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Open AccessArticle

Non-Programmers Composing Software Services: A Confirmatory Study of the Mental Models and Design Challenges

1
Faculty of Computer and Information Systems, Islamic University of Madinah, Medina 42351, Saudi Arabia
2
Alliance Manchester Business School, The University of Manchester, Booth Street West, Manchester M15 6PB, UK
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Appl. Sci. 2019, 9(24), 5558; https://doi.org/10.3390/app9245558
Received: 20 September 2019 / Revised: 1 November 2019 / Accepted: 4 November 2019 / Published: 17 December 2019
(This article belongs to the Section Computing and Artificial Intelligence)
Ordinary web users can now create and publish online content. They even venture into “mashups,” integrating information from different sources into a composite information-providing web service. This is a non-trivial design task, which falls into the area of end-user development when the ordinary users who perform it do not have programming education. In this article, we investigate the service design strategies of 12 such ordinary users and compare them against the baseline of 12 programmers. In our think-aloud study, users completed two contrasting types of tasks involved in developing service-based applications: (a) manual service composition and (b) parametric design using templates with a high degree of software support (or assisted composition). These service composition tasks were chosen to differ in respect to the level of user support provided by the tool. Our findings show that non-programmers liked, more than programmers, the template-based parametric design and did not find the tool assistance as constraining as the programmers did. The difficulty of design involved in manual service composition and the absence of user guidance hindered non-programmers in expressing and implementing accurate design solutions. The differences in the mental models and needs of non-programmers are established to be in stark contrast to those of programmers. We used the details of our findings to propose specialized design recommendations for service composition tools aligned with the profiles of their target users. View Full-Text
Keywords: service composition; mashups; non-programmers; programmers; service-oriented architecture; end-user development; design challenges; mental model; design strategies; recommendations service composition; mashups; non-programmers; programmers; service-oriented architecture; end-user development; design challenges; mental model; design strategies; recommendations
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MDPI and ACS Style

Namoun, A.; Owrak, A.; Mehandjiev, N. Non-Programmers Composing Software Services: A Confirmatory Study of the Mental Models and Design Challenges. Appl. Sci. 2019, 9, 5558.

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