More recently, Berry together with a visitor to the Technion, Karin Sequerra, from Ponitificia Universidade Catolica in Rio de Janeiro Brazil, began to look at the problems of engineering the requirements for multimedia hypermedia applications. There is a lot of similarity in the processes of devising requirements for general software-based systems and for multimedia hypermedia. Their joint paper on this subject has led to their being selected as user-interface and requirement engineering consultants for a large multi-site project in Brazil to develop ARTSWARE, a formally based object-oriented methodology and support environment for the development of real-time systems.

In both of these areas, as with development of other artifacts with artistic aspects, e.g., commercial art, movies and videos, buildings, bridges, etc., the client typically has only a vague idea of what he or she wants and does not have a full understanding of what is possible and impossible with the media or technology. The designer is typically an expert in the technology or medium but does not have a full understanding of the client's needs or domain. In all of these cases there is a two-way communication problem.

Moreover, in all of these cases, what needs to be discovered by the designer is not entirely in the minds of the client. There are things that need to be considered that are only in the environment and social situation of the client. There are tacit assumptions that will not be expressed unless a situation using them happens to arise during the requirements gathering and design processes.

In all of this similarity, there is a key factor that separates software and hypermedia on one hand from all of the others. Commercial art, movies and videos, buildings, and bridges, etc. do not change once they are published or constructed, but both software and hypermedia undergo changes by virtue of their use, a use that changes the situation of their use in a way that changes their requirements. Prior to the visit, Sequerra had devised a method to develop educational multimedia hypermedia applications. In the case of multimedia hypermedia, the libraries for using the various media are well developed, so that once it is understood what to do, the programming of a particular multimedia hypermedium application is quite straightforward, much the same as generating applications in domains for which there are well-developed application generators. Thus, it is hypothesized that the problem in building multimedia hypermedia applications is that of understanding what is needed, i.e., of understanding the requirements. Moreover, because of the stability of the libraries, unlike in some other problem areas, the development of a prototype for validation of requirements yields a system which is essentially of production quality. Sequerra's method is basically an adaptation of Boehm's spiral model to the simultaneous development of requirements and prototypes for successive versions of the multimedia hypermedium under design. Some of the sweeps of the spiral yield relatively stable baselines for release of a version of the multimedia hypermedium. The research intends to test this hypothesis with an industrial-strength case study of developing a multimedia hypermedia.

Sequerra-Breitman, K. and Berry, D.M. ``The Development of Multimedia Hypermedia Applications as Evolutionary, Prototyping-Based Requirements Engineering,'' Proceedings of the Ninth Brazilian Symposium on Software Engineering (SBES), Recife, PE, Brazil, 3-6 October, 1995 PDF   ps.Z

Karin Sequerra-Breitman's Pre-Doc Fellowship Work   FTP