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Displaying and Manipulating Relationships

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000117080D
Original Publication Date: 1995-Dec-01
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2005-Mar-31
Document File: 6 page(s) / 193K

Publishing Venue

IBM

Related People

Colyer, AM: AUTHOR [+4]

Abstract

"Things" (objects) in the real world are often interrelated. These relationships are frequently only perceived in the mind of the viewer and are not physically represented. In object-oriented user interfaces these relationships can be represented by relationships between objects on the screen.

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Displaying and Manipulating Relationships

      "Things" (objects) in the real world are often interrelated.
These relationships are frequently only perceived in the mind of the
viewer and are not physically represented.  In object-oriented user
interfaces these relationships can be represented by relationships
between objects on the screen.

      The problem is first to detect the real world relationships,
and then to map them into an object model.  This object model must be
displayed on the screen in an intuitive manner.  The user should be
able to modify the displayed relationships and propagate changes back
to the real world.  This is a non-trivial exercise.

      The approach described here uses meta data to provide a
generalized relationship capability, and uses folders to display
relationship information at the User Interface level.

This has been broken down into four stages as shown in the Figure.
The four stages are as follows:
  A   Detecting the "perceived" real world relationships and
       transferring them to an object model.
  B    Transferring relationships between objects in the object
        model back to the real world.
  C    Providing an intuitive user interface to display and traverse
        object model relationships.
  D    Providing an intuitive user interface to manipulate object
        model relationships.
  (A)  Converting real-world relationships into an object model

      Relationships in the object model are defined in terms of
metadata.  The metadata describes forward and reverse names of a
relationship, its cardinality, its conditionality, and its
representation in the real world.  This representation can be marked
as definitional or operational.

      As an example, a CICS* for AIX* transaction has an attribute
called "ProgramName", which contains the name of the first program to
be executed for that transaction.  This appears in the object model
as a relationship between a transaction and a program.  This has
several advantages over the real-world representation:
  1.  The user can easily get to the program that this transaction
will
       run as its first program.
  2.  The user knows that the relationship point to a real program,
       whereas the attribute could contain any string, regardless of
       whether or not there was actually a program of that name.
  3.  The user can change the "first program" of a transaction
easily,
       while still guaranteeing consistency, by relating it to
another
       program.

      Sample metadata that models this relationship is given in the
Table.  The same format of metadata is used to describe every
possible
relationship that can exist between objects in the real world.

      An object model from the real world is created using a process
called discovery.  This first creates an object for every real world
object.  It then examines ea...