An Object Based Approach Towards the Automation of Office Procedures Using Intelligent Messages
A Thesis Presented to the Department of Computer Science and the Faculty of the Graduate College University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfullment of the Requirements for the Degree Master of Arts University of Nebraska, Omaha Nebraska. Copyright 1992, Robert L. Palumbo.
Office support systems are used to automate routine office tasks. Since office tasks often require the cooperation of several office workers who may be physically dispersed, it is important to develop advanced communication systems that better facilitate collaborative and cooperative office work among office workers. In this thesis, we propose an approach to the construction of advanced communication systems in which messages are represented as objects that are “intelligent” and “active” and can therefore perform certain activities (such as interacting with various entities to collect data) and decisions (such as dynamically deciding which user to go to next) on their own. The system is called Intelligent Message System IM S. The major components of IM S are as follows: 1. Intelligent Message Objects (IMO). These objects represent the actual intelligent objects of the system; 2. System Mail Manager (SMM) which provides the users an interface to create, send, receive, and maintain IMOs; 3. Intelligent Message Script Language (IMSL) is a language used to program IMOs. Office workers can delegate the responsibility for certain routine office tasks to an IMO and can therefore spend their time on more important activities. Thus, in addition to its theoretical contributions, this thesis provides a framework for building an advanced computer-based message system that increases productivity in an office environment. Each component of the IM S is explained in detail in the thesis. A variation of BNF formalism is used to define the syntax of IMSL while VDM is used to formally define the semantics of major functions of intelligent message objects. A number of examples are provided to illustrate the effectiveness of the IM S in automation of certain office tasks.