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Screen pivoting for management console

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000132528D
Original Publication Date: 2005-Dec-20
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2005-Dec-20
Document File: 3 page(s) / 35K

Publishing Venue

IBM

Abstract

This article covers a solution for the rigidity of administration consoles for network and application management, which often impose the internal product design onto end-users. At the root of the problem is the fact that the personnel involved in internal product design often has an academic and highly structured background in mind, which is often not aligned with the skill-set or tasks performed by the product users. For instance, an object-oriented configuration model like the one used for WebSphere Application Server contains hundreds of configuration classes that are highly interdependent, with usage of object-oriented techniques such as inheritance and specialization by composition. This pattern is observed in the administration console for all major software vendors. The key drawback is that such highly hierarchical configuration models are often geared towards one set of users at the expense of simplicity for others. For instance, a DB administrator tracking the users of a certain tablespace is more interested on starting the navigation from the configuration objects related to database connections down to the applications using these connections and the application servers hosting these applications. Conversely, a capacity planner may be more interested on navigating from the indicators of spare capacity down to the servers and clusters that host that spare capacity.

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Screen pivoting for management console

The core idea proposed in this article is to enable the administration consoles to to have the ability to "pivot" the navigation trees according to user requests and according to the configuration object relationship.

"Pivoting" means allowing a user to indicate which configuration object is the most important for him at a certain point in time and then rearranging all the navigation trees and panel layouts to reflect that choice.

The advantage over static panels is obvious in the sense that the user can interface with an interface that adapts to the task at hand as opposed to a an interface hardcoded during development time and optimized for a fixed and limited set of tasks.

If implemented, the solution relies on the interaction between the administration console and the configuration model to expose "pivoting" points to the end-user.

The idea is that given an object-oriented configuration model, all the objects referenced by other objects can be used as pivots. Once the user indicates that he wants to interact with the administration tool using that object as a pivot, all the navigation trees and links amongst panels are reconfigured to use that object as the focus of attention.

The following example can illustrate the concept. Let us assume a small section of the WebSphere Application Server configuration model:

Cell

JDBC Provider

1

Figure 1 - Excerpt from WebSphere Application Server configuration model

In this model, all the administrative panels start from the objects referenced from a "cell", the largest administrative concept in WAS. A cell virtually contains all the configuration objects, including "Applications". An application can reference a "Data source", which is used to access an RDBMS. A "Data Source" is actually contained by a "JDBC Provider" object.

A WAS administrator sees the following structure in the navigation tree:

0..n

0..n

1

1

1

1

0..n

0..n

0..n

0..n

Applications

DataSource

0..n
0..n 0..n
0..n

1

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