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Triggering actions in an information feed system

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Title: Triggering actions in an information feed system.
Abstract: Disclosed are systems, apparatus, methods, and computer readable media for performing actions in response to information updates provided in an information feed. In one implementation, an information update to be displayed in an information feed is received. The information feed may be capable of being displayed on a display device. The information update may be stored in a feed table for display in the information feed. A determination may be made as to whether the information update includes information satisfying a trigger condition associated with a trigger rule. When the information in the information update satisfies the trigger condition, the trigger rule may be activated. The trigger rule may specify a trigger action to perform in association with the information update. ...


Browse recent Salesforce.com, Inc. patents - San Francisco, CA, US
Inventors: Christopher A. Kemp, Carter Thaxton, Christopher De Gour, Kevin Schraith, Andrew Sopko, Nathan Wisman
USPTO Applicaton #: #20120102153 - Class: 709219 (USPTO) - 04/26/12 - Class 709 
Electrical Computers And Digital Processing Systems: Multicomputer Data Transferring > Remote Data Accessing >Accessing A Remote Server



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The Patent Description & Claims data below is from USPTO Patent Application 20120102153, Triggering actions in an information feed system.

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PRIORITY AND RELATED APPLICATION DATA

This application claims priority to co-pending and commonly assigned Provisional U.S. Patent Application No. 61/474,546, titled “Systems and Methods for Triggering Events Over a Social Network”, by Kemp, et al., filed on Apr. 12, 2011 (Attorney Docket No. 624PROV), Provisional U.S. Patent Application No. 61/406,524, titled “Performing Scheduling and Providing Auto-responses via an Enterprise Business Network Feed”, by Kevin Schraith, filed on Oct. 25, 2010 (Attorney Docket No. SLFCP022P/480PROV), and Provisional U.S. Patent Application No. 61/416,204, titled “Chatter Keywords”, by Sopko et al., filed on Nov. 22, 2010 (Attorney Docket No. 483PROV), all of which are hereby incorporated by reference in their entirety and for all purposes.

COPYRIGHT NOTICE

A portion of the disclosure of this patent document contains material, which is subject to copyright protection. The copyright owner has no objection to the facsimile reproduction by anyone of the patent document or the patent disclosure, as it appears in the Patent and Trademark Office patent file or records, but otherwise reserves all copyright rights whatsoever.

TECHNICAL FIELD

The present application relates generally to providing information updates in an information feed system and, more specifically, to techniques for analyzing and responding to information updates.

BACKGROUND

“Cloud computing” services provide shared resources, software, and information to computers and other devices upon request. In cloud computing environments, software can be accessible over the Internet rather than installed locally on in-house computer systems. Cloud computing typically involves over-the-Internet provision of dynamically scalable and often virtualized resources. Technological details can be abstracted from the users, who no longer have need for expertise in, or control over, the technology infrastructure “in the cloud” that supports them.

Database resources can be provided in a cloud computing context. However, using conventional database management techniques, it is difficult to know about the activity of other users of a database system in the cloud or other network. For example, the actions of a particular user, such as a salesperson, on a database resource may be important to the user's boss. The user can create a report about what the user has done and send it to the boss, but such reports may be inefficient, not timely, and incomplete. Also, it may be difficult to identify other users who might benefit from the information in the report.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The included drawings are for illustrative purposes and serve only to provide examples of possible structures and process operations for the disclosed inventive systems, apparatus, and methods for performing trigger actions and detecting trigger conditions on an information feed in an information feed system. These drawings in no way limit any changes in form and detail that may be made by one skilled in the art without departing from the spirit and scope of the disclosed implementations.

FIG. 1A illustrates a block diagram of an example of an environment 10 wherein an on-demand database service might be used.

FIG. 1B illustrates a block diagram of an implementation of elements of FIG. 1A and various possible interconnections between these elements.

FIG. 2A shows a system diagram 200 illustrating architectural components of an on-demand service environment according to one implementation.

FIG. 2B shows a system diagram further illustrating architectural components of an on-demand service environment according to one implementation.

FIG. 3 is a flowchart of a method 300 for tracking updates to a record stored in a database system according to one or more implementations.

FIG. 4 is a block diagram of components of a database system performing a method for tracking an update to a record according to one or more implementations.

FIG. 5 is a flowchart of a method 500 for tracking actions of a user of a database system according to one or more implementations.

