Methodology WSDM - Design and development of web-applications

WSDM Methodology

This methodology was originally (in 1998) developed to create small, data-related web applications (information kiosks). Gradually, it developed to the full methodology of designing applications for the web-based network (including the semantic web-network) supporting both basic and a wide range of additional design tasks (such as localization, accessibility, semantic annotation, adaptability, and so on ., etc.).

WSDM is a multi-step method for designing web-applications, including methodology, audience-driven and Semantic Web approach technologies.

Stages of the WSDM development model

Fig. 5.3. Stages of the WSDM development model

In addition to explicitly defined design principles and models for describing web applications at a different level of abstraction, WSDM also offers designers help in how to obtain specific instances of so different models to develop a well-structured, consistent and user-friendly web application . Thus, WSDM offers designers guidelines and techniques, thereby providing an explicit and systematic way of describing web applications.

The WSDM methodology recognizes the importance of users and therefore uses the analysis of different types (called audiences), their characteristics and the requirements (differing) that they impose on the web application being developed as an initial step. The results of this analysis are further used to control the design progress.

In accordance with the WSDM methodology, it is primarily necessary to perform a formal mission statement of the web application. The purpose of the mission description is to set boundaries for design by identifying the purpose of the website, its themes (work areas) and target users. The mission described is used during the design process to ensure that all the required information (and functionality) is created, and all users for whom this web application is developed will be supported. After completing the design process, the mission is used to verify whether all the stated objectives for developing the web-application were achieved. The mission is formulated in a natural language.

The next step in the WSDM methodology is Simulation Audience . This step takes into account that different web application visitors can have different needs and goals and therefore require special support that takes into account their needs. At the first sub-stage of the audience classification, all target users, informally described in the mission definition, are specified and classified into audience classes (users). An audience class is a group of visitors who have the same requirements for information and functions. Part of the identified audience class that has (or some) additional requirements in comparison with the whole class is called a subclass of the audience. This partial order relation leads to a description of the hierarchical structure, called the class hierarchy of the audience. During the sub-stage of the description of audiences for participants of each class of audiences, its characteristics, navigation and requirements to convenience of use are revealed.

The conceptual design segment is divided into two sub-stages: modeling tasks and information and modeling navigation. On the sub-stage of modeling tasks and information, the designer models tasks that must be performed by different classes of the audience, in conjunction with the content and functionality used. For each requirement, which was formulated during the modeling of the audience (in the previous step), the task model is described. Each of these models of the problem includes decomposition of the common task, elementary tasks required to fulfill certain simple requirements, as well as a temporal relationship between them (for example, sequential, independent of order). To perform this task analysis, WSDM uses a slightly modified version of the Concurrent Task Trees simulation method (CTT, coordinated task trees). In accordance with this method, for each elementary task an object block is created, which describes exactly what information and/or functionality is required to perform this elementary task. For a formal description of such object blocks, WSDM uses the OWL language.

During navigation design, the (conceptual) navigation structure is modeled in an implementation-independent manner. Such a navigation structure shows the general organization of the structure of the web application, i.e. how different visitors can navigate between the pages of the web site.

In WSDM, the basic navigation structure is based on the audience class hierarchy: a navigation path is created for each class of audiences. Such a path can be viewed as a sub-site containing only such information and functionality that is required for a given class of audience.

The internal navigation structure within the navigation path is based on the time relationship between the task models. The navigation model consists of three main modeling elements: conceptual nodes (nodes) of navigation corresponding to the elements of navigation; connections between these navigation vertices; object blocks that are associated with navigation vertices.

During the implementation design , conceptual models are supplemented with all the necessary details to prepare a real implementation that can be generated automatically. On the first sub-step - designing the site structure - the conceptual navigation structure is displayed on real web pages. There may be several site structures, depending on the device, context and platform (for example, different screen sizes may require the creation of different site structures). During the design of the presentation , the overall look and feel of this website is determined. For different types of pages (for example, a home page), templates can be described as the basis for designing real pages. During the design of the page, the developer must:

• select for each page specific interface elements (for example, drop-down lists or radio buttons for representing a set of alternatives);

• determine their location;

• Define the information and functionality of the object blocks;

• Assess the overall look and feel of this page.

As a result of such work, so-called page models are obtained. For databases that actively use data for storing data, databases or content management systems (CMS) can be used. In this case, the real data sources and the correspondence between the conceptual data models (i.e., object blocks) and such data sources are described in the data design sub-step

After the appropriate design models (i.e., object blocks, navigation structures, saiga structure models and page models), data sources and (logical) data project are developed, a real web site can be automatically generated. There are two prototypes that implement the process of code generation: an XSLT-based system and a Java-based servlet.

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