Browse Prior Art Database

Method and Apparatus for Automatic and Persistent Grouping of Objects based on User-Provided Arbitrary Properties

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000018831D
Publication Date: 2003-Aug-15
Document File: 3 page(s) / 55K

Publishing Venue

The IP.com Prior Art Database

Abstract

Many systems have grouping mechanisms that allow a user to view a group or collection of objects. However, the content of these groups are generally static. That is, a user adds or removes each object from the group. The groups are persistent, but object membership is not automatic.

This text was extracted from a Microsoft Word document.
This is the abbreviated version, containing approximately 40% of the total text.

Method and Apparatus for Automatic and Persistent Grouping of Objects based on User-Provided Arbitrary Properties

Many systems have grouping mechanisms that allow a user to view a group or collection of objects. However, the content of these groups are generally static. That is, a user adds or removes each object from the group.  The groups are persistent, but object membership is not automatic.

This system allows its users to create automatic persistent groups and assign matching rules that determine which objects from the set of all available objects are group members for each group. As the objects in the full set are created and modified, their properties are evaluated for membership into each automatic group. As objects in the full set are destroyed, they are removed from each automatic group. Group membership would be tailored to always include or never include any particular set of objects.

One can incorporate this invention into software systems that manage networked devices or catalogs of documents. It will allow users to specify their own matching rules for each group rather than having a static set of rules for a static set of groups. This provides users with much more value as they can assemble groups as freely as they’d like, but without examining each particular object. For example, using this feature in networked device management software would allow a user to create a group of devices that can print color pages. As new devices are added to the network, those that support color become members of the user’s group with no action from the user. Even more valuable, a user could create a group whose members are those devices with consumables below the estimated 25% mark. As devices consume toner, etc., to the point that they are below the given 25% threshold, they are automatically added to the group. As the consumables are replenished, they are automatically removed. This allows the user to have a “hot-list” style set of groups to monitor and manage consumables for.

This invention would consist of a software component that builds and manages groups of objects. This component, however, would require support from a user interface (UI) component to help human users manage groups, and a property management component to help the grouping component determine whether each particular object was a member of each group. As the UI can be quite typical – folder / file style in a standard GUI environment or a page of icons per group in a web UI – the invention is described in the scope of the grouping component (the invention) and the software driving it. The grouping component is understood to have a programming interface. The property-querying component will depend on the particular functionality of the hosting system. For example, a device management system using this grouping structure would require a property-querying component that knew how to retrieve and report device property information. A file system using this grouping s...