FIG. 6 is a flowchart of a method 600 for creating a news feed from messages created by a user about a record or another user according to one or more implementations.

FIG. 7 shows an example of a group feed on a group page according to one or more implementations.

FIG. 8 shows an example of a record feed containing a feed tracked update, post, and comments according to one or more implementations.

FIG. 9A shows a plurality of tables that may be used in tracking events and creating feeds according to one or more implementations.

FIG. 9B is a flowchart illustrating a method 900 for automatically subscribing a user to an object in a database system according to implementations.

FIG. 10 is a flowchart of a method 1000 for saving information to feed tracking tables according to one or more implementations.

FIG. 11 is a flowchart of a method 1100 for reading a feed item as part of generating a feed for display according to one or more implementations.

FIG. 12 is a flowchart of a method 1200 for reading a feed item of a profile feed for display according to one or more implementations.

FIG. 13 is a flowchart of a method 1300 of storing event information for efficient generation of feed items to display in a feed according to one or more implementations.

FIG. 14 is a flowchart of a method 1400 for creating a custom feed for users of a database system using filtering criteria according to one or more implementations.

FIG. 15 is a flowchart of method 1500 for a trigger rule life cycle, performed according to one or more implementations.

FIG. 16 is a flowchart of a method 1600 for creating a trigger rule, performed according to one or more implementations.

FIG. 17 is a flowchart of a method 1700 for activating a trigger rule, performed according to one or more implementations.

FIG. 18 is a flowchart of a method 1800 for performing a translate rule, performed according to one or more implementations.

FIG. 19 is a flowchart of a method 1900 for configuring an automatic messaging rule, performed according to one or more implementations.

FIG. 20 is a flowchart of a method 2000 for creating an automatic data object rule, performed according to one or more implementations.

FIG. 21 is a flowchart of a method 2100 for creating a scheduled information update rule, performed according to one or more implementations.

FIGS. 22-36 show images of user interface components, generated according to one or more implementations.

FIG. 37 shows a flowchart of a method 3700 for a keyword life cycle method, performed according to some implementations.

FIG. 38 shows a flowchart of a method 3800 for configuring keywords for a user account, performed according to some implementations.

FIG. 39 shows a flowchart of a method 3900 for monitoring for a keyword, performed according to some implementations.

FIG. 40 shows a flowchart of a method 4000 for terminating keyword-based following, performed according to some implementations.

FIGS. 41 and 42 show images of user interface components, generated according to one or more implementations.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Examples of systems, apparatus, and methods according to the disclosed implementations are described in this section. These examples are being provided solely to add context and aid in the understanding of the disclosed implementations. It will thus be apparent to one skilled in the art that implementations may be practiced without some or all of these specific details. In other instances, well known process/method steps have not been described in detail in order to avoid unnecessarily obscuring implementations. Other applications are possible, such that the following examples should not be taken as definitive or limiting either in scope or setting.

In the following detailed description, references are made to the accompanying drawings, which form a part of the description and in which are shown, by way of illustration, specific implementations. Although these implementations are described in sufficient detail to enable one skilled in the art to practice the disclosed implementations, it is understood that these examples are not limiting, such that other implementations may be used and changes may be made without departing from their spirit and scope. For example, the blocks of methods shown and described herein are not necessarily performed in the order indicated. It should also be understood that the methods may include more or fewer blocks than are indicated. In some implementations, blocks described herein as separate blocks may be combined. Conversely, what may be described herein as a single block may be implemented in multiple blocks.

The “following” of a database record, as described in greater detail below, allows a user to track the progress of that record. Updates to the record, also referred to herein as changes, can occur and be noted on an information feed such as the record feed or the news feed of a user subscribed to the record. With the disclosed implementations, updates are often presented as an item or entry in the feed, but can also be presented as a collection of individual of items. Types of such updates can include field changes in a data record, posts such as explicit text or characters submitted by a user, status updates, uploaded files, and links to other data or records. Also, one type of update is the creation of the record itself. Updates can also be group-related, e.g., a change to group status information for a group of which the user is a member. Users following the record are capable of viewing updates on the user's feed.

In some implementations, the disclosed methods, apparatus, systems, and computer program products may be configured or designed for use in a multi-tenant database environment.

