PC Input Data Collection System
Original Publication Date: 1989-Aug-01
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2005-Jan-28
A system program which implements a screen definition language is disclosed that allows the user to change, update, or add new data collection input screens to the system program without having to recompile the entire system program. The system program is Personal Computer (PC)-based and is used to gather test data for different development products. (Image Omitted)
PC Input Data Collection System
A system program which implements a screen definition language is disclosed that allows the user to change, update, or add new data collection input screens to the system program without having to recompile the entire system program. The system program is Personal Computer (PC)-based and is used to gather test data for different development products.
Prior-art test data gathering systems are mainly in two areas - large host computer-based systems or PC-based systems. Both typically require the full time support of an organization to make user-requested changes and enhancements. When the test project is small, the PC-based system has several advantages over the host-based system.
The primary disadvantage of the PC system is that it lacks flexibility. For instance, screens are displayed to the operator telling them what to do, but all the screens are hard coded in the system program. Therefore, if the user needs to modifify an operator screen, a recompilation of the system program by the support organization is required, which requires time to do the recompilation and updated versions of the new program have to be distributed to all users.
In addition, data validation checks are hard coded. For example, if the operator enters a numeric quantity larger than that allowable for a certain variable, then the system program has to have in-line code to check for this situation. If the limits of the variable are later changed, then the system program has to be recompiled with changes to the code to reflect the new limits. Furthermore, the rigid structure of the system program makes the addition of new screens or input variables very difficult. The support organization has to recompile the system program for any change.
The system disclosed is a program and screen language which takes full advantage of the PC-based system but eliminates the disadvantages described above. The advantages of this invention are: 1) The program need not keep track of where it has been or where it is going; 2) The program does not need to be recompiled to accommodate user changes to screens or addition of new screens; 3) The program does not need to be recompiled to accommodate changes when limits of variables change; and 4) The user can make changes to the system via a text-like language that is easy to understand.
The essential elements of the idea are: 1) Ordered files containing the text of the screens to be displayed; 2) Ordered files containing the text of the "table language"; for each screen file, there is a corresponding table file; 3) The table language which describes in text-like form the variables to be checked for given conditions and the next state depending on the input; and 4) A system program that interprets the table language, saves the data, displays messages, loads screen files and table files, and performs the table language functions.
The key featur...