Bowen, J. & Reeves, S. (2009). Refinement for user interface designs. Formal Aspects of Computing, 21(6), 589-612.
Permanent Research Commons link: http://hdl.handle.net/10289/4199
Formal approaches to software development require that we correctly describe (or specify) systems in order to prove properties about our proposed solution prior to building it. We must then follow a rigorous process to transform our specification into an implementation to ensure that the properties we have proved are retained. Different transformation, or refinement, methods exist for different formal methods, but they all seek to ensure that we can guide the transformation in a way which preserves the desired properties of the system. Refinement methods also allow us to subsequently compare two systems to see if a refinement relation exists between the two. When we design and build the user interfaces of our systems we are similarly keen to ensure that they have certain properties before we build them. For example, do they satisfy the requirements of the user? Are they designed with known good design principles and usability considerations in mind? Are they correct in terms of the overall system specification? However, when we come to implement our interface designs we do not have a defined process to follow which ensures that we maintain these properties as we transform the design into code. Instead, we rely on our judgement and belief that we are doing the right thing and subsequent user testing to ensure that our final solution remains useable and satisfactory. We suggest an alternative approach, which is to define a refinement process for user interfaces which will allow us to maintain the same rigorous standards we apply to the rest of the system when we implement our user interface designs.
This is an author’s accepted version of an article published in the journal: Formal Aspects of Computing. The original publication is available at www.springerlink.com.