UIML: An Appliance-Independent XML User Interface Language

Marc Abrams, Constantinos Phanouriou, Alan L. Batongbacal, Stephen M. Williams, Jonathan E. Shuster


Today's Internet appliances feature user interface technologies almost unknown a few years ago: touch screens, styli, handwriting and voice recognition, speech synthesis, tiny screens, and more. This richness creates problems. First, different appliances use different languages: WML for cell phones; SpeechML, JSML, and VoxML for voice enabled devices such as phones; HTML and XUL for desktop computers, and so on. Thus, developers must maintain multiple source code families to deploy interfaces to one information system on multiple appliances. Second, user interfaces differ dramatically in complexity (e.g, PC versus cell phone interfaces). Thus, developers must also manage interface content. Third, developers risk writing appliance-specific interfaces for an appliance that might not be on the market tomorrow. A solution is to build interfaces with a single, universal language free of assumptions about appliances and interface technology. This paper introduces such a language, the User Interface Markup Language (UIML), an XML-compliant language. UIML insulates the interface designer from the peculiarities of different appliances through style sheets. A measure of the power of UIML is that it can replace hand-coding of Java AWT or Swing user interfaces.


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