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Title: A decentralised semantic architecture for social networking platforms
Author: Iqbal, Yasir
ISNI:       0000 0004 7658 8330
Awarding Body: Brunel University London
Current Institution: Brunel University
Date of Award: 2018
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Social networking platforms (SNPs) are complex distributed software applications exhibiting many challenges related to data portability. Since existing platforms are propriety in design, users cannot easily share their data with other SNPs, however decentralisation of social networking platforms can provide a solution to this problem. There is a difference of opinion, the way the research and developer communities have pursued this issue. Existing approaches used in decentralisation provide limited structural detail and lack in providing a systematic framework of design activities. There is a need for an architectural framework based on standardised software architectural principles and technologies to guide the design and development of decentralised social networking platforms in order to improve the level of both data portability and interoperability. The main aim of this research is to develop an architectural solution to achieve data portability among SNPs via decentralisation. Existing proposed decentralised platforms are based on a distributed structure and are mainly for a specific aspect such as access control or security and privacy. In addition to this, existing approaches lack in practicality due to underdeveloped and non-standardised design. To solve these issues a new architectural framework is needed, which can provide design and development guidelines for the decentralised social networking platform. The goal of this thesis is to study, design and develop an architectural framework for social networking platforms that can incorporate the requirements of the decentralisation, to make portability possible. The synergies between the software engineering principles and social web technologies are investigated to create a standard approach. The proposed architecture is based on component-based software development (CBSD) and aspect-oriented software development (AOSD), a unified approach known as CAM (Component Aspect Model). The foundations of the proposed architecture are based on decentralised social networking architecture (DSNA), architectural style which is derived from CAM. Components and aspects are the building blocks of the proposed decentralised social networking platform architecture. From a development perspective, each component represents a social network functionality and aspects represent the properties and preferences that are used to decentralise the functionality. The model for the component composition is a major challenge because the use of CAM for social networks has not been attempted before. The proposed architecture comprehensively integrates the DSNA architectural style into each architectural component. Portability among SNPs by means of decentralisation can be summarised into three steps. (1) Definition of the architectural style, (2) implementation of the architectural style into components and (3) integration of the component composition. To date component composition approaches have not been used for social networks as a way to develop social network functionality. The concept of middleware has been adapted to achieve the composition feature of the architecture. In the architecture Social Network Support Layer (SNSL) functions as middleware to facilitate component composition. Existing middleware solutions still lack integration of CBSD and AOSD concepts. This limitation is characterised by, a lack of explicit guidelines for composition, a lack of declarative specification and definition model to express component composition and a lack of support for role allocation. This research overcome these limitations. The application of the architecture is based on the W3C SWAT (Social Web Acid Test) scenario. A Messaging application is developed to evaluate the scenario based on the Design Science Research Methodology. The architectural style is defined in the first stage of design followed by the component-based architecture. The architectural style is defined to guide the architecture and the component composition model. In the second stage, the design and implementation of composition technology (that is SNSL) are developed with architectural style and the rules defined in the first stage. The refined version of the architecture is evaluated in the third stage, according to WC3 SWAT test. The definitive version of the proposed architecture with the benchmarked result can be used to design and build social networking platforms, allowing users to share and collaborate information across the different social networking platforms.
Supervisor: Kamal, M. ; De Cesare, S. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Semantic ; Decentralised architecture ; Social networking platform ; Semantic social and decentralisation