Instant chat reply interruption during preparation of a response.
Publication Date: 2012-Dec-12
The IP.com Prior Art Database
User interface improvements for instant messaging systems, including touch screens (mobile SMS).
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Instant chat reply interruption during preparation of a response .
The problem relates to computer software programs that perform instant chat functionality. There are many software systems that provide instant chat functionality, all with a similar user-interface design.
The problem identified is common amongst all of these software solutions, the problem stems from the user interface design and appears common throughout chat software.
When a user is performing a instant chat conversation with 1 or many people, a question maybe asked that requires some time to write a reply. Whilst writing the reply another question is asked, the new question however can be answered quickly, perhaps just a single word, e.g. "Yes". Typically the user will want to quickly answer the new question immediately, as it can be dealt with quickly, then go back to the previous in-depth reply. The design of chat the software interfaces makes this job difficult.
The following diagrams show a conversation that highlights the problem using a typical chat user-interface.
David starts the conversation and Jim replies.
Jim now starts to write a large reply to answer David's question.
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Whilst Jim is writing this reply, David asks another question.
Jim knows the answer is just "Yes".
The problem is how does Jim quickly reply with "Yes"? There are solutions, but they are not something that the chat client provides, they work around the flaw in the interface. Secondly the work-around solution is often a "trick-of-the-trade", something not obvious to novice users.
Typically an experienced user may do the following (using keyboard shortcuts to make things quicker).
Paste -> the original, large message is now restored.
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Another option that makes use of the copy method, is to copy, but paste the message into another application, e.g. a text editor. For a basic user who does not know that the copy and paste buffer can be used as temporary storage, the following may happen.
Re-type the original message from scratch.
The solution to the problem in the most minimal form, is a modification to the user-interface, so that the user has a second chat-input box. This enables the user to draft two replies and send either one. Further to this input box the interface should make it easy for the user to move input focus to the second (i.e. free) input box. A standard way to perform this would by pressing a special key, or key combination. When the user is finished (they have sent the second message), the interface should switch input focus back to where they were when the special key was pressed. For example when they send the message (press enter), the input cursor goes back to the first (previous) box at the place where they originally jumped out from. The same should happen if they cancel the second message.