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6 Decision Support Systems and Issue Based Information Systems

Incorporating hypermedia with Decision Support Systems can greatly enhance the decision making process. This can be achieved by adding computation and dynamism to hypermedia. A knowledge-based Decision Support System called Max has been developed which incorporates hypermedia facilities to navigate among DSS application models, data, and reports [Bieber, 1993a]. It supports browsing by analysts as well as executives. Analysts can execute decision models under various scenarios. Reports are dynamically created and they can incorporated with other models, data, and reports to produce summaries containing embedded generalized hypertext links. On the other hand, executives can browse through these final reports and follow hypertext links, if necessary, to look at information supporting an analyst’s recommendations and findings [Bieber & Kimbrough, 1991].

Max contains the interface subsystem and the application manager subsystem. The interface subsystem contains the hypermedia engine and it is responsible for the dynamic creation and display of interactive hypermedia documents and menus based on application requests. The application manager subsystem provides the interface between the hypermedia engine and the underlying DSS applications such as finance, engineering, manufacturing, etc. These applications contain domain specific decision models (mathematical models) and data. This subsystem also provides the commands to execute the models, provide explanations, and generate reports. Elements in the application’s knowledge base are mapped to components in the hypermedia engine through translation routines called bridge laws (see Chapter 6).

Issue Based Information Systems (IBIS) help members of a project team discuss issues related to a problem and come to a consensus on a solution. The graphical Issue Based Information System (gIBIS) from MCC is one such system which was built to capture the design rationale for software projects. Software design is a collaborative process in which various team members contribute their expertise and viewpoints to discuss the design. In gIBIS, participants in the online discussion argue about design issues by taking positions and making arguments for and against those positions. These position arguments are represented in a hypertext structure with three types of nodes: issues, positions, and arguments. Users can display overview diagrams to glance at the design rationale and look at the underlying text if required.