|Title of Invention||
APPARATUS FOR DISPLAYING INFORMATION
|Abstract||1. Apparatus for displaying information in the form of scrolling text in a taskbar on a display screen said information being collated from a plurality of sites in an electronic network, comprising a display screen connected to an information processing means and first controlling means to control the information processing means associated with the display screen, interface means to connect the information processing means to an electronic network having a plurality of sites providing information and data through a bank of database servers including at least one server and includes a second controlling means associated with the bank of database servers , the first controlling means adapted to form a display task bar on the display screen and to connect the information processing means with the bank of data base servers, the said second controlling means adapted to receive signals from the first controlling means to link the two controlling means and means to capture information desired by a user located at the display screen, navigate plurality of sites, linked to the electronic network fetch desired information from one or more sites transmit the information fetched from the sites and cache the information in the information processing means associated with the display screen, parse the information so fetched to convert it to desired data and in association with the first controlling means display the information so fetched, collated and parsed in a taskbar formed on the display screen in the form of scrolling text in a ticker taskbar, said apparatus further having the capability to perform identical actions simultaneously on a plurality of remotely located display screens independently and in a sessions independent manner.|
|Full Text|| FORM-2 THE PATENTS ACT, 1970
: APPARATUS FOR DISPLAYING INFORMATION
: NAIRNEEPA OF A 1/2, GROUND FLOOR, MIG COLONY, BANDRA (E), MUMBAI 400 051, MAHARASHTRA, INDIA.
OF F/9, CHAND SOCIETY, JUHU ROAD, JUHU,
MUMBAI 400 049, MAHARASHTRA, INDIA.
OF MADHUKUNJ, 4th FLOOR, NAVROJI CROSS LANE,
GHATKOPAR (W), MUMBAI 400 086.
ALL INDIAN MATIONALS.
The following Specification particularly describes the nature of this invention and the manner in which
it is to performed
This invention relates to a method of displaying information electronically on a display terminal and to apparatus for carrying out the method.
Particularly, this invention relates to a method and apparatus for providing information over a large network, and particularly for providing information over the Internet.
Providing information over the internet is well known. Along with other information, Internet information providers can provide advertisements to users in a number of forms, one of which is as a "banner" across an Internet page, often at the top of the page. A banner advertisement can have text and still or moving graphics, and typically serves as an HTML (Hyper Text Markup Language) link, such that the user is linked to another specified page if the user clicks on the banner. Some Internet sites are always associated with the same particular one or more banner advertisements; each time the site is accessed, the particular advertisement or advertisements are displayed along with the other information that is displayed (an access to a site or page is referred to as a "hit").
This invention provides method of displaying information electronically on a display terminal said information being displayed in a Taskbar for Navigation on the internet, Internet-based Notification, Display of Advertisements and Other Mechanisms of Branding, and Information from Web sites in a Ticker on a display terminal when used in conjunction with a computer or other display screen such as a computer monitor or any other suitable screen for displaying information.
This invention provides a novel apparatus for displaying information in the form of scrolling text in a taskbar on a display screen said information being collated from a plurality of sites in an electronic network the apparatus in accordance with this invention is a system comprises a display screen connected to an information processing means and first controlling means to control the information processing means associated with the display screen, interface means to connect the information processing means to an electronic network having a plurality of sites providing information and data through a bank of database servers including at least one server and includes a second controlling means associated with the bank of database servers , the first controlling means adapted to form a display task bar on the display screen and to connect the information processing means with the bank of data base servers, the said second controlling means adapted to receive signals from the first controlling means to link the two controlling means and means to capture information desired by a user located at the display screen, navigate plurality of sites linked to the electronic network fetch desired information from one or more sites transmit the information fetched from the sites and cache the information in the information processing means associated with the display screen, parse the information so fetched to convert it to desired data and in association with the first controlling means display the information so fetched, collated and parsed in a taskbar formed on the display screen in the form of scrolling text in a ticker taskbar, said apparatus further having the capability to perform identical actions simultaneously on a plurality of remotely located display screens independently and in a sessions independent manner.
