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Graphical user interface, system and method for managing contacts within an online stationery system

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20120278710 patent thumbnailZoom

Graphical user interface, system and method for managing contacts within an online stationery system


A graphical user interface, system and method are described for managing a contacts database within an online stationery service. A presentation logic receives contacts to whom personalized stationery will be mailed and generates a graphical user interface comprising: a first region for displaying the contacts received from the stationery service contacts manager, the contacts within the contacts selectable via a user input device, a second region comprising a series of data field for entering a new contact via a user input device, and a third region displaying the contacts to whom the online stationery service will mail stationery directly on behalf of the user, the contacts within the third region selected from the first region or entered in the second region. A print module generates a print job to print the personalized stationery and envelopes containing the address information for the user-selected contacts.

Inventors: Kelly Berger, Adnan Asar, Kevin Chang, Krys Taylor, Bryan Wu, Dimitre Piskyulev
USPTO Applicaton #: #20120278710 - Class: 715274 (USPTO) - 11/01/12 - Class 715 


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The Patent Description & Claims data below is from USPTO Patent Application 20120278710, Graphical user interface, system and method for managing contacts within an online stationery system.

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CLAIM TO PRIORITY

This application is a continuation application and claims priority to co-pending U.S. patent application Ser. No. 12/638,844, filed Dec. 15, 2009, titled “Graphical user interface, system and method for managing contacts within an online stationery system” filed by the same inventors, the disclosure of which is incorporated herein by reference.

BACKGROUND

1. Field of the Invention

This invention relates generally to the field of network data processing systems. More particularly, the invention relates to an improved graphical user interface, architecture and method for managing contacts within an online stationery system.

2. Description of the Related Art

Web-based systems for designing stationery such as wedding invitations, birth announcements, thank you cards, birthday party invitations, etc, are currently available over the Internet. These services allow a user to enter a personalized message on a stationery template via a Web browser. The service then prints the stationery with the personalized message and mails the printed stationery and envelopes to the end user. The end user then mails the stationery to one or more recipients.

Some online stationery services will also mail stationery directly to recipients on behalf of the end user. In order to do so, the user must provide the stationery service with the names and addresses of the recipients. FIGS. 1a-c illustrate screenshots from one particular stationery Website, which provides options for manually entering a new name/address of a recipient 100 or importing a group of addresses from an Excel spreadsheet 101. As illustrated in FIG. 1b, upon selecting an Excel spreadsheet from the user\'s local hard drive, the user is prompted with a plurality of drop-down menus 102 to identify the data fields for the address lines. Once the import is complete, a list of recipients 103 is provided as shown in FIG. 1c. The end user is permitted to delete names from the list (by selecting a trash icon) but no other mechanism is provided for editing or otherwise managing the list of recipients on the online stationery service.

Consequently, what is needed is an improved graphical user interface system and method for importing and managing contacts within an online stationery service.

SUMMARY

A graphical user interface, system and method are described for managing a contacts database within an online stationery service. For example, one embodiment of the invention comprises a system implemented within an online stationery service, the system comprising at least one memory for storing program code and at least one processor for processing the program code to execute: a stationery service contacts manager to manage a set of contacts data within a stationery service contacts database in response to user input; a stationery personalization engine providing an end user with a set of selectable stationery templates, the stationery personalization engine receiving an indication that an end user has selected a particular one of the stationery templates, and generating personalized stationery with the selected template based on user input; presentation logic for generating a graphical user interface (GUI), the presentation logic communicatively coupled to the stationery service contacts manager to receive a listing of contacts from the stationery service contacts manager to whom the personalized stationery will be mailed, the graphical user interface comprising: a first region for displaying the listing of contacts received from the stationery service contacts manager, the contacts within the listing of contacts selectable via a user input device; a second region comprising a series of data field for entering a new contact via a user input device; a third region displaying a list of contacts to whom the online stationery service will mail stationery directly on behalf of the end user, the contacts within the third region selected from the first region or entered in the second region; and a print module to generate a print job to print the personalized stationery and envelopes containing the address information for the user-selected contacts.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

A better understanding of the present invention can be obtained from the following detailed description in conjunction with the following drawings, in which:

FIGS. 1a-c illustrates a prior art stationery service in which stationery recipients are identified.

FIG. 2 illustrates a system architecture according to one embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 3 illustrates a computer-implemented method according to one embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 4 illustrates a graphical user interface (GUI) for importing various different online and offline contact databases.

FIG. 5 illustrates one embodiment of a GUI window for importing contacts from different contact groups.

FIG. 6 illustrates a graphical user interface for associating imported contacts with data fields.

FIG. 7 illustrates one embodiment of the invention for merging existing and imported contacts.

FIG. 8 illustrates one embodiment of an address book for viewing and managing a contacts database.

FIG. 9 illustrates households comprised of multiple contacts according to one embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 10 illustrates one embodiment of a GUI for incorporating contacts into households.

