Browse Prior Art Database

Visual Configurator System for Configuring and Ordering IBM Products

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000108597D
Original Publication Date: 1992-May-01
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2005-Mar-22
Document File: 4 page(s) / 187K

Publishing Venue

IBM

Related People

Bishop, JP: AUTHOR

Abstract

A program is disclosed that allows for easy configuration and validation of a machine order. To place an order for a specific machine configuration, one must explicitly order "feature codes" to describe the hardware content of the desired machine. The "Visual Configurator" (VC) concept presents one with a picture of an empty machine, and through the use of a mouse, the user is presented with menus of potential devices that can be installed in various locations of the machine under configuration. The VC simultaneously converts one's selections into the appropriate "feature codes" and displays the price for the current set of selections.

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Visual Configurator System for Configuring and Ordering IBM Products

       A program is disclosed that allows for easy configuration
and validation of a machine order.  To place an order for a specific
machine configuration, one must explicitly order "feature codes" to
describe the hardware content of the desired machine.  The "Visual
Configurator" (VC) concept presents one with a picture of an empty
machine, and through the use of a mouse, the user is presented with
menus of potential devices that can be installed in various locations
of the machine under configuration.  The VC simultaneously converts
one's selections into the appropriate "feature codes" and displays
the price for the current set of selections.

      The existing program used to configure systems and place orders
for IBM products runs on HONE (a VM system) and is "text" based.
Several screens of questions and selections are presented to the user
in a dialog that results in a "valid orderable" machine/model with a
list of feature codes that describe the desired options for that
machine.  This approach gives the user no visual feedback as to how
many I/O slots are available in the machine, how many hardfiles the
machine can accommodate, etc.  It would be easier to those not
familiar with the IBM product to display a "picture" of the machine
to be ordered and allow the user to "fill up the empty slots".  A
mouse-based program would be quick, easy to use, and show the devices
installed in the machine as they are selected (thus the name "Visual
Configurator").  A prototype of this Configurator for an IBM RISC
System/6000* (RS/6000) model is written in Object-Oriented Turbo
Pascal** Version 6.0 using the Turbo Vision library of window
routines and should run on any DOS-based PC.

      DESCRIPTION OF INVENTION:  There is an existing "configurator"
program for RS/6000 (and other IBM machines) on the HONE system that
is used by sales reps to select the correct set of feature codes to
represent a specific machine configuration.  The current configurator
has several disadvantages:
1. It does not show a picture of the machine being configured; one
must be familiar with a model before answering the "textual"
questions presented sequentially during a configuration session; the
Visual Configurator displays a window of the machine layout and
indicates slots that can be filled with DASD, memory, adapters, etc.
-- a much more intuitive way of describing the system to be ordered.
See Fig. 1 for an example of the existing HONE selection menu
compared to the Fig. 2 layout of the Visual Configurator.
2. It presents the user with a series of screens where one enters the
quantity next to the desired feature code whereas the VC allows one
to point and click the mouse for a desired device in any order the
user wishes.  As a result, a simple configuration on the VC takes a
very small amount of time whereas the existing configurator always
takes the user through a set of pred...