Baan Labs, Ede, Netherlands
Below an approach is presented that uses task models as the basis for development of user interfaces. This approach was chosen for the future user interface development and runtime environment for ERP systems at Baan. Since communication via computer systems is and will remain an important part of daily life, we need to incorporate Computer Supported Cooperative Work ( CSCW) features into this environment. This paper discusses the architecture for the task modeling environment and the implications of incorporating CSCW characteristics of this architecture.
A user interface of ERP systems consists of both interaction semantics and a graphical presentation, which are independent elements. For instance changes in button appearance are independent from the interaction structure of a dialog. Next to the user interface, there is also application logic captured in Business Objects. In the ERP application domain, there is a strong requirement that the application can be customized to specific business and user needs. Therefore, the presentation and the interaction semantics must be separately customizable.
Baan chose the task modeling approach (ConcurTaskTree notation) of CNUCE as a basis for the development of a user interface and runtime environment in order to fulfil the requirements of separation of presentation, interaction semantics and application logic (see Figure 1). At runtime the UI and the Business Objects are coupled to each other via the Task Interpreter which connects actions of the user to actions of the application logic and vice versa. The Task Interpreter needs a Task Model and a Form as input for the runtime application instantiation. The Form is used to create the graphical presentation