What is RMM?

Tomás Isakowitz

April 1997

Web Systems

There is a difference between developing a set of homepages for a small website and developing systems on the Web that manage information, interact with databases and are integrated with other enterprise information systems. The latter, called Web System development, requires well thought-out methods and different tools than those available from homepage creation. The Relationship Management Methodology (RMM) Zipped Postscript (114K)[Isakowitz 95] is a methodology for the design and construction of Web systems on Inter- and Intra-nets.

RMM in a Nutshell

Without guidance, WWW applications can evolve into an entangled spaghetti-like collection of HTML pages that are hard to access and costly to maintain. RMM is a aimed at solving these problems.



1) Robust Design:

Instead of starting with a bunch of files here and there, and linking them, developers have guide to proceed with the design and development.

2) Expressive Design:

In RMM, designs are expressed through concise graphical diagrams. This facilitates the process of reviewing, creating and documenting designs.
Currently, there is no procedure for documenting Web sites in a concise and useful way. The design of the document site is expressed as an RMM diagram. Designers can use this diagram to argue about the design and improve it.

3) Separation of data, structure and user-interface:

RMM keeps these three elements separate and allows them to be manipulated. Instead of having a collection of directories and files to manage, software developers can analyze these aspects of the application separately.
Currently Web sites consist of groups of HTML files, CGI scripts, JAVA applets and multimedia files (gifs, jpgs, au, wav, mov, etc.). In the current format, design elements, such as page-layout and navigation access are merged with content elements. This makes it extremely hard to develop and maintain applications. RMM effectively separates these three components.

4) Maintenance:

Maintenance of WWW sites is bound to be a costly task. Issues that arise are:

Future Developments

A series of software tools to aid in RMM development will be available in 1997. We are also compiling a library of reusable RMM designs.


For the following references consult the "hypermedia design" page.
  1. ``RMM: A Methodology for Structured Hypermedia Design'', T. Isakowitz, E. A. Stohr, and P. Balasubramanian, Communications of the ACM, Vol. 38, No. 8, August 1995, pp. 34--44. Main paper describing the RMM methodology for hypermedia applications.
  2. "Extending the Capabilities of RMM: Russian Dolls and Hypertext", T. Isakowitz, A. Kamis, M. Koufaris. Proceedings of the Thirtieth Hawaii International Conference on Information Systems (HICSS), Maui, HI, January 1997. Extensions that enable design of presentation layer aspects of hypermedia systems.
  3. ``RMC: A Tool To Design WWW Applications'', A. Diaz, T. Isakowitz, V. Maiorana and G. Gilabert. Proceedings of the Fourth International World Wide Web Conference, Boston, December 1995, http://www.w3.org/WWW4. Presents an RMM-based design and development environment for organizational WWW applications. This paper describes a proposed tool.
  4. ``Distributed Hypermedia Design'', T. Isakowitz, Journal of Management Information Systems. (forthcoming). Describes RMM-based development, emphasizing a common look and feel.
  5. ``Systematic Hypermedia Design'', V. Balasubramanian, M. Bieber and T. Isakowitz, (Working paper). Describes the application of RMM to the design and development of an on-line information system.
  6. ``Hypermedia in Information Systems and Organizations: An Agenda for Research'', T. Isakowitz, Proceedings of the 26th Hawaii International Conference on Information Systems (HICSS), Maui, HI, January 1993. A visionary look at the impact of hypermedia in organizations.
  7. ``Hypermedia Design'', S. Frasse, F. Garzotto, T. Isakowitz, J. Nanard and M. Nanard, eds., Springer Verlag, Workshops in Computing Series, 1996, 252+x111 pages. (collection of articles on hypermedia design).

Tomás Isakowitz
Background Information

Tomás Isakowitz is an Assistant Professor of Information Systems at New York University Stern School of Business. His research interests are hypermedia technology and its applications, decision support and temporal databases. Professor Isakowitz received his B.Sc. in Mathematics at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, his M. Sc. in Mathematics at the University of California at Santa Barbara, his M. Eng. and Ph.D. in Computer Science at the University of Pennsylvania. He has taught at New York University's Stern School of Business, the International University of Japan, and the University of Pennsylvania, and was a visiting scholar at Stanford Research Institute. Dr. Isakowitz' software engineering research interests focus on exploring new paradigms and methodologies to facilitate software development, encourage software reuse and encourage solid system construction. He is actively involved in hypertext research, and has written extensively about the design and development of hypertext/hypermedia applications. His publications have appeared in the Journal of Management Information Systems, Communications of the ACM, Decision Support Systems, ACM Transactions on Database Systems, ACM Transactions on Office Information Systems, Decision Support Systems and elsewhere. He currently serves on the editorial boards of the Journal of Management Information Systems, the Journal of Electronic Commerce, and as a special issue editor for the Journal of Organizational Computing and the Communications of the ACM. Dr. Isakowitz has worked as a consultant for several international companies, and is actively involved in the academic and practical issues involving the design of Web applications.


Tomás Isakowitz
Stern School of Business
New York University
44 W. 4th St. # 9-79
New York, NY 10012
(212) 998-0833