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System for and method of generating and navigating within a workspace of a computer application

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20120304112 patent thumbnailZoom

System for and method of generating and navigating within a workspace of a computer application


A computer application and method for generating a workspace and navigating therein are disclosed. Code can be used to generate an application workspace for an associated computer application, wherein the application workspace is comprised of a plurality of screens and each screen has dimensions that are generally coextensive with a viewable area defined by the computer application. Code can be used to logically associate a plurality of sub-application windows for displaying viewable content with respective locations of the application workspace.

Browse recent Advanced Intellectual Property Group, LLC patents - Fort Myers, FL, US
Inventors: Stephen Cutler, William MacKenzie, III
USPTO Applicaton #: #20120304112 - Class: 715788 (USPTO) - 11/29/12 - Class 715 
Data Processing: Presentation Processing Of Document, Operator Interface Processing, And Screen Saver Display Processing > Operator Interface (e.g., Graphical User Interface) >On-screen Workspace Or Object >Window Or Viewpoint >Layout Modification (e.g., Move Or Resize)

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The Patent Description & Claims data below is from USPTO Patent Application 20120304112, System for and method of generating and navigating within a workspace of a computer application.

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RELATED APPLICATION DATA

The present application claims the benefit of U.S. Nonprovisional application Ser. No. 10/783,543, filed Feb. 20, 2004, the disclosure of which is herein incorporated by reference in its entirety.

TECHNICAL FIELD

The present invention generally relates to user interaction with a computer system and, more particularly to a system for and a method of generating and navigating within a workspace of a computer application that can be executed by a computer system.

BACKGROUND ART

In most modern computing systems, the user interacts with the computing system through a graphical user interface (GUI). The GUI is the interface between the user and the computer and typically includes icons, graphics and/or text boxes, windows, and text to visually represent applications and function utilities to the user. The GUI is often based upon an operating system executed by the computer system, such as Microsoft® Windows®, Linux®, SunOS®, Unix®, MacOS®, Palm OS®, and so forth.

The GUI, which is displayed on a physical display device (or computer monitor), provides a user with a convenient way to visually organize and work with applications. Each user interactive application executed by the computer system is typically associated with a self contained application workspace window that includes menus, function buttons and an area (referred to herein as the application workspace) in which content of the application (e.g., documents, spreadsheets, charts, graphics and the like) can be displayed. As is known in the art, a window is a dedicated and potentially scrollable viewing area displayed on a computer monitor, and can be defined by a boundary. Each individual application workspace window can be arranged on a “desktop.” The desktop usually has dimensions that are generally co-extensive with fixed viewing dimensions of the physical display device.

One of the benefits associated with using application workspace windows in a GUI is the ease of displayed content management. For instance, with the touch of a mouse, the user may open and close application workspace windows, organize application workspace windows (e.g., by moving the application workspace window to a desired location), re-size application workspace windows, and simultaneously display multiple application workspace windows. Accordingly, the application workspace windows may typically take a variety of forms, including, a minimized icon form that reduces the application window to the size of an icon; a maximized form that maximizes the dimensions of the application workspace window to be coextensive with a maximum allotted portion of the desktop; or an intermediate form wherein the physical size of the application workspace window is larger than an icon, but smaller than the maximum dimensions. In some systems, application workspace windows can be fully or partially displayed on the computer screen depending upon a “location” of the application workspace window relative to the computer screen and a display priority relationship with other applications (e.g., one application workspace window can be cascaded over another application workspace window).

However, there are certain drawbacks associated with the use of windows in a GUI. For instance, within a given parent application workspace window (also referred to herein as a main application workspace window), a user may have multiple child application windows (also referred to herein as a sub-application window) open and displayed on the computer screen at the same time. As is known in the art, the “parent” and “child” analogy refers to a relationship between processes in a multitasking environment, in which the parent process calls the child process.

