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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Automated visual analysis of non-functional web app properties Bajammal, Mohammad


Non-functional software properties capture qualitative and generic aspects about software. Such aspects are often high level and more semantic compared to the more precise and quantitative functional properties or requirements, and therefore have been more difficult to analyze and automate. A scarcely explored, and po- tentially useful, alternative paradigm is the adoption of what might be referred to as a visual analysis approach to software engineering, which involves extracting or analyzing visual information pertaining to the software, with the objective of addressing software engineering problems. The goal of the work presented in this dissertation is to improve non-functional web UI properties using automated visual analysis. We focus on particular prob- lems of testability, accessibility, and maintainability because they have not been amenable to automation so far. First, we improve testability by converting the inherently non-testable web canvas elements into testable ones. The automated technique is based on visually analyzing the structure and properties of the canvas contents, then augmenting them into the canvas element to make it testable. Then, we propose an approach to test semantic accessibility. It is based on visually ana- lyzing various regions of the page and then inferring any associated semantic roles, after which the UI markup is examined to assert the presence of the roles. Next, we introduce an automated technique for addressing the common problem of inacces- sible web form labeling. It is based on constructing visual cues from the form, then solving for the optimal labeling associations, which are finally augmented into the inaccessible web forms to make them accessible. Finally, we present a UI compo- nent generation technique to improve maintainability. The technique first detects visual patterns in the UI, then combines subsets of these patterns into a shared tem- plate, which is finally formulated as a UI component. Our evaluations show that the proposed techniques are able to carry the inferences, analyses, and tests in an accurate and effective manner.

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