Filippo Ricca, Massimiliano Di Penta, Marco Torchiano, Paolo Tonella, Mariano Ceccato

How design notations affect the comprehension of Web applications


Web application design requires the modeling of multiple, separate concerns, such as the navigational structure, the business logic and the data persistence. To this aim, several methodologies have been conceived. One of them, the Web Application Extension (WAE), extends the UML notation by means of stereotypes and tagged values intended to capture Web specific concepts (e.g., the navigational structure).

Although the WAE methodology is nowadays quite mature and ready for industrial adoption, the question whether it is able to actually facilitate the task of developers and maintainers has still to be empirically investigated. This paper reports and discusses the results from a controlled experiment on the benefits associated with the use of the WAE notation in the execution of comprehension tasks, carried out before maintenance. The WAE notation was compared against the use of pure UML. Results indicate that the use of the WAE notation significantly improves the level of comprehension, although it does not increase the time needed to perform the comprehension task in a significant way.

Link to the paper.

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