The first controlling means includes selection means which permits the user to select desired information to be displayed to be fetched from the sites and further includes means to permit the user to change and alter the selections.
The apparatus includes a separator means cooperating with the second controlling means and the plurality of sites associated with links derived from the web site which permits the web site to individually brand information fetched from the site and displayed in the taskbar on the display screen of the user.
The apparatus further includes matching means associated with the second controlling and the first controlling means which matches information available on the plurality of sites and various advertisements aired in the network against the User's profile as provided by the user at the time of registration for the service using registration means and relays such advertisements at preset intervals and frequency in the taskbar on the display screen of the user.
The apparatus also mcludes logging means including a counter which permits the second controlling means to maintain a log of the information and advertisements displayed in the taskbar on the display screen including the number of times the information and advertisement is displayed and the duration for which the information and advertisement is resident in the taskbar on the display screen.
The first controlling means includes personalizing means, which permits the user to alter and vary the taskbar formed on the display screen and alter the look, and the feel of the information displayed.
The method and apparatus of this invention therefor performs several functions including providing a web-sener based application consisting of several script pages, and a database system that accomplishes the following functions:
1. Displays information from web sites in the form of scrolling text displayed in a Text Area. This is known as the Ticker.
2. Aggregates content across multiple user-selected web sites and displays it through the Ticker.
3. Allows a content provider associated with a web site in the network to brand his content using a separator means associated with links derived from his web site
4. Displays advertisements or other information to the user on the Taskbar at a fixed frequency. These advertisements are matched using matching means against the User's profile as provided by the user at the time of registration for the service using registration means.
5. Logs the number of impressions displayed to all users across each advertisement using logging means
6. Counts the time that the user spends online while still running the Taskbar using a counter
7. Allows the User to personalize the look and feel of the bar using personalizing means
8. Allows the User to select the types and sources of Content on the bar that are delivered through the Ticker using selection means
9. Allows the user to enter into contests through the bar.
10. Acts as an effective Internet Navigation Aid for the User by providing links from the server that are pre-arranged in categories
11. Displays a Notifications console for Notification of incoming messages (such as e-mail, e-fax, e-voicemail), alerts (from reminder services), alarms on present limits on time-series data (commodities/stock prices etc.)
12. Logs several user actions such as time spent on-line by the user, with the taskbar running, clicks made by the user with the mouse on several areas of the taskbar, etc.
13. Communicates information logged periodically to the server
The method of displaying information in a Taskbar in accordance with this invention is designed to provide
a. A highly targeted, accurately measurable, cost-effective marketing and
b. Customized information and services.
c. A simple easy to use interface for Navigation of the Internet space
d. A Navigation paradigm that is simple, yet extensible, feature-packed and
The method of displaying information in a Taskbar in accordance with this invention will be useful to
a. Marketers who want
1) a highly targeted, cost effective channel to reach their customers.
2) to effectively use the Internet's capabilities for e-marketing and e-commerce.
b. Users who want
1) greater value for their time spent online.
2) information relevant to their needs and desires.
The method of displaying information in a Taskbar in accordance with this invention addresses these needs by allowing marketers to deliver their messages to their target audiences through the Internet, irrespective of the sites that the user views. Marketers select their target audience through a choice of demographic information. Marketers gan select different target audiences for different simultaneous campaigns and pay only for desired action - zero wastage.
It is further envisaged in accordance with this invention that the invention allows a means to calculate the User's time spent online, with the taskbar running, which gets him/her value for the time spent online, in addition to relevant ads, information and services customized to their interests and desires.
The apparatus for the Taskbar in accordance with this invention includes a Relational database server, a web application server, and a taskbar creating means that runs on the user's computer. The taskbar creating means that runs on the user's computer performs the following functions
1. Displays information from web sites in the form of scrolling text displayed in a Text Area. This is known as the Ticker.
