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Help: A Minimalist Global User Interface by Rob Pike

Help is a combination of editor, window system, shell, and user interface that provides a novel environment for the construction of textual applications such as browsers, debuggers, mailers, and so on. It combines an extremely lean user interface with some automatic heuristics and defaults to achieve significant effects with minimal mouse and keyboard activity. The user interface is driven by a file-oriented programming interface that may be controlled from programs or even shell scripts. By taking care of user interface issues in a central utility, help simplifies the job of programming applications that make use of a bitmap display and mouse.

Keywords: Windows, User Interfaces, Minimalism.

See also

Help was later replaced by the acme ‘user interface for programmers’ which includes some simplifications and extensions of the concepts explored in help. Acme is included in all recent versions of Plan 9 and has been ported to Inferno and to Unix platform as part of Plan 9 from User Space.

Acme has also been reimplemented in Limbo for Inferno and is available in a cross-platform standalone version for Windows and MacOS X under the name acme-sac (Stand Alone Complex).

Of interest are also sam, an older text editor popular among ‘old school’ hackers; and the rio window system; both by Rob Pike.