Various implementations described or referenced herein are directed to different methods, apparatus, systems, and computer program products for facilitating the performance of trigger rules on an information feed in an on-demand database service environment. The disclosed implementations provide for creating and activating trigger rules for automatically responding to information updates. For example, implementations of the disclosed systems, apparatus, and methods are configured to create data objects in response to detecting designated conditions in information updates. As another example, implementations of the disclosed systems, apparatus, and methods are configured to cause user account to follow data objects in response to detecting designated conditions in information updates.

In some implementations, a trigger rule can be created. A trigger rule may designate one or more trigger conditions and one or more trigger actions. The system may then compare the trigger rule with an information update created in an information feed system. When the designated trigger condition or conditions is detected, the designated trigger action or actions is performed.

In some implementations, a condition may include one or more text strings included in the information update, status conditions associated with the information update, information update scheduling information, or any other information accessible via the system. A single trigger rule may be associated with various numbers and types of trigger conditions. A trigger condition may be selected by a user, defined by custom computer programming language code, or created by the system.

In some implementations, a designated action may be performed for an information update when a trigger condition is detected. The action may include altering the information update, creating a new information update, creating or altering a data object, removing a data object, sending a message, creating an information update in a social networking system accessible via a network such as the Internet (e.g., Twitter®), or performing any other action capable of being performed by the system.

In some implementations, the action may include creating a data object such as a database record based on an information update. For example, an information update may be selected for comparison with a data object creation rule. The data object creation rule may specify a data object creation operation for creating the data object. A determination may be made as to whether the selected information update includes information satisfying a trigger condition associated with the data object creation rule. When the information in the selected information update satisfies the trigger condition, the data object creation operation may be performed to create the data object. The data object creation operation may identify information to include in the data object.

In some implementations, the action may include causing designated user accounts to follow or stop following a designated database record, user account, group of user accounts, or other construct. For example, an information update may be created in associated with a database record, such as a case. If the text string “!ALLFOLLOW” or “!UNFOLLOW” is detected in the information update, then a designated list of users may be made to follow or stop following the case.

In some implementations, the action may include translating an information update when a trigger condition is detected. For example, a trigger rule may be configured to translate an information update from one language (e.g., English) to another language (e.g., French) when the system detects that the information update includes the text string “&translate”. The translated text may be stored on a storage medium, presented in a new information update, or transmitted in a message.

In some implementations, keywords may be stored in association with a user account. Then, if any of these words is mentioned in a conversation within the information feed system, the user account is made to automatically follow the users having the conversation. The system may monitor any information updates that the user account has permission to view according to a security and privacy model. The following action may remain in place until a termination event occurs, such as the passage of a designated time period.

In some implementations, keyword-based monitoring may allow users to stay informed about a variety of topics. For example, a user may plan to be involved with an event in the future and may wish to know whenever other users mention the event. As another example, a user may be responsible for a particular technology or software and may want to know whenever other users ask questions or discuss problems related to the technology or software. In these and other examples, the user could manually search through publically available updates, but such searching requires time and effort and may need to be performed often to be effective. Alternately, the user could follow any users, groups, or data records that might discuss the topic of interest, but such a strategy might result in the user receiving an excess of irrelevant information. Instead, as described herein, the user can specify one or more keywords for active monitoring. When the system finds information updates, data objects, or other information within the feed system that matches the keywords, the user will be informed. The user can receive as much or as little information related to the identified keyword as desired.

In some implementations, keywords may be displayed within a profile page or other user interface component within an information feed system. Keywords displayed within a profile page may resize dynamically based on various factors such as the prevalence of the keyword as compared to other keywords, a designated importance ranking indicated by the user, or a frequency of occurrence within the information feed system. The system may suggest or recommend keywords to users based similarity or relevance to existing keywords. Keyword entry may employ an auto-complete or selection mechanism to enforce usage of existing keywords, which may help in avoiding the creation of many variations of one term. The system may also prevent designated keywords from being used.

In some implementations, users may create their own applications using a framework. For example, a user may create a class implemented in a computer programming language. The class may include methods that override abstract methods provided in the framework. By overriding these abstract methods, the user may specify a trigger condition and trigger action for a trigger rule.

