MS Access tried to be back in 2005?

Re:Uhhhh (2, Interesting)

sunderland56 (621843) | more than 2 years ago | (#38568222)

Or like Google Instant Search does now, only in a command line.

In short: slow and annoying for people who know what they're doing. Supposedly useful for people without a clue.

Re:Uhhhh (1)

SerpentMage (13390) | more than 2 years ago | (#38568466)

it is not useful in the least. he gives an example of turning off a monitor and being able to access it in a few clicks. the problem with that is that the user needs to know that they want or need to turn off the monitor.

Re:Uhhhh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38568712)

So are you saying that it is not discoverable? I don't think it is accurate to say that it is the designer's fault if the user doesn't know what they (the user) wants to do.

Total waste of time ... (3, Informative)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 2 years ago | (#38569250)

It was definitely NOT worth the time to read - and I think doing so may have killed a few brain cells ... my guess is the author re-read their own article LOTS of times.

Re:Uhhhh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38569626)

it's designers fault if the users don't know what they can do.

Re:Uhhhh (2)

skids (119237) | more than 2 years ago | (#38569574)

Or like tab completion with modern bash_completions collections.

This is indeed pretty useless. Most attempts to "improve" the CLI with GUI elements have been, other than basic things like paste buffers and scrollbar integratuon. What I'd welcome instead is people approaching GUIs with an eye towards making it so that you don't have to write documentation like "first go to start bar and select control panel and then find the "network and file sharing center" item and double click that and then on the sidebar find "manage wireless networks" and highlight a network and right click and select properties and find Security/Settings/802.1x/blah//blah/blah." Easily documentable GUI schemes could help things a lot.

Re:Uhhhh (1)

TheLink (130905) | more than 2 years ago | (#38570992)

so that you don't have to write documentation like "first go to start bar and select control panel and then find the "network and file sharing center" item and double click that and then on the sidebar find "manage wireless networks" and highlight a network and right click and select properties and find Security/Settings/802.1x/blah//blah/bla

I proposed this:
http://brainstorm.ubuntu.com/idea/29001/ [ubuntu.com]
While it is supposed to be for phone support, it can also help "expert users":

The user can also type "tab" "B1" "space" to go item "B1".

If this was ever implemented, I'd probably use it to configure/control all sorts of stuff quickly.

Windows 7 search box? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38568026)

Isn't this similar functionality to the windows 7 "search" box in the start menu?

Re:Windows 7 search box? (4, Informative)

Alex Belits (437) | more than 2 years ago | (#38568082)

More like 4DOS shell (complete with menu system popping up). Or <Tab> in bash that is probably related to it. Or any autocompletion that relies on a parser instead of a dictionary.

Does Windows 7 search box parse the input to select the context, or use a flat list of "things" to call?

Re:Windows 7 search box? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38568234)

Thanks for the good summary which was seriously lacking. Talk about verbose... And WTF was the redundant link to RDF about? Yes, I know what it is. Anyway thanks again for the good summary which stopped me wasting any more of my life on this particular post....

Re:Windows 7 search box? (1)

Bob9113 (14996) | more than 2 years ago | (#38568776)

Or any autocompletion that relies on a parser instead of a dictionary.

I'd toss in a heaping dose of apropos [wikipedia.org] for semantic relationships as well. For example, to get from "pattern" to "grep".

If you could pull all those things together, it would be pretty wicked, I think. Tall order though, and I suspect there are people working on it (recent enhancements to context-sensitive tab completion come to mind).

Re:Windows 7 search box? (1)

Alex Belits (437) | more than 2 years ago | (#38569216)

No, that's something completely different.

apropos(1) uses the input language (unordered list of English words) completely incompatible with the language used by the interactive shell (shell and program-specific command line arguments). They do not belong together, should never be a part of the same entry, and user interface must never encourage the user to mix them. Interactive help may have command-line interface, even command-line interface with autocompletion, however this has absolutely nothing to do with composing the command line.

The idea of command line guessing what user tried to say assuming that user is deep in a la-la-land as far as shell syntax is concerned, belongs to the same "DON'T!" list as making programs with a thin veneer of RPC over their program-specific language, then giving user a "shell" that only connects tightly-coupled combinations of programs.

Re:Windows 7 search box? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38570256)

Or any autocompletion that relies on a parser instead of a dictionary.

I'd toss in a heaping dose of apropos [wikipedia.org] for semantic relationships as well. For example, to get from "pattern" to "grep".

If you could pull all those things together, it would be pretty wicked, I think.

With enough CPU power, anything is possible. But there is one catch though - we geeks (good programmers are geeks, no two ways about it) aren't good in understanding how ordinary human think and/or act, that makes us pretty sux in designing UI (or GUI, for the matter).

Re:Windows 7 search box? (1)

ulricr (2486278) | more than 2 years ago | (#38569248)

windows 7 search searches tries to recognize phrases, common variations and misspelling in a flat list. it'll find task specific things in the new control panel

Re:Windows 7 search box? (2)

ulricr (2486278) | more than 2 years ago | (#38569236)

yes it is. If took his example and typed in "Turn Off Monitor" in Windows Vista and up, you will get the GUI he suggests! But of course, the author is still using f**ing XP and lecturing about the future! seriously though, I understand his point. It's more a question of a natural language parsing and guessing by context.

