Systo is an open, adaptable and lightweight approach for viewing, building and running systems models in web pages.
The key underlying concept is that a web page is assembled from a set of widgets. Each widget handles one aspect of working with models:; for example:
– displaying the model diagram;
– displaying a graph of simulation results;
– listing the model equations.
The following screendump illustrates the approach with a sample of widgets from a Systo-based webpage.
This approach is in marked contrast with almost all web apps, which provide a single, monolithic, “walled garden” web site: a single URL (such as http://www.facebook.com) which totally controls how you can work. With Systo, there can be 100s of Systo-based web sites, each reflecting web-page design choices made by the web-page developer.
Together, these characteristics of Systo promise to unleash a great burst of creativity in the way we model. Web page developers will design really engaging web pages, perhaps incorporating audio, video, graphics and images to go along with model diagrams and display of results. Anyone interested in improving the way we work with models just has to make a single widget, piggy-backing on pre-exiting components for handling other aspects of the modelling process, rather than having to develop heir own modelling environment from scratch.
This blog starts as Systo cautiously approaches its initial release. I will be reporting on developments, and ruminating on some of the issues faced while working on it. Hopefully, others will join in – if only to suggest better ways of doing things!