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Method for Annotating Object Lists in Computer Systems Disclosure Number: IPCOM000019893D
Original Publication Date: 2003-Oct-07
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2003-Oct-07
Document File: 3 page(s) / 85K

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A method is described where the entries for individual objects in lists of objects (for example, email lists in email system folders, file lists in directory listing user interfaces) may be annotated by the user, and furthermore where related objects may be automatically annotated.

This text was extracted from a PDF file.
This is the abbreviated version, containing approximately 52% of the total text.

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Method for Annotating Object Lists in Computer Systems

  Consider the following types of problems that exist in email systems, file system directory listing user interfaces, and so on, as they are typically implemented today in a variety of email systems and operating systems. In the case of a generic email system, when listing the contents of an email system folder (for example, the "inbox" folder), it is common for the subject field to be empty (for example if the sender of the email forgot to type a subject) or uninformative (for example if the sender of the email did not type in a subject that is descriptive of the contents of the email). Similarly, when listing the file names and file properties of the files contained in a file system directory, it is common for the file name to be uninformative. In both cases, at some point the user, examining a list of emails, or the contents of a directory, may have no idea from the subject field, or the file name, what the email is about, or what the purpose of the file is.

In more detail, a generic email system may have a variety of folders, and in the user interface folder contents may be shown as a table that generally looks similar to the following.

From Date Subject <other fields>---- ---- ------- --------------
Joe 8-12 what? ...
Bill 8-13 Re:what? ...Mary 8-13 ...
Al 8-14 Re: ...

(other fields could be size, attachments flag, etc., as usual)

As previously summarized, some problems are that people sending email often use subject lines that are not descriptive (like "what?" above), or that are blank (like the email from "Mary" above). A solution is to add in an annotation field that can (optionally) be filled in by the recipient of the email, in order to help them manage their email. In such a case the table shown in the generic user interface might look like the following, where the column labeled "Description" is the annotation field that can be filled in by the email recipient.

From Date Subject Description <other fields>---- ---- ------- ----------- --------------
Joe 8-12 what? a.e.m. proj ...
Bill 8-13 Re:what? a.e.m. proj ...Mary 8-13 8-15 mtg ...
Al 8-14 Re: 8-15 mtg ...

This user interface could be extended in a variety of ways, for example after annotating one piece of email by typing in a description, all related pieces of email could automatically acquire the same annotation (this function could be controlled by a user preferences flag). Here, related pieces of email could be determined in a variety of ways, for example by using the transitive closure of the union of the email "reply" and "forward" relations.


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A similar user interface can be used for a list of files in a file system directory, as follows. An artificial list of the file names of some install programs in a directory "download" could be:

In this list, the first file might be an install file for a new web browser called "Latest and Greatest Web Browser", the ne...