The semantic web just doesn't exist (0, Offtopic)

suso (153703) | more than 2 years ago | (#38568054)

I remember back in the 90s when I was first learning HTML and there were several articles talking about how the web was not sematic enough and I didn't really get the point. Now I totally get it. While trying to make good examples for climagic [climagic.org] on how to interface with the web, its just so much trouble. Even with all the recent focus on good web standards, web developers do stuff that just hinder people who want to scrape data. We really need some good commands for retrieving data from web documents, especially now those that load their data through AJAX style calls.

Re:The semantic web just doesn't exist (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38568094)

The tools are perfectly *adequate* at this point.. JSON with RESTful HTTP pretty much covers everything most people want. Maybe they aren't perfect, maybe there are still a few fuckworks out there (like SOAP, etc). but in the end it has nothing to do with technology. If what you are interested in doesn't work this way already it is very likely that it is intentional on the part of the content holders.

You should read "Metacrap" by Doctorow (something like that).. it came out in 1999 or so. It is the be all end all of what the fundamental fatal flaws of the semantic web are, and it has absolutely nothing to do with technology and protocols.

Re:The semantic web just doesn't exist (2)

martin-boundary (547041) | more than 2 years ago | (#38568272)

I don't think that's what the grandparent is talking about at all.

Let's say I find a web page that I like, and maybe it has a form on it somewhere with a dropdown containing a list of countries. I'd like to scrape that list and do some kind of throwaway mashup for myself. It's painful. Or maybe I'd like to sift through a list of articles on a magazine website, and I care only about some paragraphs which talk about a city I've been to. And I'd like to display those paragraphs on a private dashboard. Again, it's throwaway stuff, I just want it to last for a few hours starting right now.

There are no tools that make this kind of stuff painless. There are not even any *adequate* tools for this. The semantic web *should* make it possible at least. We ought to have ways of extracting the pieces that belong to a web page, not by generic component type (that's what DOM does), but by referring to the content we want in more human friendly ways. We ought to be able to extract the pieces, and recombine them into something else with minimal technical complications. And the result should itself be able to be mined for the information it contains, easily, in case someone else or myself wants to refine/extract some more.

Re:The semantic web just doesn't exist (2)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 2 years ago | (#38568392)

There are tools for tagging the content to make it easy to parse - mainly microformats, microdata and RDFa. The problem is that most content producers don't have an incentive to use them.

As an effort from the data consumer end, there's Scraper Wiki [scraperwiki.com], where people can share scrapers, but it's an hack compared to the real solution.

Re:The semantic web just doesn't exist (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38568412)

I still stand by the relevancy of my original statement, especially (but not only)

If what you are interested in doesn't work this way already it is very likely that it is intentional on the part of the content holders.

Whether they want to prevent easy retrieval for protection of a business, or because of lack of incentive it doesn't matter: It is economic, not technological. The technology can get better, but even if the cost is near zero, if the benefit is not there it will never happen.

There are a few good tools that make this kind of work painless... RESTful APIs and JSON would be one good example.... as I find myself repeating. I can do mashups with all sorts of good sites.. like google maps...

I really have no idea where you are going with the second paragraph... Either documents have explicit metadata attached or they do not. In the former case, my original response applies. In the latter you are going into a discussion that is completely orthogonal to the "semantic web".

Re:The semantic web just doesn't exist (2)

Junta (36770) | more than 2 years ago | (#38568632)

I think the fact you must rely upon the site to make the 'correct' choices would be the meat of the complaint. If you are constructing *your* server and client, sure you can apply the discipline and make the correct technology choices. In his example, he is wanting to do some sort automation against arbitrary sites he comes across. Because the technology is so open-ended, he has no idea of how one site will behave versus another and rarely get to reuse code. I've been there a few times, using the web developer features of a browser to kind of reverse engineer how a given web interface is designed and works, with no control and subject to the redesign whims of the server provider, who has no idea or does not care that I'm broken by their new architecture.

There are a few examples of providers with usable interfaces that do care about API compatibility (like Google Maps), but there is a lot more to 'the web' than those and even amongst those you have no consistent API (if Google Maps were to frustrate you or shut down, it's not like you can just change the map data server from google to yahoo and have the same code work without a drastic rework.

Re:The semantic web just doesn't exist (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38569502)

Nothing is stopping you from using the tools available at your disposal on the client side (much like google and Alpha do, let's say) to do whatever you want with the crap that makes up the web. Judging from the automation the common spammer and 4chan btard manages to invoke, it seems that 99% of the technology exists for a relatively low price let alone what something like IBM Watson can do.

Re:The semantic web just doesn't exist (1)

martin-boundary (547041) | more than 2 years ago | (#38568654)

If what you are interested in doesn't work this way already it is very likely that it is intentional on the part of the content holders.

But if the information is there in my machine/browser I ought to have tools to do what I want with it, irrespective of what the content holders designed for me to see. You seem to argue that what the content holder wants should be good enough for me. It usually is, but only because the effort to extract/repurpose the bits I'm interested in is too high. The current web experience is a bit like looking at a raw log file, without grep. We can find stuff, but only if we look at every irrelevant line as well and concentrate real hard.

I really have no idea where you are going with the second paragraph... Either documents have explicit metadata attached or they do not. In the former case, my original response applies. In the latter you are going into a discussion that is completely orthogonal to the "semantic web".

Correct me if I'm wrong but the semantic web idea is that publishers (or users) tag bits of a page so that it becomes easy to retrieve the bits by that tag. Ideally the tag should be meaningful, but practically the meanings can't be standardized. Publishers do very little tagging themselves, but users could tag pieces too (for private consumption say) if they have software that makes it painless. The latter is not something that depends on publishers' willingness to cooperate or do work, the latter only requires the community to come up with good tools that work reliably to describe/refer/extract/tag bits of information contained in a web page.

