Semiotic user interface analysis of building information model systems

Timo Hartmann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


To promote understanding of how to use building information (BI) systems to support communication, this paper uses computer semiotic theory to study how user interfaces of BI systems operate as a carrier of meaning. More specifically, the paper introduces a semiotic framework for the analysis of BI system user interfaces and provides a first illustrative application of the framework by analyzing the user interfaces of several state-of-the-art BI software systems. The outcomes of the analysis show that the semiotic framework can improve understanding of how well meaning can be exchanged between BI system developers and building designers, between BI systems and building designers, and between building designers among each other. With these outcomes, the paper shows that the framework allows for gaining insights about how signs are used to convey meaning within complex scenes presented by the BI system. Additionally, the framework also allows understanding of the features of single signs in isolation. These results illustrate that semiotic frameworks that consider BI systems as knowledge encoding devices, can provide researchers, BI system developers, and BI system users with new perceptions on the BI systems’ user interfaces that allow for a better use, but also development and implementation of BI systems 8
Original languageEnglish
Article numberA4014001
Pages (from-to)-
JournalJournal of computing in civil engineering
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • IR-92923
  • METIS-306850


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