Chapter 11

Chapter 11 - Chapter 11 Graphical User Interfaces By...

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Chapter 11 Graphical User Interfaces By default, Matlab runs through a command line interface. That is, individual commands, functions or scripts are executed by typing instructions into the command window and pressing enter. For many years, this was the primary method for interacting with a computer. Contemporary applications of the command line interface still abound. The DOS prompt in Microsoft’s command window, as well as the UNIX and Linux operating systems, for example. Since the 1990’s, however, the command line has been replaced as the dominant method for computer control by the graphical user interface. Popularized by Apple, and later Microsoft, the graphical user interface provides a more user-friendly and intuitive means for human-computer interaction. Long, text commands, prone to error, have been replaced by clicks of the mouse on icons and buttons. Virtually all programs you use today utilize graphical user interfaces. Even Matlab’s command window is encapsulated within such an interface. Even though Matlab programming is primarily designed for small groups of experienced users, the importance of graphical user interfaces has necessitated their inclusion. Matlab’s capabilities in regard to graphical user interfaces have evolved significantly over the past few years. Each subsequent release has included dramatic improvements and additions. Therefore, the features discussed in this chapter may not be representative for your version. For the record, this chapter has been written based on the student edition of Matlab, version 6.5, release 13. 11.1 Object-Oriented Programming Any discussion of programming graphical user interfaces needs to begin with an understanding of what goes on “behind the scenes”. This involves a certain degree of computer science theory. These concepts are important, however, as they form the basis of most major programming languages in use today. To begin, graphical user interfaces became possible (and practical) thanks to the development and spread of object oriented programming languages. Object-Oriented Programming (OOP) is a method of organizing data and the functions that operate on that data. In the old days (a relative term, to be sure, as this means in the mid-to-late 80’s and before), most languages had a strict separation between data and functions. OOP bridged that gap by linking functions and their related data together. This distinction may seem trivial, but it was a revolutionary idea in computer science. OOP allows for complicated operations to be performed with simpler coding (in many, but not all cases). It allows for easier replication of code, improved efficiency and more rapid development. The result has been that over the past decade, many previously widespread programming languages
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have practically died out and have been replaced with C++, Java, Visual Basic and others. Matlab is, in fact, an OOP language. 11.1.1
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Chapter 11 - Chapter 11 Graphical User Interfaces By...

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