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In the past decades, the primary goal of most software systems has been to achieve better productivity and reliability, and software engineering research has achieved considerable expertise for these objectives. However, we are now entering a new phase for software development. More and more people are not only using software but also getting involved in developing software to widely varying degrees (13 million estimated in 2012 in the USA alone). Existing software design methodologies focusing primarily on productivity-driven systems are insufficient to cope with the situated uses and fluctuating requirements encountered by such wide and diversified user involvements. A new class of participative software systems is needed, the design of which does not end at the time of deployment and whose success hinges on continued user participation.

The project team will develop a meta-design framework to guide software developers to design participative software systems. It will identify and correlate the technical and social characteristics of participative software systems that support users to collaboratively engage in the design of solutions to their own problems. The identified characteristics will be used to guide new developments of the Envisionment and Discovery Collaboratory, which will be used by real users to solve complex real-world problems in different design domains.

The resulting meta-design framework will:

  • delineate a design space
  • define a design process
  • identify a set of evaluation criteria

for the creation of participative software systems (PSS).

Our current industrial collaborations are:

  • Mitsubishi Electric Research Laboratories (MERL DiamondTouch)
  • Google/SketchUp (3D Warehouse)
  • SAP Software Solutions

Download the proposal submitted to the National Science Foundation.