The MECANO Project: Comprehensive and Integrated Support for Model-Based Interface Development

Model-based interface development works on the following central premise: given a declarative interface model that defines all the relevant characteristics of a user interface, then comprehensive, automated, user-interface development environments can be built around such model. Yet, the high potential of this technology has not been realised because all interface models built so far are partial representations of interfaces, cannot be readily modified by developers, are implicitly tied to their associated development environment, or, importantly, are not publicly available to the HCI community.
The MECANO Project is a research effort that aims to overcome such limitations. It encompasses two phases: (1) The development of a comprehensive interface model available as a resource to the HCI community, and (2) the implementation of a open model-based development environment based on such an interface model. In this paper, we report on the first phase of the project. We present the MECANO Interface Model (MIM), and its associated interface modelling language (MIMIC). We describe a metalevel paradigm for interface modelling that overcomes problems of flexibility and completeness. The paradigm is also unique in that it not only models the user interface but also models explicitly the design process of the interface. This allows the construction of software tools that operate on the design process as well as on the interface elements. MIM has been validated via a variety of paper-based interfaces.
Computer-Aided Design of User Interfaces I, Proceedings of the Second International Workshop on Computer-Aided Design of User Interfaces (CADUI'1996), June 5-7, 1996, Namur, Belgium
Presses Universitaires de Namur