In some implementations, users may communicate in an information feed system such as a social networking system by posting information updates that include comments, files, status information, and other types of information. An information feed system may be configured to react to conditions defined by trigger rules. The trigger rules may extend and enhance the functionality of the information feed system by streamlining the performance of an action. For instance, instead of manually causing a collection of user accounts to follow a data record, the user can simply enter a text string such as “!ALLFOLLOW” into an information update and let the system automatically perform the action. As another example, instead of manually creating a database record and manually populating its content, the user can simply enter a text string such as “!CASE” and let the system automatically create the database record based on the information update. As yet another example, a user such as a manager may automatically follow a particularly active discussion, such as one with more than ten reply comments to a post, in order to be aware of hot-button issues within the feed system. As still another example, a user may be notified if a comment is posted to a Case data object that has a status of “Closed,” since normally such a case might be expected to remain dormant. As still another example, a user following a designated keyword (e.g., an account name) may be notified if the status of an Opportunity database record for the account changes from “Dead” or “Closed” to a different status, such as “Pending.

In one example, two users named Chet and Cindy may be discussing a problem with Windows® via information updates posted in an information feed. Chet may wish to create a “Case” database object in a customer relations management (CRM) system in order to resolve the problem. Instead of manually creating the database object, Chet can simply post an information update that includes the text string “!case.” Chet\'s information update may then be compared with a predefined trigger rule for automatically creating a case. The predefined trigger rule may specify that a case will be automatically created when the text string “! case” is detected. Thus, the trigger rule may be activated to automatically create the case. The case may include information drawn from any associated information updates. For example, the information updates may be added to the comments associated with the case.

In one example, an administrator may set a regular weekly update that is going to go out every week at a certain time. The weekly update may remind users to post a timecard before leaving for the weekend. For example, the user named Chet may receive an information update on Friday that states: “The end of the week is coming fast! Don\'t forget to post your timecard to the system before you go home for the weekend! Thanks, The Mgmt.”

In one example, an administrator may create a rule to automatically respond to the phrase “order 66” that relates to a topic that users are forbidden to discuss. The system may then monitor posts to detect the presence of the “order 66” phrase. The automatic process searching for the phrase “order 66” may run periodically (e.g., every hour), on demand, or for each new information update created. When Chet posts an information update that includes the text “Order 66 is a really bad idea,” the system may automatically generate an information update in response that reminds Chet that discussion of the topic is not permitted.

In one example, an H.R. employee named Chet wants to be included on any conversations that mention the new employee H.R. management software he has implemented, called HRForce. Chet can go to his Chatter profile page, scroll to the section in the right sidebar labeled “Key Words,” and click the edit icon. An input box appears, allowing Chet to enter “HRForce” and the number of days to follow any employees that mention the term. Chet then click a Save button, and the word HRForce appears in the appropriate key words section. One week later, an employee posts an information update directed at another employee that states: “I′m really enjoying being able to see all of my benefits in HRForce, I just wish there were more documentation to go along with it.” In this example, Chet is made to immediately begin following both employees for the number of days specified, and the relevant conversation now appears in Chet\'s information feed.

These and other implementations may be implemented by various types of hardware, software, firmware, etc. For example, some implementations may be implemented, at least in part, by machine-readable media that include program instructions, state information, etc., for performing various services and operations described herein. Examples of program instructions include both machine code, such as produced by a compiler, and files containing higher-level code that may be executed by the computer using an interpreter. Examples of machine-readable media include, but are not limited to, magnetic media such as hard disks, floppy disks, and magnetic tape; optical media such as CD-ROM disks; magneto-optical media; and hardware devices that are specially configured to store program instructions, such as read-only memory devices (“ROM”) and random access memory (“RAM”). These and other features and benefits of the disclosed implementations will be described in more detail below with reference to the associated drawings.

The term “multi-tenant database system” can refer to those systems in which various elements of hardware and software of the database system may be shared by one or more customers. For example, a given application server may simultaneously process requests for a great number of customers, and a given database table may store rows for a potentially much greater number of customers. The term “query plan” generally refers to one or more steps used to access information in a database system.

A “user profile” or “user\'s profile” is generally configured to store and maintain data about the user of the database system. The data can include general information, such as title, phone number, a photo, a biographical summary, and a status (e.g., text describing what the user is currently doing). As mentioned below, the data can include messages created by other users. Where there are multiple tenants, a user is typically associated with a particular tenant. For example, a user could be a salesperson of a company that is a tenant of the database system that provides a database service.

