Just happened across a blog entry on the whole CLI vs. GUI discussion that sometimes flares up on the intarwebs. Let me first say that I share the author’s frustration with this discussion1, so I absolutely understand the slightly ranting tone of the blog entry.
For those of you not in the know, CLI stands for command line interface, and describes software that requires you to enter a command via the keyboard, optionally followed by one or more parameters that further specify what the computer is supposed to do exactly. Most people nowadays are used to GUIs, that is graphical user interfaces, which are most often navigated using a point-and-click paradigm.
Both ways of interacting with the computer have their proponents, and some of them seem to argue for their preferred method with a voracity that borders on insanity.
The interesting thing about this discussion is that it often misses the point, or isn’t very clear on what’s being discussed anyway. Because the discussion isn’t so much about the preferred method of data representation, it’s about the preferred method of data entry.
There can be little doubt that a GUI is the more powerful method for representing data. In a GUI, you could technically cover the whole screen with text only – and have the same capabilities as a CLI offers. However, you can also add pictures, and pictures can well be worth a thousand words or more. Just based on that observation, one can decide very quickly that GUIs are always preferable.