Widget Definition

A widget, also called a control, is a visual component of a graphical user interface (GUI) which is designed for users to manipulate using a mouse (and often to a limited extent by a keyboard as well). Common widget types include buttons, check boxes, combo boxes, icons, menus, radio buttons, scrollbars, sliders, status bars, text boxes, toolbars, tooltips and windows (including dialog boxes).

A GUI is a type of human-computer interface (i.e., a way for humans to interact with computers) that is composed of widgets. GUIs stand in sharp contrast to command line interfaces (CLIs), which use only text and are accessed solely by a keyboard (e.g., Linux when used in console mode and MS-DOS).

A toolkit, also called a widget toolkit or a GUI toolkit, is a set of widgets for use in constructing GUIs. Toolkits are often implemented as a library, which is a collection of routines (also called subprograms, procedures or functions) that perform operations commonly required by programs.

Another meaning of the term widget is a small specialized GUI application that provides some visual information and/or easy access to frequently used functions. Examples include calculators, calendars and desktop notes.

One explanation for the origin of the term widget is that it is a combination of the words window and gadget.

Created July 25, 2005.
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