The term “record” generally refers to a data entity, such as an instance of a data object created by a user of the database service, for example, about a particular (actual or potential) business relationship or project. The data object can have a data structure defined by the database service (a standard object) or defined by a subscriber (custom object). For example, a record can be for a business partner or potential business partner (e.g. a client, vendor, distributor, etc.) of the user, and can include an entire company, subsidiaries, or contacts at the company. As another example, a record can be a project that the user is working on, such as an opportunity (e.g. a possible sale) with an existing partner, or a project that the user is trying to get. In one implementation implementing a multi-tenant database, all of the records for the tenants have an identifier stored in a common table. A record has data fields that are defined by the structure of the object (e.g. fields of certain data types and purposes). A record can also have custom fields defined by a user. A field can be another record or include links thereto, thereby providing a parent-child relationship between the records.

The terms “feed” and “information feed” generally include a combination (e.g. a list) of feed items or entries with various types of information and data. Such feed items can be stored and maintained in one or more database tables, e.g., as rows in the table(s), that can be accessed to retrieve relevant information to be presented as part of a displayed feed. The term “feed item” (or feed element) refers to information about a user (“profile feed”) of the database or about a record (“record feed”) in the database. A profile feed and a record feed are examples of different information feeds. A user following the user or record can receive the associated feed items. In some implementations, the feed items from all of the followed users and records can be combined into a single feed for the user.

As examples, a feed item can be a message, such as a user-generated post of text data, and a feed tracked update to a record or profile, such as a change to a field of the record. A feed can be a combination of messages and feed tracked updates. Messages include text created by a user, and may include other data as well. Examples of messages include posts, user status updates, and comments. Messages can be created for a user\'s profile or for a record. Posts can be created by various users, potentially any user, although some restrictions can be applied. As an example, posts can be made to a wall section of a user\'s profile (which can include a number of recent posts) or a section of a record that includes multiple posts. The posts can be organized in chronological order when displayed in a graphical user interface (GUI) as part of a feed. In contrast to a post, a user status update changes a status of a user and can be made by that user or an administrator. Other similar sections of a user\'s profile can also include an “About” section. A record can also have a status, whose update can be provided by an owner of the record or other users having suitable write access permissions to the record. The owner can be a single user, multiple users, or a group. In one implementation, there is only one status for a record. In one implementation, a comment can be made on any feed item. In another implementation, comments are organized as a list explicitly tied to a particular feed tracked update, post, or status update. In this implementation, comments may not be listed in the first layer (in a hierarchal sense) of feed items, but listed as a second layer branching from a particular first layer feed item.

A “feed tracked update,” also referred to herein as a “feed update,” generally refers to data representing an event, and can include text generated by the database system in response to the event, to be provided as one or more feed items for possible inclusion in one or more feeds. In one implementation, the data can initially be stored, and then the database system can later use the data to create text for describing the event. Both the data and/or the text can be a feed tracked update, as used herein. In various implementations, an event can be an update of a record and/or can be triggered by a specific action by a user. Which actions trigger an event can be configurable. Which events have feed tracked updates created and which feed updates are sent to which users can also be configurable. Messages and feed updates can be stored as a field or child object of the record. For example, the feed can be stored as a child object of the record.

A “group” is generally a collection of users. In some aspects, the group may be defined as users with a same or similar attribute, or by membership. In one implementation, a “group feed” includes any feed item about any user in a group. In another implementation, the group feed includes feed items that are about the group as a whole. In one implementation, the feed items for a group are only posts and comments.

An “entity feed” or “record feed” generally refers to a feed of feed items about a particular record in the database, such as feed tracked updates about changes to the record and posts made by users about the record. An entity feed can be composed of any type of feed item. Such a feed can be displayed on a page (e.g. a web page) associated with the record (e.g. a home page of the record). As used herein, a “profile feed” is a feed of feed items about a particular user. In one implementation, the feed items for a profile feed are posts and comments that other users make about or send to the particular user, and status updates made by the user. Such a profile feed can be displayed on a page associated with the particular user. In another implementation, feed items in a profile feed could include posts made by the particular user and feed tracked changes (feed tracked updates) initiated based on actions of the particular user.

I. General Overview

Systems, apparatus, and methods are provided for implementing enterprise level social and business information networking. Such implementations can provide more efficient use of a database system. For instance, a user of a database system may not easily know when important information in the database has changed, e.g., about a project or client. Implementations can provide feed tracked updates about such changes and other events, thereby keeping users informed.

By way of example, a user can update a record (e.g. an opportunity such as a possible sale of 1000 computers). Once the record update has been made, a feed tracked update about the record update can then automatically be sent (e.g. in a feed) to anyone subscribing to the opportunity or to the user. Thus, the user does not need to contact a manager regarding the change in the opportunity, since the feed tracked update about the update is sent via a feed right to the manager\'s feed page (or other page).