Re:The semantic web just doesn't exist (1)

Nutria (679911) | more than 2 years ago | (#38569066)

You seem to argue that what the content holder wants should be good enough for me.

The content holder thinks that what the content holder provides is good enough. That's what OP means (I think).

Re:The semantic web just doesn't exist (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38569632)

You are not limited at all and I never said I believe what the content provider wants should be good enough. Put all the tools you want on your machine, because many exist, you really need to google a bit more.

I believe in the *freedom* to tinker and to hack, but I don't believe any content provider has to hold your hand. Your freedom to process and mine whatever data you retrieve as you see fit doesn't remove the freedom for content providers to distribute crap via crap interfaces. I write web scrapers all the time (and for simple stuff, BeautifulSoup can get you a long way), you can put arbitrary number of resources on your end to crunch through whatever you pick off the web to get what you want out of it. The technology *is* there, and for now no one is stopping you; it takes time to implement, maybe too much time and cost for poor results in your book, but that is life. You seem to be complaining that content provider isn't doing the work for you.
What, you want to legislate that web content providers are mandated to provide standard metadata, you want to legislate something like EDIFACT for all web services? Good luck with that, because short of a jack boot dictatorship of metadata mavens running the web I see no way to acheive the end you seem to be seeking.

Correct me if I'm wrong but the semantic web idea is that publishers (or users) tag bits of a page so that it becomes easy to retrieve the bits by that tag.

I am also saying that I can't help but parrot the thesis of Doctorow from 2001 that some magic semantic web is a bunch of crap... metacrap.

Re:The semantic web just doesn't exist (1)

grumbel (592662) | more than 2 years ago | (#38568472)

I'd like to scrape that list and do some kind of throwaway mashup for myself. It's painful.

That's not so much a problem with the semantic web, but simply a lack of a more powerful copy&paste in your webbrowser/OS. The information is already there, nicely structured in a list and all, but your browser provides no way to get it out of the dropdown menu easily. If you go low-tech and use Lynx, you can just copy&paste the thing right out of your terminal with little problem. Nice benefit of everything being text in a terminal, even GUI elements.

Now of course when it comes to building more permanent things, not just throw away copy&paste, RESTful APis are the way to go, as they give you direct access to the raw undelying data, not the pretty-printed HTML gibberish that is split across dozens of pages. What is missing there is again a bit of browser support, as while browsers have no problem retrieving the info, they have no userfriendly way to dealing with a JSON or XML structure in any meaningful way. There is also no standard way of linking that data up into the webpage, i.e. saying "this table/article/whatever can be accessed as JSON (here)". Lack of standard formats for common data, aside from the structure that XML/JSON provide, is of course also an issue.

On top of that however the biggest issue is simply that most webpages don't want to provide semantic information, as that would mean the user would have raw access and couldn't be bothered so easy with adverts and other junk.

Re:The semantic web just doesn't exist (2)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 2 years ago | (#38568656)

Or maybe I'd like to sift through a list of articles on a magazine website, and I care only about some paragraphs which talk about a city I've been to. And I'd like to display those paragraphs on a private dashboard.

You're not getting it. Ask yourself this: why would the magazine website want to make it easy for you to do that? If you did, you wouldn't see all the advertisements they plaster on their site to pay for it.

Re:The semantic web just doesn't exist (3, Interesting)

martin-boundary (547041) | more than 2 years ago | (#38568706)

Exactly. My point is it shouldn't be up to them. I have a computer that can spider the articles like a regular user, including the ads if that's what it takes, and I have processing tools on my machine to mine the content. What I don't have (but *should*, IMHO) are tools that make this pipeline so effortless that I can use them regularly during web surfing.

Re:The semantic web just doesn't exist (1)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | more than 2 years ago | (#38568938)

Exactly. My point is it shouldn't be up to them. I have a computer that can spider the articles like a regular user, including the ads if that's what it takes, and I have processing tools on my machine to mine the content. What I don't have (but *should*, IMHO) are tools that make this pipeline so effortless that I can use them regularly during web surfing.

You think those tools should exist? Then write them yourself. There's no economic incentive for others to do it for you, after all.

Re:The semantic web just doesn't exist (1)

Nutria (679911) | more than 2 years ago | (#38569104)

it shouldn't be up to them

You do realize that all this requires human effort, and that requires money above and beyond what 99.999% of all web users care about. TANSTAATFL.

Re:The semantic web just doesn't exist (1)

SmurfButcher Bob (313810) | more than 2 years ago | (#38569152)

Found your problem. You seem to think that the web is about the data. Didn't flash give you a hint? Didn't the mac web design pros teach you anything? It's about the layout, stupid!
This post optimized for 640 x480 and best viewed with netscape navigator using adobe type I Garamond font.

Re:The semantic web just doesn't exist (1)

lennier (44736) | more than 2 years ago | (#38569526)

Let's say I find a web page that I like, and maybe it has a form on it somewhere with a dropdown containing a list of countries. I'd like to scrape that list and do some kind of throwaway mashup for myself. I

Are you saying you'd like to somehow... combine... other people's data... with other data... generating new data? That's outrageous! And I'm sure it's illegal. Hard-working programmers spent hours of their lives keying in that data, and now you want to just use it as if knowledge were some kind of... shared public resource or something? That must violate about a billionty copyright-patent laws, and if it doesn't, we'll darn sure pass new ones to make sure it does!

