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White Paper: First ideas for a Widget Self-Description and Interaction Language

White Paper: First ideas for a Widget Self-Description and Interaction Language

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Published by Wolfgang Reinhardt

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categoriesTypes, Research, Science
Published by: Wolfgang Reinhardt on Sep 07, 2009
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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07/11/2012

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White paper: First ideas for a WidgetSelf-Description and Interaction Language
Tobias Nelkner and Wolfgang Reinhardt
University of Paderborn, Institute of Computer ScienceFuerstenallee 11, 33102 Paderborn, Germany
{
tobin,wolle
}
@upb.de
Abstract.
Widgets and widget-based environments have gained a lotattention recently. Widgets provide single-purpose services intended asa full-scale application which is not prepared for communication withother widgets. In this paper we envisage our recent approach for the de-velopment of a standardized language for self-secription and interactionof widgets.
Key words:
widgets, interaction, sepcification language
1 Introduction
In the context of the EU funded MATURE-IP project (FP7, contract no. 216356)currently technical options for realizing personal and organizational learning en-vironments (PLME [3], OLME [4]) are discussed. For creating personal learningenvironments a widget based approach seems to be promising as widgets andwidget-based environments have gained a lot attention recently. Widgets pro-vide single-purpose services intended for end-users and are authored using Webstandards, but whose content can also be embedded into Web documents [1].Until today there is a problem in exchanging data between widgets or estab-lishing other communications between widgets. This makes it difficult to buildcomplex, context-aware widget-based learning and working environments.This paper describes the latest advances of our research-in-progress concern-ing the definition of a Widget Self-Description and Interaction Language (WS-DIL). We sketch the basic idea of the self-description of widgets and present ause case that makes use of the self-description for enabling interaction betweenwidgets. We close with a discussion of the presented approach and present ourroadmap for the future development of WSDIL.
2 Goals, approaches, and use cases for the WSDIL
Description languages generally refer to a king of language that describe inter-faces [5] or services (e.g. WSDL) and their interaction [7]. Description languagesare generally not directly executed but are used during the analysis, specification
 
2 Tobias Nelkner and Wolfgang Reinhardt
and design of systems and describe how parts of a system can interact with eachother.The W3C is currently working on a standard for Widget Specification [1].This initiative concentrates mainly on aspects like description, packaging andupdating and is very valuable. But within this specification widgets are notconsidered to be pieces of software loosely joinable but isolated ones. There-fore, aspects that are relevant for data exchange have not been considered. TheWSDL specification can be helpful for describing data send from one to anotherwidget or even to a pool of widgets. However, the WSDL specification does notconsider the description of a widget but it describes web services that allow call-ing functions. But the concept of communication between widgets is similar tothe concept of pipes and filters and therefore has another focus.
2.1 The WSDIL Specification
The Widget Self-Description and Interaction Language aims at describing wid-gets running in the widget server developed within the mature project [2]. Thewidget server is responsible for providing point-to-point or point-to-group com-munication facilities to widgets.
1
<
?
xml version
=1.0encoding=UTF
8”
standalone
=”yes”?
>
2
<
widget
>
3
<
data
>
4
<
input /
>
5
<
outputs
>
6
<
output f i l t e r=”Persons
>
7
<
name
>
Person
<
/name
>
8
<
description
>
vCard Format 3.0
<
/ description
>
9
<
DataType
>
String
<
/DataType
>
10
<
/output
>
11
. . .
12
<
/outputs
>
13
<
/data
>
14
<
events
>
15
<
event
>
16
<
name
>
Filter
<
/name
>
17
<
id
>
FILTER OUTPUT AGAIN
<
/id
>
18
. . .
19
<
/event
>
20
<
/events
>
21
<
metadata
>
22
<
name
>
Address Book Widget
<
/name
>
23
<
uri
>
http: //mature
ip . eu/widgetserver/addressbook widget
24
. . .
25
<
/metadata
>
26
<
/widget
>
In order to support easily creating, providing and linking widgets, we havestarted to define a specification for self-description and interaction of widgets,
 
White paper: First ideas for a WSDIL 3
the WSDIL. This specification allows widget developers to describe their widgetsso that others can use it for providing or consuming data. Although this leads toa lack in automatically validating data that is send over the server, this approachallows for easily developing new widgets that use data of older ones.Listing 2.1 shows an excerpt of an example of a widget description. It containsthree main parts,
data, events
and
metadata 
. The
data 
-block represents dataa widget can accept from others (
incoming 
) and that it can send to others(
outgoing 
). This section is the most important and also the type of data and adescription how it is sent out by the widget has to be provided. This is necessaryto help other developers to process the incoming data in their widget. As alsofilters can be used to restrict data to a specific selection, an output can be boundto a filter-attribute. Filters shall 1. reduce amount of transferred data and 2.reduce of processing time of data. Especially the latter aspect is important asfor example web applications based on JavaScript are still not as performant asdesktop applications. This filter functionality requires a definition of the messagethat contains the information sent from one widget to another. In this messagedefinition the type of filter that has been applied on the outgoing data has tobe saved but is not focus of this report.
Events
can be defined to signalise thata special operation can be triggered, like updating the content. The
metadata 
-block contains information like the developer’s name, a URI and several othertags that do not influence the data flow between widgets but which are importantfor providing widgets on the server.
Adress bookWidgetSearchWidgetMapsWidgetNetworkVisualizationWidgetVideo ChatWidget
MUPPLEgroupallgroupsWolfgangReinhardtalldocumentsTobiasNelkner
Fig.1.
Exemplary use case for the application of WSDIL
Figure 1 shows an exemplary use case for the practical application of the WS-DIL. Starting from a search widget, we can connect this widget with a video chatwidget. As filter for the connection we select the person Wolfgang Reinhardt.This connection will allow a video chat with the selected person. Additionallywe can drag the person Tobias directly in the video chat widget from the address

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