Next, mechanisms and methods for providing systems implementing enterprise level social and business information networking will be described with reference to example implementations. First, an overview of an example database system is described, and then examples of tracking events for a record, actions of a user, and messages about a user or record are described. Various implementations about the data structure of feeds, customizing feeds, user selection of records and users to follow, generating feeds, and displaying feeds are also described.

II. System Overview

FIG. 1A illustrates a block diagram of an environment 10 wherein an on-demand database service might be used. Environment 10 may include user systems 12, network 14, system 16, processor system 17, application platform 18, network interface 20, tenant data storage 22, system data storage 24, program code 26, and process space 28. In other implementations, environment 10 may not have all of the components listed and/or may have other elements instead of, or in addition to, those listed above.

Environment 10 is an environment in which an on-demand database service exists. User system 12 may be any machine or system that is used by a user to access a database user system. For example, any of user systems 12 can be a handheld computing device, a mobile phone, a laptop computer, a work station, and/or a network of computing devices. As illustrated in FIG. 1A (and in more detail in FIG. 1B) user systems 12 might interact via a network 14 with an on-demand database service, which is system 16.

An on-demand database service, such as system 16, is a database system that is made available to outside users that do not need to necessarily be concerned with building and/or maintaining the database system, but instead may be available for their use when the users need the database system (e.g., on the demand of the users). Some on-demand database services may store information from one or more tenants stored into tables of a common database image to form a multi-tenant database system (MTS). Accordingly, “on-demand database service 16” and “system 16” will be used interchangeably herein. A database image may include one or more database objects. A relational database management system (RDBMS) or the equivalent may execute storage and retrieval of information against the database object(s). Application platform 18 may be a framework that allows the applications of system 16 to run, such as the hardware and/or software, e.g., the operating system. In an implementation, on-demand database service 16 may include an application platform 18 that enables creation, managing and executing one or more applications developed by the provider of the on-demand database service, users accessing the on-demand database service via user systems 12, or third party application developers accessing the on-demand database service via user systems 12.

The users of user systems 12 may differ in their respective capacities, and the capacity of a particular user system 12 might be entirely determined by permissions (permission levels) for the current user. For example, where a salesperson is using a particular user system 12 to interact with system 16, that user system has the capacities allotted to that salesperson. However, while an administrator is using that user system to interact with system 16, that user system has the capacities allotted to that administrator. In systems with a hierarchical role model, users at one permission level may have access to applications, data, and database information accessible by a lower permission level user, but may not have access to certain applications, database information, and data accessible by a user at a higher permission level. Thus, different users will have different capabilities with regard to accessing and modifying application and database information, depending on a user\'s security or permission level, also called authorization.

Network 14 is any network or combination of networks of devices that communicate with one another. For example, network 14 can be any one or any combination of a LAN (local area network), WAN (wide area network), telephone network, wireless network, point-to-point network, star network, token ring network, hub network, or other appropriate configuration. As the most common type of computer network in current use is a TCP/IP (Transfer Control Protocol and Internet Protocol) network, such as the global internetwork of networks often referred to as the “Internet” with a capital “I,” that network will be used in many of the examples herein. However, it should be understood that the networks that the present implementations might use are not so limited, although TCP/IP is a frequently implemented protocol.

User systems 12 might communicate with system 16 using TCP/IP and, at a higher network level, use other common Internet protocols to communicate, such as HTTP, FTP, AFS, WAP, etc. In an example where HTTP is used, user system 12 might include an HTTP client commonly referred to as a “browser” for sending and receiving HTTP messages to and from an HTTP server at system 16. Such an HTTP server might be implemented as the sole network interface between system 16 and network 14, but other techniques might be used as well or instead. In some implementations, the interface between system 16 and network 14 includes load sharing functionality, such as round-robin HTTP request distributors to balance loads and distribute incoming HTTP requests evenly over a plurality of servers. At least as for the users that are accessing that server, each of the plurality of servers has access to the MTS\' data; however, other alternative configurations may be used instead.