Since the application parent workspace window is conventionally not larger than an area allotted by the desktop, the user is limited as to how many child application windows that can be effectively displayed within the parent application workspace window. If even just a handful of child application windows are opened, the child application windows would have to be minimized, tiled and/or cascaded to fit in the parent application workspace window and would likely be too small and/or cluttered to be of use to the user. Also, in many instances, the user may not remember which child application windows are open or where they are located within the parent application workspace window. In addition, conventional GUIs do not allow a user to return to a previously used arrangement of child application windows. Thus, the user is frequently faced with a tedious and convoluted task of locating, activating and reconfiguring desired child application windows to view a user\'s preferred arrangement of child application windows.

Accordingly, there is a need in the art for an improved system and method for generating and interacting with a workspace of a computer application.

SUMMARY

OF THE INVENTION

According to one aspect of the invention, the invention is directed to a computer application workspace generation and navigation tool embodied on a computer-readable medium. The computer application workspace generation and navigation tool can include code that generates an application workspace for an associated main computer application, the application workspace comprised of a plurality of screens, each screen having dimensions that are generally coextensive with a viewable area defined by the main computer application. In one embodiment, such a workspace generation and navigation tool can further include code that logically associates a plurality of sub-application windows with respective locations of the application workspace, the sub-application windows for displaying content of at least one sub-application that is associated with the main computer application.

According to another aspect of the invention, the invention is directed to a computer application workspace generation and navigation tool embodied on a computer-readable medium. The computer application workspace generation and navigation tool can include code that generates an application workspace for an associated main computer application; code that logically associates a plurality of sub-application windows with respective locations of the application workspace, the sub-application windows for displaying content of at least one sub-application that is associated with the main computer application; and code that stores the logical associations of the at least one sub-application window as an application workspace arrangement.

According to yet another aspect of the invention, the invention is directed to a computer application workspace generation and navigation tool embodied on a computer-readable medium. The computer application workspace generation and navigation tool can include code that generates an application workspace for an associated main computer application; code that logically associates a plurality of sub-application windows with respective locations of the application workspace, the sub-application windows for displaying content of at least one sub-application that is associated with the main computer application; and code that stores a layout of the application workspace including a number and arrangement of screens that define the application workspace and relative location of each sub-application window within the application workspace.

According to another aspect of the invention, the invention is directed to a computer application workspace generation and navigation tool embodied on a computer-readable medium. The computer application workspace generation and navigation tool can include code that generates a workspace for at least one of an associated computer application and an operating system desktop; and code that, upon initiation of a window, logically associates the window with a location of the workspace identified by user action.

According to another aspect of the invention, the invention is directed to a method of generating a computer application workspace. The method can include generating an application workspace for a main computer application, the application workspace comprised of a plurality of screens, each screen having dimensions that are generally coextensive with a viewable area defined by the main computer application. In one embodiment, such a method of generating a computer application workspace can further include logically associating a plurality of sub-application windows with respective locations of the application workspace, the sub-application windows for displaying content of at least one sub-application that is associated with the main computer application.

According to one more aspect of the invention, the invention is directed to a method of generating a computer application workspace. The method can include providing an application workspace for an associated main computer application; logically associating a plurality of sub-application windows with respective locations of the application workspace, the sub-application windows for displaying content of at least one sub-application that is associated with the main computer application; and storing the logical associations of the at least one sub-application window as an application workspace arrangement.

According to another aspect of the invention, the invention is directed to a method of generating a computer application workspace. The method can include providing an application workspace for an associated main computer application; logically associating a plurality of sub-application windows with respective locations of the application workspace, the sub-application windows for displaying content of at least one sub-application that is associated with the main application; storing a layout of the application workspace including a number and arrangement of screens that define the application workspace and relative location of each sub-application window within the application workspace.

According to another aspect of the invention, the invention is directed to a method of generating a computer application workspace. The method can include providing a workspace for at least one of an associated computer application and an operating system desktop; and upon initiation of a window, logically associating the window with a location of the workspace identified by user action.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF DRAWINGS

Many aspects of the invention can be better understood with reference to the following drawings. The components in the drawings are not necessarily to scale, emphasis instead being placed upon clearly illustrating the principles of the present invention. Likewise, elements and features depicted in one drawing may be combined with elements and features depicted in other drawings. Moreover, in the drawings, like reference numerals designate corresponding parts throughout the several views.

