Browse Prior Art Database

Chaining Mail Repository Items over Time

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000111297D
Original Publication Date: 1994-Feb-01
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2005-Mar-26
Document File: 2 page(s) / 104K

Publishing Venue

IBM

Related People

Johnson, WJ: AUTHOR [+2]

Abstract

Disclosed is a system which automatically chains related items in an electronic mail repository such that the items are easily recognized by the user as being related items. A color-coding scheme is used to manifest the item relationship to the user, and a function is supplied to automatically retrieve each item in the correct chronological order.

This text was extracted from an ASCII text file.
This is the abbreviated version, containing approximately 52% of the total text.

Chaining Mail Repository Items over Time

      Disclosed is a system which automatically chains related items
in an electronic mail repository such that the items are easily
recognized by the user as being related items.  A color-coding scheme
is used to manifest the item relationship to the user, and a function
is supplied to automatically retrieve each item in the correct
chronological order.

      When an electronic mail user opens a mail repository such as
the inbasket, the individual mail items are presented in a list which
is sorted in one of various ways, usually chronologically, with the
most recent items displayed at the top of the list.  The list is
usually quite long, and it contains some items the user has already
seen and kept in the inbasket, as well as the new items which haven't
yet been opened.  Frequently the list spans several pages, and
sometimes there are even dozens of new items, especially if a
considerable amount of time has elapsed since this user last opened
the inbasket.

      Many of the items in the inbasket are related in that they
reference other notes that have previously been sent, resent, replied
to, or forwarded.  The user needs a method of chaining these related
notes together, in visually identifiable chains, and perusing them in
the order that makes the most sense.  For example, if a user has two
items in the Inbasket, Item 1 and Item 2, the most recent message,
Item 2, will usually be at the top of the list, followed by Item 1
later in the list.  Item 1 was received first, and Item 2 was
received later as a response from another user who had also received
item 1.  Now, when this user peruses the items in the inbasket, Item
2 is perused first.  However, frequently Item 2 doesn't even make
sense until the user has read the prerequisite note, Item 1.  The
user needs a way to visually identify related items and peruse the
items in the order that makes the most sense, while still displaying
the items according to the desired sorting sequence, such as
chronologically with the most recent items at the top.

      The disclosed system enables the user to have multiple related
items in the mail repository automatically chained together over time
in order to allow more sensible perusing of the mail repository.
Each item in the chain is color-coded according to user-configured
priorities, so the user can immediately identify chained items.
Furthermore, the user is then able to automatically step through the
items in the most sensible order.

For example, the user may have created the Chain Profile as follows:

o   1st Matching Set -- Red;

o   2nd Matching Set -- Blue;

o   3rd Matching Set -- Yellow;

o   4th Matching Set -- Green;

o   5th Matching Set -- White;

      Suppose the user opens the inbasket for the first time in two
days.  The items are sorted chronologically, with the most recent
ones at the top, and the user sees that there are 50 items in the
inbas...