Glossary » modeless
a type of interface where the user is free to perform any action in the interface and the interpretation of user input is the same at all times. That is, mouse clicks always have the same effect and keystrokes always have the same effect. This is particularly in contrast to modal interfaces, where the interpretation of input can vary depending on the current state or current settings (the “mode”).
Modeless interfaces are generally preferred to keep a user from getting confused by modes, but in some cases modes may be preferred. For example, a wizard (or “assistant”) is a structured series of steps that severely restricts a user’s actions and can change context with each step, but is helpful to the user by providing guidance and limiting otherwise seemingly infinite parameters to a comprehensible subset.