Abstract User Interfaces: A Model and Notation to Support Plasticity in Interactive Systems

  • Kevin A. Schneider
  • James R. Cordy
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 2220)


This paper introduces the Abstract User Interface (AUI) model and notation for specifying abstract interaction in interactive software systems with graphical, direct manipulation user interfaces. The AUI model is aimed at improving the plasticity of an interactive system. An interactive system is considered to be plastic when it is easily adaptable to concrete user interface styles. To support plasticity, an AUI specification defines the interaction between input, output and computation in terms of the abstract elements of the user interface: a relation we refer to as abstract interaction. Concrete characteristics of the user interface, such as events, callbacks and rendering, are deliberately factored out so that the abstract interaction relation can be exposed. Clearly defining the abstract interaction ensures that consistent interaction semantics is maintained independent of changes to the concrete user interface. To demonstrate the AUI concept, a range of user interface styles are presented for a single AUI specification of a drawing tool, and examples of commercial applications are presented.


User Interface Interactive System Interaction Technique Graphical Element Mouse Button 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kevin A. Schneider
    • 1
  • James R. Cordy
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Computer ScienceUniversity of SaskatchewanSaskatchewanCanada
  2. 2.Department of Computing and Information ScienceQueen’s UniversityOntarioCanada

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