FIG. 1 is a block diagram of a computer system according to the present invention;

FIG. 2 is an example operating system desktop with a representative application workspace window that are displayed on a computer display device;

FIG. 3 is a schematic diagram of an example application workspace according to the present invention;

FIG. 4 is a flow diagram of operational logic for an application workspace generation component of a workspace generation and navigation tool according to the present invention;

FIG. 5 is an operational diagram depicting movement of a sub-application window within the application workspace;

FIG. 6 is a flow diagram of operational logic for a navigation component of the workspace generation and navigation tool;

FIG. 7 is a schematic diagram of a navigation box according to the present invention;

FIG. 8 is a schematic diagram of a drop down menu according to the present invention;

FIG. 9 is a flow diagram of operational logic for a layout management component of the workspace generation and navigation tool; and

FIG. 10 is a schematic diagram of a layout drop down menu according to the present invention.

DISCLOSURE OF INVENTION

The following description is exemplary in nature and is in no way intended to limit the scope of the invention as defined by the claims appended hereto.

With reference to FIG. 1, illustrated is a schematic block diagram of a computer system 10 capable of executing a computer application (or program) 12 having an application workspace generation and navigation tool 14 in accordance with aspects of the present invention. As will be described in greater detail, the tool 14 can include an application workspace generation component and a navigation component that assist a user of the computer system 10 in defining the size of and navigating within an application workspace that is associated with the computer application 12. The computer application 12 can comprise a main computer application having associated therewith a main application window and which can be logically associated with or call one or more computer sub-applications 15. The sub-applications 15 can each have one or more associated sub-application windows.

In one embodiment, the computer application 12, the workspace generation and navigation tool 14 and/or the sub-applications 15 are embodied as one or more computer programs (e.g., one or more software applications including compilations of executable code). The computer program(s) can be embodied on a computer readable medium, such as a magnetic or optical storage device (e.g., hard disk, CD-ROM, DVD-ROM, etc.).

To execute the computer program 12 and associated workspace generation and navigation tool 14 and sub-applications 15, the computer system 10 can include one or more processors 18 used to execute instructions that carry out a specified logic routine(s). In addition, the computer system 10 can have a memory 20 for storing data, software, logic routine instructions, computer programs, files, operating system instructions, and the like. As illustrated, the computer application 12, associated workspace generation and navigation tool 14 and sub-applications 15 can be stored by the memory 20. The memory 20 can comprise several devices and includes, for example, volatile and non-volatile memory components. Accordingly, the memory 20 can include, for example, random access memory (RAM), read-only memory (ROM), hard disks, floppy disks, compact disks (e.g., CD-ROM, DVD-ROM, CD-RW, etc.), tapes, and/or other memory components, plus associated drives and players for these memory types. The processor 18 and the memory 20 are coupled using a local interface 22. The local interface 22 can be, for example, a data bus with accompanying control bus, a network, or other subsystem.

The computer system 10 can have various video and input/output interfaces 24 as well as one or more communications interfaces 26. The interfaces 24 can be used to couple the computer system 10 to various peripherals, such as a display 28 (e.g., a CRT display, an LCD display, a plasma display, etc.), a keyboard 30, a mouse 32, a microphone 34, a camera (not shown), a scanner (not shown), a printer (not shown), a speaker (not shown) and so forth. The interfaces 26 can be comprised of, for example, a modem and/or network interface card, and can enable the computer system 10 to send and receive data signals, voice signals, video signals, and the like via an external network, such as the Internet, a wide area network (WAN), a local area network (LAN), direct data link, or similar wired or wireless system.

