Meta-Visual Programming

Student thesis: Master's Thesis


Participatory sensing systems and more specifically citizen observatories have seen
an increasing interest over the past years, partially due to the growth in smartphone users and the amount of sensors available in mobile devices. Since developing such observatories is a costly, labour-intensive process which requires technical expertise, a meta-platform for this was developed by Zaman. It enables users to develop their own citizen observatory and corresponding mobile app through DISCOPAR, its visual reactive flow-based domain-specific language. However, failures concerning the connections between components are not natively handled by DISCOPAR, and the language does not provide the means for users to control the data-flow through the connections themselves, which may lead to erroneous behaviour and/or loss of data.

In this thesis, we explore the idea of using DISCOPAR itself to address these
problems by providing users with the necessary tools to control the data-flow in
their applications. To this end, the run-time metaprogramming paradigm called
reflection is added to DISCOPAR, which allows the introspection and intercession
of the connections. Users can inspect the meta-connections when developing the
mobile applications, and modify them using meta-components in order to change
their definition and behaviour. A user study was conducted to validate the us-
ability of this extension to DISCOPAR. It shows that the meta-connections are
acceptable as a proof of concept. However, small changes to both the syntax and
semantics of the meta-components could provide a better user experience.
Date of Award2018
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorJesse Zaman (Advisor), Florian Myter (Advisor) & Wolfgang De Meuter (Promotor)

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