The ticker is created by parsing web-pages using the HTML Document Object Model (DOM) provided by a browser such as Internet Explorer Version 4.0 and above. The HTML document is downloaded into a private cache that is
part of a software specifically created in accordance with the teachings of this invention . This cache uses the browser's caching engine to determine whether to download pages from the server. After the HTML document is downloaded, all of the links in the document are extracted using an algorithm means provided in the means for creating the Taskbar on the display screen .
A document may contain links that are similar to headlines, links which are navigational in nature, links which are cross-references to other content in a page and the like . The parsing means uses several parameters or heuristics in order to extract relevant information that is headline-like in nature from the superset of all the links on the page. The simplest method or heuristic is to extract hyperlinks from a linear list of all the links on the page. The starting link and ending link for each page are parameterized from the server. More complicated heuristics include looking for links that are contained within named container elements like "table columns", table rows, divs, and layers, or a range of links that' are contained within any of the named elements listed above. Additional logic also includes checking for periods, paragraph beginnings etc.
In accordance with a preferred embodiment of this invention, besides this generic tickerization step interface described above, there can be more intelligence built into the parser means. For instance component the parser means can distinguish between different tags set in the information to be displayed . The site providing the content can include special tags in the text that will identify content that needs to be tickerized and displayed in the Ticker in the taskbar on the display screen in accordance with this invention. Among
the special tags is a
The mechanism by which pages are made available to be tickerized is controlled from the database on the web site. Each web site that needs to be tickerized is entered into the database, cross referenced by the URL which contains the content, and the name which needs to be displayed on the Ticker control Drop Down menu / Combo box. Additional parameters such as the parsing/extraction mechanism to use, as well as the parameters required by the appropriate parsing mechanism are also entered into the database. These parameters are entered after studying and classifying the content on the appropriate page. Each page is classified into an appropriate category of content (e.g. Sports, Entertainment, etc.), and a Source (, etc.) which describes the publisher.
2. Aggregates content across multiple user-selected web sites and displays it through the Ticker.
A classification mechanism is provided. The Classification mechanism by Source and Category as described above allows the Taskbar in accordance with this invention to extract and tickerize multiple web pages from a single Source site, or multriple Source sites under a single Category. The aggregated set of links from all of the pages grouped in the manner above can be
displayed in the Ticker, thus giving the user a richer content stream without the user having to make any effort at navigating to any of the sites. The user can choose to view the list of available streams either by category or by source, by using a page provided on the web site to select the content Categories and Sources he wishes to have displayed in the ticker.
3. Ticker Motion Control
Means are provided to adjust the motion of the ticker for several different needs.
For people that are in the habit of reading rapidly, the ticker can be made to scroll from right to left and "double-speed". For most people the Ticker scrolls at "Normal speed". Normal speed is selectable by the user in his personalization page. For people that use laptops with Passive display elements, the jerkiness of the ticker area does not call for easy reading. For such applications, the Ticker can also be configured to "Laptop" mode. In this mode, the ticker scrolls across one full Ticker Length at a time. After this interval, the ticker pauses for 5 seconds, allowing the user to read the entire length of the ticker. This parameter is also sent to the bar from the server, and can thus be added to the user personalization page if required. Additional controls for the ticker include a "Reverse" mode which allows the user to scroll the ticker backwards, in case he misses some important headlines which fleetingly catch his eye, and wishes to revisit it.
4. Allows the User to select the types and sources of Content on the bar that
are delivered through the Ticker
Selection means are provided to enable the user to select the type and sources of information that are provided on the bar through the Ticker. New sources as they are added to the bar continuously show up on the users ticker. The user has the option of removing these sources by going to the web site.
5. Allows a content provider to brand his content using a separator associated
with links derived from his web site
The method in accordance with this invention allows the Taskbar to be provided with separator means to provide branding of content that is scrolled through the ticker. The branding of content is inserted into the Ticker stream as part of the Tickerization process, by the Taskbar formation means. The information required for the branding of content is available to the program from a master Content cross-reference database on the web-server's database server. Each site page is also listed as being branded or not. In case, a site is branded, an appropriate image to be displayed is also stored with the URL of the site. All link elements extracted from such a branded site, will display the brand adjacent to the link.
