Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Who's King?

The interest in UI modeling has grown during the last year, resulting in a quite impressive group of interested parties and participants for our Presentation Modeling Framework project at Eclipse. During ESE and afterwards we had a lot of discussion about modeling UI's at different abstraction levels. PMF aims to cover the whole spectrum hopefully creating a vibrant ecosystem of models and tooling to pick from.

There are quite a few examples of UI modeling using annotations or marking models to define a UI. The idea behind it is to use the information from the domain model to quickly define a user interface. The advantages are ease of specification and direct use of the domain model available. In my opinion this is great for basic editors and CRUD-like user interaction, but will break down for enterprise level administrative applications where the process and task structure is dominant. It's a question of "who's king?". If you just need property editors and developer style user interfaces, direct representation of domain objects on the UI is sufficient. If you need different viewpoints using various combinations of domain data in numerous scenarios, naked objects will not get you there. Process, task and user interface are king!
A full DSL (on any abstraction level) is needed to support the demanding UI requirements of modern day end users. The UI model is the starting point. The UI model will reference domain concepts and constraints and work together with process descriptions. This is ofcourse what will be provided in the PMF project and shown for the first time during EclipseCon 2009.

I am very excited about everything happening around UI modeling and I hope our PMF talk at EclipseCon will raise the awareness of all the possibilities. Hope to see you there.

Another thing I am looking forward to besides EclipseCon and the great modeling people is the day after EclipseCon. As an ex-basketball dutch international I always wanted to attend an NBA basketball game. In 2009 this will finally happen as I have tickets for the Cleveland Cavaliers game on the 27th to see King James in action! No question who's king in Cleveland. Like in modeling land it does depend on where you are and who you talk to. In LA the question: who's king will get you a completely different answer...

Happy holidays

Jim
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