"Transparent to the User"

Subject: "Transparent to the User"
From: tech -dot- writer1 -at- verizon -dot- net
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 7 Apr 2005 08:41:20 -0600

I have come across this phrase in a system description I am editing: "The
creation of index files is transparent to the user."

I'll check with the SME, but I think his intent of the phrase is to
describe a process that is invisible or requires no user intervention. But
it seems to me that "transparent to the user" could also mean that the
user can "see" what is happening (if it were "opaque", it could not be

This web page http://www.sju.edu/~jhodgson/gui/cogn.html uses the phrase
as such: "The goal is to make the computer transparent to the user, just
as a pencil is transparent to its user."

In what sense is a pencil "transparent" to its user?

If the intent of the phrase "The creation of index files is transparent to
the user" is to mean that this process is invisible to the user, is this a
correct or incorrect use of the phrase "transparent to the user"?

Thanks for shedding some light :-)


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