6. Allows the branded separators in the Ticker to be used for various
purposed such as contests
Contests through the bar are brought to the user through the Ticker area as well. The ticker area contains separators between headlines/hyperlinks. These separators are dynamically inserted into the Ticker Stream while the Ticker is extracted from the web pages. Some of the separators could contain hidden prizes offered through either our web site or through the web sites of alliance partners. Clicking on the link could take people to specifically designed contests.
7. Allows a user to select several web sites of his choice and create a
personalized stream of content for delivery onto his desktop.
A user can configure his selections of web sites, over and above web-sites selected by the operators of the service to aggregate content from. This is accomplished by allowing the user to enter the source URL to extract the content from, and the parameters required for the extraction of the content, and storing it in the relational database Content aggregated from such web-sites is displayed on the ticker under a special custom category created by the user.
8. Allows the User to personalize the look and feel of the information
displayed in the taskbar in accordance with this invention - Skins
A skin provides a group of images and a layout for enhancing the appearance of the bar. Skins are various combinations of colors, texture, layouts, and image elements which together comprise a design for, the bar and its look and feel. . Skins are an expression of a User's personality through the bar. Users can select "skins" for the bar through the web site's personalization interface. Skins are designed by graphic designers and consists of named images for the various functions of the bar.
9. The method of this invention allows a supplier of information in a web site [the content provider ] to brand his content using a "Cursor" that changes appearance when the mouse is moved over branded content as it scrolls through the Ticker.
10. Allows demarcation of areas of the Display taskbar such as buttons or images on it as a means of branding
Using the skin providing means in addition to the "skins" forming means described above, certain areas of the Display taskbar can be demarcated to resemble icons or images that can be configured as part of the layout to be displayed to the user. This "real estate" on the bar is an invaluable branding proposition.
11. Displays ads to the user on the Taskbar at a fixed frequency. These ads are matched against the User's profile as provided by the user at the time of registration for the service
The user of the service registers with the Service through a web site. This web site captures information requested of and provided by the user in a relational database. The information provided by the user includes information like Primary electronic mail address, First and last names, age, income levels, occupation, interests, Internet Service Provider, mode of internet access, etc.
This User profile is matched against a profile selected by an advertiser to which a banner ad placed by the advertiser is displayed. The Web Application server called the Ad server does this matching.
The ad server accepts several optional named parameters in selecting ads to be served. This ad-serving engine consists of an Active Server Pages Script (or a server side Script coded in a similar Web Application server Scripting technology like Cold Fusion). This Script accepts one or more of the following named parameters: userid or keyword.
The frequency at which an ad is served to a user depends on a parameter set in the taskbar for the ad request frequency. The value for this parameter is sent to the task bar from the server when the User logs into the system. The Taskbar application running on the client computer polls the server at this interval, and requests it for ads.
At each polling interval, the Taskbar may also request the Ad Server for ads for more than one interval. In this case, the Ad Server sends a sequence of ads to the Taskbar.
12. Logs the number of impressions displayed to all users across each ad Logging means are provided so that the server into a database table logs each impression of an ad delivered by an Ad Server to the user, along with the time at which the ad was delivered. These impressions
13. Counts the time that the user spends online while still running the Taskbar. Each request made to the Ad Server also tells the Ad Server that the User is online and connected to the Internet. This allows the Ad Server to log the time that the User had spent online while running the Taskbar. This usage pattern along can be used to monitor user's Internet usage patterns, as well as provide the user with a "benefits" program of some kind based on usage of the Taskbar while connected to the Internet.
14. Acts as an effective Internet Navigation Aid for the User by providing links from the server that are pre-arranged in categories
Means are provided to arrange the Web sites in pre-arranged categories in the relational database system on the server. When a user logs in to the service
with the Taskbar of this invention, his Navigation interface gets created as a hierarchical menu, similar to the Windows Taskbar. This menu hierarchy will be arranged in several categories, and each category will have specific instance components of sites or have subcategories. Each node of the menu hierarchy also contains a 16*16 pixel icon representing the service. Default Folder and Site icons will be used for all sites. The icons associated with a particular site can also be used to enhance the branding of a particular site. The categories that appear on this menu, the specific sites that appear under these categories, the icons that need to be displayed for the categories as well as for the sites, as well as the web page that a leaf node of the Navigation interface needs to point the browser to are all stored in the database on the server. This hierarchy of links is sent to the User using a pre-agreed upon format, for example, comma separated values or using XML.
