Managing experiments on cognitive processes in writing with HandSpy

Carlos Monteiro1 and Jose Paulo Leal1

  1. CRACS & INESC-Porto LA, Faculty of Sciences, University of Porto
    Porto, Portugal,


Experiments on cognitive processes require a detailed analysis of the contribution of many participants. In the case of cognitive processes in writing, these experiments require special software tools to collect gestures performed with a pen or a stylus, and recorded with special hardware. These tools produce different kinds of data files in binary and proprietary formats that need to be managed on a workstation file system for further processing with generic tools, such as spreadsheets and statistical analysis software. The lack of common formats and open repositories hinders the possibility of distributing the workload among researchers within the research group, of re-processing the collected data with software developed by other research groups, and of sharing results with the rest of the cognitive processes research community. This paper describes the development of HandSpy, a collaborative environment for managing experiments in the cognitive processes in writing. This environment was designed to cover all the stages of the experiment, from the definition of tasks to be performed by participants, to the synthesis of results. Collaboration in HandSpy is enabled by a rich web interface. To decouple the environment from existing hardware devices for collecting written production, namely digitizing tablets and smart pens, HandSpy is based on the InkML standard, an XML data format for representing digital ink. This design choice shaped many of the features in HandSpy, such as the use of an XML database for managing application data and the use of XML transformations. XML transformations convert between persistent data representations used for storage and transient data representations required by the widgets on the user interface. Despite being a system independent from a specific collecting device, for the system validation, a framework for data collection was created. This framework has also been highlighted in the paper due to the important role it took in a data collection process, of a scientific project to study the cognitive processes involved in writing.

Key words

InkML, experiments management, collaborative environment, XML data processing

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

Publication information

Volume 10, Issue 4 (October 2013)
Special Issue on Advances in Model Driven Engineering, Languages and Agents
Year of Publication: 2013
ISSN: 2406-1018 (Online)
Publisher: ComSIS Consortium

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How to cite

Monteiro, C., Leal, J. P.: Managing experiments on cognitive processes in writing with HandSpy. Computer Science and Information Systems, Vol. 10, No. 4, 1747-1773. (2013),