Consumers remixing data on their own. What has the Web come to. Well, at least we've made it painful, but we shouldn't rest until we make it impossible!

Re:The semantic web just doesn't exist (4, Informative)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 2 years ago | (#38568362)

JSON is a serialization, not a semantic format. You need RDF or something similar, regardless of its encoding - JSON, XML, Turtle [wikipedia.org], etc.

And as far as I know, there isn't a standard format for serializing RDF with JSON, although some work has been done on it.

Re:The semantic web just doesn't exist (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38568684)

Yes, I know all this, but forget about your ridiculous RDF and metautopia standards, because there isn't even something as low-level as JSON or XML or sexpressions, or anything in the picture at all, it's just shitty HTML... that's my point... it is not that the technology doesn't exist.. There is often no incentive or desire (or there is an outright opposition) to using it..

If a site isn't providing a sane API (other than "Microsoft Word generated HTML" or something of that ilk), and I don't care what of the few sane standards around they choose, I have a hard time believing they give a flying fuck about RDF.

Re:The semantic web just doesn't exist (1)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 2 years ago | (#38568734)

But an API is considerably more effort than just sticking e.g. RDFa tags on your HTML templates describing the content, and more useful for the user than an API that you have to specifically code against, since you can use a generic parser.

Re:The semantic web just doesn't exist (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38569894)

> JSON is a serialization, not a semantic format.

The differences between JSON or XML (RDF) are only theoretical.

JSON is a little smaller than XML but harder to read.

Re:The semantic web just doesn't exist (1)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 2 years ago | (#38570870)

XML and RDF are very different things.

XML and JSON are two serialization formats, yes (although the former supports namespaces, which is useful for serializing certain formats, like RDF).

RDF [wikipedia.org] is a completely different beast: it's a way to describe metadata using triples of Subject, Predicate and Object in a standard way. This format can be serialized in different ways: XML, N-Triples, Turtle, etc.

My point is that using "just JSON" (or just XML) is bad because what happens is that each person invents their own format that the client has to write a data extractor for, while RDF lets you use common RDF triple importers and databases for any source of data.

Re:The semantic web just doesn't exist (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38568118)

Well, you have the semantic web.... and then you have the Semitic web. [youtube.com]

Re:The semantic web just doesn't exist (1, Funny)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#38568368)

Nice to see more racist support for Ron Paul. I guess Newt and Mitt aren't white enough.

Re:The semantic web just doesn't exist (2)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 2 years ago | (#38568606)

I prefer the sexist support of Herman Cain.

His proposed G.R.O.P.E. (General Raciness Of Personal Encroachment) act would have revolutionized America to being a mirror culture of Italy - where proud men would be free to stink and indiscriminately slap womens' butts on the streets, and everybody would like it and laugh over pizza dinners.

Re:The semantic web just doesn't exist (2)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 2 years ago | (#38568694)

would have revolutionized America to being a mirror culture of Italy - where proud men would be free to stink and indiscriminately slap womens' butts on the streets, and everybody would like it and laugh over pizza dinners.

Ok, maybe I'm missing something basic, but wouldn't these proud men, who like slapping womens' butts on the streets, also get mad if another man slapped their wives' butt while she was walking down the street?

Re:The semantic web just doesn't exist (1)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | more than 2 years ago | (#38568924)

Ok, maybe I'm missing something basic, but wouldn't these proud men, who like slapping womens' butts on the streets, also get mad if another man slapped their wives' butt while she was walking down the street?

If we're talking about the Italian model, these "proud men" aren't married - they still live with their mommas, who clean their rooms, do their laundry, and cook their meals for them.

Re:The semantic web just doesn't exist (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38570330)

So, like /., only there's a street running through everyone's basement with... women on it?!

Sign me up!

Re:The semantic web just doesn't exist (1)

ClintJCL (264898) | more than 2 years ago | (#38568216)

mod this off-topic, but i love your climagic twitter feed, even if my CLI of choice is TakeCommand (TCC.exe) and those examples are never represented. But I got cygwin so a lot of it is still useful for a Windows user like me who uses Windows in a "unix-esque way". Thanks for the good work.

Re:The semantic web just doesn't exist (4, Informative)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 2 years ago | (#38568642)

Web developers don't want you to scrape data. They want you to get the data by manually going to their website with your browser like everyone else. If they wanted you to have a more efficient way of accessing data from their site, they'd publish an API, which is indeed what websites do for things where they want you to automate it. If there's no API, that's because they don't want you to automate anything.

Of course, there's a good reason for this too: if you automate your access to the data, you won't see their advertisements, err, I mean valuable marketing messages.

Re:The semantic web just doesn't exist (1)

tibit (1762298) | more than 2 years ago | (#38569114)

I vote with my wallet, and I'm vocal about it every time a distributor/vendor calls to complain we stopped ordering from them. I then tell them that I have no time to fax an order over, or even to reenter it every time I need 200 line items to replenish production stock/kits. A few distributors allow uploads of CSV or XLS files, and that works reasonably well, even though you still have to screen-scrape the entire process to extract the final outcome (what's in stock, what is the pricing, etc). It gets real boring real quick when you have to manually copy a 200 line PO to your ERP system...

How did this shit get on the front page? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38568124)

So a guy submits an link to his own blog page featuring a long and dreary essay containing some half-baked ill-defined vague handwavey idea about some kind of "semantic" interface which seems to have no new basis beyond what google's autocomplete or win7's search functions already do, and it gets posted to the front page? If you're going to allow self-publicity like this, it should at least be for good articles rather than shit ones.

