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Survey and Examples of Specification Techniques for User-Computer Interfaces.

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Interim rept. Apr 81-Sep 83,

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Formal and semiformal specification techniques have been applied to many aspects of software systems. The module structure, the uses hierarchy, and the process structure of a system are examples of areas in which such techniques are useful however, specification techniques have been less successful in describing the interface between a system and its user. This report provides a survey of techniques suitable for specifying the user interface of a system and a detailed discussion of the relevant literature. It also presents a collection of examples of the application of several representative specification techniques to a common set of examples to compare the relative merits of the techniques. Section 1 discusses reasons for specifying a user interface, criteria that such a specification should satisfy, and the application of user interface specification techniques to the Military Message System Project at the Naval Research Laboratory. Section 2 describes the principal specification techniques that have been used nearly all of them are found to fall into one of two classes-those based on BNF and those based on state transmission diagrams. Section 3 provides a brief example to illustrate specifications of these two classes. Section 4 contains a detailed survey of the specification techniques and the ways in which they have been applied. Section 5 introduces the notation used in the examples of user interface specifications that follow and Section 6 presents those specifications. Section 7 presents some conclusions. Keywords Software engineering Human factors. Author

Subject Categories:

  • Computer Programming and Software
  • Human Factors Engineering and Man Machine Systems

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