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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) / 44K

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. 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 nodes are traversed. The messaging application can monitor the user's activity to determine whether to automatically expand or collapse messages. If the user scrolls through an entire thread, top to bottom, then the thread is automatically collapsed, as the user is unlikely to re-visit it. Likewise, if the user performs an Alt-Scroll to go to another thread, the current one is auto-collapsed. The number of messages existing under a collapsed root node will be displayed as a number in brackets at the end of the subject line, or as a temporary "tooltip" that appears over the subject line when it is selected. When a root node is deleted, the user is prompted to delete the entire subtree below the node, as well, or all messages belonging to the current thread, to reduce the workload of the user. As an added convenience, the user can easily select multiple threads for deletion. If one thread is selected, then selecting a message of another thread by Shift-rolling will cause the other thread to be selected in its entirety. In other words, the user does not need to scroll through every message of a thread to select the whole thread. When new messages arrive, they will appear in the correct positions relative to the thread, and will be bolded to indicate that they have not yet been read. If a thread now contains a new message, it will be promoted to the top of the message list. Certain actions can be expanded to operate on a thread-level versus individual message-level. If the user chooses to file or save a message, then the user is prompted to file or save the entire thread, not just the currently selected message. In addition, "aliases" to new messages can be created at the top of the message list. When a new message arrives, it is listed at the top of the message list for quick and easy access. All aliases are displayed on the same level, similar to the old format. If the user clicks to open an alias, the message contents are displayed. Upon exiting, the message now appears in its actual thread, and the alias is removed. In this way, the user can access all new messages in the same place (at the top of the message list) without having to scroll through several threads to find them. However, once read, the relevant threads are populated.

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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...