Re:How did this shit get on the front page? (4, Funny)

Overly Critical Guy (663429) | more than 2 years ago | (#38568390)

Maybe after the fighting in the Stallman article, Slashdot wanted to post something so shitty, its readers would have no choice but to band together against it.

Re:How did this shit get on the front page? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38568810)

They thought it would be funny to let the guy DDoS himself.

This isn't new. (4, Interesting)

MrEricSir (398214) | more than 2 years ago | (#38568184)

Go back and play Hugo's House of Horrors (or many similiar adventure games of the not-quite-post-text era) and you'll see an interface that looks a lot like what this guy is describing.

Re:This isn't new. (3, Interesting)

Darinbob (1142669) | more than 2 years ago | (#38568448)

Or any of the Lisp machine variants that blurred the line between CLI and GUI and editor; plus the lines between OS and application. I still haven't seen any user interface that comes close to what you had on a Symbolics machine. Ie, click on a word in your command line, get a drop down menu of command options, etc. There was definitely a contextual user interface going on there. Of course these systems were designed for programmers whereas most people make UIs for end users or administrators instead.

Re:This isn't new. (1)

CAIMLAS (41445) | more than 2 years ago | (#38569288)

Yet, a knowledgeable user or an average (I'd hope) administrator would be able to not only leverage but strongly appreciate.

In some ways, I think this is actually what Microsoft attempted to do with PowerShell: some semantic functionality is possible, it's just awkward and kludged. (I believe you can interface GUI with the CLI through eg. a pipe to/from each other, for instance. Correct me if I'm wrong, I've only dabbled with it.)

Re:This isn't new. (2)

arth1 (260657) | more than 2 years ago | (#38569356)

Yet, a knowledgeable user or an average (I'd hope) administrator would be able to not only leverage but strongly appreciate.

From an admin's point of view, you do not want any interface that's not (a) absolutely consistent, or (b) tries to second-guess you. Those may be fine for users who need hand holding, but for an admin, it can be downright dangerous.

It reminds me of the joke where a soldier pulls the trigger, and up pops Clippy, saying "It looks like you attempt to shoot a human being. Would you like help with this?"
No, if you know what you're doing, you don't want any help or distractions. You want the machine to obey, and not second-guess whether you meant sda1 instead of sr1.

Re:This isn't new. (1)

NekSnappa (803141) | more than 2 years ago | (#38570688)

AutoCAD has been using this since at least the the late 80's when I first started using it.

Pull down menus at the top, a sidebar menu that is somewhat contextual, and a command line at the bottom. All surrounding the drawing area in the middle.

Of course most of the people I see using AtoCAD these days never used it before it became a Windows based program and are always clicking through menus. While I keep my left hand on the keyboard to type commands, or their shortcuts.

Worst article ever? (5, Informative)

gregrah (1605707) | more than 2 years ago | (#38568192)

I had absolutely no idea what the summary was talking about, so I made a rookie slashdot error and went to read TFA. Here's the first paragraph:

Games matter for humans. Games simulate reality, which is unaccessible for us by some reason. Boys (grown-up and not quite) usually play with gadgets. Girls of any age like behavioral games. Touch interface combines features of both. That's why boys and girls are still playing with it. Paradox is touch interface still does not influence PC world.

The first paragraph is riddled with unfounded assumptions and grammatical mistakes - as is, I assume, the remainder of the article. While I stopped reading after the second paragraph, I did spend a few seconds to scroll down to the bottom of the page to the only screenshot of what Semantic Line Interface might look like:

Example of a Semantic Line Interface [blogspot.com]

Visionary.

Re:Worst article ever? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38568302)

Mod parent up. The first paragraph indeed hints at the remainder of the article ... I found the paragraph that talks about the semantic line interface, and it's just stuff that can be solved easily using regular OOP. The guy who wrote the article is probably a programming n00b. The fact alone that he begins by referring to touch screens (which must be the latest craze among teenagers) and uses that as a reason for a semantic interface, is clues enough for the quality of the article.

Re:Worst article ever? (1)

Bob9113 (14996) | more than 2 years ago | (#38568750)

The first paragraph is riddled with unfounded assumptions and grammatical mistakes

The same thing threw me at first -- he's Russian writing ESL.

screenshot of what Semantic Line Interface might look like:

Totally agree with your assessment at first glance. Reading the article explains what he's getting at, though, and it makes some sense.

Mind you, I actually find a lot of what he says to be incorrect, and I suspect a lot of it is long-trodden ground (not my area of expertise), but the quality of presentation is a poor proxy for measuring the quality of the content in this case.

Re:Worst article ever? (1)

gregrah (1605707) | more than 2 years ago | (#38569132)

I completely respect the fact that it is difficult to write in a foreign language. If your point here is simply to say that it's not cool to hate on non-native English speakers, then I agree with you.

That being said, I don't think that it is unreasonable to request that the author have somebody proof read his article before submitting to Slashdot to be read by a large English-speaking audience. Or to include half-decent mockups/illustrations. Presentation is important when disseminating ideas.

I'm even willing to overlook poor grammar/presentation if the content is sufficiently interesting to justify the extra effort. But given that the best thing that you managed to say about this article is that it "makes some sense", compared with the negative attributes that you cite of being "incorrect" and (likely) unoriginal, I don't think we are in disagreement here that this article is a straight-up stinker.

