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Systems and methods for dashboard image generation

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Title: Systems and methods for dashboard image generation.
Abstract: Systems and methods for generating a dashboard image for viewing on a remote computing device. The system may include a business database storing a plurality of business values; a dashboard generator; an image generator and a web page generator. The dashboard generator may be configured to derive a plurality of key performance indicator values from the database and generate a corresponding dashboard. The image generator may be configured to generate the dashboard image corresponding to the dashboard. The web page generator may be operatively coupled to the image generator and configured to generate a dashboard web page corresponding to the dashboard image. The method may include: receiving a dashboard image request from the remote computing device; deriving a plurality of key performance indicator values from a business database; creating a dashboard image corresponding to the key performance indicator values; generating a dashboard web page corresponding to the dashboard image. ...


Browse recent Dundas Data Visualization, Inc. patents - Toronto, CA
Inventor: Terrence Eugene Sheflin
USPTO Applicaton #: #20120089902 - Class: 715234 (USPTO) - 04/12/12 - Class 715 


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The Patent Description & Claims data below is from USPTO Patent Application 20120089902, Systems and methods for dashboard image generation.

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PRIORITY

This application claims priority from U.S. provisional patent application No. 61/390,642, filed Oct. 7, 2010, which is incorporated by referenced herein in its entirety.

TECHNICAL FIELD

The described embodiments relate generally to the creation and distribution of images of dashboards, with common but by no means exclusive application to the display of such images on mobile communication devices or other computer devices operatively coupled to the Internet.

BACKGROUND

“Dashboards” present visualizations, for example, in graph or chart form, of key performance indicator (KPI) metrics or information derived from business values or data stored in business databases. Such visualizations may be viewed (e.g., on a computer screen or other display device) by executives to obtain an overview of how a business is performing.

The inventors have recognized that it may be desirable to be able to view dashboard information on a computing device that is remote or otherwise separate from the server or system creating the dashboard. Such remote computing device may not have a software graphics platform. The inventors have recognized a need for improved systems and methods for generating and displaying images of dashboards. The embodiments described herein may address in whole or in part some or all of the above-noted challenges.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Embodiments are described in further detail below, by way of example only, with reference to the accompanying drawings, in which:

FIG. 1 is a schematic diagram of one implementation of a system for generating a dashboard image for viewing on a remote computing device, in accordance with the present disclosure;

FIG. 2 is a schematic illustration of an exemplary dashboard, as may be generated in accordance with the present disclosure;

FIG. 3 is a schematic illustration of the internal components of the dashboard generator and the image generator of FIG. 1 shown in greater detail, in accordance with the present disclosure;

FIG. 4 is a flowchart illustrating the steps in a method for generating a dashboard image for viewing on a remote computing device, in accordance with the present disclosure;

FIG. 5 is a schematic illustration of the internal components of the image generation service of FIG. 3 shown in greater detail, in accordance with the present disclosure; and

FIG. 6 is a schematic illustration of the internal components of the image generation client application and CreateDashboardImage web page of FIG. 3 shown in greater detail, in accordance with the present disclosure.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

The embodiments described below relate generally to a dashboard creation and management system that lets users view data visualization dashboards. Dashboards may display graphical elements that contain visual representations of key performance indicators for a business. KPIs may be business metrics that assist a business to better understand the data it has collected relating to the operation of the business. By way of example only, a dashboard created for a retail business might illustrate in graph form the business\' retail sales over a period of time. Such exemplary dashboard might also illustrate in a pie chart the retail sales by product category (eg. clothing, shoes, sporting equipment) over the same (or a different) period of time. As will be understood, the nature of the KPIs displayed will vary based on the nature of the business and the needs of the individual wishing to view and understand different business metrics.

For the purposes of the present disclosure such a dashboard creation and management system may typically include two types of dashboard viewing users (who are often business executives): those who are able to view and interact with a dashboard (referred to generally below as “interactive viewers”), and those who are only able to view a static image of a dashboard, without being able to interact directly with the dashboard (referred to below generally as “remote viewers”).

Dashboards may be designed to be interactive in a number of different ways. For example, an interactive viewer may be able to configure the date ranges to be used for filtering the business data which is to be represented in the KPIs on the dashboard. Some dashboards may be configured to allow different categories of business data to be represented in the KPIs, such as product types sold or sales by selected stores. Any particular dashboard may provide a variety of interaction options appropriate for the application.

