Improving the Usability of a MAS DSML
Context: A significant effort has been devoted to the design and implementation of various domain-specific modeling languages (DSMLs) for the software agents domain.
Problem: Language usability is often tackled in an ad-hoc way, with the collection of anecdotal evidence supporting the process. However, usability plays an important role in the productivity, learnability and, ultimately, in the adoption of a MAS DSML by agent developers.
Method: In this chapter, we discuss how the principles of The “Physics” of Notations (PoN) can be applied to improve the visual notation of a MAS DSML, called SEA_ML and evaluate the result in terms of usability.
Results: The evolved version of the language, SEA_ML++, was perceived as significantly improved in terms of icons comprehensibility, adequacy and usability, as a direct result of employing the principles of PoN. However, users were not significantly more efficient and effective with SEA_ML++, suggesting these 2 properties were not chiefly constrained by the identified shortcomings of the SEA_ML concrete syntax.
KeywordsUsability Multi-agent systems Domain specific modeling language Physics of Notations SEA_ML
The authors would like to thank the followings: (i) the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TUBITAK) under grant 115E591, and (ii) Portuguese grants NOVA LINCS Research Laboratory (Grant: FCT/MCTES PEst UID/ CEC/04516/2013) and DSML4MA Project (Grant: FCT/MCTES TUBITAK/0008/2014).
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