Visual syntax does matter: Improving the cognitive effectiveness of the i* visual notation

D.L. Moody, Patrick Heymans, Raimundas Matulevicius

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

110 Citations (Scopus)


Goal-oriented modelling is one of the most important research developments in the requirements engineering (RE) field. This paper conducts a systematic analysis of the visual syntax of i*, one of the leading goal-oriented languages. Like most RE notations, i* is highly visual. Yet surprisingly, there has been little debate about or modification to its graphical conventions since it was proposed more than a decade ago. We evaluate the i* visual notation using a set of principles for designing cognitively effective visual notations (the Physics of Notations). The analysis reveals some serious flaws in the notation together with some practical recommendations for improvement. The results can be used to improve its effectiveness in practice, particularly for communicating with end users. A broader goal of the paper is to raise awareness about the importance of visual representation in RE research, which has historically received little attention.
Original languageUndefined
Pages (from-to)141-175
Number of pages35
JournalRequirements engineering
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2010


  • IR-73701
  • METIS-268579
  • i* - Visualisation - Visual syntax - Evaluation - Visual notation - Visual language
  • Goal Modelling

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