Rejoice! Actual UI Innovation in the Wild!

Icon insanity

Yes! Break out the bubbly and scream! The first actual innovation in WIMP interface design since about 1985 has finally made it into the mainstream! As of this week, Ubuntu 12.04 LTS (Precise Pangolin) is shipping to desktops with the HUD!!

The HUD in Ubuntu 12.04

The HUD seen here allowing command execution in the GIMP

I cannot be too enthusiastic about this development. For years I have wanted somebody to give this idea a go, and now my favourite Linux distribution is actually doing it! I’m almost crying like a baby as I type this. There are so many things I want to say about this, I don’t know where to start.

For some background on why I think this is such an historic breakthrough, see my post several years about something similar from Aza Raskin. Don Norman has also written about it in the past.

But essentially, I think the HUD is wonderful because:

1. It frees us from the needless tyranny of the mouse. A tyranny that Apple has perpetrated for over 20 years.

2. It will decrease the learning curve for new applications by orders of magnitude.

3. It will lessen the pressure on designers of complex applications to leave features out.

4. It will prove the Microsoft Office “ribbon” to be the risable drek that it is (and is further proof that Microsoft and Apple have no powers of software design innovation whatsoever).

So from now on, when some boring idiot drones on about “intuitive interfaces” they will be unable to ignore the most intuitive UI of all: a ubiquitous command line, available anywhere, with command completion and command aliasing.

Now excuse me while I upgrade. I’m sure there will be plenty to be frustrated about in the HUD’s first incarnation, but it’s just the beginning.

At last, in the year 2012, about 15 years later than it should have been, the command line has come of age.