Browse Prior Art Database

Method for augmenting the user interfaces of legacy applications

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000199080D
Publication Date: 2010-Aug-25
Document File: 4 page(s) / 61K

Publishing Venue

The IP.com Prior Art Database

Abstract

The disclosed invention is a method for using graphical overlays as part of a companion application for the purpose of augmenting the perceived behavior of a legacy application's user interface to improve usability, add features, and ensure standards compliance without modifying any legacy code.

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Method for augmenting the user interfaces of legacy applications

Many companies have applications deployed that have not been changed in many years or even decades. These applications are often console based or use an outdated graphical user interface (GUI) design. Bugs or limitations in these legacy applications are often ignored or go unfixed because of the risks of working with old, unfamiliar code. Even with small changes there is a risk to disrupting normal business operations for users of a widely used (and often mission critical) legacy application. Users become accustomed to these legacy applications since they have used them for years. Rewriting legacy applications is very difficult because new applications must have complete functional parity with the old applications and include additional functionality before most users consider the frustration of migrating.

Current existing solutions mainly utilize web services which are not generally end user consumable and would not improve the usability of an existing application; whereas, this invention focuses on being more accessible to the end-user and improving their experience.

This invention is a method for augmenting a legacy application through the use of hidden windows that capture user interface (UI) events and display overlays in order to gain usability and feature improvements without modifying the underlying legacy application/code. The key novelty is in the use of the graphical overlays as part of a companion application.

The companion application can be custom-built beforehand and tailored for the legacy application using one of these approaches:

• Automation technology applied while developing the interactions with the legacy application as a result of an augmented input to the application (e.g., automation that would automatically create a new record is a change management system that would be triggered by some sort of UI gesture caught by a transparent overlay)

• Existing integration application programming interfaces (APIs)

• Generic capabilities, such as an augmentation that detects e-mail addresses and queries and overlays account information from an enterprise Lightweight Directory Access Protocol ( LDAP) server

The companion application also contains all the augmented UI overlays.

The solution involves the following:

• The legacy application starts up.

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• An invisible companion application starts up along with the legacy application via the use of a custom launcher or script.

• The companion application locates the legacy application and augments it by laying out transparent window objects over the surface. One window could be used to cover the entire application window, or the application could identify and locate specific hot spots and place windows over them. In Figure 1, the component selections are identified as...