If Arnold had been an SAP Consultant, he would have used the command line.
In my all too distant past, I was an SAP implementation consultant. Once upon a time I even did the ABAP for HR course, in Minneapolis of all places. I worked on several large projects in South Africa, but I found myself drawn into doing more and more presales. I enjoyed the adrenalin buzz of the one hour demo more than the grind of project work.
In presales the main skill required is the ability to do several things at once; , listen, click the mouse, talk, remember people’s names and lots of stuff about what other companies have done. Yet the most important skill remains a detailed knowledge of protector-laptop integration. (never mind SOA…how do I get this beamer working?)
In the pioneering days of client/server typing commands into command line was seen as an evil throw back to the mainframe. Competing with PeopleSoft meant that the mouse had to dominate. The more things that were double-click and drag-drop the better. Icons and toolbars were hip, but the command-line…. this was verboten.
So in demo dream land, the mouse was king.
Meanwhile in consultant and power user land the command line remained the main form of access, despite various GUI redesigns and so on. /npa30 is engraved somewhere in my brain, and I’ll remember it long after I’ve forgotten what this icon means-
It’s time for new, user-centric command line interfaces to make a comeback. A command line that lets you type or say what you want to do, and the computer does it. That’s what the interfaces of the future will be. And that’s what Enso aspires to.*
Think about the implications for HR application navigation.
Typing perf mary: and the system automatically opens Mary Jones’ (who is the only Mary in your team) performance appraisal, is a whole lot easier than grabbing the mouse clicking on manager self service, then scrolling down to my team, then clicking the icon for performance management then selecting this year then scroll down and selecting Jones, Mary.
I installed the demo for enso it.is.c.o.o.l. here it is in action (that is this post in the background on livewriter)
Humanized, in turn, linked to Design Guru, Don Norman.
Want to know what I think the next UI breakthroughs will be? Here are two, both of which can be considered a return to fundamentals:
- Command line languages;
- Physicality: the return to physical devices, where we control things by physical body movement, by turning, moving, and manipulating appropriate mechanical devices.
So, let’s rethink the command line, and think more deeply about taking the wii more seriously. After all what is Google but a command line?
Google reader’s most vocal supporter, Scoble, comments
I’ve read through more than 1,000 items so far today. I find it interesting that some think it’s slow. It hesitates once every 20 feeds, but I hit “J, J, J, J” as fast as I can read and it keeps up. But, the best part of Google Reader is that I can share my favorite items with you. I’ve read 1016 items so you don’t have to.
The introduction of the Mac triggered a sort of holy war in the computer world. Were GUIs a brilliant design innovation that made computers more human-centered and therefore accessible to the masses, leading us toward an unprecedented revolution in human society, or an insulting bit of audiovisual gimcrackery dreamed up by flaky Bay Area hacker types that stripped computers of their power and flexibility and turned the noble and serious work of computing into a childish video game?
This debate actually seems more interesting to me today than it did in the mid-1980s. But people more or less stopped debating it when Microsoft endorsed the idea of GUIs by coming out with the first Windows. At this point, command-line partisans were relegated to the status of silly old grouches, and a new conflict was touched off, between users of MacOS and users of Windows.
So scripting wizards of SDN, now that you have connected the SAP, Wii and Zoho, how about enso? Craig, Dan, Ed….and of course Nigel, who got me thinking about this in the first place.