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CSS and resource encoding of product version information

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000237330D
Publication Date: 2014-Jun-13
Document File: 2 page(s) / 30K

Publishing Venue

The IP.com Prior Art Database

Abstract

For any reference to applications that expose a web graphical user interface, it is a very common to provide screenshots that illustrate the GUI. For example, a very typical case is when a customer communicates a problem found in such an application, he provides one or more screenshots to show the problem. However, experience shows that rarely the screenshots are accompanied by other very important information such as for example the application version and the browser being used. Exchanging messages between the customer and the application support team to obtain more information costs additional time (and money) to all parties involved. Additionally, when such information is obtained it then has to be "maintained" for the duration of the discussion to solve the problem, i.e. attached in some way to the corresponding screenshots and transmitted whenever required. The proposed system and method changes the CSS and possibly the graphical resources that contribute to the web user interface so that the overall appearance of the user interface does not change for the users of the interface, whereas actually such interface contains encoded information that are captured by a screenshot and can be decoded with a tool (or even manually).

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CSS and resource encoding of product version information

A method modifies the Cascading Style Sheet (CSS) of a Graphical User Interface (GUI) of a software application by including related resources on which a GUI is based. The CSS modification occurs at build time.

During this phase the original CSS files are modified so that the difference between the modified version and the original version encodes information. Moreover, the CSS portions that are modified are selected so that such information can be captured by screenshots of the product user interface, and as such transmitted in any appropriate graphics format used to save the screenshot.

For example supposed that the background of the user interface is white, and declared in the CSS as:
body { background-color: white }

White corresponds to rgb(255,255,255). From this definition the tool is then able to encode information by using a different background color. For example:
rgb(255,255,254)
rgb(255,254,255)
rgb(254,255,255)

Each of the above values is so close to white that it is virtually impossible to tell them apart, even more so on a computer monitor (which usually has limited dynamic range and color rendition capabilities). By having the possibility of using four different background colors, two bits of information are encoded. So for example if a product named XXX at version 8.5 is published with background-color set to white, then the same product version 8.5.1 could be set to rgb(255,255,254), XXX 8.5.1 FixPack 1 could be set to rgb(255,254,255) and so on.

Of course the set of colors could be extended by increasing a little the maximum distance between the modified color and the original color, for example rgb(255,255,253) or rgb(255,254,254). This allows the encoding of additional bits of information. Likewise, we're not limited to modifying the background color of HTML elements. Other elements such as for example the color of a border or the color of fonts provide good opportunity for encoding information. As these modifications are performed, a report is also generated to log all the changes that ha...