The memory 20 can store an operating system 36 that is executed by the processor 18 to control the allocation and usage of resources in the computer system 10, as well as provide basic user interface features. Specifically, the operating system 36 controls the allocation and usage of the memory 20, the processing time of the processor 18 dedicated to various applications being executed by the processor 18, and the peripheral devices, as well as performing other functionality. In this manner, the operating system 36 serves as the foundation on which applications, such as the computer application 12, the associated workspace generation and navigation tool 14 and the sub-applications 15, depend as is generally known by those with ordinary skill in the art. The operating system 36 also controls much of the user interface environment presented to a user, such as features of the overall GUI for the computer system 10. In some operating systems, application programs make use of operating system functions by issuing task commands to the operating system (e.g., a request to display certain information), which then performs the requested task

In another embodiment, the workspace generation and navigation tool 14, or components thereof, can be integral with the operating system 36. In this manner, operating system controlled features, such as a desktop or general computer application functionality, can be sized and navigated in the manner described herein for an application workspace of the computer application 12. In yet another embodiment, the workspace generation and navigation tool 14, or components thereof, can be embodied in stand alone software called by the operating system 36 and/or computer application 12.

With additional reference to FIG. 2, a logical hierarchy of GUI components, beginning with an operating system (OS) desktop 38, that are displayed on the display 28 will be described. The appearance, arrangement and user control of many aspects of the GUI components and will generally be dependent on the specific operating system 36 executed by the computer system 10.

As is commonly used in the art, the desktop 38 is defined by the operating system 36 and provides the basic on-screen infrastructure for a user\'s interaction with the computer system 10. As an example, a Windows® based operating system provides a user with a desktop environment where various icons 40 can be displayed, various toolbars 42 and/or status bars can be displayed, and/or where various windows can be displayed including, for example, a main application workspace window 44. In most cases, the dimensions of the desktop 38 are coextensive with a visible portion of the physical display device 28 upon which the desktop 38 is displayed.

As used herein, an “application workspace window” is a window dedicated to a specific computer application (or “program”) that is executed by the computer system 10. The main application workspace window 44 is generated by the computer application 12. Sub-application windows will be described in greater detail below, but are generated by corresponding sub-applications 15. Nevertheless, the term sub-application window explicitly includes any window generated by the main application 12 and which is subordinate to the main application workspace window 44. Although any given application can be associated with multiple main application workspace windows 44, the invention will be described in an environment where one main application workspace window 44 is displayed for the computer application 12. As an example, the computer application 12 can be a securities market and market maker tracking system. Such a system is described in co-owned U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/167,950, filed Jun. 12, 2002 (U.S. patent application publication number 2003/0069834, published Apr. 10, 2003) and in co-owned U.S. patent application Ser. No. 09/911,772, filed Jul. 24, 2001 (U.S. patent application publication number 2003/0065608, published Apr. 3, 2003), the disclosures of which are herein incorporated by reference in their entireties. As should be appreciated, other computer applications 12 can be associated with the functionality of the workspace generation and navigation tool 14 and can include, for example, an Internet browser, an electronic mail program, a drawing program, a word processing program, a spreadsheet program, a presentation program, and so forth.

In another example, the main computer application can be a worker productivity suite that interacts with various sub-applications, such as a word processing program (e.g., Microsoft® Word®), a spreadsheet program (e.g., Microsoft® Excel®), a presentation program (e.g., Microsoft® Powerpoint®), an electronic mail program (e.g., Microsoft® Outlook®), a drawing program (e.g., Microsoft® Visio®), a database program (e.g., Microsoft® Access®), and so forth. In another example, the main program 12 can be an Internet connectivity program, such as America On-Line® (AOL®). The AOL® main program 12 can interact with various sub-programs 15, such as an instant messenger sub-program, a web-browser sub-program, an email sub-program, a welcome screen sub-program, and so forth.

In the illustrated embodiment, the main application workspace window 44 is shown in an intermediate form that has a size between a minimized form (e.g., an iconic representation) and a maximized form that consumes all available space on the display 28 allocated to programs by the operating system 36. However, it should be appreciated that the main application workspace window 44 can take on either the minimized or maximized forms as selected by the user.