One section of the Navigation interface is reserved for the user's Local bookmarks. The local bookmarks are obtained through the Browser interface, and also displayed either linearly or as a hierarchy under a node called "My Bookmarks" in this Navigation hierarchy.
15. Displays a Notifications console for Notification of incoming messages (such as e-mail, e-fax, e-voicemail), alerts (from reminder services), alarms on present limits on time-series data (commodities/stock prices etc.) The Taskbar provides a framework to alert the user upon the occurrence of certain events selected by him. Typical examples of such events include incoming e-mails message at any of several addresses, as indicated to the system by the user. Other forms of alerts such as an alert on a news headline containing a keyword of interest to the user is also envisioned.
16. Logs several user initiated actions and periodically communicates them
to the server
The Taskbar logs the following items to a local file, and periodically
communicates them to the server
1. Logs the time that the user spends online while still
running the Taskbar
1. Logs clicks made by a user on a link within a Ticker
2. Logs clicks made by a user on a Button that is displayed
3. Logs clicks made by a User on a Ticker Separator element
4. Logs clicks made by a user on a Quick Service Item
The invention will now be described with reference to the accompanying drawings, In which
Figure 1 shows a general block diagram of various steps involved in the method of this invention.
Figure 2 represents the Network Architecture of Bar Servers
Figure 3 represents Login and Initialization Process
Figure 4 represents Web browser instance components in taskbar creating
Figure 5 represents Structure of the Bar at runtime
Figure 6 represents Ad Delivery and Caching Mechanism
Figure 7 represents Ticker Aggregation from Personalized Sources
Figure 8 represents Button and Skin Delivery Subsystem
Figure 9 represents Quick Services Subsystem
Figure 10 represents Notification Subsystem
Figure 11 represents User Information Logging Subsystem
The invention will now be described in detail with respect to the drawings.
The method of displaying information in the form of a scrolling text in a task
bar on a display screen is seen in Figure 1. The information do be displayed is
generally collated from a plurality of sites WS in an electronic network.
The method comprises the following steps of:
i. Connecting the display screen to an information processing means such
as a central processing unit;
ii. Linking the information process means via an interface to the
electronic network in which a plurality of sites are connected;
iii. Loading the information processing means associated with the display
screen with: (a)browsing means for displaying information in a Readable
format, such as the hyper text mark-up language format; and (b)parsing means
for reading and parsing information in the hyper text mark-up language
iv. providing a bank of data servers containing at least one data server at a
location remote from the display screen and capable of accessing a plurality of
information processing means associated with a plurality of remotely located
v. loading the bank of data servers with (c) bar creation means; (d)
information content transmission means (e) personalization of content means
for selecting and personalizing the content of the information to be displayed
on the display screen; (f) retrieval means responsive to commands from a user
of the display screen to selectively retrieve information from at least one of the
plurality of sites in the network linked to the bank of data servers;
vi. establishing a link between the information processing means via a network registration and authentication means;
vii. transmitting user selection preference information from the information processing means associated with the display means to the bank of data servers
viii. capturing and storing the user selection preference information and registration information transmitted from the information processing means associated display screen in the bank of data servers in an indexed session-independent manner;
ix. loading taskbar creation means [c] [taskbar creating means] in the central processing unit associated with the display screen, said taskbar creation means including an executable component [ec] and a dynamic loadable [dl] component;
x. using the executable component for logging the central processing unit with the bank of data servers and establishing the connection therewith; xi. using the dynamic loadable component to create a discreet window on the display screen for execution of the task bar said window not being coverable by any other window said dynamic loadable component including three-browser instance component means for synchronously executing all the activities to be performed within the taskbar (i) a first instance component means [FI] in which the user initiated actions are performed; (ii) the second and the third instance component means [SI and TI] which are hidden which perform automatic navigation and parsing of the information available on the plurality of sites WS in the network and prefetching the desired informing and caching it in the central processing unit downloading the selected content source information from the selected sites in the network and displaying the
selected information in scrolling mode in the window created in the display screen for the taskbar.