As will be understood, the software required to interact with a dashboard (which would typically be installed on a business\' office computers) may not be available on all computing devices to which an executive has access (for example, a smartphone, a tablet, or a personal computer which has not been configured with the necessary software). While away from the fully configured computers available at a business\' office, an executive may still desire to view a dashboard, even if interactive functionality is not available.

One aspect of the technology described herein relates to a method for generating a dashboard image for viewing on a remote computing device. The method may include: receiving a dashboard image request from the remote computing device; deriving a plurality of key performance indicator values from a business database; creating a dashboard image corresponding to the key performance indicator values; and generating a dashboard web page corresponding to the dashboard image.

In some implementations, the dashboard web page may be accessed by the remote computing device. As well, the dashboard image request may be communicated via the Internet. In some instances, the dashboard image request corresponds to a dashboard URL. In turn, the dashboard web page may also correspond to or be accessed via the dashboard URL.

The method may also include communicating a message corresponding to the dashboard image request to the remote computing device. The message may be communicated via the Internet. In some instances, the message includes the dashboard image. In addition or in the alternative, the message may include a dashboard URL or other storage address for locating the dashboard image.

The dashboard image may be created on an image creating computer, wherein the remote computing device is remote or otherwise separate from the image creating computer.

As well, in some implementations, the dashboard image request comprises at least one parameter and the dashboard image corresponds to the at least one parameter.

One aspect of the technology described herein relates to a system for generating a dashboard image for viewing on a remote computing device. The system may include a business database storing a plurality of business values; a dashboard generator; an image generator and a web page generator. The dashboard generator may be configured to derive a plurality of key performance indicator values from the business database and generate a dashboard corresponding to the plurality of key performance indicator values. The image generator may be configured to generate the dashboard image, such that the dashboard image corresponds to the dashboard. As well, the web page generator may be operatively coupled to the image generator and configured to generate a dashboard web page corresponding to the dashboard image.

In some implementations, the web page generator may be operatively coupled to the dashboard generator. Alternatively, the web page generator may form part of the dashboard generator. The web page may be configured to receive a dashboard image request from the remote computing device. Such a dashboard image request may be communicated via the Internet. Sometimes, the dashboard image request corresponds to a URL. The dashboard web page may correspond to the URL. For some configurations, the dashboard image request includes at least one parameter and the dashboard image corresponds to the at least one parameter.

In some implementations, the dashboard generator is configured to communicate a message corresponding to the dashboard image request to the remote computing device. The message may be communicated via the Internet. As well, the message may include the dashboard image.

In some implementations, the image generator comprises an image creating computer and wherein the remote computing device is remote or otherwise separate from the image creating computer.

Referring to FIG. 1, illustrated there is a block diagram of one possible embodiment of a system for generating a dashboard image for viewing (on a remote computing device), shown generally as 100. The system 100 may include one or more fully enabled client terminals 102, one or more remote terminals or computing devices 104A, 104B, 104C, a server-side dashboard generator module 106 and an image generator 108. Each of these components may be networked (in addition to being coupled to the Internet 110) and be operable to communicate with each other. While connectivity is described herein throughout in relation to the Internet 110, it should be understood that other types of networks, such as a local area network (LAN) may be used. Without intending to be limiting, the remote computing devices may, for example, be in the form of a personal computer 104A, a smartphone 140B, or a tablet 104C configured with a web browser. The remote computing devices 104A, 104B, 104C will also typically be configured with an email reader.

Further, while the generator module 106 and image generator 108 are illustrated as being separate components, it should be understood that in some implementations, the image generator 108 may be considered to comprise part of the dashboard generator module 106 and/or reside on the same server/computer. The system 100 may also include a business database 112. A business data server (not shown) may also be provided which executes software components that provide access to the business database 112.

As will be discussed in greater detail below, the business database 112 may store business data 120 corresponding to a plurality of business values (e.g., sales, expenses, inventory or human resources data) that relate to the operation of a business. As an illustration, the business database 112 may be an accounting and inventory management database that stores transactional data for a sporting goods store. In some embodiments, the business database 112 may be stored on a separate computer or server accessible by the dashboard generator 106.

As will be understood, all or a subset of business values may be selected from the business database 112 for the purpose of deriving (or calculating) KPI values for visualization on the dashboard to be generated. For example, the KPI values may be derived by performing a summation or other mathematical process on the business values.

