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User Interface for Threaded Email Message Conversations in a Display That Is Optimized for the Small Screen of a Mobile Device.

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000131846D
Publication Date: 2005-Nov-21
Document File: 2 page(s) / 10K

Publishing Venue

The IP.com Prior Art Database

Abstract

On certain mobile devices, messages appearing on the message list appear on the same level. The user cannot determine which messages are associated by a common thread of conversation other than inferring the relationship between messages from the limited-length subject line. The user must scroll through the message list and read the subject lines to determine which messages belong to the thread of interest.

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THREADED MESSAGE LIST

User Interface for Threaded Email Message Conversations in a Display That Is Optimized for the Small Screen of a

Mobile

Device.

Disclosed Anonymously

On certain mobile devices, messages appearing on the message list appear on the same level. The user cannot determine which messages are associated by a common thread of conversation other than inferring the relationship between messages from the limited-length subject line. The user must scroll through the message list and read the subject lines to determine which messages belong to the thread of interest.

Also, it is unclear which message constitutes a reply to which other specific message. A strict chronological ordering is inconvenient for quick access to a topic of interest if the user is engaged in many threads of conversation amounting to hundreds of messages. The user must constantly scroll up and down to locate the right message.

The proposed solution is to have the message list be represented in a threaded fashion characteristic of newsgroup readers, utilizing a tree-branch user interface. To simplify navigation, the invention will make good use of the thumbwheel available on some mobile devices. As well, the display will operate effectively within the constraints of a small screen.

The subject line is only displayed for the first message of the thread, thus creating more real estate on the screen. Only the date, time, and sender name of the other messages belonging to the thread are displayed.

The current level in the thread will automatically expand into a sub-tree or collapse when the root message is highlighted (selected) for longer than 3 seconds. It will also expand or collapse when the root is Alt-clicked. To collapse the entire thread at once, the user can press Alt-Escape.

A thread will only expand a sufficient number of levels down so that the whole thread can be seen on the screen, with a minimum of one level expanded. As the user scrolls down, the next subtree is expanded to fit the screen. Pressing Alt when rolling will cause the selection to jump from the current thread to the root of the next thread. Pressing the spacebar will have the same effect.

If a thread has so many levels that they cannot all fit horizontally on the display, then the screen will automatically scroll to the right to display the currently selected node and its root as the thread is being explored deeper. Or, it will automatically scroll to the left as more shallow no...