Task Models Based Engineering of Interactive Systems

This tutorial will take place at EICS 2021 virtually on June 8th, 2021 from 13:15 to 17:00 (updated) 9:00 to 12:30 local (Eindhoven) time.
You can register to the tutorial here

Aim and Objectives

This tutorial aims to provide an overview on how the recent advances in task modelling techniques can be exploited to engineer interactive systems. The main objectives are that, on completion of this tutorial, the participants will:

  • - Know the benefits of using tool supported task modeling techniques to design, develop and assess interactive systems and their user interfaces,
  • - Know at which stages of the design and development process and how task models can be used,
  • - Know how to identify the need for customizing a task modelling notation according to the objectives of the engineering activities,
  • - Know how to customize a task modelling notation to produce task models that fit the objectives of the engineering activities.
As a concrete example, Fig. 1 presents examples of two versions of a task model that describes user tasks performed to increase visualization range of an aircraft cockpit display using a Keyboard Cursor Control Unit (KCCU), which is composed of a keyboard and a trackball, both located at the center of the cockpit, between the sits of the crew members. Such interaction device is for example in use in Airbus A350 commercial aircrafts. Fig. 1 a) presents a task model that uses generic types of tasks (motor, cognitive, perceptive) and Fig. 1 b) presents a second task model that uses customized types of tasks (right hand finger touch, move right hand fingers, feel with right hand, see). Such refined description helps to analyze what side of the body is involved (in a cockpit interactions, roles and tasks are different whether the crew members are located on the right side or on the left side), and what is the impact of the interaction technique on the motoric, perceptive and sensory tasks.
Fig. 1 a) task model using generic types of tasks (motor, cognitive, perceptive) b) task model with customized types of tasks (right hand finger touch, move right hand fingers, feel with right hand, see)

Overview of the Tutorial

This tutorial will take place virtually at EICS 2021 conference and will take place over half a day.

The first part of the tutorial is an interactive presentation that encompasses three 10 minutes’ slots for small hands-on exercises to familiarize with HAMSTERS-XLE environment and task models editing.

The second part presents the guidelines to identify the need for customizing a task modelling notation as well as the process for customizing a task modelling notation (approximatively 20 minutes). This part then focuses on the practical application of the customization process (1h10) which is individually guided by the teachers.

Structure and Content

Each part of the tutorial will last 1h30 and will be separated from each other by a coffee break.

In part I, we will present, from an interactive system engineering perspective, using examples from industrial case studies how task models can support:

  • - Design: identification of functions, temporal ordering of user actions, devices, required data, devices and objects …
  • - Development: partly-automated verification of consistency between user tasks and software, dynamic generation of user interfaces…
  • - Evaluation: generation of scenarios, predictive assessment of task complexity, of efficiency…

In part II, we will present stepwise guidelines to identify the need for customizing a task modelling notation according to the engineering objectives and according to the information that needs to be collected. We will also present the full tool based approach for customizing the HAMSTERS-XL notation and to produce customized task models. The participants will be guided during the application to specific examples or case studies of the guidelines and of the customization process. These examples or case studies can be brought by the participant or picked up in a selection of representative examples that we provide (comparison of interaction techniques for automated teller machines and for aircraft cockpits, description of possible user behaviors with an interactive system depending on taste stimuli…).

Audience and prerequisites

This tutorial is open to researchers, practitioners, educators and students of all experience levels. The participants will be encouraged to bring a case study of an interactive system they had to or are engineering and for which they would like to model user tasks. We will guide them through the application of the task modelling notation customization for their specific engineering problem.

Resources Provided to Attendees

Each participant will be given pragmatic guidelines and the HAMSTERS-XLE task modeling environment for direct application to their engineering work. The HAMSTERS-XLE environment will be distributed to participants together with several examples going from toy examples to extracts from industrial projects. This set of materials (foundations, guidelines, tool and samples) is publicly available.

One week before the tutorial, we will provide to the participants the HAMSTERS-XLE environment along with an installation procedure so that, for those that wish, their laptop is ready for the tutorial.


The instructors have several experiences in preparing and giving tutorials and courses on task model based design and assessment of interactive systems. The instructors taught a course on task analysis and task modeling exploiting HAMSTERS notation and tool at CHI 2015, CHI 2016 and INTERACT 2017. The instructors also taught a course on task model based assessment of effectiveness of Java applications at EICS 2018. Compared to these previous tutorials, this tutorial focuses on the benefits of using task models for engineering activities (software design and development, software verification) and on task modelling notation customization.

Célia Martinie
is Associate Professor in Computer Science at University of Toulouse 3. She obtained her PhD in 2011, contributing to the engineering of safe and usable interactive systems. She is an expert in task models for engineering interactive systems and developed a notation called HAMSTERS for engineering task models, widely used both for teaching and in industry (CNES, Airbus), and that is regularly extended with tool support. She proposed an innovative model-based and tool supported training program development process, which exploits task models throughout the design, development, implementation and evaluation of training programs. More generally, her main research skills and knowledge target methods, processes, techniques and tools to engineer critical interactive systems and for their integration within an organisational context for safe operations. This is the main theme of her Habilitation à Diriger des Recherches (HDR) that she defended in 2020 and she has published more than 60 articles in peer-reviewed international conferences and in journals. Prior to that, she worked in the mobile industry (Motorola) during 8 years, and has contributed to the design and development of user interfaces for mobile devices.

ICS-IRIT, University of Toulouse 3, 31062 Toulouse cedex, France.
Tel.: +33 561 55 6965
Email Célia
Célia's home page

Philippe Palanque
is Professor in Computer Science at University of Toulouse 3. He has been teaching HCI and task engineering classes for 20 years. Since the late 80s he has been working on the development and application of formal description techniques for interactive system. He has worked on research projects to improve interactive Ground Segment Systems at the Centre National d'Études Spatiales (CNES) for more than 10 years and is also involved in the development of software architectures and user interface modeling for interactive cockpits in large civil aircraft (funded by Airbus). He is also involved in the research network HALA! (Higher Automation Levels in Aviation) funded by SESAR program which targets at building the future European air traffic management system. The main driver of Philippe’s research over the last 20 years has been to address in an even way Usability, Safety and Dependability in order to build trustable safety critical interactive systems. As for conferences he is a member of the program committee of conferences in these domains such as SAFECOMP 2013 (32nd conference on Computer Safety, Reliability and Security), DSN 2014 (44th conference on Dependable Systems and Networks), EICS 2014 (21st annual conference on Engineering Interactive Computing Systems) and was co-chair of CHI 2014 (32nd conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems) and research papers co-chair of INTERACT 2015. He prepared and give a recurrent course on “Design and Assessment of Systems Using Human Centered Approaches” at EUROCONTROL.

ICS-IRIT, University Toulouse 3, 31062 Toulouse cedex, France.
Email Phil
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