The objective of the FOCUS project was to develop generic tools, techniques and methodologies for constructing and maintaining Front Ends (FEs), possibly knowledge-based (KBFEs), to existing software.
The objective of the project is to develop generic tools, techniques and methodologies for constructing and maintaining front ends (FEs), possibly knowledge based (KBFEs), to existing software.
The technology developed within the project is much more widely applicable than originally envisaged. The resulting architecture and toolkits provide a framework which offeres 3 distinct but related advantages for exisiting software: enhanced user interfaces can be added, several exisitng software components can be integrated (encapsulated) within the framework, and cooperative assistance to end users can be provided by the addition of knowledge based modules. The technology provides an environment for the development of modular, portable and, if appropriate, distributed applications.
The architecture is well reported and is recognized as an advance in this area. The range of tools being developed are now being driven by the needs of the real world KBFEs being developed. A follow on subsidiary project to bring the tools to a comprehensive industrial strength, in anticipation of full scale exploitation is now underway.There have been a significant number of KBFEs developed during the project, several of which are bein developed into industrial systems for internal or external exploitation.
Work has been undertaken to identify and clarify the work of users and system developers and to establish criteria by which each activity may be judged.
In broad terms, the approach taken by FOCUS consisted of three phases:
- State-of-the-art KBFEs were studied and various investigations undertaken to define and generate an initial generalised architecture with associated tools, techniques and methodologies.
- Some "first generation" KBFEs were developed to validate the principles of the architecture and provide feedback to the tool developers.
- A new set of tools was defined and developed based more on user (KBFE developer) requirements. These tools were applied to more advanced KBFEs with particular reference to the perceived, potential marketplaces.
In all phases of the project, evaluation techniques were devised and applied under the auspices of a dedicated workpackage.
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