Referring briefly to FIG. 2, shown there is an example dashboard 200 showing various different graphical KPI visualizations 202. One exemplary type of KPI visualization illustrated in the dashboard 200 is the ‘Total Sales by Product Type’ KPI 202a, depicting bar graph data corresponding to sales of specified products over a period of time.

Referring again to FIG. 1, exemplary client terminals 102, remote computing devices 104A, 104B, 104C, dashboard generator module 106 and image generator 108 may comprise a number of components (which have not all been illustrated), including microprocessors. In the exemplary configuration illustrated in FIG. 1, the microprocessor (which may be in the form of a server, for example) on which the software of the image generator 108 is run is referred to herein as the image creating computer 114. As noted above, this microprocessor 114 may be the same as or different from the microprocessor(s) (which may be in the form of one or more servers, for example) on which the software of the dashboard generator module 106 runs.

Microprocessors typically control the overall operation of computer systems. Microprocessors interact with additional subcomponents such as memory storage (which may include random access memory (RAM) and read-only memory (ROM), and persistent storage such as flash memory), display, network adapter and input device(s), for example, such as a keyboard, mouse, touchscreen (which may form part of the display) or touchpad. Network adapters allow connection to different types of networks (for example, Local Area Networks (LANs) as well as Wide Area Networks (WANs)), and may be wired (for example, through an Ethernet connection) or wireless (for example, through 802.11 Wireless Local Area Network (WLAN) or cellular standards). Operating system software used by a microprocessor is typically stored in a persistent store such as flash memory or read-only memory (ROM) or similar storage. Those skilled in the art will appreciate that the operating system, specific software components, or parts thereof, may be temporarily loaded into a volatile store such as RAM. Microprocessors, in addition to operating system functions, enable execution of software components.

In the exemplary embodiment in FIG. 1, it should be understood that the computers/microprocessors of the remote terminals or computing devices 104A, 104B, 104C are separate from the image generating computer 114. Reference herein to “remote” computing devices 104A, 104B, 104C is intended to convey that such computing devices 104A, 104B, 104C are distinct, different and/or separate from (and do not form part of) the image creating computer 114—in this context, “remote” is not intended to refer to geographical distance.

From a high level perspective, the dashboard generation module 106 provides interactive dashboard functionality and visualization for interactive viewers on the fully enabled client terminal 102. While not illustrated, it will be understood that more than one client terminals 102 may access (simultaneously or otherwise) the interactive dashboard functionality provided by dashboard generation module 106. In contrast, users may be able to view a static image of a dashboard (such as dashboard 200) on the remote computing device(s) 104A, 104B, 104C via a web page. The dashboard URL (uniform resource locator) 150 address corresponding to the dashboard web page 140 is communicated to the remote computing device(s) 104A, 104B, 104C typically via the Internet, such as via email. As will be discussed in greater detail, below, the static dashboard image 130 is generated by the image generator 108 upon request from the dashboard generation module 106.

As noted above, the business database 112 may store business data 120. Such business data 120 may correspond to any data stored by a business organization in relation to the operation of its business. For example, this may include transactional sales data or inventory data. The dashboard generation module 106 may include a dashboard creation and management system for creating and managing executive business dashboards (such as exemplary dashboard 200 illustrated in FIG. 2) that show business metrics, typically in a graphical format. As noted above, such business metrics for the dashboard creation and management system may be derived from the business data 120.

Dashboard generation module 106 may select certain business data 120, generate corresponding KPIs and organize/present the KPIs in a dashboard 200 for interactive viewing by business executives using a client terminal 102 (for example, which may be in the form of a desktop or notebook PC). Such terminal 102 may be equipped with a graphics platform 122 such as Microsoft® Silverlight™ or Windows Presentation Foundation™ (WPF). Specifically, the user may use a desktop software application (e.g., equipped with WPF) or a web browser (e.g., equipped with Silverlight™) available on terminal 102 to select and interactively view a dashboard 200 of interest.

A request to view a dashboard 200 may be made from the terminal 102 to the dashboard generation module 106. The dashboard generator 106 returns data which consists of information needed by the graphics platform 122 to render the desired dashboard 200 on the display of computer 102. In this way, the client terminal 102 may be considered a client computer in the client-server software architecture known in the art.

As will be understood, the dashboard generation module 106 may further be configured to request that the image generator 108 create a snapshot image 130 of a specified dashboard. By “specified”, it is meant that various parameters defining the type of data and the display preferences of the dashboard are determined by the dashboard generation module 106 (often as a result of input from the user of the terminal 102). As will be understood in the context of the following discussion, the dashboard generation module 106 may be configured to create a dashboard URL 150 corresponding to the desired dashboard 200 and its preferences.

