Hypermedia support for argumentation-based rationale: 15 years on from gIBIS and QOC

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Citation: Simon J. Buckingham Shum, Albert M. Selvin, Maarten Sierhuis, Jeffrey Conklin, Charles B. Haley, Bashar Nuseibeh (2005) Hypermedia support for argumentation-based rationale: 15 years on from gIBIS and QOC. Rationale Management in Software Engineering (RSS)
Internet Archive Scholar (search for fulltext): Hypermedia support for argumentation-based rationale: 15 years on from gIBIS and QOC
Download: http://eprints.aktors.org/513/01/RMiSE2006 AKTeprint.pdf
Tagged: Computer Science (RSS) argumentation (RSS), IBIS (RSS), gIBIS (RSS), QOC (RSS), design rationale (RSS), Compendium (RSS)


The developers and early users of gIBIS and QOC describe "lessons learnt about the human factors of IBIS tools" in this book chapter on rationale management. The overall structure is to first review the problems encountered in early design rationale capture and second to describe current approaches with Compendium software.

Originally, design rationale was intended to document design decisions, providing reusable decisions or making it easier to maintain the system with knowledge of group memory. One major challenge is the "DR capture problem": how to get "quality input" without disrupting the process or having dedicated design rationale documenters. Further, artefacts captured need to have immediate value to attract users (cost-benefit, save the time of *this* user).

Design rationale (at least in the QOC context seems to involve at least four separate cognitive tasks (according to Graphical argumentation and design cognition (see full reference below):

  1. separating out individual ideas
  2. classification
  3. naming
  4. structuring

One main argument is that this work is useful, and can provide additional benefits: "DR that yields insight into the complex ideas and arguments that may lie behind a decision does not come 'for free': effort must be invested at some point in the rationale management lifecycle." In particular, Compendium makes the capture part of the discussion process of stakeholders "which in the process serves their needs to understand each other, know that their viewpoint has been heard, and co-evolve a shared picture of the problem, possible ways forward, and the rationale for deciding which". When the discussion is well-facilitated, these benefits can include:

  • slowing down to ensure that information is not lost (they call this "constructively disruptive")
  • depersonalization of conflict
  • keeping momentum

Facilitation can be (and is) taught. A further benefit is that Compendium includes issue templates, so that best practices and standard operating procedures can be propagated through issue maps.

Two case studies are briefly discussed: a security satisfaction argument and an enterprise-wide risk assessment (further discussed in Automating CapCom using mobile agents and robotic assistants). This latter case study also brings up IBIS-indexed video, an ongoing research area.

Selected references

Challenges and design constraints

design cognition]]. Human-Computer Interaction, 12(3), pp 267-300

Successes and case studies


Computer Interaction, 6(3&4), pp 357-391.



  • Clancey WJ, Sierhuis M, Alena R, Berrios D, Dowding J, Graham JS, Tyree KS, Hirsh RL, Garry

WB, Semple A, Buckingham Shum S, Shadbolt N, Rupert S. (2005) Automating CapCom using mobile agents and robotic assistants. American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics 1st Space Exploration Conference, 31 Jan-1 Feb, Orlando, FL. Available from: AIAA Meeting Papers on CDROM, and as AKT ePrint 375: http://eprints.aktors.org/375

Early papers

Theoretical and Practical Relevance

This paper argues for the usefulness of design rationale capture, providing informal evidence (case studies, Compendium download rates, worldwide community) that the design rationale capture problem can be (and has sometimes been) overcome. Over 100 projects had used Compendium from 1995-2005.

The authors note that "Reluctance to persist long enough to gain some fluency with these new tools and their languages will result inevitably in the familiar complaints of intrusiveness."