The main application workspace window 44 provides the GUI for the user\'s interaction with the corresponding computer application 12. In one example, a perimeter or boundary of the displayed main application workspace window 44 is defined by a frame 46, which can include GUI items such as drop down menus 48, command buttons 50, vertical and horizontal scroll bars 52, a title bar 53, tool and/or status bars (not shown) and so forth. Within an area bounded by the frame 46 can be a viewable area 55 defined by the computer application 12 in which at least a portion of a main application workspace 54 can be displayed for viewing by a user. An “application workspace,” as used herein, is dedicated to displaying computer application 12 and/or sub-application 15 content, such as pictures, video, text documents (e.g., electronic mail, word processing documents), tables, charts, spreadsheets and any other displayable items and combinations of displayable items. It is noted that the frame 46 need not form a continuous perimeter around the viewable area 55 and the viewable area 55 need not have to be contained within a frame at all.

With additional reference to FIG. 3, the application workspace 54 can be defined by a plurality of screens 56. For instance, the workspace 54 can be made up of a plurality of contiguous screens 56 (e.g., a matrix of screens) to form a continuous area upon which application content can be logically associated. In certain operational modes, only a portion of the application workspace 54 is “visible” (e.g., displayed) in the frame 46 of the main application workspace window 44. The displayed portion of the application workspace 54 can correspond to an individual screen 56 or sections of multiple screens 56, depending on how the application workspace 54 is “positioned” relative to the frame 46. In one embodiment, the size of each screen 56 when not subjected to enlargement by “zooming in” or contraction by “zooming out” is generally coextensive with the viewable area 55 area defined by the frame 46.

As will become more apparent below, one way to consider certain operation of the workspace generation and navigation tool 14 is to consider the application workspace 54 to be analogous to a plane upon which application content is present and the frame 46 is analogous to viewing portal that is logically shifted over the application workspace 54 to allow the use to view (or “see”) a portion of the application workspace 54. Alternatively, one may equally consider the application workspace 54 to be logically shifted under the frame 46. Methods and executable logic for sizing, controlling and traversing the application workspace 54 will be described below in greater detail.

In one embodiment, the computer application 12 content can be displayed in one or more discrete sub-application windows 58. An “application window” can be considered to be a region affiliated with the application workspace 54 that displays computer application 12 and/or sub-application 15 content. In the example where the application workspace 54 is considered to be analogous to a plane, the sub-application windows 58 can be considered to be located within the plane. The sub-application windows 58 can be arranged as desired by the user, such as without overlap (e.g., tiled) and spaced apart or touching, with overlap (e.g., cascaded), and combinations of these arrangements. Sub-application windows 58 can be positioned completely within a screen 56 or across multiple screens 56. In one embodiment, the sub-application windows 58 are “tied” to the application workspace 54 such that the sub-application windows 58 are not moveable out of the application workspace 54 to overlap the frame 46 of the main application workspace window 44 or onto other portions of the desktop 38. In other embodiments, one or more sub-application windows 58 can be detached from the application workspace 54 such than they can optionally overlap the main application workspace window 44, can be overlapped by the main application workspace window 44 and/or can overlap other portions of the desktop 38. In one embodiment, sub-application windows 58 can have a sub-application window frame 60 that optionally includes GUI items such as a title bar, menus, horizontal and/or vertical scroll bars, status and/or tool bars, command buttons and so forth.

Although the discussion herein is presented in the example context of one application workspace 54 in association with the main computer application 12, the main computer application 12 can be associated with a plurality of application workspaces 54 and resulting layouts upon the association of sub-application windows 58 with the application workspaces 54. In the multiple application workspace 54 embodiment, one application workspace 54 at a time can be considered active and available for user interaction as described herein. A different application workspace 54 can be made active by user action. Following the analogy where the application workspace 54 is considered analogous to a plane, in one embodiment, multiple application workspaces 54 can be thought of as being arranged in a stack, in which the prominence of each application workspace 54 and order of the application workspaces 54 can be altered by user action.



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stats Patent Info
Application #
US 20120304112 A1
Publish Date
11/29/2012
Document #
13570809
File Date
08/09/2012
USPTO Class
715788
Other USPTO Classes
International Class
06F3/048
Drawings
10



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