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Orthodox system interface

1. all command have texital equvalent

2. All GUI operation generate command line that is executed

3. Command line is accesible in application

4. General purpose scripting language is used as macro language

Orthodox interface is the interface that has both command line interface elements and GUI interface elements glued together.  As cynics would say this is a half-baked GUI-interface and this statement definitely has some truth as at least one of them  emerge during attempts to convert previously pure command line tool to GUI (text terminal GUI) mode: this was the case with vi which was text terminal GUI extension of ex editor.  Apple and Microsoft GUI interface attempt to hide from us the internal command that you mouse gestures are generating, while orthodox interface attempts to expose it.

In Orthodox interface there is always a set of commands that exists as a language with text  names for functions and parameters and glued together by control structures. Special keys and key combinations as well as mouse buttons and mouse gestures are just shortcuts to this basic set of commands. So interface is split into two parts:

This existence of formal internal language is the most distinctive feature of orthodox interface.

And this idea was invented and reinvented by so many people that it looks like this is a new different type of interface, distinct from Apple-Microsoft interface.

For example this is true for various OFM, for orthodox editors such as vi or XEDIT like of editors (Edit, Kedit, THE, Slickedit), for GNU screen, smith in AIX and many other programs.  Those tools were from the beginning designed is a way that allow coexistence of command line with GUI interface. So in a way Orthodox interface is all about co-existence of two principal forms of computer interfaces in a single program by using command line as the focal point. 

That means that we can look at orthodox interface as a compiler of GUI "gestures" into regular command language with text representation. Those generated statements of this command line language are executed to achieve the desired effect.

We can also introduce idea of channel: each channel forward generated or manually written commands to specific processor. For example we can thing about vi as having two command channels: one is ": channel" (internal commands channel) which process commands directed to editor buffer and another is "! channel" (external commands channel) which direct commands to OS with the possibility of using all or part of editing buffer as input as well as to modify all or part of the editing buffer using output of executed in OS command of complex pipe. 

In OFMs this is implemented differently: there is a single "OS command channel", but there is not distinct "internal command language", althouth some OFMs recently moved in this direction.

All-in-all I am convinced that the notion of Orthodox interface as an interface distinct from and based on different principles then Apple and Windows GUI interfaces (which are actually became much closer with time). As such this is a much wider phenomenon then either OFMs and orthodox editors such as vi and THE (orthodox editors),  windows multiplexers (GNU screen), windows managers (such as ratpoison).

I am still working on refining this notion but as a set of  ideas it definitely includes three following notions:

  1. Extensibility and programmability (with shell and/or scripting languages) are key to enhancing productivity of advanced users and as such they should have much higher priority for designers of the interface then chrome.  This "the ability to program as second literacy"  paradigm (see  Ershov1972 ) inherent in orthodox interface is actually radically different design paradigm than the one used in classic Apple-Microsoft GUI with their emphasis on "users" and  multicolor eye candy with gradient colors icons and fancy animations.
  2. Orthodox GUI is a "visual shell".  Like classic Unix shells, Orthodox GUI should have least one "command channel": ability to type statements in some formal language which, when executed, change the state of GUI. In other words they implement what can be called "command line controlled GUI". It can be just "external" command channel where commands  go directly to OS (like in OFMs), or internal command channel where commands are processed by internal interpreter (for example REXX or Lua) and reflected on the part of editing buffer that is displayed as in orthodox editors, or some combination of both. Commands that are entered into command channel are executed immediately like in shell and the result is immediately reflected in GUI interface. They can be glued into complex scripts by some ad-hoc or (preferably) standard scripting language like REXX or LUA.
  3. Elements of  automatic program generation with the help of GUI.  Another way of looking on orthodox interface is to assume that GUI "gestures" in it first are compiled into some command line language and that those generated statement are executed by command processor and cause corresponding changes in GUI screen. That means that we can (and probably should) look at orthodox interface as a compiler of GUI "gestures" into regular command language with text representation. Those generated statements of this command line language are executed to achieve the desired effect.

    GUI can also be used in supplementary role to generate part of command line construct that are written by the user on the command line by inserting certain elements via macros or shortcuts like (Ctrl-Enter, Ctrl-[ and Ctrl-] in OFMs) and any other creative way. Generally in OFMs you can "assemble" pretty complex commands from elements of GUI (and freely move within directory tree in a process without destroying it, the capability that was always a desirable part of Unix command interface)

    Recently those ideas related to vi and orthodox editors started cross-pollinated OFM that consider themselves not derivatives of Norton Commander, but derivatives by  vi  See ranger and vifm. have some interesting, distinct from traditional "Norton" line of OFM ideas implemented.

There are also some other common features but they just overlap and extend the three more fundamental features listed above:

  1. Tiled, nonoverlapping windows with minimum decorations. Generally both Orthodox editors and Orthodox file manager feather rather Spartan interface.
  2. Stress on availability of all commands via keyboard, not only via mouse clicks, althouth mouse can be productively used and is widely used in such interface. In this sense claim that such interfaces are "mouse-less" is completely untrue. Simply mouse plays the role of important but supporting instrument, not as the primary instrument as "drag and drop" type of interface. 
  3. Stress on availability of macrogenerator. This is connected with viewing shortcuts as the means to generate some internal commands.
  4. Stress on the ability to utilize pipes and external program as a source of gui elements. This is especially visible in vi with its ! and !! commands. Ability to redirect output of commands executed in one window to other windows and processes. That includes the ability of forwarding result of particular command execution into panel in OFMs (panelize command in OFMs, especially external panelize command in Midnight Commander) and capability of ! command to use part of editing buffer as input and pipe the result into selected part of editing buffer in vi. For example, the command:
    will beautify your program using standard Unix beautifier (indent). This is a classic example of using piping in vi.


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