Lowering Barriers to Application Development with Cloud-Native Domain-Specific Functions

Jose Miguel Perez-Alvarez, Adrian Mos, Benjamin V. Hanrahan, Iyadunni J. Adenuga

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


Creating and maintaining a modern, heterogeneous set of client applications remains an obstacle for many businesses and individu-als. While simple domain-specific graphical languages and libraries can empower a variety of users to create application behaviors and logic, using these languages to produce and maintain a set of heterogeneous client applications is a challenge. Primarily because each client typically requires the developers to both understand and embed the domain-specific logic. This is because application logic must be encoded to some extent in both the server and client sides. In this paper, we propose an alternative approach, which allows the specification of application logic to reside solely on the cloud. We have built a system where reusable application components can be assembled on the cloud in different logical chains and the client is largely decoupled from this logic and is solely concerned with how data is displayed and gathered from users of the application. In this way, the chaining of requests and responses is done by the cloud and the client side has no knowledge of the application logic. This means that the experts in the domain can build these modular cloud components, arrange them in various logical chains, generate a simple user interface to test the application, and later leave it to client-side developers to customize the presentation and gathering of data types to and from the user. An additional effect of our approach is that the client side developer is able to immediately see any changes they make, while executing the logic residing on the cloud. This further allows more novice programmers to perform these customizations, as they do not need to 'get the full application working' and are able to see the results of their code as they go, thereby lowering the obstacles to businesses and individuals to produce and maintain applications. Furthermore, this decoupling enables the quick generation and customization of a variety of application clients, ranging from web to mobile devices and personal assistants, while customizing one or more as needed. Creating new computer applications, distributing them to users, and maintaining them, is complex and time-consuming. Building even a simple application requires years of study. Furthermore, given the number of devices we have today (from smartphones to voice assistants), the task is further complicated and difficult even for experienced programmers. The world is undergoing a digital transformation, and computer applications are now part of our everyday existence and building them is a requirement for many organizations and businesses. How-ever, only companies and individuals with large budgets and skills can build these applications, a consequence of which is an increased digital gap between those with means and those without. We see a clear need to lower the barriers to building these applications so a more diverse set of voices are able to participate and shape our digital futures, as underrepresented groups are often left out of designing and building these platforms. Previous researchers have proposed approaches where applications can be easily specified by people without (or with few) technical skills. However, handling different device platforms and maintenance/distribution were neglected in these efforts. In this paper we propose an approach where the program is executed on the cloud, while the client only needs to display and gather data from users. A result of our approach is that generic front-end applications adapt to any changes to the program being executed on the cloud. Our programs work with end-user apps on any device, the application that the user sees automatically adapts to any changes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationProceedings - 2022 ACM/IEEE 44th International Conference on Software Engineering
Subtitle of host publicationSoftware Engineering in Society, ICSE-SEIS 2022
PublisherIEEE Computer Society
Number of pages12
ISBN (Electronic)9781665495943
StatePublished - 2022
Event44th ACM/IEEE International Conference on Software Engineering: Software Engineering in Society, ICSE-SEIS 2022 - Pittsburgh, United States
Duration: May 22 2022May 27 2022

Publication series

NameProceedings - International Conference on Software Engineering
ISSN (Print)0270-5257


Conference44th ACM/IEEE International Conference on Software Engineering: Software Engineering in Society, ICSE-SEIS 2022
Country/TerritoryUnited States

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Software


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