FIG. 11 illustrates another embodiment of a GUI for incorporating contacts into households and/or merging contacts.

FIG. 12 illustrates a window displaying household details according to one embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 13 illustrates a window displaying contact details according to one embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 14 illustrates windows for confirming mailing addresses according to one embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 15 illustrates GUI features employed in one embodiment of the invention for sending address request email messages.

FIGS. 16a-b illustrate exemplary address confirmation requests transmitted to contacts in one embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 17 illustrates reminder emails transmitted to an end user according to one embodiment of the invention.

FIGS. 18a-b illustrate GUI features employed in one embodiment of the invention for selecting new addresses and addresses from within a contacts list.

FIG. 19 illustrates GUI features employed in one embodiment of the invention for selecting options for directly mailing stationery to contacts and for mailing stationery to the end user of the stationery service.

FIG. 20a-c illustrate GUI features for selecting default and custom messages to be printed on stationery and mailed contacts within an address book.

FIG. 21 illustrates a method according to one embodiment of the invention for processing a stationery order.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

OF PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

Described below is a system and method for importing and managing contacts in an online stationery system. Throughout the description, for the purposes of explanation, numerous specific details are set forth in order to provide a thorough understanding of the present invention. It will be apparent, however, to one skilled in the art that the present invention may be practiced without some of these specific details. In other instances, well-known structures and devices are shown in block diagram form to avoid obscuring the underlying principles of the present invention.

It should be noted that the term “stationery” is used herein to refer to cards, invitations (e.g., wedding, birthday invitations, etc), and any other form of written communication and/or images printed on a medium (e.g., paper, fabric, etc) using any form of printing device.

FIG. 2 illustrates one embodiment of a system architecture for importing and managing contacts within an online stationery service 200 and FIG. 3 illustrates a corresponding method. One embodiment of the online stationery service 200 merges contact data from multiple different sources and then converts the contact data into a format which is optimized for online stationery mailing functions. A brief overview of the method illustrated in FIG. 3 will now be provided within the context of the architecture shown in FIG. 2. It should be noted, however, that the underlying principles of the invention are not limited to the specific architecture shown in FIG. 2.

At 301, a contacts import module 209 manages the importation of contacts from various local and/or online contact database identified by the end user. In the illustrated embodiment, the contacts import module 209 comprises a format conversion module 204 and a conflict detection and resolution module 205. As shown in FIG. 2, the format conversion module 204 reads contacts data from online contacts databases 201-202; local contacts databases 203 (i.e., “local” to the user\'s client computer 240); and/or existing contacts 211 already stored on the online stationery service 200 (e.g., the end user may have already established an account on the online stationery service 200 to send stationery and may have entered information for a set of contacts 211). If the online/local contact formats are supported, determined at 302, then at 303, the format conversion module converts the contacts to a format optimized for use on an online stationery service 200. To perform the format conversion, the format conversion module 204 parses the contact data in source data structure (e.g., the CSV file, vCard file, etc), extracts the data, and assigns the data to appropriate data fields in the new data structure. Various well known techniques for converting data from one format to another may be employed by the format conversion module 204. Once converted (and following conflict detection described below), the contacts data is stored in its new format within a contacts database 210 on the stationery service. Various features associated with this new data format are described in detail below (see, e.g., FIGS. 12-20c and associated text).

At 304, a conflict detection and resolution module 205 merges the local and/or online contacts with existing contacts 211 already stored on the online stationery service 200 and detects any conflicts which may result from the merge operation. A conflict may result if one or more contacts being imported are already stored within the existing contacts database 211. In such a case, the conflict detection and resolution module 205 resolves the conflicts at 305 using a set of conflict resolution rules (described below). Once all conflicts have been resolved, the data is persisted within the contacts database 210 and made accessible to end users via the stationery service contacts manager 212. In one embodiment, the contacts database 210 is implemented using mySQL. However, various different database formats may be employed while still complying with the underlying principles of the invention (e.g., Microsoft SQL, IBM SQL, etc).

At 307, the user identifies one or more “households” within the stationery service contacts database 210. As described below, households are specialized groups of contacts who live at the same address. The concept of a “household” is a particularly useful abstraction for an online stationery service 200 which mails stationery on behalf of a user.

As illustrated in FIG. 2, in one embodiment, all operations to the stationery service contacts database 210 occur through the stationery service contacts manager 212. That is, the stationery service contacts database 210 is used for persistent storage of contacts data containing the features described herein and the stationery service contacts manager 212 is the application-layer program code used to perform operations on the stationery service contacts database 210 as described below. The presentation and session management logic 206 comprises the program code for maintaining user sessions and for dynamically generating Web pages containing (among other things) the graphical user interface (GUI) features for manipulating contacts data as illustrated herein.

