An Enhancement to the "Method to Determine the Correctness of a Set of Related Documents"
Original Publication Date: 2001-May-01
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2003-Jun-19
Often a collection of documents must function as one unit. For example, a single police report may be made up of an incident report, some number of pages devoted to witnesses involved, some number of pages devoted to vehicles involved, and other sets of pages used for other purposes. The number of pages for each of these "sections" in a report is unknown when the forms are printed; while someone who is reporting information in the conventional way can simply add paper forms as necessary, a new approach must be used when dealing with electronic documents. Document management is not a new technology, but some new areas, ready for innovation, do become apparent when you begin to consider the different possibilities available in an electronic environment. One such area is in the validation of the correctness of the data entered into the form(s). Validity in a multi-page document as described above can mean many different things, whether it deals with the presence or absence of pages, information entered in other locations, or simple typographic errors. A problem arises when implementing this type of validation: information from the validating process must be reformatted and collected to make it understandable to the novice user. Historically, this reformat of the data is handled very simply; at best, an error message is displayed to the user, and likely contains only the basest of information regarding where the error was found. Once the user finds and fixes the error, the validation process is initiated again this process continues until no more problems are found. Error messages can also be difficult to understand when taken out of context; users typically have more difficulty locating and understanding the problem with the data entered than they do actually fixing the problem. This invention addresses all of these concerns in a single, intuitive interface. This invention optimizes this process of presenting validation information to the users. Errors are not shown to the user as they are encountered; instead, they are stored and catalogued until the entire validation process has been completed. At that time, they can be presented as a complete unit, with standard interfaces for describing the problem location and giving detailed help on problems. It is far easier for the user to determine the main source of errors when they are listed as a unit, especially in cases where one root problem is causing errors in multiple locations. The sequential approach makes it very difficult to solve those types of errors, where with this new method any problem can be addressed in any order. Additionally, this new interface allows the user to be automatically taken to the source of the error, solving the problem in locating errors. All of this functionality is provided for the entire logical document as a whole no more form by form validating. 1