Figure 2 illustrates an exemplary system configuration of the representative embodiment of the present invention. The apparatus consists of an access device such as a user's desktop computer having a display screen for displaying information and a central processing unit for processing data received to be converted to useful information for display, and a configuration of servers that are permanently connected to a public network such as the internet, and scripts for performing various functions that execute on these servers.
The desktop computers may be used by several users at different times, but by only one user at any given time. The central processing means may connect to the public network using several means - through a local area network that is routed through the internet, through a dial-up network using a modem or similar device, or through any similar means of connecting to the said public network.
The central processing means requires a web-browser which is used for displaying information in HTML 4.0 format. The central processing means also requires interfaces for reading and parsing HTML content. This functionality can be provided by browser means such as Internet Explorer 4.0 and above from Microsoft Corporation.
A bank of database servers is provided in accordance with the method and apparatus of this invention which is capable of hooking up to a plurality of
display screens located at remote locations. The database servers are adapted to deliver the taskbar creating means to the information processing means associated with the display screen. Separate database servers may be provided to deliver advertisements and information content. A load balancing switch is preferably provided . Other than the load balancing switch, all of the above functions may be performed by the same or different servers. The number of different servers to be used and the distribution of the functionality between the various servers will depend on the number of users accessing the system at any point in time.
The bank of servers perform several different functions - Registration of the Users with the Service along with their Profiles, Selection and delivery of advertisements, Delivery of content The database server may be a single computer or multiple computers configured to achieve additional reliability using a clustered configuration. The database server runs a relational database management system such as MS-SQL Server from Microsoft Corporation or Oracle from Oracle Corporation. The database server stores all persistent information relevant to the apparatus.
The bar servers run several subsystems that are implemented as scripts that run in the context of a web-application server such as Internet Information Server with Active Server Pages from Microsoft, Cold Fusion from Allaire Corporation or any similar Web Application Server. The design of the scripts is such that they are session independent, i.e., subsequent calls to the same script does not require any state information from a previous call to be saved. This architecture increases the scalability of the apparatus, and allows for increasing the number of servers as required.
The bank of servers, along with a session independent architecture causes the bank of servers to appear as a single server to the taskbar creating means.
The bank of servers implements processes such as User Registration, Advertisement Delivery, Personalization of User Content and Content Sources, and Skins, Selection and Delivery of the Skin, etc. These functions all be implemented by the same server, but may easily be implemented on different servers by appropriate modifications to the central processing means and server scripts.
The Display taskbar also relies on servers that deliver creatives for the advertisements. These servers can be independent of the above bank of servers or may be the same.
In addition to the above servers, the Taskbar application also retrieves information as selected by the user by accessing third party web servers over the internet.
A salient point to note is that the taskbar communicates with all of the above servers over a public network using the HTTP 1.0 or higher protocol on port 80. This architecture ensures that in the context of a Local Area Network where the system administrator may exercise control to prevent access to several ports and protocols, the communication between the Taskbar and the server may not be affected. This is because port 80 is usually not blocked by system administrators.
Figure 3 describes the process by which a User of the system establishes a connection with the service. It is assumed that the user of the system has already obtained and installed the taskbar creating means required for the purpose of using the service.
In order to use the service, a user registers with the service with a login id and a password. The Login Id should be a valid e-mail address. Accepting an e-mail address ensures that the user can be reached via e-mail communication, and that the user can be uniquely identified.
Along with a User-id, and a password, the user also provides several items relevant to his demographic and psychographic profile. The include, gender, occupation, age, marital status, income range, address, phone number, information about the user's internet service provider, the type of house the user lives in, etc. The browser used by the user while registering is also captured. This user profile information is stored in the relational database system in one or more tables.