I find it amazing... (1)

Niscenus (267969) | more than 2 years ago | (#38569500)

That even though slashdot is the apotheosis of geek sitelization, that this one paragraph hasn't resulted in far dirtier comments about boys and girls enjoying a tactile experience. Is this place just chock full of Sheldon Coopers?

Side note: I don't care if you do or don't like the/any show/character/screen/entertainment media. I just don't care. Don't tell me; I don't care. I put this note in here knowing that some people will have an instant complaint -- guess what...don't care.

Re:I find it amazing... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38569700)

Sheldon Cooper?? WTF??

Re:I find it amazing... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38570378)

FUCK YOU I HATE BIG BA....

What? You say you don't care? Well then I'll stop flaming; I only did it because I reasonably assume every random person on the net cares what I think, not cause I'm an immature man-child...

Command line (1, Interesting)

Overly Critical Guy (663429) | more than 2 years ago | (#38568204)

The command line is not coming back, especially with more applications moving to mobile devices where typing is just a hassle. The CLI will remain a nerd's tool. That's just reality.

Re:Command line (2)

0123456 (636235) | more than 2 years ago | (#38568246)

The command line is not coming back, especially with more applications moving to mobile devices where typing is just a hassle.

But whenever we complain about some UI removing menus, desktop launchers and any other easy way of starting an application the fanboys tell us that's OK because we can just type the name of the application on a command line instead.

On the other hand (3, Insightful)

Junta (36770) | more than 2 years ago | (#38568468)

In the server case, MS is embracing CLI with more and more Powershell instrumentation. In the *nix world we've had it since the inception of the platform, but MS admins are getting very enthusiastic about a CLI now that they are given it.

For the desktop end-user, the traditional CLI may not usually apply, but in many ways all the search dialogs in various places end up serving the role of a CLI,

Re:On the other hand (1)

rvw (755107) | more than 2 years ago | (#38570844)

In the server case, MS is embracing CLI with more and more Powershell instrumentation. In the *nix world we've had it since the inception of the platform, but MS admins are getting very enthusiastic about a CLI now that they are given it.

For the desktop end-user, the traditional CLI may not usually apply, but in many ways all the search dialogs in various places end up serving the role of a CLI,

I really like the UNIX-way, where almost everything is CLI-based, and for most of these commands, there is a GUI available as well. That GUI does usually not have all the options or has them in such a way that they still are inaccessible, but it does the job for anyone not familiar with those commands. And that's the way it should be. OSX and Ubuntu do this really well (which are the two systems I use on a regular basis) for OS-stuff.

But take Photoshop (the non-OS-stuff), if I take a selection or apply a color-correction, I think it would be great if I could push a button, and a small window pops up with the command for that filter in it. Of course it should be a readable command, so you could edit it and apply it again. I read about Maya, which does something like this.

Re:Command line (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38568512)

The command line is not coming back

Reality check: it never went away.

And I'm not just talking about the fact that power users have continued to prefer it consistently, or even the way Mac power users gravitated towards CLI when OS X introduced it to their world. I'm talking about the stuff my grandparents use. Does that Google search box remind you of anything? Hint: it doesn't involve much clicking on buttons or menus! What about the total redesign of the start menu in Windows 7 to put the emphasis on typing commands rather than dragging the mouse round a menu? Right.

especially with more applications moving to mobile devices where typing is just a hassle.

So, children, can we remember what the biggest, most hyped tech story of the last year was? I think it began with an "s". And then there was an "i". Yes, that's right, Siri! You know ... the command-line interface for iPhone?

Seriously, that's what Siri is. So it has more natural syntax than the likes of bash, and it's based on speech rather than characters, but it's still a return to the CLI-type design as opposed to the temporarily-fashionable point-and-click mouse/touch interfaces.

Like it or not, CLI is back, and this time it's for everyone, not just nerds. Guess you're totally wrong! Better luck next time.

Re:Command line (1)

Stupendoussteve (891822) | more than 2 years ago | (#38569172)

I was going to mention something similar, because even with the move to mobile devices the text has just become dictated. What is interesting with Siri is you do not HAVE to speak it. If it misunderstands the dictation, there is nothing stopping you from tapping the box and typing what you want it to do in natural language, it will react as if you had said it.

Re:Command line (4, Interesting)

grumbel (592662) | more than 2 years ago | (#38568596)

The overarching issue isn't really CLI vs GUI, but that the OS provides the user with very little semantic information, instead you simply get pretty pixel graphics. Case in point: Look at your screen right now, how much of the text you see can you select and copy as text? The answer will of course vary depending on what you do, but you can be pretty sure that it will be a good bit lower then 100% (i.e. window titles, menus, etc. can't be selected). There is really no good reason for that being that way, other then that being the way it has always been. The text is available to the OS and the applications, but there are no tools to get it out or at least not easily. Now that's of course just a very basic case, the issues goes of course much deeper when it comes to active parts of the GUI. When your filemanager is displaying a list, can you copy it into a spreadsheet? Can you move the play button of your MP3 player over to your iPhone? etc. Some of those use cases are of course a little far fetched, but essentially what you want is a rich and flexible way to interact with your computer. Neither CLIs nor GUIs really provide that and both of them don't really mix well (i.e. double clicking on the output of 'ls' should allow you to open a file).

Re:Command line (1)

rvw (755107) | more than 2 years ago | (#38570860)

Some of those use cases are of course a little far fetched, but essentially what you want is a rich and flexible way to interact with your computer. Neither CLIs nor GUIs really provide that and both of them don't really mix well (i.e. double clicking on the output of 'ls' should allow you to open a file).

