When building more complex Arduino projects that are embedded inside a restricted area, or perhaps developing a commercial product - you may need a simpler way to interact with the device in order to change settings, configurations or operational commands. One method of doing this could be via an LCD keypad display, however for a user-friendly infrequent method of control, consider the "SerialUI" interface created by Pat Deegan.
His code allows you to create a text-based menu structure system that is controlled via the serial monitor, including a help system and levels of sub-menus. Once integrated in your sketch, this gives you single-cable access for walk-up operation with a PC or just a nice way to change things from your desktop for those local projects.
Furthermore there's a graphical interface for Windows and Linux that can be used to control the menus via serial - perfect for giving less-technical users a simple PC-based GUI for the Arduino. Watch the following video for Pat's walk-through the system:
If you're new to Arduino and want to join the fun, the first step is a solid board for your projects - our Freetronics Eleven - the Arduino-Uno compatible with low-profile USB socket, onboard prototyping space and easy to view LEDs: