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Generating a User Interface Navigation Network from Data Model Relationships

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000239177D
Publication Date: 2014-Oct-20
Document File: 5 page(s) / 67K

Publishing Venue

The IP.com Prior Art Database

Abstract

Disclosed is a practical method for generating a navigation network based on specifications expressed as an Entity-Relationship data model. The navigation network is implemented via links that connect screens/pages to "related" pages.

This text was extracted from a PDF file.
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Generating a User Interface Navigation Network from Data Model Relationships

Automated generation of computer code to enable the display and input of data has a long history, including mainframe- and midrange-based code generators. More advanced screen generation capabilities typically include header/detail formats, single- and multiple-record formats, and enablement of Create, Retrieve, Update and Delete (CRUD) functions based on requirements specifications. Generating display and input screens directly from table layouts is commonplace. Generating user screens based on a set of data fields such as a single file or table layout, or even a header-detail pattern, is not at all unusual or difficult.

In contrast, automatic creation of a user interface navigation network-in essence, an online application linking together multiple related screens-has seldom been attempted.

The novel contribution is a practical method for generating a navigation network based on specifications expressed as an Entity-Relationship data model. The navigation network described here is implemented via links that connect screens/pages to "related" pages. In this simple example, "related" assumes that each screen is based on a single entity in a logical data model, typically translating to a single table in a database design, and the relationships among screens emulates the relationships among those data model entities.

The Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) pages in this example are atypically simple, demonstrating only the specific link-generation capability discussed here.

Data Model

Figure 1: A diagram of the data model used in this example

To enable generation of the screen pages and links in the example, two files are created from this model: a list of the entity names, and a list of all entity pairs participating in relationships. Files of these types can be easily output from a data-modeling product. The content of these files is shown below.

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Figure 2: Content of files created from the model

Notice that, in the relationships.txt file, both "directions" of each relationship are listed (e.g., "Account Customer" and "Customer Account"). This enables generation of links from both entity pages in a pair to the other. No additional metadata about the relationships (e.g., cardinality) is necessary for generating the basic linking in this example.

Navigation Network Generation Example

In this example, a sample navigation network is implemented using two Perl programs to transform the data model files into HTML files. One program generates a "menu" page providing a launching point for navigating to any other node. The second program generates an HTML page file for each entity and, for each related entity and the menu page, inserts a link line into the page file....