Technical Report MSC-2012-26

Title: A Semantic Approach To User Interface Design
Authors: Mordechai Porat
Supervisors: Eliezer Kantorowitz
Abstract: It is sometimes required to run the same application program on different platforms, from smartphones to PC's. The graphical user interface (GUI) designed for use of the application on a large PC screen may need a redesign in order to fit to a small smartphone screen. In addition, different applications running on the same platform may employ different GUI's to meet different requirements of the different applications and of different user populations. Industrial experience and behavioral research have resulted in a number of published recommendations and conventions for designing GUI of different applications on different platforms. The purpose of these recommendations is to promote the design of GUI's providing a satisfactory user experience (UX; this includes usability and aesthetics). These recommendations and conventions are specified by design rules and Interaction Design Patterns (IDP's). This project has resulted in a novel method for generating GUI's that adhere to specified IDP's. The input to the method is a semantically specified GUI of the kind introduced by Kantorowitz and Lyakas. In their method, the code of the application, called Application Logic code (AL code), specifies its user interaction semantically, i.e. by what is to be done and not by the employed GUI components. For example, the semantic control "select one of n choices" may on one platform correspond to a menu and on another platform to a group of n radio buttons. Another component, called Interaction Style code (IS code), converts the semantically specified user interface to a real-life ("concrete") GUI. The method introduced in this work transforms the semantic GUI into a concrete GUI by employing a number of customizable transformation rules. The customization enables adaptation to a specific platform and to specified IDP's. Experiments with the method suggest its applicability. The produced GUI's require, however, some polishing, for which further research is required.

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