Using Networked Ontologies to Support the Development of Software Systems with Adaptive User Interface




Adaptive User Interface, Ontology, Ontology Network


The new ways of interacting with computers, smartphones, and other devices have brought new challenges, such as the need to ensure that different types of users can easily use the same system. Adaptive User Interface (AUI) systems have been recognized as a solution to this matter. They change the user interface to better meet the needs of different users. However, developing such systems is not trivial. It is necessary to capture the users’ characteristics and preferences and constantly adapt the system accordingly. In this paper, we discuss the use of ontologies to support the development of AUI systems. We argue that by providing structured knowledge about such systems, ontologies help understand how they work and offer a basis to structure them, identify the necessary adaptations and implement mechanisms to make them happen in run-time. We have explored the use of ontologies from an ontology network (i.e., networked ontologies) to develop a social network about academic subjects that automatically adapts its interface according to the low vision and colorblind user’s needs and usage characteristics. This exploratory study showed that using networked ontologies to develop an AUI system is useful and feasible. The ontology was useful at the conceptual level by serving as a basis to define the system’s structural model and at the operational level by providing the semantics used in a reasoning engine to adapt the UI at run-time. The first version of an ontology-based process to guide the development of AUI systems emerged from this experience and it is also presented in this paper.


Download data is not yet available.


Acuña, S. T., Castro, J. W., and Juristo, N. (2012). A hci technique for improving requirements elicitation. Information and Software Technology, 54(12):1357–1375. Special Section on Software Reliability and Security.

Akiki, P. A., Bandara, A. K., and Yu, Y. (2014). Adaptive model-driven user interface development systems. ACM Comput. Surv., 47(1).

Barcellos, M., Santos, G., Conte, T., Trinkenreich, B., and Matsubara, P. (2022). Organizing empirical studies as learning iterations in design science research projects. In Proceedings of the XXI Brazilian Symposium on Software Quality, pages 1–10.

Bass, L., Clements, P., and Kazman, R. (2003). Software architecture in practice. Addison-Wesley Professional.

Bonacin, R., Reis, J. C. d., and de Araujo, R. J. (2022). An ontology-based framework for improving color vision deficiency accessibility. Univers. Access Inf. Soc., 21(3):691–716.

Braham, A., Buendía, F., Khemaja, M., and Gargouri, F. (2021). User interface design patterns and ontology models for adaptive mobile applications. Personal and Ubiquitous Computing, pages 1–17.

Carraretto, R. and Almeida, J. P. A. (2012). Separating Ontological and Informational Concerns: Towards a Two-Level Model-Driven Approach. In Proceedings of IEEE 16th International Enterprise Distributed Object Computing Conference Workshops, pages 29–37, Beijing, China. IEEE.

Castro, M. V. H. B. C. (2021). An Ontology to support Knowledge Management Solutions for Human-Computer Interaction Design. Master’s thesis, Computer Science Department, Federal University of Espírito Santo (UFES).

Costa, S. D. (2022). An Ontology Network to support Knowledge Representation and Semantic Interoperability in the HCI Domain. PhD thesis, Federal University of Espírito Santo.

Costa, S. D., Barcellos, M. P., and Falbo, R. d. A. (2021). Ontologies in human–computer interaction: A systematic literature review. Applied Ontology, 16(4):421–452.

Costa, S. D., Barcellos, M. P., Falbo, R. d. A., and Castro, M. V. H. B. (2020). Towards an Ontology Network on Human-Computer Interaction. In Dobbie, G., Frank, U., Kappel, G., Liddle, S. W., and Mayr, H. C., editors, Proceedings of the 39th International Conference on Conceptual Modeling, pages 331–341, Cham. Springer International Publishing.

Costa, S. D., Barcellos, M. P., Falbo, R. d. A., Conte, T., and de Oliveira, K. M. (2022). A core ontology on the Human– Computer Interaction phenomenon. Data & Knowledge Engineering, 138:101977.

Farooqui, T., Rana, T., and Maqbool, A. (2021). Categorization of user experience and usability issues (uxuis) and their prioritization w.r.t categorization for improving the uxu of interactive system (is). In 2021 International Conference on Communication Technologies (ComTech), pages 85–90.

Fedasyuk, D. and Lutsyk, I. (2021). Tools for adaptation of a mobile application to the needs of users with cognitive impairments. In 2021 IEEE 16th International Conference on Computer Sciences and Information Technologies (CSIT), volume 1, pages 321–324.

Feilmayr, C. and Wöß, W. (2016). An analysis of ontologies and their success factors for application to business. Data & Knowledge Engineering, 101:1–23.

Firmenich, S., Garrido, A., Paternò, F., and Rossi, G. (2019). User interface adaptation for accessibility. Web Accessibility: A Foundation for Research, pages 547–568.

Freitas, A. A. C., Costa, S. D., Scalser, M. B., and Barcellos, M. P. (2023). Supplementary material of the study ”Using Networked Ontologies to Support the Development of Software Systems with Adaptive User Interface”. (Version 1). Zenodo.

