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A visual method for capturing and applying actionable templates to customize portal applications

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000124657D
Original Publication Date: 2005-May-03
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2005-May-03
Document File: 4 page(s) / 75K

Publishing Venue

IBM

Abstract

As enterprises grow in size and complexity, the number of buisness applications and the complexity of these applications grow in parallel. In many buisnesses, each of these applications are developed by different groups, which lead to many different user interfaces, different user experiences, etc. This ever-expanding issue is now being addressed by these buisnesses using the portal technology, which allows for a centralized aggregation of applications as well as a common way to interact with each of the individual applications held within. Portal technology has given buisness owners the ability to quickly roll out new applications to their users and just as quickly realize the revenue and efficiency benefits from said technology. Given this, the direction of enterprise development is undergoing some notable changes. In the past, a large amount of development resource was applied to generating the individual application logic, designing and implementing the user interface and finally integrating all of this into an infrastructure. Now, with the portal technology providing the new framework for the user experience, enterprise developers are now tasked with tailoring their applications to their individual users within this same framework. Also, the portal design team must ensure that all of these applications work well together, allowing the end-user to accomplish their tasks in a more streamlined fashion, as opposed to simply providing a new means of information overload. From the perspective of the designer, this involves providing a consistent look and feel throughout all applications and ensuring proper access control within the application, as well as having the ability to quickly and dynamically update the portal with out long delays for each action. Finally, the designer should not be forced to learn new methodologies to lay-out the overall user interface, but instead be able to use well-known skills, such as simple drag and drop. A preferred alternative to the above tasks is a "Content Palette" used to drag actionable items onto portal artifacts, or artifacts onto the palette, to quickly streamline any action or task. For instance, assume a given portal application is implemented using cascading style sheets (CSS). Later, if a different developer needs to update the overall look and feel of this application, they would need to acquire/develop the new CSS and then rebuild the application to take advantage of this. Using this invention, the same second developer simply looks at their portal palette and sees that a new CSS has been added which would greatly improve the application's interface. The second developer drags the visual representation of this new CSS onto their application and instantly sees the changes. The overall time for an individual application to be deployed to the total user base is greatly decreased thereby allowing the enterprise to quickly adapt to technology updates, changes in the marketplace, etc.

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A visual method for capturing and applying actionable templates to customize portal applications

This disclosure proposes that the user (enterprise developer or site/portal designer/administrator) has the ability to quickly and easily update any portal application by simply dragging a visual representaiton (shortcut) of an application 'action' onto any application. In addition, the applications themselves can be dragged onto the visual representation of an action for that action to be executed on the dragged application. This visual representation is presented in the UI, for example, in a "Content Palette", although not limited to a palette-only implementation. In this scenario, all common actions could be clustered into collapsable sections which would provide a clean, easy-to-use and quickly accessible interface to all available actions for the current application.

Figure 1: Initial Palette with Actions section

Each of the action objects in a palette section are drag/drop enabled. Given the actions in the above figure, the user can simply drag an action onto a portal application and have this application dynamically update itself appropriately. These actions can take action on either the application as a whole by dropping the action on the portlet title area, or on a specific portion of the application which has been defined by the application developer. In the latter situation, only this section of the application would be updated accordingly. For example, assume a user had a section of cascading style sheets, represented in an iconic fashion with appropriate titles. As the user begins to drag one of these objects, the object being dragged now expands into a larger version of itself, displaying additional information about this action, such as the author, the scope of the

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action when dropped, a description of the action, etc.

Figure 2: Dragging an action item

In the case of the "change CSS" action mentioned above, when dragging this object, the dragged object would expand to display the author of this CSS, the HTML elements which will be modified and a description of the recommended uses of this CSS. For instance, a given enterprise may provide a number of different acceptable layouts/font sizes/font colors/etc for any customer-facing portion of their web applications. As changes are made to these high-level definitions, the designer's palette can be updated by an external entity with these updated CSS definitions. In the past, the designer would have to rebuild their application to make use of this new CSS, but now they can simply drag this new visual representation of the definition onto the already-deployed application and have it dynamically update. This examples demonstrates how an action could easily make modifications to the entire application.

Figure 3: Sample application before and after dropping CSS

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