Journal Article

Abstract representations as a basis for usable user interfaces

Shari Trewin, Gottfried Zimmermann and Gregg Vanderheiden

in Interacting with Computers

Published on behalf of British Computer Society

Volume 16, issue 3, pages 477-506
Published in print June 2004 | ISSN: 0953-5438
Published online May 2004 | e-ISSN: 1873-7951 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.intcom.2004.04.005
Abstract representations as a basis for usable user interfaces

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This article examines four existing or proposed standards for abstract description of user interfaces: UIML, XIML, XForms and URC. These are assessed with respect to a ‘universal remote console’ scenario, in which abstract user interface descriptions enable any user to access and control any compliant device or service in the local environment, using any personal device. Achieving usable interfaces in this scenario requires an abstract language that (a) separates data from presentation; (b) explicitly declares interface elements, their state, dependencies, and semantics; (c) incorporates alternative resources in a flexible way; and (d) supports remote control and different interaction styles. Of the technologies examined, XForms and URC provide the best match to the requirements. While XForms requires an appropriate context of use to provide full access, the URC standard will include specification of the context in which the language is to be used. Two specific research challenges are identified: semantic tagging and the development of effective authoring processes.

Keywords: Abstract user interface; Device-independence; Modality-independence; Universal remote console; XForms; UIML; XIML

Journal Article.  12312 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Human-Computer Interaction

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