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Method of Implicitly Categorizing Data in a Tree Disclosure Number: IPCOM000020995D
Original Publication Date: 2003-Dec-16
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2003-Dec-16
Document File: 5 page(s) / 64K

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This invention describes a method for implicitly categorizing data displayed in a tree viewer of a user interface without effecting the structure of raw data and without requiring a user to provide additional view configuration. Categories of data are automatically determined by the unique property values of data objects.

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Method of Implicitly Categorizing Data in a Tree

Tree structures are used to organize information in a hierarchical fashion. Typically, each node of a tree represents a parent, container or abstraction of the nodes that branch off of it. This structure of information representation is commonly used in user interfaces to display units of data. For example, a tree might look like the following: -----------------------------------------------

Tree of the XYZ Company -----------------------------------------------

XYZ Company


         ->jack ->bob ->mary ->sarah ->ralph ->helen ->barbara ->fred ------------------------------------------------

Semantically, this example means, "XYZ Company" has "Employees", consisting of "jack", "bob", etc.

    The data for each node in a tree is likely to consist of more than what is displayed. Each node will have a set of properties that further describes it. For example, the typical user interface consists of the following:
data model
view adapters The data model represents how raw information is stored. Viewers are used to display information to a user. View adapters provide the means of taking raw data from a data model and displaying that information appropriately in a viewer. This provides model-view separation, such that the data model and the viewers are implemented independently of each other, while the view adapters provide the link between the two - view adapters implement APIs that viewers can call.

    For example, to display data from a data model in a tree viewer, a contents adapter might be required. Refer to a contents adapter as a view adapter that implements APIs for displaying the children of any given data unit in a tree viewer. Because each unit of data is likely to have properties that further describe it, a properties adapter might be required. Refer to a properties adapter as a view adapter that implements APIs for displaying the properties of any given data unit in a table viewer. The Eclipse IDE is an example of a UI that makes use of such concepts. In the "XYZ Company" example, to display the properties of a selected node, a table viewer might look like the following:

Properties of Jack --------------------------------------------------------


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Name: Jack Gender: Male Position: Manager Status: FT ---------------------------------------------------------

    The metaphors of tree viewers and table viewers are very intuitive and familiar to users. The concepts of contents and properties adapters are also widely used in UI programming. In concert, the contents and properties adapters can be exploited to provide additional rich UI features.

    In the present disclosure, the same adapters are exploited to provide an implicit mechanism for categorizing data in a tree. One key benefit of this is that it provides intuitive abstractions of data to users that might otherwise not exist in a data model. Another benefit is tha...