An illustration of 1’s and 0’s with a stick figure sitting on one, reading.
User interfaces are where people and technology meet.

User Interface Software and Technology

The HCI community has a long history of innovation in user interface software and technologies, but there are few surveys or review of all of this research. This book attempts to summarize much of this knowledge, providing a living online textbook for UX designers, researchers, design-literate developers to learn from and leverage this ever-expanding body of knowledge.

I hope you enjoy! If not, please file an  issue  on the  the book’s GitHub repository .

A photograph of the original computer mouse. Chapter 1

A History of Interfaces

~10 min read
A very close subpixel image of a mouse cursor. Chapter 2

A Theory of Interfaces

~20 min read
A top down photograph of three people using one laptop, all with arms reached out to point. Chapter 3

What Interfaces Mediate

~15 min read
A braille numeric keypad Chapter 4


~15 min read
A close up shot of a code editor showing some Python code. Chapter 5

Programming Interfaces

~20 min read
A screenshot of the Xerox star user interface and it’s word processing application and desktop Chapter 6

Interactive Interfaces

~20 min read
A modern architecture of an apartment building, figuratively resembling software architecture. Chapter 7

Interface Architecture

~20 min read
A photograph of a person touching an Apple Watch screen Chapter 8


~15 min read
A photograph of a kitten sitting on a computer keyboard. Chapter 9

Text Entry

~10 min read
Two human hands in the sun facing a blue sky Chapter 10

Hand-Based Input

~15 min read
A man and a woman playing XBox Kinect game. Chapter 11

Body-Based Input

~15 min read
A screenshot of the original Pong video game with two paddles, a ball, and scores. Chapter 12

2D Visual Output

~15 min read
A screenshot of Microsoft’s Hololens Minecraft experience Chapter 13

3D Visual Output

~10 min read
A Makerbot 3D printer printing a nested dodecahedron. Chapter 14

Physical Output

~15 min read
A stick figure man looking frustrated at a computer screen. Chapter 15


~15 min read
Legal paperwork with Apple and Microsoft logos Chapter 16

Intellectual Property

~25 min read
The front desk of the University of Washington’s CoMotion, which supports technology transfer from research. Chapter 17


~15 min read
A photograph of a Ring Doorbell mounted on a brick wall. Chapter 18

Interface Ethics

~10 min read


Everything cited




Common words and where they are


Find where words occur


Images and video in the book

Thank you all of the students who’ve provided extensive and insightful feedback on drafts of this book over the years.

Creative Commons Attribution-NoDeriviatives 4.0

Want to print this book or generate a PDF? See all chapters on a single page and then print or export. Long books can take some time to render.

Amy J. Ko, Jacob O. Wobbrock, Eric Whitmire (2024). User Interface Software and Technology. …, retrieved 1/23/2024.