Tabcon is an application designed as a teaching and learning aid for concurrent programming for the Tablet PC. The goal was to allow the user to draw on the tablet as you would draw on the whiteboard for modeling concurrency and then use the model interactivly. This interactivity is largely done through a simulation system we have built which can show how locks affect a program, where deadlocks may occur, and other situations. The user can define the order of execution of code as well as attach model code to the important points.
This project was done under the direction of Dr. Lin Qiu and funded by Microsoft External Research. For much of the project I was the only one working on the it but previously there have been several others including Ting Qian, Michael Johnson, Jesse Arens, and Matt Wioncek.
Our final goal for the project was for it to be used in Professor Doug Lea’s concurrency course. It was tested in this setting in 2007, but as Dr. Qiu left Oswego, the effort was not continued.
As a result of working on this project, Microsoft funded myself and another Tablet PC programmer to attend the Microsoft Mobile and Embedded Developer Conference 2007 in Las Vegas, where we interacted with several people on the Tablet PC team at Microsoft. For more about this opportunity check out the article from Oswego Campus Update.
During development of Tabcon we noticed that it was dificult for students or professors to speak to the class while simultaneously drawing on the tablet with enough attention that the system would be able to recognize the shapes drawn reliably. For this reason I extended Tabcon in TabconV2 to use both a sketch and speech interface. Now Tabcon listens for hints about what’s being drawn – either exactly the shape like “circle” or other terms like “object” or “critical section”. These hints are used to influence the shape recognition algorithms.
Unfortunately, neither Tabcon nor TabconV2 run on any modern operating systems, both having relied on libraries specific to Windows XP Tablet PC Edition.
Read More about Tabcon
- Schlegel, D.R. A Sketch/Speech Interface and Usability Study for Software to Teach and Learn Concurrent Programming. Masters Thesis, SUNY Oswego, Oswego NY, June 2009.
- Qiu, L. and Schlegel, D. Tabcon: A Tablet-based Tool for Teaching Concurrent Programming. Poster presented by Qiu, L. at Workshop on the Impact of Pen-based Technology in Education (WIPTE), June 2007. [poster]