Returning to the method of FIG. 3, at 307, the user selects and personalizes a stationery design. In one embodiment, this is accomplished with a stationery personalization engine 220 such as that described in co-pending application entitled SYSTEM AND METHOD FOR DESIGNING AND GENERATING ONLINE STATIONERY, Ser. No. 12/188,721, filed Aug. 8, 2008, which is assigned to the assignee of the present application and which is incorporated herein by reference. In one embodiment, the stationery personalization engine 220 performs all of the functions described in the co-pending application as well as the additional functions described herein (e.g., selecting contacts/households for a stationery mailing via the stationery service contacts manager 212, selecting between a default message or a personal message for the contacts/households, etc).

At 308, the end user creates a default message to be used for a stationery mailing and, at 309, the contacts and/or households for the mailing are identified by the end user. If the user wishes to include a personalized message in lieu of the default message for one or more contacts/households, determined at 310, then the user selects a contact/household at 311 and enters the personalized message for the contact/household at 312. If any additional personalized messages are to be included, determined at 313, then steps 311 and 312 are repeated until all personalized messages have been entered.

At 314, all of the information related to the stationery order, including the selected stationery design, default messages, personalized messages and associated contacts and households are formatted for printing by a print module 250 which generates a print job 255. The formatting may include converting the stationery data mentioned above into a format usable by a particular printer. By way of example, a letter press printer may require different formatting than a digital press printer. In one embodiment, the specifications for the print job are encapsulated as metadata in an Extensible Markup Language (“XML”) document and transmitted to an external print service 252. In one embodiment, the XML document includes a hyperlink (e.g., a URL) to the formatted print job 255 on the online stationery service 200. The print service 252 then accesses the print job by selecting the hyperlink. Regardless of how the print job is accessed, at 315, the formatted print job 255 is transmitted to either an internal printer 251 or an external print service 252 (e.g., over the Internet). Once printing is complete, the online stationery service 200 or the print service 252 mails the stationery to the contacts and/or households identified by the end user.

Having provided an overview of the method set forth in FIG. 3 and the architecture illustrated in FIG. 2, various specific details associated with managing contacts, generating print jobs and mailing stationery from an online stationery service 200 will now be provided. It should be noted, however, that the underlying principles of the invention are not limited to the particular architecture shown in FIG. 2 or the particular method set forth in FIG. 3.

In one embodiment, the different graphical user interface (GUI) features described herein are generated by presentation and session management logic 206 executed on the online stationery service. In one embodiment, various well known functional modules associated within the presentation and session management logic 206 are executed to receive input, process the input, interact with one or more other modules shown in FIG. 2, and dynamically generate Web pages containing the results. The Web pages are then transmitted to the user\'s client computer 240 and rendered on a browser 245. The Web pages may be formatted according to the well known HyperText Markup Language (“HTML”) or Extensible HTML (“XHTML”) formats, and may provide navigation to other Web pages via hypertext links. One embodiment utilizes Dynamic HTML (“DHTML”), a collection of technologies used together to create interactive Web sites by using a combination of a static markup language (e.g., HTML), a client-side scripting language (e.g., JavaScript), a presentation definition language (e.g., CSS), and the Document Object Model (“DOM”).

Turning now to FIG. 4, in one embodiment, the user is prompted to identify online and offline contacts databases via a series of hyperlinks 401-402 (see, e.g., step 302 in FIG. 3). In the example shown, the three online links 401 include Facebook, Gmail and Yahoo! contacts. A set of five links 402 are provided for importing contacts from different types of CSV files and a set of two links 403 are provided for importing contacts from different vCard files.

In one embodiment, when importing online address books such as those available from Facebook, Gmail and Yahoo!, the user is asked to provide authentication data such as a user name and a password. The online stationery service 200 then uses the authentication data to log in to the online service and retrieve the contacts list on behalf of the user.

FIG. 5 illustrates a graphical user interface (GUI) window generated in one embodiment of the invention following the selection of a particular contact database 201-203. In one embodiment, the user may select contacts from different, predefined contact groups 501-503. In the example shown in FIG. 5, the groups include “all contacts” 501, “colleagues” 502, and several “smart groups” 503 (described in detail below). A set of available contacts 505 to be imported is displayed within region 510. Each contact has a check box associated with it to indicate whether the contact should be included in (or excluded from) the import. In one embodiment, the default state of the check boxes is “unchecked” and the user must manually select contacts by checking the corresponding check boxes. In addition, in one embodiment, the contacts which correspond to contacts already stored in the user\'s address book 211 on the online stationery service 200 are identified by the conflict detection and resolution module 205 and highlighted (e.g., bolded in FIG. 5). In one embodiment, “matches” to existing contacts are those contacts which have the same name AND one of the following: same email, phone, date, OR mailing address.



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stats Patent Info
Application #
US 20120278710 A1
Publish Date
11/01/2012
Document #
13544877
File Date
07/09/2012
USPTO Class
715274
Other USPTO Classes
715739
International Class
/
Drawings
26



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