A visual design method and its application to high reliability hypermedia systems
This work addresses the problem of the production of hypermedia documentation for applications that require high reliability, particularly technical documentation in safety critical industries. One requirement of this application area is for the availability of a task-based organisation, which can guide and monitor such activities as maintenance and repair. In safety critical applications there must be some guarantee that such sequences are correctly presented. Conventional structuring and design methods for hypermedia systems do not allow such guarantees to be made. A formal design method that is based on a process algebra is proposed as a solution to this problem. Design methods of this kind need to be accessible to information designers. This is achieved by use of a technique already familiar to them: the storyboard. By development of a storyboard notation that is syntactically equivalent to a process algebra a bridge is made between information design and computer science, allowing formal analysis and refinement of the specification drafted by information designers. Process algebras produce imperative structures that do not map easily into the declarative formats used for some hypermedia systems, but can be translated into concurrent programs. This translation process, into a language developed by the author, called ClassiC, is illustrated and the properties that make ClassiC a suitable implementation target discussed. Other possible implementation targets are evaluated, and a comparative illustration given of translation into another likely target, Java.