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Iconic Interface for Database Table Definition

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000111676D
Original Publication Date: 1994-Mar-01
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2005-Mar-26
Document File: 4 page(s) / 123K

Publishing Venue

IBM

Related People

Erwin-Grotsky, G: AUTHOR [+3]

Abstract

Disclosed is an iconic interface that promotes the use of icons when defining database tables. The workplace shell environment advanced in OS/2* 2.1 encourages users to manipulate icon objects using the mouse and minimize keyboard typing. This disclosure lets users go beyond only allowing users to create tables with a SQL command string.

This text was extracted from an ASCII text file.
This is the abbreviated version, containing approximately 47% of the total text.

Iconic Interface for Database Table Definition

      Disclosed is an iconic interface that promotes the use of icons
when defining database tables.  The workplace shell environment
advanced in OS/2* 2.1 encourages users to manipulate icon objects
using the mouse and minimize keyboard typing.  This disclosure lets
users go beyond only allowing users to create tables with a SQL
command string.

      This design would use a window interface with four different
panes:  the Foundation, Construction, Model Tools, and Custom Tools
areas.  Each pane has a special function.  In these areas, table
columns are represented as icons, such as in the shape of Roman
columns.  The user can not only drag and drop these icons to and from
areas in the interface, but to other applications as well.

      The Foundation area is the main area where columns that already
exist in the table or that will be added to a new or existing table
are placed.  Existing columns, those that have been previously saved
with the table in the database, cannot be changed and are grouped
together with a boundary line around them to indicate that they are
locked.  Columns within this boundary also have a different color or
shade to distinguish them from the "new" columns.

      Columns may be placed anywhere in the Foundation area, so long
as they do not replace a column that already exists in the database.
If a column is dropped on top of a column that is new to the
Foundation area and that has already been placed, the two are
exchanged.  This allows the user to easily reorganize columns.  When
dropped, a column icon automatically snaps to a point on an invisible
grid, so that the user does not need to worry about where the columns
are exactly placed.  The user can represent the order of the columns
visually, whether it goes horizontally then vertically, or vice
versa.  (The order of the columns is important for a database table.)
The user can also switch between displaying icons and text.  In this
case, the columns are listed from top to bottom.

      The user can also move a column icon to the Construction area,
which lies directly beneath the Foundation area.  This area is also
flanked by the Model Tools and Custom Tools areas, and it acts as a
temporary storage area for "homeless" columns that the user has not
decided what to do with.  Columns from another iconic interface can
be dropped here temporarily before being moved to the Foundation
area.  The user can also drop a table icon in this space, and the
table icon would decompose into its column icons, which the user can
then place in the Foundation area at a later time.

      The Model Tools area stores all the actions the user needs when
defining a database table.  These actions (or commands) are
represented by unique icons.  For example, the New Column icon would
be here.  The user would drag this icon and drop it on the
Construction or Foundation area to create a new icon.  In...