Converting an Existing User Interface to Use Constraints

Author: Bjorn Freeman-Benson

Published in Proceedings of the 1993 ACM Symposium on User Interface Software and Technology, Atlanta, Georgia, November 1993, pages 207-215.


Constraints have long been championed as a tool for user interface construction. However, while certain constraint systems have established a user community, constraint-based user interfaces have not yet been widely adopted. The premise of this paper is that a major stumbling block to their pervasive use has been the emphasis on designing new interface toolkits rather than augmenting existing ones. The thesis of the work described in this paper is that it is possible, and practical, to convert an existing user interface written in an imperative programming language into a similar user interface implemented with constraints. This thesis is proved by example: the conversion of HotDraw into CoolDraw.

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