Towards a More Semantically Transparent i* Visual Syntax

Nicolas Genon, Patrice Pagani Caire, Hubert Toussaint, Patrick Heymans, Daniel Moody

Research output: Contribution in Book/Catalog/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


i* is one of the most popular modelling languages in Requirements Engineering. i* models are meant to support communication between technical and non-technical stakeholders about the goals of the future system. Recent research has established that the effectiveness of model-mediated communication heavily depends on the visual syntax of the modelling language. A number of flaws in the visual syntax of i* have been uncovered and possible improvements have been suggested. Producing effective visual notations is a complex task that requires taking into account various interacting quality criteria. In this paper, we focus on one of those criteria: Semantic Transparency, that is, the ability of notation symbols to suggest their meaning. Complementarily to previous research, we take an empirical approach. We give a preview of a series of experiments designed to identify a new symbol set for i* and to evaluate its semantic transparency. The reported work is an important milestone on the path towards cognitively effective requirements modelling notations. Although it does not solve all the problems in the i* notation, it illustrates the usefulness of an em- pirical approach to visual syntax definition. This approach can later be transposed to other quality criteria and other notations.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 18th International Working Conference on Requirements Engineering: Foundation for Software Quality (REFSQ'12)
EditorsBjörn Regnell, Daniela Damian
Number of pages7
Publication statusUnpublished - 2012


  • Semantic Transparency
  • Empirical evaluation
  • Goal-oriented modelling
  • i*
  • Physics of Nota- tion


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