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Pragmatic Insights: Live UIs for Agent-Based Modelling in Pharo

Grover J., Papoulias N., Stinckwich S., Bommel P.. 2017. In : Jannik Laval (ed.), Anne Etien (ed.). IWST 2017. Proceedings of the 12th edition of the International Workshop on Smalltalk Technologies. New York : Association for Computing Machinery, p. 1-8. ESUG IWST 2017, International Workshop on Smalltalk Technologies. 12, 2017-09-04/2017-09-08, Maribor (Slovénie).

DOI: 10.1145/3139903.3139915

Object oriented programming has had a long-standing history with simulation systems in terms of human-computer interaction [1] dating back to Simula and early versions of Smalltalk-72 and Smalltalk-76. These frameworks were based on discrete, eventbased simulations as revealed by the classic simulation examples of Smalltalk-80 Blue-book [2]. Nevertheless present time trends have pivoted towards agent-based modelling and abstractions, with systems like NetLogo capturing a sizeable following and heed. Two of the widely known agent-based modelling (ABM) platforms in Smalltalk (MobiDyC and CORMAS) have recently begun experimenting with porting their systems to Pharo. The rationale behind this choice is to allow modern reimagination of the platforms that can take advantage of developments in: agile visualization, moldable tools, domain-specific languages (DSLs) and so on. This work focuses on the salient user interface component of these platforms, namely the spatial interface, which empowers a user to visualize the evolution of the system through time. We start with a concise analysis of the state-of-the-art for spatial interfaces and their platforms (MobiDyC, NetLogo, GAMA and CORMAS), scrutinizing in terms of extensibility, scalability, programming flexibility, and interaction, subsequently we highlight our on-going efforts in building an extension for CORMAS' spatial interface in Pharo. In closing, we detail the pragmatic experience gained in the course of our work and present future perspectives.

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