Software & Systems Modeling

, Volume 18, Issue 4, pp 2753–2776 | Cite as

Evaluating user interface generation approaches: model-based versus model-driven development

  • Jenny Ruiz
  • Estefanía SerralEmail author
  • Monique Snoeck
Regular Paper


Advances in software design possibilities have led to a growing interest in the study of user interfaces (UIs). Many Model-Based User Interface Development Environments (MB-UIDEs) have been proposed to deal with the generation of the UIs (semi-) automatically by using models with different levels of abstraction. Often, this generation is limited to the UI part of an application. However, achieving true model-driven development (MDD) requires the co-development of application and UI and, hence, needs to go a step further. This paper analyzes a large set of existing MB-UIDEs, evaluates, from a critical perspective, to what extent they can be considered full MDD environments, and adequately addresses the co-design of UI and application. Following the guidelines proposed by Kitchenham and Charters (Engineering 2, 2007), we performed a systematic literature review. A total of 96 papers were examined. Based on these papers, an assessment framework containing 10 criteria with specific metrics to evaluate MB-UIDEs was defined and 30 different environments were evaluated following these criteria. The evaluation identifies several gaps in the existing state of the art and highlights the areas of promising improvement. The evaluation shows that, although a strong progress has being achieved over the last years, the existing environments do not yet fully exploit the benefits and potentialities of MDD, nor do they adequately integrate UI design with application logic design and generation. Further research needs to be done to support the MDD of UIs and the co-design of the underlying application. The difficulty of use of the existing MB-UIDEs, the lack of UI design flexibility, and the lack of complete and integrated development support are the main research gaps that need to be addressed.


Model-based user interface software tools User interface generation Model-driven development Integration with application development 



This project was funded by the VLIR-UOS program under the Cuba Network project ZIUS2015AP033.


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© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of HolguínHolguínCuba
  2. 2.KU LeuvenLouvainBelgium

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