Acme User Interface

A hybrid of window system, shell, and editor, Acme gives text-oriented applications a clean, expressive, and consistent style of interaction. Traditional window systems support interactive client programs and offer libraries of pre-defined operations such as pop-up menus and buttons to promote a consistent user interface among the clients. Acme instead provides its clients with a fixed user interface and simple conventions to encourage its uniform use. Clients access the facilities of Acme through a file system interface; Acme is in part a file server that exports device-like files that may be manipulated to access and control the contents of its windows. Written in a concurrent programming language, Acme is structured as a set of communicating processes that neatly subdivide the various aspects of its tasks: display management, input, file server, and so on.

Acme attaches distinct functions to the three mouse buttons: the left selects text; the middle executes textual commands; and the right combines context search and file opening functions to integrate the various applications and files in the system.

Acme works well enough to have developed a community that uses it exclusively. Although Acme discourages the traditional style of interaction based on typescript windows teletypes its users find Acme’s other services render typescripts obsolete.

Acme shows that it is possible to make a user interface a stand-alone component of an interactive environment. By absorbing more of the interactive functionality than a simple window system, Acme off-loads much of the computation from its applications, which helps keep them small and consistent in their interface. Acme can afford to dedicate considerable effort to making that interface as good as possible; the result will benefit the entire system.


circa 1994

The term AcmeUserInterface -- all that Acme stuff that Wile E Coyote uses to get the Roadrunner

Related Page: AcmeProgrammingEnvironment.


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