User-driven visual composition of service-based interactive spaces
Journal of Visual Languages and Computing
Objective The idea is to replace fixed, pre-packaged applications with flexible composition environments that, thanks to a separation among data, functions and presentations, make interactive environments "emerge" at run-time based on composition actions performed by end users. Methods This paper describes an approach for the lightweight construction of integrated, situational work-spaces pervasively accessible and sharable through a variety of devices. Specific emphasis is posed on the
... of a composition paradigm that abstract from technical details and can be thus used by non-technical users. Thanks to the separation of concerns on which we ground the composition paradigm, the overall approach and its enabling platform are also amenable to customization with respect to the requirements of specific domains. Results A platform, based on service composition technologies, has been developed; it implements a meta-design approach to allow end users, not necessarily experts of technologies, to extract contents from heterogeneous sources and compose Personal Information Spaces (PISs) that satisfy their information needs and that can be pervasively executed on different devices. Conclusion We proposed an approach where the composition platform enables the extraction of content from heterogeneous services, and the integration of the extracted content into situational applications where content presentation is flexibly managed through different visualization templates. Practice The developed prototypes have been evaluated in studies in which real users (e.g. guides of an archaeological park) were observed in action. Implications The results provided hints for refining the prototypes, and pose the basis for future work related to the identification of design principles that can make composition technologies more useful and usable for the end users.