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A CDE Definition

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look & feel

See look and feel.

look and feel

The user interface of an operating system, application or Web page. The look refers to how logos, graphics, menus and other elements are laid out on the page. The feel refers to the interactions: the way menus are organized and the way functions are selected and performed (the "method of operation").

Copyright the Look, Not the Feel
There have been two landmark cases regarding the look and feel of software. In the late 1980s, Apple sued Microsoft, claiming that Windows copied the Mac OS look and feel. However, due to a previous licensing agreement between both companies, the case never resulted in a statute, and both parties settled.

In the mid-1990s, Lotus sued Borland, claiming that Borland's Quattro Pro spreadsheet emulated the look and feel of Lotus 1-2-3. Much to the woe of proprietary software vendors, the court decision resolved that although visual elements of the graphical user interface could be copyrighted, the method of operation (menus and functions) could not. See user interface.

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