Alex Faaborg talks about the potential of the graphical keyboard interface as alternative to the mouse driven interaction of a lot of windowing toolkits. Alex discusses the tradeoffs associated with both interfaces. And presents a number of potential Firefox design solutions that use a key command language and a graphical feedback including:
- Keyboard-Based Web Search
- Keyboard-Based Microformat Detectors
Don Norman has discussed the return to a command-line interaction paradigm. This is primarily based in the predominance of search interfaces. David Beers shows the power of command languages beyond search for mobile devices. For mobile devices the language is limited to small tasks, i.e., a single verb-noun action. Alex presents an application vocabulary that also demonstrates a single verb-noun action. This initial grammar shows the immediate power of tools like Quicksilver and Enso. (Quicksilver has been a must-have application for me since sometime in 2004. I’ve been looking for a Windows launcher and Enso looks like it will do the trick nicely). Gina Tripani at LifeHacker discusses the efficiency of command-line interfaces. I wonder if there is a plugin to integrate Yubnub with Quicksilver.
Task languages are interesting. They require an understanding of the goals, tasks and operations that users can complete with your product. This sounds strangely like using GOMS to evaluate and understand the efficiency of applications. Picoformats were an interesting standard for an SMS command language. Services like Twitter have defined a lingo for interacting with the service. The Twitter lingo has both been defined and evolved out of the communities usage of the service (check out Nanoformats).
Command languages are emerging as effective way to interact with applications. The are appearing at the edges, where efficiency is incredibly important. Whether that’s through texting performance, or with expert users of web browsers. Jef Raskin’s The Humane Interface (and the Canon Cat user interface) was prescient in defining a keyboard-based task language. With Aza Raskin running Humanized, I’m looking forward to trying Enso as my launcher on Vista.