The information captured above is used with a view to establishing a method by which advertising banners can be targeted to the users profile, as is desired by advertisers. The information can also be used in order to target appropriate categories of content from the internet to the user.
The first time that the user desires to connect to the service and use the central processing means, he enters the Login Id and password, with which he registered with the service. This information is sent by the client to the server
using the HTTP protocol. The server compares this information with the users registered information, and if the Login Id and the Password match, the user is authenticated. If not, an appropriate error message is displayed to the user, and the user is given an opportunity to enter the correct information and try connecting to the service again.
If the User is successful in logging into the server, the taskbar creating means checks to see if there is an upgradeable component of the application available on the server. If yes, then this component is downloaded and installed on the display screen on which the information is required to be displayed. If not, the execution of the program proceeds.
It is important at this point to understand the architecture of the taskbar creating means and its internal structures at a high level. The taskbar creating means is split into an executable file, and a dynamically loadable component. The executable file is only responsible for logging the user into the service and establishing the connection. Beyond this, all of the functionality of the application is implemented in the dynamically loadable module. In the Microsoft Windows environment, the dynamically loaded module is encapsulated in a Cabinet file. In a different environment, like Unix, this functionality could be implemented in a JAR file or similar packaging mechanism using class packages.
The advantage provided by such an architecture is that the core functionality can continuously be improved and upgraded without having to force the user to take any voluntary action to receive the latest functionality.
Once the above processes are completed, the taskbar creating means creates a window on the User's desktop that re-sizes and occupies the lower section of the desktop. This window is the space reserved on the screen for the execution of the taskbar. It cannot be covered by other windows.
A detailed description of the key components that make up the taskbar is available in Figures 3 and 4.
Figure 4 shows the high level structure of the taskbar and its important constituent components. The taskbar consists of a Window that occupies the lower section of the desktop. However, this position is not relevant and is designed to be unobtrusive during normal operation of the computer. It could equally be positioned at the top of the screen, and the user has the option to do so. The user also has the option to hide the taskbar creating means, and have it available in memory.
The main Window of the taskbar creating means contains three web-browser instance components. The first instance component, labeled WbAds(O) is visible, and where all of the user initiated actions are performed. The other two instance components are hidden and are used behind the scenes to perform several functions requested by the user, that involve navigation to and parsing of HTML. Microsoft Internet Explorer 4.0 or above is required to be installed on a user's desktop computer for the Display taskbar to function correctly.
The alternative to having Internet Explorer 4.0 installed is to implement or use third party HTML parsers and implement or use third party HTTP protocol stacks. However, with the current popularity and wide availability of both the
Windows desktop environment and the bundling of Internet Explorer browser with the Windows operating system, the current implementation does not use such alternate implementations. This also reduces the size of the area in the information processing means in which taskbar formation means is installed.
The second browser instance component which is labeled WbAds(l) is used by the ad delivery subsystem for pre-fetching and caching. This browser is not visible to the user, and may be replaced by an HTTP protocol stack and a HTML parser as described above.
WbAds(l) is also used for implementing a process that periodically logs data regarding the users actions to the server.
The third browser instance component which is labeled TickerContainer is used by the Ticker Loading subsystem for downloading content source pages. This browser is not visible to the user, and may be replaced by an HTTP protocol stack and a HTML parser as described above. If such an implementation is used, the functionality implemented by the Ticker Subsystem may also be performed on a server, cached or persistently stored there, and made available with appropriate conversions to several alternate access mechanisms such as WAP for Cellular Phone based Access, using an intermediate WAP gateway.
The reason for using three web-browser instance components is to be able to asynchronously execute all of the activities required to be performed by the Taskbar. Another level of concurrency is also achieved by the user of HTML framesets and frames within the documents that are loaded and/or displayed into these web-browsers. However, the control obtainable using frames is not
sufficient, and hence some of the activities necessitate the use of separate web-browser instance components.
