Reference: Bennett, A. FormIKA: A Form-Based User Interface Management System for Knowledge Acquisition. KSL, June, 1990.
Abstract: Interactive knowledge acquisition systems ("knowledge editors") often incorporate domain knowledge directly in the user interface, and rely on graphics technology to present this domain knowledge to the user. Knowledge editors must give that person enough freedom to express his knowledge while at the same time giving him enough guidance to use the system. This paper discusses a form-based user-interface management system, FormIKA, for use with interactive knowledge editors. FormIKA currently is used to implement the interface for PROTEGE, a high-level modeling system that automatically generates knowledge editors from user-specified domain models. Because FormIKA separates specifications of interface content from specifications of how that content is to be presented graphically, it simplifies the programmatic generation of graphical user interfaces by PROTEGE. Moreover, FormIKA incorporates a declarative language for designating how new user entries are potentially constrained by prior entries. These constraints are translated into specific graphical metaphors that allow the interface created with FormIKA to guide the users' entries without requiring the user to enter those data in any specific order. The system thus is well suited for applications of form-filling interfaces in which there is a need to display complex relationships among interface elements, while still providing both freedom and guidance to the end user.