Proud to finally have this flyer going out to the MIT email lists. If you are in Cambridge, please do attend!

Thesis Defense: Creating Rich Designs and Read-Write-Compute Pages with a Relational Layer for Web Content

Speaker: Ted Benson
Speaker Affiliation: MIT CSAIL
Host: David Karger

Date: Thursday, August 07, 2014
Time: 3:00 PM to 4:00 PM
Refreshments: 2:45 PM
Location: 32-G449 (Patil/Kiva) (32 Vassar Street)

Committee: David Karger (MIT CSAIL), Rob Miller (MIT CSAIL), Tim Berners-Lee (MIT CSAIL)

When we browse the web, we experience rich designs and data interactivity. But creating such web sites requires great engineering effort. As a result, novices are largely limited to content management systems like WordPress and experts rely on complex software toolchains like Ruby on Rails. My work shows that adding a declarative, relational layer to the web stack reduces the complexity of authoring and reusing web content by providing a way to reason about how structures on the web fit together and what should happen when they change. I apply this framework to the two goals of design reuse and content management. For design reuse, it enables new and more usable authoring and deployment techniques. For content management, it enables the authoring of read-write-compute applications without any procedural programming at all. User studies show that HTML novices can learn to apply this framework in only a few minutes, increasing their creative capacity beyond read-only rich text. I will show demonstrations of software created using this approach and discuss implications for web authoring going forward.

Relevant URL: For more information please contact: Ted Benson,