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IM-sgi – an Interface Model for Shape Grammar Implementations

Joana Tching, Joaquim Reis, Alexandra Paio


Information technologies are a driving force for progress in the design field allowing new modes of creativity. However, most of the existing computational design tools are focused on the latest stages of the design project, especially directed to reproduce digitally what would be drawn by hand. Conceptual design tools that suport the designer in the creative and inventive early stages of the design project are still in their early development. Shape Grammars (SG) were introduced by George Stiny in the 70’s, allowing the generation of designs according to a set of pre-defined rules. Many computational tools to work with SG have been developed, but none has been generally adopted by designers on their daily practice. SG computational implementations have the potential to answer the need for tools that can assist designers, architects and artists in the creative process, offering design alternatives, stimulating new ideas and encouraging the search for new design generation processes. With the purpose of answering this matters, Scott Chase developed an ineraction model where he details diferent interaction ways the user can have in the control of a SG system. Acknowledging the potential of this interaction model, that was conceived with the purpose of taking SG implementations to the design practice, guiding lines for an unambiguous computational interface that assures the correct communication between the user and the application are . Taking Chase’s model as backgroud, the present investigation has the purpose of defining the criteria that interfaces for SG implementations should possess to guarantee the correct communication between user and application. Principles of Human Computer Interaction (HCI) discipline were essential to develop this research. HCI inspection methods were used to analyse existing SG implementations, allowing the understanding of the usability issues of the existing tools. Also according to HCI existing heuristics and criteria, Bastien and Scapin’s Ergonomic Criteria [1] revealed to be appropriate and were adapted from interface evaluation criteria to interface definition guiding lines for SG implementations. The conclusions of the analysis of existing SG implementation, the study of Scott Chase interaction model and Bastien and Scapin’s Ergonomic Criteria were used to define IM-sgi, an interface model for SG implementations. Thus, IM-sgi is an interface model for SG implementations that recognizes different groups of users, adjustable interaction modes for each user group and defines clear interface criteria adapted to each task that will be performed to use SGs.With emphasis on cognitive and experimental IM-sgi is focused on the user experience, providing a bridge between user and application, believing this can lead SG to the design practice, expanding its analytical and educational use. IM-sgi set of interface criteria should be followed to potentially allow the correct usability of the tools and, with that, facilitate the use of SG implementations in creative projects. A graphical mockup of interface that follows IM-sgi criteria is also shown in the article to allow the verification of the model’s criteria and objectives.

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