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An HCI Template for Distributed Applications

Authors: Xizhi Li


Both software applications and their development environment are becoming more and more distributed. This trend impacts not only the way software computes, but also how it looks. This article proposes a Human Computer Interface (HCI) template from three representative applications we have developed. These applications include a Multi-Agent System based software, a 3D Internet computer game with distributed game world logic, and a programming language environment used in constructing distributed neural network and its visualizations. HCI concepts that are common to these applications are described in abstract terms in the template. These include off-line presentation of global entities, entities inside a hierarchical namespace, communication and languages, reconfiguration of entity references in a graph, impersonation and access right, etc. We believe the metaphor that underlies an HCI concept as well as the relationships between a bunch of HCI concepts are crucial to the design of software systems and vice versa.

Keywords: Programming Language, HCI, MAS, Computer Game

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