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Generating Graphical User Interfaces for Grid Computing Portals

Carl Orebäck

Carl was awarded both the Agilent Prize and the Class Medal for best performance in the BEng Electronics and Computer Science degree

To investigate the use of graphical user interface languages and their generators and use these in conjunction with the Rapid Development Tool for Job Submission Portlets (RAPID), which is being developed at the National e-Science Centre.

Grid computing has become very popular in the last decade with its promise to deliver unprecedented computing power to anyone on the planet, anywhere. However, to make use of any Grid, a number of software components and authentication systems are required. Typically, these components and systems vary from Grid to Grid, and without little exception, they are command-line based.

The command line is fine when working with computer-savvy scientists, such as physicists, engineers, astronomers and computer scientists. However, the majority of scientists will not have the time to invest in learning the command line, let alone the mystic incantations required to submit jobs and move data across Grids and other High Performance Computing facilities.

At the National e-Science Centre, a new tool called RAPID is under development that allows a rapid deployment of portals, i.e., web interfaces, that are specifically tailored to a group of scientists. Such a portal will allow them to perform tasks through filling in web forms and pressing the 'submit to Grid' button at the end.

The tool binds a user interface (xhtml forms) to an XML definition that specifies how a computer job will run on a Grid, called a Job Submission Description Language (JDSL). Currently, an extension is being developed that allows binding a database to both the xhtml forms and the JSDL. This binding consists of one XML file called RAPID-XML. It specifies the control flow of the user interface and in which way GUI components are connected to the JSDL file. No programming is required in the process.

Using the tool we can create and deploy portals quickly. However, this still needs a person skilled in the art of writing XML files. In this project you will investigate the use of languages and generators that can generate such an XML file by means of its own GUI. In other words, the aim is to have a user interface that generates user interfaces specifically for submitting compute jobs to Grids.

A suggested language and generator to look at is JAXFront/JAXForms.

Project status: 
Degree level: 
You should definitely not be afraid of XML.
Supervisors @ NeSC: 
Subject areas: 
Human-Computer Interaction
Software Engineering
Student project type: 
The RAPID project