acm-header
Sign In

Communications of the ACM

Communications of the ACM

Using formal specifications in the design of a human-computer interface


Formal specification techniques are valuable in software development because they permit a designer to describe the external behavior of a system precisely without specifying its internal implementation. Although formal specifications have been applied to many areas of software systems, they have not been widely used for specifying user interfaces. In the Military Message System project at the Naval Research Laboratory, the user interfaces as well as the other components of a family of message systems are specified formally, and prototypes are then implemented from the specifications. This paper illustrates the specification of the user interface module for the family of message systems. It then surveys specification techniques that can be applied to human-computer interfaces and divides the techniques into two categories: those based on state transition diagrams and those based on BNF. Examples of both types of specifications are given. Specification notations based on state transition diagrams are preferable to those based on BNF because the former capture the surface structure of the user interface more perspicuously. In either notation, a high-level abstraction for describing the semantics of the user interface is needed, and an application-specific one is used here.

The full text of this article is premium content


 

No entries found

Log in to Read the Full Article

Sign In

Sign in using your ACM Web Account username and password to access premium content if you are an ACM member, Communications subscriber or Digital Library subscriber.

Need Access?

Please select one of the options below for access to premium content and features.

Create a Web Account

If you are already an ACM member, Communications subscriber, or Digital Library subscriber, please set up a web account to access premium content on this site.

Join the ACM

Become a member to take full advantage of ACM's outstanding computing information resources, networking opportunities, and other benefits.
  

Subscribe to Communications of the ACM Magazine

Get full access to 50+ years of CACM content and receive the print version of the magazine monthly.

Purchase the Article

Non-members can purchase this article or a copy of the magazine in which it appears.