Front-Ends for Open and Closed User System


FOCUS - 2620

Keywords knowledge-based systems, knowledge-based front-ends


Start Date: 20-DEC-88 / Duration: 54 months

[ contact / participants ]


Objectives and Approach

The objective of the FOCUS project was to develop generic tools, techniques and methodologies for constructing and maintaining Front Ends (FEs), possibly knowledge-based (KBFEs), to existing software. In broad terms, the approach taken by FOCUS consisted of three phases:

In all phases of the project, evaluation techniques were devised and applied under the auspices of a dedicated workpackage.

Progress and Results

It became clear that the technology developed within the project is much more widely applicable than originally envisaged. The resulting architecture and toolkits which emerged from the project now provide a framework which offers three distinct but related advantages for existing software: enhanced user interfaces can be added, several existing software components can be integrated within the framework, and co-operative assistance to end-users can be provided by the addition of support modules

The technology provides an environment for the development of modular, portable and, if appropriate, distributed applications.

The architecture is now well reported in the research literature and has been recognised as an advance in this area.

The range of tools developed were driven by the needs of the real-world KBFEs studied within FOCUS. A follow-on subsidiary project to bring the tools to a comprehensive "industrial strength", in anticipation of full-scale exploitation has been undertaken.

There have been a significant number of KBFEs developed during the Project, several of which are being developed into industrial systems for internal or external exploitation.

Work was undertaken to identify and clarify the work of users and system developers and to establish criteria by which each activity may be judged. This work was applied/refined throughout the project and formed a significant part of the Project's overall results.

Exploitation

The technology is already in use by partners as the underpinning for other projects and as a contribution towards the development of commercial products. Some consultancy with external organisations has also taken place on a cost-recovery basis in order to gain further industrial experience.

The plan is to have a FOCUS Exploitation Business Unit (FEBU), initially led by NAG and consisting of members of the FOCUS consortium; in due time this will be supplemented by strategic relationships with other, non-FOCUS, companies. FEBU will begin by building up a consultancy team providing "solutions", whilst developing a network of internal and external value-added resellers. The services of the Commission's VALVE Relay initiative are being used to establish potential technical and commercial contracts.


CONTACT POINT

Dr Steve Hague
NUMERICAL ALGORITHMS GROUP LTD
Wilkinson House, Jordan Hill Road
UK - OXFORD OX2 8DR
tel: + 44/ 865-511245
fax: + 44/ 865-311205
telex: 83354 NAGUK G
email: steve@nag.oo.uk

Participants

NUMERICAL ALGORITHMS GROUP LTD - UK - C
IMPERIAL COLLEGE OF SCIENCE,
TECHNOLOGY & MEDICINE - UK - P
LOUGHBOROUGH UNIVERSITY OF
TECHNOLOGY - LUTCHI - UK - P
RESEARCH CENTRE SOLVAY SA - B - P
WESTFÄLISCHE WILHELMS-UNIVERSITÄT
MÜNSTER - D - P
UNIVERSIDAD POLITECNICA DE
CATALUÑA - E - P
INDECON - GR - A


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FOCUS - 2620, December 1993


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html version of synopsis by Nick Cook