Abstractions for Advanced GUI Programming

Moshe M. Zloof
Principal Architect, Hewlett-Packard Laboratories
1501 Page Mill Road
Palo Alto, CA 94304 USA


In the last twenty years, we have witnessed considerable progress in an ever-increasing bandwidth from the computer to the user. Application screens evolved from static text only screens to interactive GUI screens. These screens contain numerous graphical elements or "widgets", supporting multiple data types, such as text, voice, image, and video. The widgets can range from simple ones like a combo box or slider to more complicated OCX's such as interactive graphs or maps.

On the other hand, the tools to program this application are still in the domain of programmers. Although there has been much progress in various TAD tools, visual language and 4GL to improve ease of use, they still mostly target programmers. We believe that in order to allow end-users to develop their own advanced UI applications, it is necessary to create higher-level application abstractions or 'algebra' for stating the application in a declarative manner. This can be compared to the relational algebra operators in the data base area. They were created as abstractions for data base queries, enabling end users to express their own queries in a declarative manner. In doing so, bugs are minimized and program modifications and maintenance becomes trivial. In this talk, I will motivate the audience to see the need for these abstractions and classify them into categories, followed by a demo.


Dr. Moshe Zloof, Principal Architect at Hewlett-Packard Laboratories, is considered a pioneer researcher in the area of data base languages and user interfaces. Back in the 1970's, during a complete departure from the traditional approach and while working at IBM, Dr. Zloof created QUERY-BY-EXAMPLE (QBE) and OFFICE-BY-EXAMPLE (OBE), the first visual programming languages which not only set the stage for considerable research agenda, but also have been incorporated in many successful products such as PARADOX, DBASE IV, ACCESS and many more.

At Hewlett-Packard, Dr. Zloof is currently involved in developing the IC-BY-EXAMPLE language - a new paradigm to enable non-programmer professionals to construct the own applications.

Dr. Zloof has published numerous papers and articles, has chaired and served as invited and keynote speaker at many national and international conferences and universities. He has also received several awards including the most prestigious IBM Corporate Award. He has served as an adjunct professor at the Courant Institute of NYU and Columbia University.

Dr. Zloof received his B.S. from the Technion Institute of Haifa, Israel, and his M.S. and Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley in 1969 and 1972 respectively.