Freitas, A. A. C. d., Scalser, M. B., Costa, S. D., and Barcellos, M. P. (2022). Towards an ontology based approach to develop software systems with adaptive user interface. In Proceedings of the 21st Brazilian Symposium on Human Factors in Computing Systems, IHC’22, New York, NY, USA. Association for Computing Machinery.

Glimm, B., Horrocks, I., Motik, B., Stoilos, G., and Wang, Z. (2014). Hermit: an owl 2 reasoner. Journal of Automated Reasoning, 53:245–269

Gorman, K. and Choobineh, J. (1990). The object-oriented entity-relationship model (ooerm). Journal of Management Information Systems, 7(3):41–65.

Gray, D., Brown, S., and Macanufo, J. (2010). Gamestorming: A Playbook for Innovators, Rulebreakers, and Changemakers. O’Reilly Media, Inc., 1st edition.

Gruber, T. R. (1993). A translation approach to portable ontology specifications. Knowledge Acquisition, 5(2):199–220.

Guarino, N. (1998). Formal Ontology in Information Systems: Proceedings of the 1st International Conference June 6-8, 1998, Trento, Italy. IOS Press, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, The Netherlands, 1st edition.

Guarino, N., Oberle, D., and Staab, S. (2009). What Is an Ontology? In Handbook on Ontologies, pages 1–17. Springer Berlin Heidelberg, Berlin, Heidelberg.

Guizzardi, G. (2005). Ontological foundations for structural conceptual models. PhD thesis, University of Twente.

Guizzardi, G. (2007). On Ontology, Ontologies, Conceptualizations, Modeling Languages, and (Meta)Models. In Vasilecas, O., Edler, J., and Caplinskas, A., editors, Proceedings of the Frontiers in Artificial Intelligence and Applications, Databases and Information Systems IV, pages 18–39, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, The Netherlands. IOS Press.

Guizzardi, G., Falbo, R., and Guizzardi, R. S. S. (2008). Grounding software domain ontologies in the unified foundational ontology (ufo): The case of the ode software process ontology. In Proceedings of the 1th Iberoamerican Workshop on Requirements Engineering and Software Environments (IDEAS’2008), pages 127–140.

Guizzardi, G., Wagner, G., Falbo, R. d. A., Guizzardi, R. S. S., and Almeida, J. P. A. (2013). Towards Ontological Foundations for the Conceptual Modeling of Events. In Ng, W., Storey, V. C., and Trujillo, J. C., editors, Proceedings of the Conceptual Modeling, pages 327–341, Berlin, Heidelberg. Springer Berlin Heidelberg.

Gullà, F., Ceccacci, S., Germani, M., and Cavalieri, L. (2015). Design adaptable and adaptive user interfaces: a method to manage the information. In Ambient Assisted Living: Italian Forum 2014, pages 47–58. Springer.

Gurcan, F., Cagiltay, N. E., and Cagiltay, K. (2021). Mapping human–computer interaction research themes and trends from its existence to today: A topic modeling-based review of past 60 years. International Journal of Human–Computer Interaction, 37(3):267–280.

Herzig, K., Greiler, M., Czerwonka, J., and Murphy, B. (2015). The art of testing less without sacrificing quality. In 2015 IEEE/ACM 37th IEEE International Conference on Software Engineering, volume 1, pages 483–493.

Hevner, A. R. (2007). A three cycle view of design science research. Scandinavian journal of information systems, 19(2):4.

Hevner, A. R., March, S. T., Park, J., and Ram, S. (2008). Design science in information systems research. Management Information Systems Quarterly, 28(1):6.

Hussain, J., Ul Hassan, A., Muhammad Bilal, H. S., Ali, R., Afzal, M., Hussain, S., Bang, J., Banos, O., and Lee, S. (2018). Model-based adaptive user interface based on context and user experience evaluation. Journal on Multimodal User Interfaces, 12:1–16.

Khan, A. and Khusro, S. (2019). Blind-friendly user interfaces–a pilot study on improving the accessibility of touchscreen interfaces s. Multimedia Tools and Applications, 78:17495–17519.

Machado, E., Singh, D., Cruciani, F., Chen, L., Hanke, S., Salvago, F., Kropf, J., and Holzinger, A. (2018). A conceptual framework for adaptive user interfaces for older adults. In 2018 IEEE International Conference on Pervasive Computing and Communications Workshops (PerCom Workshops), pages 782–787.

Microsoft (2021). Enterprise application patterns with xamarin.forms: Mvvm. accessed on May 3, 2023.

Moran, K., Bernal-Cárdenas, C., Curcio, M., Bonett, R., and Poshyvanyk, D. (2020). Machine learning-based prototyping of graphical user interfaces for mobile apps. IEEE Transactions on Software Engineering, 46(2):196–221.

Musen, M. A. (2015). The protégé project: a look back and a look forward. AI Matters, 1(4):4–12.

