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User Interface for Displaying States of Objects

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000116415D
Original Publication Date: 1995-Sep-01
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2005-Mar-30
Document File: 4 page(s) / 112K

Publishing Venue

IBM

Related People

Colyer, AM: AUTHOR

Abstract

In management and control systems a user is interested in the current state of objects in the managed system. At any point in time it is necessary to present to the user: 1. The current state of the object being viewed 2. The valid alternative states 3. The actions the user can take to move the object from one state to another

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User Interface for Displaying States of Objects

      In management and control systems a user is interested in the
current state of objects in the managed system.  At any point in time
it is necessary to present to the user:
  1.  The current state of the object being viewed
  2.  The valid alternative states
  3.  The actions the user can take to move the object from one state
       to another

      Presenting all of this information on the screen in an
intuitive manner is not easy.

      By displaying a graphical representation of the state
transition diagram (Fig. 1) for the object in question at the end
user interface as described below, such information can be presented
effectively.   The current state of the object can be highlighted by
color or shading.  This immediately enables the user to see both the
current state and the possible alternative states.

      If the object is not in the desired state, the user simply
clicks on the desired state, and the object undergoes whatever state
transitions are necessary in order to reach it.  In our example, if
the object is in the "down" state, and the user clicks on "up", the
object will go through the "stopped" state and reach the "up" state
(Fig. 2).

      An alternative to clicking on the desired end-state, is to
click on a transition leading from the current state (Fig. 3).  This
causes that transition to be attempted.

      It can occur that the system believes that an object is in one
state, while the user believes the object is in another state.  In
these situations the user may wish to override the system and invoke
an action (transition) that would not normally apply in the current
state (we call this a forced transition).  For example, the system
believes an object is in the "down" state, but the user believes that
same object is in the "up" state.  By clicking on the "stop"
transition the user is presented with a question dialog "The selected
action is not appropriate for the current state...