Pattern-based Modeling and Development of Interactive Information Systems

Jürgen Engel, Christian Herdin, Christian Märtin, Universtität Augsburg

The project p.i.t.c.h. (pattern-based interactive tools for improved communication habits in knowledge transfers) was conducted by the Automation in Usability Engineering group (AUE) at Augsburg University of Applied Sciences in cooperation with two medium-sized enterprises with engineering and production background and several partners from communication sciences and the knowledge management domain. Several use scenarios have been defined considering recurring workflows, related knowledge demands and communication factors. Three use scenarios have been selected for the prototypical implementation: profile board, info log and collaborative reporting.

In order to design and develop well-structured and associative multimedia user interfaces for accessing and sharing the organizational knowledge, we applied a hierarchical pattern-language approach that uses various pattern-types on different levels of abstraction to cover all UI-related aspects of knowledge sharing applications. In this sense, the three above mentioned use scenarios can be regarded as patterns of the highest abstraction level, which are iteratively substantiated by patterns of lower abstractions. The resulting pattern hierarchy is used within a semi-automated user interface generation process which combines model-based and pattern-based development techniques. By exploiting information inherent to task-models and the patterns and their relationships inside the pattern hierarchy it is intended to achieve a maximum degree of automation for the generation of artifacts from abstract and semi-abstract user interface models down to the resulting UI source code.

In a first step the .p.i.t.c.h. application was realized for desktop computers with large screens (15 in. or bigger) and high resolution (1024×768 px. or better). After this it appeared the demand to have the application also available on mobile devices. Therefore it was necessary to redesign the user interface in order to support small displays with the size of 35×41 mm (or alike) and a resolution of 176×208 px. (or alike).

Such context changes can be facilitated by transforming patterns and potentially their relationships inside the pattern hierarchy. Basically there exist three different types of pattern-based transformations. At first there is the option to use the same pattern in the source as well as in the target context, i.e. the sameness on an abstract pattern-level. A second possibility is to apply the same pattern, but to vary in extensiveness, e.g. to include more or less items in a menu bar or to incorporate much or sparse content into a screen. The third option is to completely reorganize the structure and replace patterns by one or multiple different ones. Basically multiple equivalent pattern transformations may coexist for a specific pattern and a specific context, i.e. that you have transformation alternatives.

The intended paper will show details of the used pattern definitions and transformation rules which are necessary to migrate an application’s user interface to a different context of use.

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