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UI metaphors in Central:

Metaphors are very important for software user interfaces. Real world metaphors make learning fast and help users to get the finest details by banking on what the user has already learnt in real life. Metaphors also help designers by giving initial constraints to start the design with. All current OS’s implement the desktop metaphor, where we interact with files and folders. We use tools in applications to work on objects stored in files. As in the real world, learning an application and tools took time and wasn’t easy for one time users. Then came the web with the travel metaphor. The user needed to know only how to click on a link to go from one page to another. The travel metaphor was easy to use but is not as powerful as the desktop metaphor. Now comes central, where the application is divided into panes and each pane has various UI widgets. The house metaphor fits central UI perfectly. Rooms in a house are divided according to the tasks that are performed in them. Each room has its own fixtures like windows, cupboards, tables etc and also has a set of switches which perform various actions specific to that room. The panes in central have widgets like a data grid, zoom pane, search field, etc. The panes also have buttons for adding favorites, printing, adding alerts etc. You may ask, Now all this is fine but how does the console fit in this house metaphor? Well, it’s like a cell phone which shows a webcam view of each room. 🙂 More info on user interfaces and metaphors is in this paper which lists their benifits and some critisism.

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