Look and feel

Look and feel

Look and feel is a term used in descriptions of products and fields such as marketing, branding and trademarking, to signify the experience a person has using a product, and the main features of its appearance and interfaces.

In software design, look and feel is used in respect of a graphical user interface and comprises aspects of its design, including elements such as colors, shapes, layout, and typefaces (the "look"), as well as the behavior of dynamic elements such as buttons, boxes, and menus (the "feel"). Look and feel can also refer to aspects of an API, mostly to parts of an API which are not related to its functional properties. The term look and feel is used in reference to both software and websites.

Look and feel applies to other products. In documentation, for example, it refers to the graphical layout (document size, color, font, etc.) and the writing style. In the context of equipment, it refers to consistency in controls and displays across a product line.

Look and feel in operating system user interfaces serves two general purposes. First, it provides branding, helping to identify a set of products from one company. Second, it increases ease of use, since users will become familiar with how one product functions (looks, reads, etc.) and can translate their experience to other products with the same look and feel. Some companies try to assert copyright over their look and feel.

Apple Computer was notable for its use of the term "look and feel" in reference to their Mac OS operating system. The firm tried, with some success, to block other software developers from creating software which had a similar look and feel. Apple argued that they had a copyright claim on the look and feel of their software, and even went so far as to sue Microsoft, alleging that the Windows operating system was illegally copying their look and feel.

Although provoking a vehement reaction in the software community, and causing Richard Stallman to form the League for Programming Freedom, the expected landmark ruling never happened, as most of the issues were resolved based on a license that Apple had granted Microsoft for Windows 1.0. "See:" "Apple v. Microsoft". The First Circuit Court of Appeals rejected a copyright claim on the feel of a user interface in "Lotus v. Borland".

In widget toolkits

Contrary to operating system user interfaces, for which look and feel is a part of the product identification, Widget toolkits often allow users to specialize their application look and feel, by deriving the default look and feel of the toolkit, or by completely defining their own. This specialization can go from skinning (which only deals with the look, or visual appearance of the widgets) to completely specializing the way the user interacts with the software (that is, the feel).

The definition of the look and feel to associate with the application is often done at initialization, but some Widget toolkits, such as the Swing widget toolkit that is part of the Java API, allow users to change the look and feel at runtime (see Pluggable look and feel).

Some examples of Widget toolkits that support setting a specialized look and feel are:
* XUL (XML User Interface Language): The look and feel of the user interface can be specialized in a CSS file associated with the XUL definition files. Properties that can be specialized from the default are, for example, background or foreground colors of widgets, fonts, size of widgets, and so on.
* Swing supports specializing the look and feel of widgets by deriving from the default, another existing one, creating one from scratch, or beginning with J2SE 5.0, in an XML property file called synth (skinnable look and feel).


An API, which is an interface to software which provides some sort of functionality, can also have a certain look and feel. Different parts of an API (e.g. different classes or packages) are often linked by common syntactic and semantic conventions (e.g. by the same asynchronous execution model, or by the same way object attributes are accessed). These elements are rendered either explicitly (i.e. are part of the syntax of the API), or implicitly (i.e. are part of the semantic of the API).

In Literature

In the novel Microserfs by Douglas Coupland, one of the characters owns two gerbils, named "Look" and "Feel".

ee also

* Think and type
* Buzzwords

External links

* [http://java.sun.com/docs/books/tutorial/uiswing/lookandfeel/ The Java Tutorials: Modifying the Look and Feel]

* [http://javootoo.l2fprod.com/ Java Look and Feel collection]

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Look and Feel —   [dt. »Aussehen und Eindruck«], ein von der Firma Lotus geprägter Begriff, der das optische Erscheinungsbild sowie die Bedienungseigenschaften einer Benutzeroberfläche beschreibt. Anlass für die Einführung des Begriffs war ein Streit von Lotus… …   Universal-Lexikon

  • look and feel — UK US noun [singular] business the qualities of a website such as how attractive it looks, how easy it is for customers to use, and how successful it is in giving customers a particular opinion about the company Thesaurus: internethyponym …   Useful english dictionary

  • Look and Feel — Zu Aussehen und Handhabung vieler Desktops gehört, dass Fenster durch ein oben rechts enthaltenes X schließbar sind. Der Begriff Look and Feel (LAF; dt. Aussehen und Handhabung, „Anfühlen“, Anmutung) bezeichnet standardisierte Design Aspekte in… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Look And Feel — Der Begriff Look and Feel (LAF; dt. Aussehen und Handhabung, „Anfühlen“, Anmutung) bezeichnet meist durch Hersteller oder Konsortien standardisierte Design Aspekte einer Software, wie zum Beispiel Farben, Layout, Fontgröße, die Benutzung von… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Look and feel — Aspect et convivialité L aspect et la convivialité d une interface graphique (en anglais look and feel) est l ensemble des spécificités et caractéristiques d une interface qui lui donnent une identité et qui peut être perçu de différentes… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • look and feel — /ˌlυk ən fi:l/ noun the appeal of the design, layout and ease of use of a website to potential customers and the way the site fits the image the company is trying to put across …   Marketing dictionary in english

  • look and feel — noun The combination of the visual design and behaviour of a user interface …   Wiktionary

  • look and feel — UK / US noun [singular] business the qualities of a website such as how attractive it looks, how easy it is for customers to use, and how successful it is in giving customers a particular opinion about the company …   English dictionary

  • look and feel — ● ►en loc. m. ►SOC Les caractéristiques spécifiques de l interface d un produit …   Dictionnaire d'informatique francophone

  • Pluggable look and feel — is a mechanism used in the Java Swing widget toolkit allowing to change the look and feel of the graphical user interface at runtime.Swing allows to specialize the look and feel of widgets, by modifying the default (via runtime parameters),… …   Wikipedia