In one implementation, system 16, shown in FIG. 1A, implements a web-based customer relationship management (CRM) system. For example, in one implementation, system 16 includes application servers configured to implement and execute CRM software applications as well as provide related data, code, forms, webpages and other information to and from user systems 12 and to store to, and retrieve from, a database system related data, objects, and Webpage content. With a multi-tenant system, data for multiple tenants may be stored in the same physical database object, however, tenant data typically is arranged so that data of one tenant is kept logically separate from that of other tenants so that one tenant does not have access to another tenant\'s data, unless such data is expressly shared. In certain implementations, system 16 implements applications other than, or in addition to, a CRM application. For example, system 16 may provide tenant access to multiple hosted (standard and custom) applications, including a CRM application. User (or third party developer) applications, which may or may not include CRM, may be supported by the application platform 18, which manages creation, storage of the applications into one or more database objects and executing of the applications in a virtual machine in the process space of the system 16.

One arrangement for elements of system 16 is shown in FIG. 1A, including a network interface 20, application platform 18, tenant data storage 22 for tenant data 23, system data storage 24 for system data 25 accessible to system 16 and possibly multiple tenants, program code 26 for implementing various functions of system 16, and a process space 28 for executing MTS system processes and tenant-specific processes, such as running applications as part of an application hosting service. Additional processes that may execute on system 16 include database indexing processes.

Several elements in the system shown in FIG. 1A include conventional, well-known elements that are explained only briefly here. For example, each user system 12 could include a desktop personal computer, workstation, laptop, PDA, cell phone, or any wireless access protocol (WAP) enabled device or any other computing device capable of interfacing directly or indirectly to the Internet or other network connection. User system 12 typically runs an HTTP client, e.g., a browsing program, such as Microsoft\'s Internet Explorer browser, Netscape\'s Navigator browser, Opera\'s browser, or a WAP-enabled browser in the case of a cell phone, PDA or other wireless device, or the like, allowing a user (e.g., subscriber of the multi-tenant database system) of user system 12 to access, process and view information, pages and applications available to it from system 16 over network 14. Each user system 12 also typically includes one or more user interface devices, such as a keyboard, a mouse, trackball, touch pad, touch screen, pen or the like, for interacting with a graphical user interface (GUI) provided by the browser on a display (e.g., a monitor screen, LCD display, etc.) in conjunction with pages, forms, applications and other information provided by system 16 or other systems or servers. For example, the user interface device can be used to access data and applications hosted by system 16, and to perform searches on stored data, and otherwise allow a user to interact with various GUI pages that may be presented to a user. As discussed above, implementations are suitable for use with the Internet, which refers to a specific global internetwork of networks. However, it should be understood that other networks can be used instead of the Internet, such as an intranet, an extranet, a virtual private network (VPN), a non-TCP/IP based network, any LAN or WAN or the like.

According to one implementation, each user system 12 and all of its components are operator configurable using applications, such as a browser, including computer code run using a central processing unit such as an Intel Pentium® processor or the like. Similarly, system 16 (and additional instances of an MTS, where more than one is present) and all of their components might be operator configurable using application(s) including computer code to run using a central processing unit such as processor system 17, which may include an Intel Pentium® processor or the like, and/or multiple processor units. A computer program product implementation includes a machine-readable storage medium (media) having instructions stored thereon/in which can be used to program a computer to perform any of the processes of the implementations described herein. Computer code for operating and configuring system 16 to intercommunicate and to process webpages, applications and other data and media content as described herein are preferably downloaded and stored on a hard disk, but the entire program code, or portions thereof, may also be stored in any other volatile or non-volatile memory medium or device as is well known, such as a ROM or RAM, or provided on any media capable of storing program code, such as any type of rotating media including floppy disks, optical discs, digital versatile disk (DVD), compact disk (CD), microdrive, and magneto-optical disks, and magnetic or optical cards, nanosystems (including molecular memory ICs), or any type of media or device suitable for storing instructions and/or data. Additionally, the entire program code, or portions thereof, may be transmitted and downloaded from a software source over a transmission medium, e.g., over the Internet, or from another server, as is well known, or transmitted over any other conventional network connection as is well known (e.g., extranet, VPN, LAN, etc.) using any communication medium and protocols (e.g., TCP/IP, HTTP, HTTPS, Ethernet, etc.) as are well known. It will also be appreciated that computer code for implementing implementations of the present invention can be implemented in any programming language that can be executed on a client system and/or server or server system such as, for example, C, C++, HTML, any other markup language, Java™, JavaScript, ActiveX, any other scripting language, such as VBScript, and many other programming languages as are well known may be used. (Java™ is a trademark of Sun Microsystems, Inc.).

