Volume 4(1), 2008-05, 26—46

Usability assessment of a UML-based formal mModeling method using a cognitive dimensions framework

Rozilawati Razali
Dependable Systems and Software Engineering
School of Electronics and Computer Science
University of Southampton
UK

Colin Snook
Dependable Systems and Software Engineering
School of Electronics and Computer Science
University of Southampton
UK

Michael Poppleton
Dependable Systems and Software Engineering
School of Electronics and Computer Science
University of Southampton
UK

Paul Garratt
Dependable Systems and Software Engineering
School of Electronics and Computer Science
University of Southampton
UK

Conceptual models communicate the important aspects of a problem domain to stakeholders. The quality of the models is highly dependent on the usability of the modeling method used. This paper presents a survey conducted on a method that integrates the use of a semiformal notation, namely the Unified Modeling Language (UML) and a formal notation, namely B. The survey assessed the usability of the method by using them grounded theory, the Cognitive Dimensions of Notations (CD) framework, and several criteria suggested by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). Ten participants responded to the survey. The results suggest that the method is accessible to users when the principles and roles of each notation are obvious and well understood, and when there is strong support from the environment. Supported by the findings, a usability profile based on CD for designing a method that integrates semiformal and formal notations is proposed.

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