Visual syntax does matter: improving the cognitive effectiveness of the i* visual notation

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Goal-oriented modelling is one of the most important research developments in the requirements engineering (RE) field. This paper conducts a systematic analysis of the visual syntax of i*, one of the leading goal-oriented languages. Like most RE notations, i* is highly visual. Yet surprisingly, there has been little debate about or modification to its graphical conventions since it was proposed more than a decade ago. We evaluate the i* visual notation using a set of principles for designing cognitively effective visual notations (the Physics of Notations). The analysis reveals some serious flaws in the notation together with some practical recommendations for improvement. The results can be used to improve its effectiveness in practice, particularly for communicating with end users. A broader goal of the paper is to raise awareness about the importance of visual representation in RE research, which has historically received little attention.
Original languageEnglish
JournalRequirements Engineering
Volume5
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2010

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Requirements engineering
Engineering research
Physics
Defects

Keywords

  • Visual language
  • i*
  • Visual syntax
  • Goal modelling
  • Visual notation
  • Visualisation
  • Evaluation

Cite this

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title = "Visual syntax does matter: improving the cognitive effectiveness of the i* visual notation",
abstract = "Goal-oriented modelling is one of the most important research developments in the requirements engineering (RE) field. This paper conducts a systematic analysis of the visual syntax of i*, one of the leading goal-oriented languages. Like most RE notations, i* is highly visual. Yet surprisingly, there has been little debate about or modification to its graphical conventions since it was proposed more than a decade ago. We evaluate the i* visual notation using a set of principles for designing cognitively effective visual notations (the Physics of Notations). The analysis reveals some serious flaws in the notation together with some practical recommendations for improvement. The results can be used to improve its effectiveness in practice, particularly for communicating with end users. A broader goal of the paper is to raise awareness about the importance of visual representation in RE research, which has historically received little attention.",
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AB - Goal-oriented modelling is one of the most important research developments in the requirements engineering (RE) field. This paper conducts a systematic analysis of the visual syntax of i*, one of the leading goal-oriented languages. Like most RE notations, i* is highly visual. Yet surprisingly, there has been little debate about or modification to its graphical conventions since it was proposed more than a decade ago. We evaluate the i* visual notation using a set of principles for designing cognitively effective visual notations (the Physics of Notations). The analysis reveals some serious flaws in the notation together with some practical recommendations for improvement. The results can be used to improve its effectiveness in practice, particularly for communicating with end users. A broader goal of the paper is to raise awareness about the importance of visual representation in RE research, which has historically received little attention.

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