Difference between the term

hey folks,
Needed to know the difference between GUI and UI. Recently i termed the UI as absence of Graphic where a person only interact with Interface. suppose we have a form, changing the name of a field will be changing in UI.? am i right. i got in quarrel with a colleague where he says that the introduction of a section of graphics, make it GUI. but i fought back that 90% of the of that secion is UI. can anyone justify on it?

It looks like UI is the general term–so it can be a physical interface, like control panel for a mechanical device, or a software interface on your monitor.

GUI is a software interface only.

In some operating systems (eg. Linux) the GUI is a completely separate part of the operating system and you can mix and match.

There are plenty of user interfaces that do not rely on the GUI part of the operating system to provide their functionality even on a computer.

the user interface technology employed in cars which allows you to see what’s behind you (and which is often stencilled with a user warning message about objects being closer than they appear) is graphical but does not involve software

But that particular UI is generally referred to as a mirror and not as a GUI. Any user interface may or may not be a graphical user interface but just because it is graphical it doesn’t mean it is referred to as a GUI.

The term GUI was developed specifically to refer to a layer within computer operating systems that provided a graphical user interface rather than the text based user interface that a computer uses if you are not running a GUI. GUI therefore at least started out as a term for a specific type of computer software even though graphical user interfaces existed long beforehand and may even have been referred to as graphical user interfaces (without being shortened to GUI). GUI is a result of certain computer companies love of three letter acronyms (another such example is AMD which IBM started using instead of air movement device aka fan).

in my case. its just a form. u can change the elements of form. like suppose “Name” can be made “First Name”, and the guy termed it as a GUI, whereas it has only capacity to generate graph to. but mostly it used to tag new fields of a new and i said its UI. as UI is like user interacting with machine, and in this case. ur not playing around with GUI. still i think i m right. but that’s why am here

You mean to say spoons are part of an user interface to meals? NO, those, like the mirrors in a car, are JUST tools.

A user interface means a way to manipulate those very tools. There is a very big difference here.

So, to respond to the OPs question: GUI is a subset of UI.

A form is part of the GUI, so it can be referred to as a GUI as well. GUI is also a UI, so referring to it as a UI is also correct. So I’d say you and your colleague are both correct.

what’s graphical, anyway? as long as it has no text?

Nah, graphical means an enhancement, being something more than just text.

Essentially GUI is related to the way the smallest display unit for the screen is not a matrix of pixels, but a pixel.

I’m pretty sure you’re confusing control panels with UIs and GUIs. And I’m not referring to applications called “control panels” here.

so if a button said UP in text, it is a user interface, but if you use an arrow (pointing up, obviously) instead of text that’s a graphical user interface?


No, it’s not about the content, it’s about the system. “something more than text” where the up arrow it’s not based on a system using the same unit for display: a matrix of pixels.

Your logic is flawed. Since GUI is a subset of UI, any GUI can be referred by as UI. But that doesn’t mean that any UI can be called a GUI.

i’m going to make allowances for english not being your first language, and disregard that remark about my cognitive abilities

where i was going was that user interfaces exist in more places that computer displays, including interfaces that don’t rely on text

but i’m not going to pursue this, because for a General Chat thread, this one has slowly gotten a bit too stuffy for me


Yeah, when you don’t know the etymology of an English expression, it’s the foreigner to blame :wink:

User interface is strictly related to computers. It appeared in 1970s-1980s: http://www.wordnik.com/words/user%20interface, looking also at the fact that interface it’s a pretty modern word too: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/interface:

  1. (computer science) a program that controls a display for the user (usually on a computer monitor) and that allows the user to interact with the system.

Looking at the thesaurus for user interface, we notice cli and gui: http://www.wordnik.com/thesaurus/user%20interface.

CLI stands for http://www.wordnik.com/words/command%20line%20interface:

  1. A user interface in which the computer’s commands are manipulated through lines of code as opposed to graphical images. Abbreviated as CLI.

WordNet (1 definition)

  1. A user interface in which you type commands instead of choosing them from a menu or selecting an icon.

GUI stands for: http://www.wordnik.com/words/graphical%20user%20interface

  1. GUI.

Wiktionary (1 definition)

  1. (computing) A type of user interface which allows people to interact with a computer through a metaphor of direct manipulation of graphical images and widgets in addition to text. Abbreviation: GUI.

WordNet (1 definition)

  1. A user interface based on graphics (icons and pictures and menus) instead of text; uses a mouse as well as a keyboard as an input device.

And one more definition, from http://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/british/graphical-user-interface:

graphical user interface noun
(abbreviation GUI)
a way of arranging information on a computer screen that is easy to understand and use because it uses icons, menus and a mouse rather than only text
(Definition of graphical user interface noun from the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary)

Is my insufficient English language knowledge affecting my abilities to communicate? That may be true. But I’m pretty proficient in my native language :slight_smile: So it seems we both have at least one English language problem in common: dictionary. I’m improving though.

Thanks a lot for the information. The links provided where sufficient enough to explain.

hello mate…GUI is graphical user interface…means graphical repersentation of something…whereas UI is just any kind of interface

UI terms express globally. Any interface which interacts with the user and related to its application. GUI terms include graphics,you can see the commands and you have to choose from them. It is my opinion.