Browse Prior Art Database

Interactive Sprite Agent for Contextual Help

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000116693D
Original Publication Date: 1995-Oct-01
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2005-Mar-31
Document File: 2 page(s) / 137K

Publishing Venue

IBM

Related People

Bowman, M: AUTHOR [+3]

Abstract

Disclosed is a mechanism for supplying contextual help and tutorials in a graphical user interface system. The mechanism is unique in its use of an artificially intelligent help sprite agent which can roam the screen, provide contextual help, give tutorials, and respond to user questions.

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

Interactive Sprite Agent for Contextual Help

      Disclosed is a mechanism for supplying contextual help and
tutorials in a graphical user interface system.  The mechanism is
unique in its use of an artificially intelligent help sprite agent
which can roam the screen, provide contextual help, give tutorials,
and respond to user questions.

      Graphical user interfaces have unique needs and constraints
when providing on-line help to a user.  It is desirable to provide
help and guidance on objects as the user points to them while also
judiciously using screen space.  In addition, users have a variety of
expectations for on-line help systems.  In some cases, the desire may
be simply to view the name of a certain object, while in others, it
may be to view a tutorial of how to accomplish a certain task.  These
constraints and expectations put unique requirements upon on-line
help systems.

      An interactive help sprite agent has been invented which
uniquely fulfills many of the requirements and expectations of
contextual help systems.  The interactive help sprite is a small
graphical icon which visibly appears and acts like a small person and
is able to roam the entire screen.  The help sprite exists on the
desktop independent of any application, and has a home base
determined by the user where it normally resides (sits or stands).
The home base may be on or off the screen.  When a contextual help
action is performed on a certain object, such as pressing F1, in any
enabled application on the screen, the help sprite travels (runs or
appears) from its home base to object, points at it, and gives some
preliminary information about it in a dialog balloon (similar to a
cartoon strip).  The information in the balloon is hyper-text, having
links to more information.  If the balloon is clicked on, an input
text widget appears in which the user can type a question.  In
addition, the sprite may be dragged and dropped on top of an object
to get contextual help about it.  It may also be dispatched back to
home base with an action directly upon it, such a mouse button click.

      Since the sprite is small, animated and can roam around the
screen, it is also able to give tutorials.  If a question concerning
how to perform a certain task is gi...