According to one implementation, each system 16 is configured to provide webpages, forms, applications, data and media content to user (client) systems 12 to support the access by user systems 12 as tenants of system 16. As such, system 16 provides security mechanisms to keep each tenant\'s data separate unless the data is shared. If more than one MTS is used, they may be located in close proximity to one another (e.g., in a server farm located in a single building or campus), or they may be distributed at locations remote from one another (e.g., one or more servers located in city A and one or more servers located in city B). As used herein, each MTS could include one or more logically and/or physically connected servers distributed locally or across one or more geographic locations. Additionally, the term “server” is meant to include a computer system, including processing hardware and process space(s), and an associated storage system and database application (e.g., OODBMS or RDBMS) as is well known in the art. It should also be understood that “server system” and “server” are often used interchangeably herein. Similarly, the database object described herein can be implemented as single databases, a distributed database, a collection of distributed databases, a database with redundant online or offline backups or other redundancies, etc., and might include a distributed database or storage network and associated processing intelligence.

FIG. 1B also illustrates environment 10. However, in FIG. 1B elements of system 16 and various interconnections in an implementation are further illustrated. FIG. 1B shows that user system 12 may include processor system 12A, memory system 12B, input system 12C, and output system 12D. FIG. 1B shows network 14 and system 16. FIG. 1B also shows that system 16 may include tenant data storage 22, tenant data 23, system data storage 24, system data 25, User Interface (UI) 30, Application Program Interface (API) 32, PL/SOQL 34, save routines 36, application setup mechanism 38, applications servers 1001-100N, system process space 102, tenant process spaces 104, tenant management process space 110, tenant storage area 112, user storage 114, and application metadata 116. In other implementations, environment 10 may not have the same elements as those listed above and/or may have other elements instead of, or in addition to, those listed above.

User system 12, network 14, system 16, tenant data storage 22, and system data storage 24 were discussed above in FIG. 1A. Regarding user system 12, processor system 12A may be any combination of one or more processors. Memory system 12B may be any combination of one or more memory devices, short term, and/or long term memory. Input system 12C may be any combination of input devices, such as one or more keyboards, mice, trackballs, scanners, cameras, and/or interfaces to networks. Output system 12D may be any combination of output devices, such as one or more monitors, printers, and/or interfaces to networks. As shown by FIG. 1B, system 16 may include a network interface 20 (of FIG. 1A) implemented as a set of HTTP application servers 100, an application platform 18, tenant data storage 22, and system data storage 24. Also shown is system process space 102, including individual tenant process spaces 104 and a tenant management process space 110. Each application server 100 may be configured to tenant data storage 22 and the tenant data 23 therein, and system data storage 24 and the system data 25 therein to serve requests of user systems 12. The tenant data 23 might be divided into individual tenant storage areas 112, which can be either a physical arrangement and/or a logical arrangement of data. Within each tenant storage area 112, user storage 114 and application metadata 116 might be similarly allocated for each user. For example, a copy of a user\'s most recently used (MRU) items might be stored to user storage 114. Similarly, a copy of MRU items for an entire organization that is a tenant might be stored to tenant storage area 112. A UI 30 provides a user interface and an API 32 provides an application programmer interface to system 16 resident processes to users and/or developers at user systems 12. The tenant data and the system data may be stored in various databases, such as one or more Oracle| databases.

Application platform 18 includes an application setup mechanism 38 that supports application developers\' creation and management of applications, which may be saved as metadata into tenant data storage 22 by save routines 36 for execution by subscribers as one or more tenant process spaces 104 managed by tenant management process 110 for example. Invocations to such applications may be coded using PL/SOQL 34 that provides a programming language style interface extension to API 32. A detailed description of some PL/SOQL language implementations is discussed in commonly owned U.S. Provisional Patent Application 60/828,192 entitled, PROGRAMMING LANGUAGE METHOD AND SYSTEM FOR EXTENDING APIS TO EXECUTE IN CONJUNCTION WITH DATABASE APIS, by Craig Weissman, filed Oct. 4, 2006, which is hereby incorporated by reference in its entirety and for all purposes. Invocations to applications may be detected by one or more system processes, which manage retrieving application metadata 116 for the subscriber making the invocation and executing the metadata as an application in a virtual machine.



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stats Patent Info
Application #
US 20120102153 A1
Publish Date
04/26/2012
Document #
13162270
File Date
06/16/2011
USPTO Class
709219
Other USPTO Classes
International Class
06F15/16
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