WIMP (computing)

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A word processing program that uses a WIMP paradigm, providing mouse-operated toolbars and menus to access its functions

In human–computer interaction, WIMP stands for "windows, icons, menus, pointer",[1][2][3] denoting a style of interaction using these elements of the user interface. Other expansions are sometimes used, such as substituting "mouse" and "mice" for menus, or "pull-down menu" and "pointing" for pointer.[4][5][6]

Though the acronym has fallen into disuse, it has often been likened to the term graphical user interface (GUI). Any interface that uses graphics can be called a GUI, and WIMP systems derive from such systems. However, while all WIMP systems use graphics as a key element (the icon and pointer elements), and therefore are GUIs, the reverse is not true. Some GUIs are not based in windows, icons, menus, and pointers. For example, most mobile phones represent actions as icons and menus, but often do not rely on a conventional pointer or containerized windows to host program interactions.[citation needed]

WIMP interaction was developed at Xerox PARC (see Xerox Alto, developed in 1973) and popularized with Apple's introduction of the Macintosh in 1984, which added the concepts of the "menu bar" and extended window management.[7]

The WIMP interface has the following components:[8]

  • A window runs a self-contained program, isolated from other programs that (if in a multi-program operating system) run at the same time in other windows.
    • These individual program containers enable users to move fluidly between different windows.
    • The window manager software is typically designed such that it is clear which window is currently active. Design principles of spacing, grouping, and simplicity help the user maintain focus when working between more than one window.
  • An icon acts as a shortcut to an action the computer performs (e.g., execute a program or task).
    • Text labels can be used alongside icons to help identification for small icon sets.
  • A menu is a text or icon-based selection system that selects and executes programs or tasks. Menus may change depending on context in which they are accessed.
  • The pointer is an onscreen symbol that represents movement of a physical device that the user controls to select icons, data elements, etc.

This style of system improves human–computer interaction (HCI) by emulating real-world interactions and providing greater ease of use for non-technical people. Because programs contained by a WIMP interface subsequently rely on the same core input methods, the interactions throughout the system are standardized. This consistency allows users' skills carry from one application to another.


Some human–computer interaction researchers consider WIMP to be ill-suited for multiple applications, especially those requiring precise human input or more than three dimensions of input.[9] Drawing and writing are example of these limitations; a traditional pointer is limited by two dimensions, and consequently doesn't account for the pressure applied when using a physical writing utility. Pressure-sensitive graphics tablets are often used to overcome this limitation.[10]

Another issue with WIMP-style user interfaces is that many implementations put users with disabilities at a disadvantage. For example, visually impaired users may have difficulty using applications when alternative text-based interfaces are not made available. People with motor impairments, such as Parkinson's disease, may not be able to navigate devices precisely using the traditional mouse pointer for input. To overcome these barriers, researchers continue to explore ways to make modern computer systems more accessible.[11] Recent developments in artificial intelligence, specifically machine learning, have opened new doors for accessibility in technology, or assistive technology.[12][13]

Moving past the WIMP interface

Multiple studies have explored the possibilities of moving past the WIMP interface, such as using reality-based interaction,[14] making the interface "three-dimensional" by adding visual depth through the use of monocular cues,[15][16][17][18] and even combining depth with physics.[19] The latter resulted in the development of BumpTop desktop and its acquisition and release by Google.[citation needed]

See also

  • Desktop metaphor
  • History of the graphical user interface
  • Natural user interface
  • Touch user interface


