Mauro Mosconi - Marco Porta
Dipartimento di Informatica e Sistemistica - Université di Pavia Via Ferrata, 1 - 27100 - Pavia - Italy email@example.com - firstname.lastname@example.org
To allow Internet users to find, collect and manipulate information available on the Web, different solutions have been developed ( IEEE 1997) by researchers and software companies which aim at simplifying the interface as much as possible (search engines) or even acting on the users' behalf (software agents). Nevertheless, there is a range of applications where the overload involved in training an adaptive intelligent system would be unacceptable, while a traditional browsing approach would result in tiresome, time-consuming effort.
To tackle this class of applications, we propose a data-flow visual environment in which non-naive users can accomplish their goals better and more rapidly by directly composing simple visual programs themselves, while preserving a sense of control over the system. In the following, a simple example application is discussed to highlight the potential of our approach.
The system we use for building our visual Internet applications is VIPERS ( Mosconi and Porta 1998), a general purpose, visual programming environment based on an augmented data-flow model ( Hils 1992) and developed at the University of Pavia. VIPERS uses a single interpretive language (Tcl) to define the elementary functional blocks (the nodes of the data-flow graph). Each block corresponds to a Tcl command (or procedure): such a command may itself invoke the execution of other programs as subprocesses.