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«To cite this version: Zo´ Drey, Charles Consel. Taxonomy-Driven Prototyping of Home Automation Applicae tions : a Novice-Programmer Visual Language ...»

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The visual language VisualRDK [41] contrasts with the previous tools in that it targets a range of programmers, novice as well as experienced ones. VisualRDK is a programmatic approach, offering language-inspired constructs such as processes, conditional cascades and signals. These numerous visual constructs mimic conventional programming, without specifically targeting the domain-specific aspects of home-automation orchestration logic. Pantagruel differs from this approach in that rules are driven by (1) the entities and (2) connectors to orchestrate them.

Other visual prototyping tools like the rule-based language OSCAR [7] and Jigsaw [2], target domestic spaces and propose an approach to discovering, connecting and controlling services and devices. However, they offer limited expressiveness to access the functionalities of entities.

10.4. End-user development for home automation Other approaches for enabling end users to “program” their own homes have been proposed to reduce the end-user programming burden while proposing rich applications based on abstractions. For example, the Media Cubes language [5] enables to program applications by composing cubes, representing abstract operations. This approach is based on a cognitive model [42] that enables the end user to get familiar with abstractions. Our approach could benefit from this model to improve the usability of entity classes. MAPS [43] is another approach to design assistedliving applications using a design by composition approach. However, it is limited to handheld prompter applications.

Our approach follows the lines of end-user software engineering proposed by Mørch et al. [6].

Specifically, Pantagruel is based on a compositional approach, where the user connects components (i.e.,, sensors, actuators, and controllers) together to form an application. Moreover, constraints are integrated in the Pantagruel visual editor to guarantee correct composition and connection of the visual elements.

11. Conclusion and Future Work

Conclusion. Home automation concerns an increasing number of areas, creating a need to factorize knowledge about the entities that are relevant to each of these areas. This paper presents Pantagruel, an approach and a tool that integrate a taxonomical description of a home automation environment into a visual programming language. Rules are developed using a sensor-controlleractuator paradigm, parameterized with respect to a taxonomy of entities. We have used Pantagruel to develop a number of scenarios, demonstrating the benefits of our taxonomy-based approach.

We explored the expressiveness of our taxonomy-based approach by defining orchestration applications for a range of application areas that go beyond home automation. We developed applications for these areas, and tested most of them on a home automation simulator called DiaSim [10]. The simulator enabled us to explore the expressiveness of Pantagruel programs in areas that would otherwise be out of reach. These studies resulted in an entity design space that is covered by the Pantagruel taxonomy language. We further studied the expressiveness of the Pantagruel orchestration language, parameterized by a taxonomy.

We conducted a usability study of Pantagruel orchestration language. This study has showed that it is accessible and intuitive to novice programmers. Still, improvements are needed to increase the usability of Pantagruel abstractions, as well as the efficiency of users while creating rules.

Future work. Our user study has showed interesting research directions towards improving usability. One of them would be to seamlessly integrating Pantagruel in the 2D editor, enabling rules to be created by directly selecting and connecting together the entities represented in the 2D model of the environment. Doing so could later lead to a programming-by-example development process [44]. This research direction could also leverage recent advances in end-user software engineering [45]. These works introduce various techniques (e.g., interactive testing and adapted debugging tools) to guide the end-user in writing correct applications using visual tools. For example, one could provide support to visually render the execution process of a rule subset prior to a complete program execution, provided a user-defined input of test values.

A direction towards end-user usability would be to define various layers over Pantagruel, making it more user-friendly (e.g., providing a natural language-based programming layer such as CAMP [1]) and more adapted to the problem vocabulary of a domain expert (e.g., a caregiver, who would build assisted-living applications, is more comfortable when reasoning by means of “actions” rather than entities). This approach could still leverage the DiaSpec [24] platform while offering area-specific programming metaphors.

Finally, we have developed various analyses for Pantagruel programs to guarantee properties such as safety, liveness, and non-interference of orchestration rules. These verifications could be integrated in the Pantagruel development environment, to drive the developer in writing correct orchestration logic.

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Appendix The following table shows the detailed time spent by each participant for defining the rules of Tables 3 and 4 of Section 8.

Figure 13: Detailed development times (in minute) spent by the participants of our user study

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