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Author-controlled copy-paste boundaries

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000149941D
Original Publication Date: 2007-Apr-13
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2007-Apr-13
Document File: 4 page(s) / 43K

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Current computer systems allow to select text displayed on the screen and re-use it as input for a computer program. This is done by using select, copy, and paste operations. Unfortunately, doing a contextual selection operation, for example, by using a double-click, may lead to unexpected results. This article proposes a solution to improve the behaviour of the contextual selection operation.

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Author-controlled copy-paste boundaries


Current computer systems allow to select text displayed on the screen and re-use it as input for a computer program. As example, consider a hands-on training tutorial where the user is instructed to type a particular string into an input field. Further consider that this tutorial is rendered by a Web Browser. To select the text to be copied, the user can press a mouse button and while the mouse button is pressed, move the mouse pointer over the text which is to be copied; by this operation the text is marked visually and a subsequent copy operation will copy the selected text to one of the computer's internal buffers (e.g. the so-called "clipboard") for another subsequent paste operation. In other words, the copy-and-paste operation consists of the following steps:
1. Decide what text portion should be selected for a copy-and-paste operation;
2. Mark that text portion; this operation is usually supported by graphical rendering, e.g. inverse coloring;
3. Copy the marked text to an internal buffer;
4. Paste the marked text to another input field.


Considering the 4 steps described in the previous section, under certain circumstances there is an easy-to-use shortcut for step 2: the user can move the mouse pointer to a particular word in a sequence of blank-separated words and just double click; most computer programs now determine the token delimiters (in the example of blank separated words the blanks) and then select the character string between the delimiter preceding the mouse cursor position and the delimiter following the mouse cursor position. Below, this shortcut is referenced as "contextual-selection" operation.

Unfortunately, the "contextual-selection" shortcut does only work when the text to be copied to the clipboard is surrounded by appropriate delimiters, for example blanks. Even worse, the text portion actually selected by the "contextual-selection" shortcut may depend on the actual involved computer program, because different computer programs do use different assumptions which symbols to allow as text element and which symbols to consider as word delimiters; for example, a hyphen will be considered as text character by some computer programs and considered as word delimiter by other computer program. In addition, some computer programs allow to customize the behaviour (for example, the "Use smart cut and paste" option in the Microsoft® Word® product.). As a consequence, the actual text marked and selected when the user performs a "contextual-selection" operation may be hard to predict.

To illustrate the problem, in the following we use a concrete example. The user browses a concrete text and is supposed to copy and paste a particular string occurring inside this text. We will use the following sample html code which is to be rendered by a we...