Menus, menu bars, buttons, panels, sliders, all gui, the whole gui enchilada!

Hello all,

	Here are my two cents worth on a completely tangential subject yet
relevant if you think crookedly.

	I have not had to mess with gui's much but when I've had to I always
found it very difficult to get right and time consuming. The issues of
what goes where and how to handle this and that and what if the user
can't understand the menu options and what kind of help system to have
are arguments in the same league as discussions of the origin of
language or religious matters. 

	This has resulted in my having developed EXTREME AVOIDANCE BEHAVIOR on
this matter. But, I have to work and I have deal with it.

	Lately though, I've been moving my user interfaces (when I've had to
have one) to the web. Yes, I know, why spend that much in resources to
have a gui, etc. The reason is ease of modification, ease of creation,
ease of maintenance, and cross platform availability.

	I found out that I am NOT the first to have this idea. I saw a paper
once (reference lost sorry) about using SGML to describe a program's
gui. I think it's a brilliant idea (if I say so myself).

	Here's the proposal: 

	Instead of having every program build its own gui out of
widgets/gadgets/xlib calls/whatever coded in
C/C++/python/perl/tcl/guile/whatever, why not have it have an XML file
associated with it or built in to it (whatever) that defines the look,
the menus, the cute little graphics, the buttons, the fonts to use, the
BEHAVIOR of the entire gui? The app would pass this information to a
second program (or make use of a library) to create, register, and
render the gui.

	-easier (?) to develop a gui maker/manipulator
	which would make
	-it easy for a user (perhaps) the change the app's gui to taste
	-ummm ... just plain easier.
	-it can be made to use the underlying tool kit (gtk,qt,lesstif,
whatever M$ uses)
	 in other words, VERY portable.
	-new unique behaviors, widgets, layouts can be defined by each
application simply            and without having to code in anything low
	-could make it easy to handle overall policies as to the
behavior/features of                menus, etc.
	-(????) could make it easier to "render" on a text only display
	-greater reliability because there is less low level code AND there
exist validators          for XML (?)

	-nothing like it exists to my knowledge (ActiveDesktop?)
	-most will not like it for gui design reasons
	-a LOT I'm sure ... 
What do you think? From my point of view, looking at the stuff on my
display, there is NOTHING that could not be done just as well by
something like XML. NOTHING.

PS: I think this would also free us from a strict dependence on X yet
still enjoy remote display capabilities (using CORBA) even to where
there is no X server.

Allen "what have you been smoking, dude?" Rouse
These are personal opinions. They do not represent IBM nor are they
endorsed by IBM.

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