Some simple examples that do stuff like this, although this is clearly not as advanced as what you suggest:

* OSX Finder: drag file into Terminal, and the filename including the path is copied to the terminal
* Ubuntu Nautilus: press CTRL-L and the path turns into an textfield with the complete path, which you can copy and edit

Re:Command line (1)

Bob9113 (14996) | more than 2 years ago | (#38568898)

The command line is not coming back

Nor is it going away. It is what it is; not useful for most visual-oriented tasks, and filling the space between writing your own code and using a stock gui for data-oriented tasks.

When the stock gui won't do what you need to do, the CLI can often get the job done without writing your own full toolkit.

The CLI will remain a nerd's tool.

You damn skippy it will! Users just give up when the GUI won't do it. Pretty much leaves them either relying on a nerd to help, or up shit creek. Must be a horrible way to live -- if you can even call that living.

It is, after all, the information age. Seems being an information tool-maker is up there with having opposable thumbs on the "competitive advantage" scale, right? Using "nerd" in the pejorative sense is archaic.

Re:Command line (1)

Sosarian Avatar (2509846) | more than 2 years ago | (#38569830)

Using "nerd" in the pejorative sense is archaic.

The fact that 'nerd' isn't an insult doesn't make people whose talents lean in that direction (or their lives) superior, it just means they're no longer demonized for it.

Users just give up when the GUI won't do it. Pretty much leaves them either relying on a nerd to help, or up shit creek. Must be a horrible way to live -- if you can even call that living. ... Seems being an information tool-maker is up there with having opposable thumbs on the "competitive advantage" scale, right?

Nope, try again... People with practically any ability or profession can look down upon about others that don't share that trait, regardless of what it happens to be. Mature people grasp that individuals find different things natural or pleasurable, and that their strengths and interests are balanced out by weaknesses & boredom with things that others find easy. Someone that finds a task a dull hassle is preserving/improving their quality of life by asking someone skilled in that field to do so for them, as it means they can focus their energy on something more suited to them.

Re:Command line (1)

Bob9113 (14996) | more than 2 years ago | (#38570960)

People with practically any ability or profession can look down upon about others that don't share that trait ... Someone that finds a task a dull hassle is preserving/improving their quality of life by asking someone skilled in that field to do so for them, as it means they can focus their energy on something more suited to them.

In the early 90's I was cutting code that not many people wanted while I worked at a coffee shop to pay the bills. My brother was trading commodities with the world at his feet. Some skills are more valuable than others. Now I bring home a big paycheck, and while he is retired, his associates who are still doing human-to-human investment banking mostly aren't making the ridiculous bonuses any more. Recognizing that one of your skill sets is one of the expensive ones at some moment in time doesn't mean you are looking down on others (that is an orthogonal question; whether you are an asshole), but not looking down on others doesn't mean all skills have equal value.

I was as good or better at making fancy coffee drinks as I am at writing systems, but people aren't willing to pay more than a couple bucks premium for a better cup of coffee (and most don't know the difference between a better cup of coffee and mediocre coffee with lots of sugar and fat in it). What I enjoy most is high end woodworking, but there aren't many people who would spend a few thousand bucks on a table. Brain surgery is harder, rarer, so it earns still more money than writing software, but I don't have the training or dexterity.

All people are equally worthy of respect, regardless of their abilities. Respect is about content of character, not size of wallet. And without going into detail, progressive taxation is right for purely objective reasons, regardless of the moral question (empirical economic analysis is another of my hobbies). But how much money a customer is willing to pay a tradesman is a matter of the customer's desire for the product and how rare the skill is. Being good at a trade that is worth more is a competitive advantage, and getting paid more to do it is what compensates a tradesman for satisfying the customer's greater wants instead of making a fancy cup of coffee or a pretty table.

Re:Command line (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38569222)

Funny, as I use devices with smaller screens, I wish even more for a CLI. Because it is the ultimate in uncluttered interfaces.

On a 4 inch screen, you can only have so many buttons available before you have to start tabbing the interface, while CLIs can be totally flat in hierarchy. The downside is you need a bigger mental screen to hold the CLI.

Re:Command line (1)

Robert Zenz (1680268) | more than 2 years ago | (#38570014)

The command line is not coming back...

I didn't realize it was gone...or optionally: Go tell all the admins!

This sounds a familiar (4, Informative)

norpy (1277318) | more than 2 years ago | (#38568212)

Think all the autocomplete addons for unix shells.

Or even just a bit of work on top of powershell, I don't know if something Something like posh ( http://http//poshconsole.codeplex.com/ [http] ) implements autocompletes like that, but it wouldn't be hard to do in powershell since a well written cmdlet will expose strongly typed inputs which would allow you to use a fancy widget for input without any issues.

Re:This sounds a familiar (1)

norpy (1277318) | more than 2 years ago | (#38568230)

Sorry about the broken link, here is a clickable one http://poshconsole.codeplex.com/ [codeplex.com]

Not again... (3, Informative)

jythie (914043) | more than 2 years ago | (#38568520)

This idea comes up every few years and it always suffers from the same basic problems.. it gets attention because of elegant examples and use cases that the designers come up with, but tends to fall apart when dealing with the flexibility users actually need.. I have yet to see an implementation that handles the command space well. instead they have to restrict it to the point all you end up with is something that is less flexible then both GUIs and CLIs while not really adding anything useful... so it really only ever allows for 'more complex applications' if by 'more complex' you mean 'a few complex use cases are more automated, but don't try to do anything else.'.