Norcio, A. F. and Stanley, J. (1989). Adaptive human-computer interfaces: A literature survey and perspective. IEEE Transactions on Systems, Man, and cybernetics, 19(2):399–408.

Oppermann, R., editor (1994). Adaptive User Support: Ergonomic Design of Manually and Automatically Adaptable Software. L. Erlbaum Associates Inc., USA.

Pruitt, J. and Grudin, J. (2003). Personas: practice and theory. In Proceedings of the 2003 conference on Designing for user experiences, pages 1–15.

Rathnayake, N., Meedeniya, D., Perera, I., and Welivita, A. (2019). A Framework for Adaptive User Interface Generation based on User Behavioural Patterns. In Proceedings of 2019 Moratuwa Engineering Research Conference (MERCon), pages 698–703, Moratuwa, Sri Lanka. IEEE.

Robson, C. and McCartan, K. (2016). Real world research, 4th edn. hokoben.

Ruy, F. B., Falbo, R. d. A., Barcellos, M. P., Costa, S. D., and Guizzardi, G. (2016). Seon: A software engineering ontology network. In Blomqvist, E., Ciancarini, P., Poggi, F., and Vitali, F., editors, Proceedings of Knowledge Engineering and Knowledge Management, pages 527–542, Cham. Springer International Publishing.

Sala, A., Arrue, M., Pérez, J. E., and Espín-Tello, S. M. (2021). Automated adaptations for improving the accessibility of public e-services based on annotations. In Ardito, C., Lanzilotti, R., Malizia, A., Petrie, H., Piccinno, A., Desolda, G., and Inkpen, K., editors, Human-Computer Interaction – INTERACT 2021, pages 373–382, Cham. Springer International Publishing.

Salminen, J., Jung, S.-G., Chowdhury, S., Sengün, S., and Jansen, B. J. (2020). Personas and analytics: A comparative user study of efficiency and effectiveness for a user identification task. In Proceedings of the 2020 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, CHI ’20, page 1–13, New York, NY, USA. Association for Computing Machinery.

Sattar, A., Ahmad, M. N., Surin, E. S. M., and Mahmood, A. K. (2021). An improved methodology for collaborative construction of reusable, localized, and shareable ontology. IEEE Access, 9:17463–17484.

Scherp, A., Saathoff, C., Franz, T., and Staab, S. (2011). Designing core ontologies. Applied Ontology, 6(3):177–221.

Sebek, J., Trnka, M., and Cerny, T. (2015). On Aspect-Oriented Programming in Adaptive User Interfaces. In Proceedings of 2015 2nd International Conference on Information Science and Security (ICISS), pages 1–5, Seoul, Korea (South). IEEE.

Seedorf, S., Informatik, F. F., and Mannheim, U. (2006). Applications of ontologies in software engineering. In Proceedings of Workshop on Semantic Web Enabled Software Engineering (SWESE) on the ISWC, pages 5–9, Athens, Geórgia. Citeseer, 2nd International Workshop on Semantic Web Enabled Software Engineering (SWESE 2006), held at the 5th International Semantic Web Conference (ISWC 2006).

Sommerville, I. (2020). Engineering software products, volume 355. Pearson London.

Stefanidi, Z., Margetis, G., Ntoa, S., and Papagiannakis, G. (2022). Real-time adaptation of context-aware intelligent user interfaces, for enhanced situational awareness. IEEE Access, 10:23367–23393.

Suárez-Figueroa, M. C., Gómez-Pérez, A., Motta, E., and Gangemi, A. (2012). Introduction: Ontology Engineering in a Networked World, pages 1–6. Springer Berlin Heidelberg, Berlin, Heidelberg.

Vasilieva, E. (2018). Developing the creative abilities and competencies of future digital professionals. Automatic Documentation and Mathematical Linguistics, 52:248–256.

Yen, G. G. and Acay, D. (2009). Adaptive user interfaces in complex supervisory tasks. ISA Transactions, 48(2):196–205.

Yigitbas, E., Josifovska, K., Jovanovikj, I., Kalinci, F., Anjorin, A., and Engels, G. (2019). Component-based development of adaptive user interfaces. In Proceedings of the ACM SIGCHI Symposium on Engineering Interactive Computing Systems, EICS ’19, New York, NY, USA. Association for Computing Machinery.

Yigitbas, E., Jovanovikj, I., Biermeier, K., Sauer, S., and Engels, G. (2020). Integrated model-driven development of self-adaptive user interfaces. Softw. Syst. Model., 19(5):1057–1081.




How to Cite

FREITAS, A. A. C. de; COSTA, S. D.; SCALSER, M. B.; BARCELLOS, M. P. Using Networked Ontologies to Support the Development of Software Systems with Adaptive User Interface. Journal on Interactive Systems, Porto Alegre, RS, v. 14, n. 1, p. 257–273, 2023. DOI: 10.5753/jis.2023.3256. Disponível em: Acesso em: 27 sep. 2023.



Regular Paper