Referring again briefly to FIG. 2, by way of example only, preferences determined for the dashboard 200 may include the products to be included in the “Total Sales by Product Type” KPI 202a (eg. “Ski”, “Skate”, “Bike”, “Kite”), the date range of the data to be displayed (January to June), as well as the choice to illustrate the data in a bar graph format. As will be understood, other types of preferences may be determined in order to specify the KPIs to be determined and displayed, as well as the configuration of the dashboard 200. Once the dashboard image snapshot 130 is created, the image generation system 108 returns the generated dashboard image data back to the dashboard generator module 106. The dashboard image 130 may also be saved or cached as a dashboard image data file 130′. Instead of returning an on-demand image, the dashboard generator 106 may be configured to return a cached image created during a previous request. Such caching can help with performance efficiency and protect against denial-of-service attacks.

Referring again to FIG. 1, the generation module 106 may include a communication module 134 configured to include the dashboard image 130 in an email message 136 by attaching the image data 130′ as a PNG (portable network graphics) file. As will be understood, a PNG file is typically viewable by a standard web browser and a standard email reader. As will be understood, while the PNG image format is described herein throughout, other appropriate image formats (for example without limitation, JPEG (Joint Photographic Experts Group)) may also be used. In addition, or in the alternative, this email message 136 may include the dashboard URL 150 corresponding to the desired dashboard 200. Such email message 136 may then be communicated to a remote computing device 104A, 104B, 104C.

The generator 106 may also be configured to host an Internet web page 140 that shows the generated dashboard image 130. This dashboard web page 140 is accessible to a remote computing device(s) 104A, 104B, 104C which has been configured with a web browser and is coupled to the Internet 110. As noted above, the remote computing device 104A, 104B, 104C may be provided with the dashboard URL 150 from receipt of the email message 136. Once in possession of the dashboard URL 150, as will be understood, a remote computing device 104A, 104B, 104C may access the dashboard web page 140 via the Internet 110.

Typically, the web page 140 would comprise basic HTML coding in addition to the image data 130′ and be viewable by a standard web browser—as a result, no specialized graphics platform (similar to the graphics platform 122 the client terminal 102 may be equipped with) which would otherwise be required for viewing the image 130, is possessed by such remote computing device(s) 104A, 104B, 104C.

As previously noted, the request and corresponding generation of a dashboard image 130 by the dashboard generator module 106 may be automatic (and/or periodic) or on-demand as a result of access to the web page 140 such as by remote computing device(s) 104A, 104B, 104C.

Referring simultaneously to FIGS. 3 and 4, exemplary methodology and component configuration are discussed. FIG. 3 illustrates the internal components of the dashboard generator 106 and the image generator 108 and their interaction with other components of the system 100 in greater detail as may be implemented in accordance with the present disclosure. FIG. 4 is a schematic diagram of a method, shown generally as 400, for generating a dashboard image for viewing on a remote computing device, in accordance with one or more possible embodiments.

The “on-demand” generation of a dashboard image 130 may be initiated by a computer, such as a remote computing device 104A, 104B, 104C navigating to the dashboard image web page 140, sometimes referred to herein as the “ShowDashboardImage” web page (and which may be hosted by, and forms part of, the dashboard generator 106) at the corresponding URL in order to generate a request to view a specific dashboard as an image. A dashboard image request is received by the dashboard generation module 106 from the remote computing device 104A, 104B, 104C accessing the dashboard image web page 140. (Block 402)

As noted above, various parameters defining the type of data and the display preferences of the dashboard 200 may be specified within the dashboard URL 150 corresponding to the dashboard web page 140. Such parameters may be communicated to the generation module 106 via URL query parameters. By way of further example, such parameters may include the information needed to identify the dashboard (such as its GUID (Globally Unique Identifier) and the state of its filters (if any), which are passed in to the web page 140. An example URL comprising such parameters contained within the URL might look like the following: “http://dashsvr/ShowDashboardImage.aspx?param1=xx&param2=yy& . . . ”, with “xx” and “yy” representing dummy values for exemplary parameters represented by “param1” and “param2”, respectively.



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stats Patent Info
Application #
US 20120089902 A1
Publish Date
04/12/2012
Document #
13267955
File Date
10/07/2011
USPTO Class
715234
Other USPTO Classes
International Class
06F17/00
Drawings
7



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