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Spatial Date Range Column for Inclusion in Standard Graphical User Interface Table Controls Disclosure Number: IPCOM000109341D
Original Publication Date: 2005-Mar-23
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2005-Mar-23
Document File: 3 page(s) / 63K

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Some types of data are date/time based and would benefit from a more spatial, time-based presentation. When users are required to select distinct items from within a list, tables and lists are currently used but do not convey time-based information in a way that is readily digestible by users.

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Spatial Date Range Column for Inclusion in Standard Graphical User Interface Table Controls

For items that are time-based, such as events that occur for some length of time, an extension to standard table controls is proposed. Currently, the only method for including date information in a standard table is to show start, end, and perhaps duration values in separate columns (see Figure 1). This format does not allow the user to easily compare start times, end times, and durations across items in the table. Specifically, human cognitive information processing requires the viewer to read and interpret the textual dates and times and then try to mentally represent the various starting times, ending times, and durations, probably in more simplistic, symbolic terms. This task is all but impossible across many rows of a table.

In contrast, interpreting sizes, lengths, and relative positions of symbols such as lines can be a much easier task and would be very beneficial in helping users make more informed choices more quickly. The foundation of the current invention is to take the 2 columns, the one for begin time and the one for end time (as in Figure 1), and to converge them into one column that shows the data in a spatial manner (as in Figure 2).

Figure 1. Existing method for including date information in standard tables.

Figure 2. Proposed method for spatially arranging date information within an existing table column.

The proposed display method does lack the preciseness of the more textual displays, at least on the surface; exact times are not readily apparent. But that granularity can be achieved, by incorporating hover help when the mouse hovered over any of the date range bars (see Figure 3). This would allow the user to obtain more detailed information about a particular item, but would not clutter the display with that information.

Figure 3. Hover help showing precise start and end times.


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One useful characteristic of the proposed display not afforded by textual displays is an indication of the current time relative to the displayed events. This could be achieved by displaying a vertical line in the date range column (see Figure 4). The user would immediately know which of the items had not yet started, which were currently in progress, and which were finished.

Figure 4. Indication of current time

In some situations, the user would be able to edit the date values in the table. Either the duration or the time window of the event could be changed. The current invention can accommoda...