Browse Prior Art Database

Method to selectively filter uninteresting areas on a time line

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000200880D
Publication Date: 2010-Oct-28
Document File: 4 page(s) / 29K

Publishing Venue

The IP.com Prior Art Database

Abstract

The invention provides a method to selectively display areas of interest on a time line

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Method to selectively filter uninteresting areas on a time line

Context

The present invention relates to the area of data visualization. It focuses on the domain of representations of time (Gantt charts) and improves the readability and usability of those representations involving the display of areas of interest, typically working vs. non-working time sections in a scheduling application. Revealing properly and accurately those areas is of paramount importance for project management.

Problem

    Representations of events and activities over time, such as Gantt-charts, often involve the display of background information useful to the manipulation of the data being presented. For instance, we consider a Gantt chart displaying tasks performed at certain times for certain durations. The tasks may span long periods, in the order of weeks or months, but the activity on those tasks is actually performed only during certain intervals, called "working times", which span in most times the business hours of the working days.

    To provide adequate user feedback and allow an easy grasp of the changes impacted by reallocating or moving tasks in time, it is very important to provide the user with adequate and unobtrusive means of separating the working times from the non-working. In most existing products, this is performed by graying out the non-working times as in the following example:

    For example, the week end days in the calendar may be grayed out so as to show that while tasks may span over a weekend, their actual duration will in fact not include those time periods.

    This representation is common and convenient. However, its naïve implementation in software reveals surprisingly subtle but important issues to solve. In practice, non-working times are often tightly interwoven with working times. In fact, non-working time is often longer than working time (consider that "normal" business hours, 9am to 6pm are actually only one third of a full day).

    As soon as the viewing area is zoomed out such that the apparent size of the small duration areas is below the screen resolution, a variety of undesirable visual effects appear and render the display of working vs. non-working times unusable.

    For example, when zooming out the project over 7 months using a naïve algorithm, the non working times produce a moiré effect that distracts the eye.

  The following issues are encountered with the prior art:
1- Visual overload makes the view hard to use
2- Aliasing artifacts: depending on where the working/non-working times are positioned, whole areas may appear working (or non-working), when in fact there is an alternation of both types of zones
3- Inaccuracy: small working areas in a general non-working zone disappear totally, whereas they are crucial to understanding properly the overall planning solution being displayed. It should be understood that the absolute duration of the tasks varies depending on the amount of non-working areas they cover, so as to prese...