  1. ^ Markoff, John (February 16, 2009). "The Cellphone, Navigating Our Lives". The New York Times. New York. Retrieved December 14, 2011. [...] so-called WIMP interface — for windows, icons, menus, pointer [...]
  2. ^ Hinckley, Ken (December 1996). "Haptic Issues for Virtual Manipulation". Microsoft. Retrieved May 22, 2018. The Windows-Icons-Menus-Pointer (WIMP) interface paradigm dominates modern computing systems.
  3. ^ Hinckley, Ken. "Input Technologies and Techniques" (PDF). Microsoft. Retrieved December 14, 2011. Researchers are looking to move beyond the current "WIMP" (Windows, Icons, Menus, and Pointer) interface [...]
  4. ^ Flynn, Laurie (January 1, 1995). "The Executive Computer; When, Oh When, Will Computers Behave Like People?". The New York Times. New York. Retrieved December 14, 2011. "We've taken the WIMP interface as far as it can go," he added, referring to the Windows-icon-mouse-pull-down menu.
  5. ^ Green, Mark; Jacob, Robert (July 1991). "SIGGRAPH '90 Workshop Report: Software Architectures and Metaphors for Non-WIMP User Interfaces". SIGGRAPH '90. SIGGRAPH. Dallas: ACM SIGGRAPH. CiteSeerX . The acronym, WIMP, stands for Windows, Icons, Mice and Pointing, and it is used to refer to the desk top, direct manipulation style of user interface.
  6. ^ Patton, Phil (April 14, 1996). "Facing the Future". The New York Times Magazine. New York. Retrieved December 14, 2011. GUI and WIMP (for window, icon, mouse and pointer) are interfaces based on framed text, drop-down menus and clickable buttons arranged along on-screen panels called tool bars.
  7. ^ Andries van Dam: Post-WIMP User Interfaces. In: Communications of the ACM, 40(2) (February 1997), pp. 63–67. Citeseer
  8. ^ HCI (2014-11-10). "Type of interfaces (WIMP and GUI)". HCIGroupon6. Retrieved 2020-02-22.
  9. ^ Past, Present and Future of User Interface Software Tools. Brad Myers, Scott E. Hudson, Randy Pausch, Y Pausch. ACM Transactions on Computer-Human Interaction, 2000. [1]
  10. ^ "What is digitizing tablet? Webopedia Definition". www.webopedia.com. Retrieved 2020-02-22.
  11. ^ Marcelo Medeiros Carneiro, Luiz Velho, Assistive Interfaces For The Visually Impaired Using Force Feedback Devices And Distance Transforms, Information Technology and Disabilities Journal, Vol. X, No. 2, December 2004
  12. ^ "How Artificial Intelligence is Improving Assistive Technology". The Tech Edvocate. 2018-04-24. Retrieved 2020-02-22.
  13. ^ Mittal, Vibhu O.; Yanco, Holly A.; Aronis, John; Simpson, Richard, eds. (1998). "Assistive Technology and Artificial Intelligence". Lecture Notes in Computer Science. 1458. doi:10.1007/bfb0055965. ISBN 978-3-540-64790-4. ISSN 0302-9743. S2CID 29916407.
  14. ^ Jacob, Robert J.K.; Girouard, Audrey; Hirshfield, Leanne M.; Horn, Michael S.; Shaer, Orit; Solovey, Erin Treacy; Zigelbaum, Jamie (2008-01-01). Reality-based Interaction: A Framework for post-WIMP Interfaces. Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems. CHI '08. New York, NY, USA: ACM. pp. 201–210. doi:10.1145/1357054.1357089. ISBN 9781605580111. S2CID 3348294.
  15. ^ Robertson, George; Czerwinski, Mary; Larson, Kevin; Robbins, Daniel C.; Thiel, David; van Dantzich, Maarten (1998-01-01). Data Mountain: Using Spatial Memory for Document Management. Proceedings of the 11th Annual ACM Symposium on User Interface Software and Technology. UIST '98. New York, NY, USA: ACM. pp. 153–162. doi:10.1145/288392.288596. ISBN 978-1581130348. S2CID 12723851.
  16. ^ Cockburn, Andy; McKenzie, Bruce (2002-01-01). Evaluating the Effectiveness of Spatial Memory in 2D and 3D Physical and Virtual Environments. Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems. CHI '02. New York, NY, USA: ACM. pp. 203–210. doi:10.1145/503376.503413. ISBN 978-1581134537. S2CID 1150015.
  17. ^ Kyritsis, M.; Gulliver, S. R.; Morar, S.; Stevens, R. (2013-01-01). Issues and Benefits of Using 3D Interfaces: Visual and Verbal Tasks. Proceedings of the Fifth International Conference on Management of Emergent Digital EcoSystems. MEDES '13. New York, NY, USA: ACM. pp. 241–245. doi:10.1145/2536146.2536166. ISBN 9781450320047. S2CID 16672751.
  18. ^ Kyritsis, Markos; Gulliver, Stephen R.; Feredoes, Eva (2016-08-01). "Environmental factors and features that influence visual search in a 3D WIMP interface". International Journal of Human-Computer Studies. 92–93: 30–43. doi:10.1016/j.ijhcs.2016.04.009.
  19. ^ Agarawala, Anand; Balakrishnan, Ravin (2006-01-01). Keepin' It Real: Pushing the Desktop Metaphor with Physics, Piles and the Pen. Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems. CHI '06. New York, NY, USA: ACM. pp. 1283–1292. doi:10.1145/1124772.1124965. ISBN 978-1595933720. S2CID 306920.


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By: Wikipedia.org
Edited: 2021-06-18 18:48:59
Source: Wikipedia.org