To read the full version of this content please select one of the options below:

Mashups by orchestration and widget‐based personal environments: Key challenges, solution strategies, and an application

Ahmet Soylu (Department of Computer Science, ITEC‐IBBT, CODeS, KU Leuven, Kortrijk, Belgium)
Felix Mödritscher (Postdoctoral Fellow at the Institute for Information Systems and New Media of the Vienna University of Economics and Business)
Fridolin Wild (Research Associate at the Knowledge Media Institute of the Open University (OU), UK)
Patrick De Causmaecker (Professor of Computer Science at the Subfaculty of Sciences at KU Leuven and KU Leuven KULAK (Belgium) )
Piet Desmet ( Professor of French and Applied Linguistics at the Faculty of Arts of KU Leuven and KU Leuven KULAK (Belgium))

Program: electronic library and information systems

ISSN: 0033-0337

Article publication date: 21 September 2012




Mashups have been studied extensively in the literature; nevertheless, the large body of work in this area focuses on service/data level integration and leaves UI level integration, hence UI mashups, almost unexplored. The latter generates digital environments in which participating sources exist as individual entities; member applications and data sources share the same graphical space particularly in the form of widgets. However, the true integration can only be realized through enabling widgets to be responsive to the events happening in each other. The authors call such an integration “widget orchestration” and the resulting application “mashup by orchestration”. This article aims to explore and address challenges regarding the realization of widget‐based UI mashups and UI level integration, prominently in terms of widget orchestration, and to assess their suitability for building web‐based personal environments.


The authors provide a holistic view on mashups and a theoretical grounding for widget‐based personal environments. The authors identify the following challenges: widget interoperability, end‐user data mobility as a basis for manual widget orchestration, user behavior mining – for extracting behavioral patterns – as a basis for automated widget orchestration, and infrastructure. The authors introduce functional widget interfaces for application interoperability, exploit semantic web technologies for data interoperability, and realize end‐user data mobility on top of this interoperability framework. The authors employ semantically enhanced workflow/process mining techniques, along with Petri nets as a formal ground, for user behavior mining. The authors outline a reference platform and architecture that is compliant with the authors' strategies, and extend W3C widget specification respectively – prominently with a communication channel – to foster standardization. The authors evaluate their solution approaches regarding interoperability and infrastructure through a qualitative comparison with respect to existing literature, and provide a computational evaluation of the behavior mining approach. The authors realize a prototype for a widget‐based personal learning environment for foreign language learning to demonstrate the feasibility of their solution strategies. The prototype is also used as a basis for the end‐user assessment of widget‐based personal environments and widget orchestration.


The evaluation results suggest that the interoperability framework, platform, and architecture have certain advantages over existing approaches, and the proposed behavior mining techniques are adequate for the extraction of behavioral patterns. User assessments show that widget‐based UI mashups with orchestration (i.e. mashups by orchestration) are promising for the creation of personal environments as well as for an enhanced user experience.


This article provides an extensive exploration of mashups by orchestration and their role in the creation of personal environments. Key challenges are described, along with novel solution strategies to meet them.



Soylu, A., Mödritscher, F., Wild, F., De Causmaecker, P. and Desmet, P. (2012), "Mashups by orchestration and widget‐based personal environments: Key challenges, solution strategies, and an application", Program: electronic library and information systems, Vol. 46 No. 4, pp. 383-428.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2012, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Related articles