Not again...Canon Cat. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38568882)

Well people are just copying what came before [wikipedia.org] Also there are modern day [humanized.com] implementations.

Googlize Features and Menus (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 2 years ago | (#38569028)

I've proposed something similar for years. Features would have a title and synonyms* and be tracked in a kind of database. One then searches for features similar to using a Google search and the features are then listed in the search results along with parameters, and any links to prerequisites, if needed.

There still may be menus and icons that use (reference) these very same features, but the Google-like approach works better for obscure settings.

* Synonyms may be user-configurable in case I call something different than what Microsoft does.

Semantic organization of content (1)

accessbob (962147) | more than 2 years ago | (#38569440)

Ignore the BS examples, and it is true that a useable UI is one that expresses semantically related content in an appropriate context for the user, given time and place.

Sorry that it's behind a paywall, but here is my (peer-reviewed) take on it all http://dl.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=1368052&CFID=76329268&CFTOKEN=39574160 [acm.org]

From the abstract:

This research returns to first principals, and considers the underlying Dexter Model of Hypertext, and how that may be placed within a broader model of document content that is amenable to adaptation of content to user needs either through configuration, or through dynamic self-adaptation. The model proposed considers a document in terms of five individual abstractions: content, inventory, semantics, navigation, and adaptation. A simple (fully working) example, taken from a small fragment of Google Maps, is presented to demonstrate how such a model may operate in practice, adapting between two different user profiles on demand.

A potential Interface? (1)

bknack (947759) | more than 2 years ago | (#38569622)

In the interests of fairness, I am deeply involved with the following website, so my views are obviously bias! Consider the interface at: www.mindports.com Basically, it is used to organize an arbitrary set of categories and sub-categories and sub-sub-categories etc. Each segment contains a brief text label. Once selected, a segment may expose an interface, perform an action etc. After reviewing the article, it occurs to me that we could place commands (or options) through-out a set of these categorical trees. The same command would appear "everywhere" it might reasonably be searched for by folks with different points of view and experience. The interface would allow folks to "find" their command rapidly no matter where it was placed. If we included a text search capability, we would also support die hard CLI lovers. What do you think? Cheers, Bruce.

Real problem. Bad solution. (4, Insightful)

Animats (122034) | more than 2 years ago | (#38569642)

The article cited offers a crap solution, but there is a problem. It's the "What menu is that in?" problem. This is a real issue with some programs, especially the ones with modal and/or context sensitive toolbars and menus. It's really annoying when you read the manual, it tells you to use the "join" menu item, you can't find the "join" menu item, and the manual doesn't tell you under what circumstances the "join" menu item will be available.

The original Macintosh Human Interface Guidelines insisted that menu items should be greyed out when inapplicable, but they shouldn't disappear. Many GUIs today either make them disappear, or leave them looking normal but inoperative. The right solution today is probably to grey them out, but bring up a tooltip that explains what's needed to make that function usable.

(My current hatred in user interface design is invisible buttons, ones that only appear when moused over. Facebook is notorious for this. Many users don't know that if you hover over an ad, you get the option to make that advertiser go away.)

Re:Real problem. Bad solution. (1)

bytesex (112972) | more than 2 years ago | (#38569682)

That's not enough. Consider Word or Openoffice; an application that has so many functions, both in menus, in dialogs after menus, in buttonbars, etc. I still fight with it, and I still damn Openoffice to hell for being such a loyal follower of the Word way-of-thinking.

Re:Real problem. Bad solution. (1)

bytesex (112972) | more than 2 years ago | (#38569716)

You know what I like (and also the paragon of office-email programs, Outlook, doesn't provide this) ? Auto-completion. I think auto-completion, as used in shells, but now also in emailers like Evolution (where it completes addresses from your address-book), allows you to forego a tiresome process of inspecting dialogs and clicking and typing at the same time. It should be bloody everywhere. Infinite undo is something else that should be bloody everywhere; your desktop environment should provide it. The same should be true for fonts - that whole part of text-editors should be a standard inside your desktop - not in Word.

Re:Real problem. Bad solution. (1)

Laz10 (708792) | more than 2 years ago | (#38570838)

Eclipse has an excellent solution for this.

Ctrl + 3 pops up a search window that lets you type your way in to every available command in the system. Including what is hidden in the menues and context menues. So instead of trying to remember if the "Override/implement method" is hidden in the Source or Refactor menu or in the context menues somewhere, I just press ctrl + 3 and type 'override'.

I miss that in MS Office and many other applications.

It only sounds good in theory (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38569662)

Games and 3D Modeling tools have been using semantic based communication between individual components for awhile now. It's very rare that it works without requiring hand tweaks at nearly every step. The only solid way to avoid that so far is just to be very explicit with your semantic declarations, in which case you wind up with a system even more inflexible than what we have now.

TermKit Looks Prettier... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38569770)

I thought this was going to be some

http://osxdaily.com/2011/05/19/termkit-terminal-reimagined-how-to-install/

Translation problems (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38570422)

I have a doubt: if I implemented a SLI application using (for example) the English language, wouldn't it be near to impossible to translate that application in other languages? I'm not an expert in such sectors, just trying to learn! :-)

D-uh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38570474)

Android has had this feature - we can specify what is "searchable". that includes "settings". simply search for the setting, click on the item in the drop-down list (search suggestions) and it will take you directly to the setting.

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