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Utility computing enablement by tracking user activity via a user interface Disclosure Number: IPCOM000126144D
Original Publication Date: 2005-Jul-04
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2005-Jul-04
Document File: 2 page(s) / 44K

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Applications that use a windowing interface have their interactions with this interface logged. This log of user application activity is parsed to generate records which are in turn used to generate a bill to be paid by the user. Billing can occur without the need to modify the application program and without a need to understand how the application actually works. Different bills can be generated by parsing the same logfile in different ways allowing utility providers to change their billing models as required.

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Utility computing enablement by tracking user activity via a user interface

A method is disclosed which allows applications using a window-based user interface to be monitored, and consequently for their use of the application to be billed in a utility computing fashion.

    Users interact with many modern applications through some form of windowing interface. The application makes calls to the windowing interface to display windows, buttons, menus, selectors etc. Each of these window events within the windowing interface are 'descended' from the so-called 'root window' which is the main interface between the user and the operating system.

    A software module is interfaced to the windowing system that allows the activities of the user (button presses, mouse clicks, menu selections etc.) to be captured and stored in a log. This log provides a record of a user's activities on a system (which applications / application functions he or she used, and - if the log is timestamped - for how long).

    The log is parsed, either in real-time, or at a later date. The parsing activity interprets the activities in the logfile, allowing the parser to generate a 'billing record' for the user's actions. These billing records can be combined into a 'utility bill' which can then be sent to the user to be reconciled either in terms of real money or some other accounting metric. Reconcilliation can occur using any acceptable mechanism (monthly / weekly bill, pre-paid account etc).

    The solution which implements this method is a metering system external to the application(s). This realises three immediate advantages.

    Firstly, there is no need to modify the application to 'enable' it for a utility computing environment. Secondly, the same external metering system can be used to meter multiple applications (provided there is the ability to parse the logfile to provide the necessary interpretation of the metered data). This reduces the workload on the application writer and hence allows more ISVs to adopt utility models for their software more rapidly than by using other means. Thirdly, a third party application that is not owned or controlled by the utility provider can be metered (and hence billed) as easily as an application that the utility provider does own.

The invention consists of a:

A software module that interacts with a windowing graphical user interface which intercepts and records all windowing activities (button presses, menu selections, window opens, closes etc.) to a log device.

A log device which reliably stores a record of the user's windowing activity.

A rule-based log parsing module which interprets the user's actions and produces a 'bill' which directly reflects the user's actions / use of the application software within the windowing environment.

A 'learning' module which allows the user to identify the activities that they wish to be billed for as they run the application. This module creates the rules used by the log parsing m...