Chad Perrin: SOB

25 July 2008

Is a GUI its own reward?

Filed under: Geek — apotheon @ 03:55

The first comment on my latest article, Use tcpdump for traffic analysis, has this to say:

You’re missing the boat when you make a case for “tcpdump VERSUS Wireshark”, et al. I use command line tcpdump packet captures on a daily basis, and 98% of the time I dump the output to a file, only to then load it up in Wireshark to do the real packet analyzing. tcpdump AND Wireshark go together hand-in-hand; tcpdump is an easy way to copy what is traversing an interface, and Wireshark is an easy way to view that traffic in a graphical format. (FYI – the other 2% of the time I’m dumping the output to a screen, just to see if traffic is passing through…)

The notion that having a GUI is a good thing in and of itself seems to be a pervasive one. Nobody seems to be able to provide any useful explanation for why he or she values the GUI so highly other than facile ramblings like “A GUI is easier to use.” Of course, in my experience a GUI gets in the way at least as often as it makes anything “easier”. Certain application types are certainly suited to use via a graphical user interface (browsers and image editors come to mind), while others do not (such as text editing, as proved by the clear superiority of Vim over GUI editors).

Basically, people seem to think that having a GUI is good because GUIs are necessarily, inherently good. I’ve never really been able to buy into the notion that having a GUI should be a primary goal for choosing software. If I want a GUI, it’ll be because the GUI serves a purpose.

Am I missing some assumed argument for the benefits of a GUI, or do people really just think the GUI is its own reward?

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