Evaluation of Web applications through simulation of Web designs

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The development of Web applications continues to pose numerous difficulties for Web developers due to the inherent complexity of the projects. Although methodologies have been proposed to tackle the development of these projects, they are especially concerned with setting guidelines and defining tasks to better structure the design phase. For this purpose, several design models have been developed and used in the design of Web applications, providing a suitable level of abstraction and independence from a specific implementation. However, the other phases of the Software Development Cycle have not received the same level of attention from researchers. In particular, the test phase is lacking in theory and tools to effectively and efficiently verify the project requirements. Evaluation of the functional requirements of a system under development is commonly done by its partial implementation and test. This requires the development and coding of a prototype of the system to be able to verify the design. Furthermore, this prototyping effort could be partially or totally in vain if tests find that the design does not meet the intended requirements. This research argues that it is possible to simulate Web application design models for the verification of functional requirements. Furthermore, it claims that simulation is able to provide as much functional information as an implementation would. The research proposes a multi-layer Web-design Simulation Model, which was developed to enable simulation of Web application designs and takes into consideration developers’ key design concerns. Furthermore, a Web-design Description Language was especially developed to provide meaningful simulation of design models. It borrows concepts from the hardware engineering field where simulation is extensively used for design verification. By performing simulation directly on the designs, the need for prototyping for functional evaluation is reduced or no longer necessary and verification of the requirements can be performed as soon as a design is available. This has the potential to contribute to a faster Software Development Cycle of Web applications. To prove the feasibility of the simulation and the meaningfulness of its application, an experiment on a selected Web application design was conducted. This entailed a comparison between the implementation and simulation results for the functional requirements evaluation. The comparison was performed by assessing the functional content and information of the results that both methods provided. The comparison showed that, although both are suitable for verification of functional requirements, the proposed Simulation Model provides additional functional information and a more intuitive analysis for the evaluation of Web application designs.
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