PIMA: A Model for Developing Pervasive Applications

Lawrence Berman

IBM TJ Watson Research Center

Monday, 11/13/00, 3:30pm, Wean 5409


The recent rapid increase in application-enabled mobile devices is creating a software development crisis. Attempts to support platform-neutral application development, such as Java and XML/XLST have not adequately addressed all the issues of write-once development for the pervasive world, including multiple modalities, and both per- application and per-device customization. PIMA (Platform Independent Model for Applications) addresses the goal of "write once, right anywhere" front-end application development.

A PIMA application consists of a hierarchical task description, a set of abstract interaction elements, a set of event handlers, and a set of device-independent layout hints. This semantic description can automatically create user-interfaces for a variety of devices, including ones running HTML, WML, and Java. The developer can customize the application for classes of devices (such as mobile phones, or PDA's) by a process we call specialization. If desired, native layout editors (such as IBM WebSphere Studio) can be used to create highly customized versions of the application interface for specific platforms. The overall framework provides for any degree of customization -- applications can be rendered using only the device-independent description with reasonable results, or hand- tuned to any desired degree. We will present the PIMA model, discuss a set of development tools for creating applications, and show the results on a variety of target platforms.


Lawrence Bergman is a Research Staff Member at IBM T.J Watson Research Center, where his research focuses on device-independent application development for pervasive environments. He has an MS and PhD in Computer Science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Prior to graduate work, Dr. Bergman spent a number of years developing commercial and government systems for modeling hydrology, meteorology, and econometrics. Dr. Bergman's research interests include user-interface design, visualization, and content-based image retrieval. In his spare time, he composes and performs electronic music.

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