Figure 5 shows the structure of the web-browser instance component labeled WbAds(O) while the program is executing.
This web-browser instance component and the HTML documents it loads and displays form the core of the structure and operations of the taskbar.
The main document loaded by the Taskbar contains 3 frames contained within a frame set. The first frame - Frame 0 is visible, while the other two - Frame 1 and Frame 2, are invisible.
Frame 0, in turn loads a document that contains the visible portion and the layout if the Taskbar. This document sets-up various floating rectangular areas or frames known as Iframes in HTML 4.0 syntax. These Iframes are labeled IframeO, Iframel and Iframe2 in the Figure 5. The Iframes - IframeO and Iframel, are areas that are demarcated for the display of advertising banners. They have been designed to be 200 pixels wide by 40 pixels tall. However, the size of the banners is not material to the architecture as it has been empirically selected as a size which is closest to the nearest standard size of banner (200x60) as specified by the International Advertising Bureau. This allows the advertising subsystem to also display banners with standard sizes with minimum amount of distortion arising out of resizing of the images.
The Third Iframe - Iframe2 loads a page that configures a user's ticker and a drop down list - See Figure 7 - that list the categories of content selected by the user.
Using Iframes allows the Taskbar to independently address documents and functionality within the web-browser for performing each of the aforementioned functions. It also provides a certain degree of asynchronous processing , allowing for the Taskbar to load advertisements, while simultaneously loading files and extracting links in the Ticker.
The two hidden frames Frame1 and Frame2 indicated in the figure load the pages TickerLoader.asp and getconfigdatats.asp. The TickerLoader.asp page contains information regarding the ticker that needs to be loaded when the bar initializes. Further details regarding the Ticker loading are explained in Figure
Frame 2 performs two important functions during the intialisation of the taskbar. First it requests the server time, and computes the difference between the time on the server and the time on the local machine. This difference is stored in memory and used to translate all of the Logging events to a uniform server based time. This is an essential step that ensures that the information logged on the server is not dependent on disparate timeframes dependent on the client machine.
The next function performed is the downloading of several pieces of information required for performing Bar related functions such as Notifications and Quick Services. These pieces of information are retrieved from the server the first time, and stored in a local store such as the system registry, along with the timestamp of retrieval. At each initialization of the Taskbar, the local retrieval timestamp for this information is checked with the
timestamp of the remote modification, and if required the local information is re-requested and refreshed.
Figure 6 describes the Advertisement delivery and caching process.
The Figure shows the Taskbar that contains two HTML Iframes - AdFramel
and AdFrame2 as indicated in the Figure. These Iframes represent the visible
area allocated for the display of banner advertisements on the taskbar.
AdFramel and AdFrame2 display banner advertisements that change
Figure 6 also shows a hidden web browser - WbAdsl that is contained within the Taskbar while it is executing. This browser is used for providing a look-ahead request mechanism as described below.
The Taskbar executes in the context of a desktop computer that contains amongst other things a hard-disk that contains a Local Cache. In the current implementation, the Local Cache is implemented as the cache provided by Internet Explorer 4.0 or above from Microsoft Corporation. Alternate mechanisms for caching can be developed as well. The Local Cache performs the function of storing content retrieved from the server, and delivering it to an object that requests the content, provided that the content available on the web¬server is not published later than the time at which the information was downloaded into the Local Cache.
The Figure also shows the Ad Delivery subsystem. The Ad Delivery Subsystem is a subsystem contained within the bank of servers described in Figure 2. This subsystem is responsible for delivering targeted banner advertisements to the requesting central processing means.
A hidden timer within the Taskbar makes periodic requests for advertisements to the server. These requests are in the form of HTML GET operations made using the Hidden browser WbAdsl. The periodicity with which the Timer requests the advertisement is set during the initialization process at the time that the User Logs in and connects to the service. This interval is configurable by changing a parameter stored in the database server that is part of the hosted service.
The requests to the Advertising subsystem include the identity of the user to whom the advertising needs to be delivered, and a sequence number in a series of advertisements that need to be displayed. Upon receipt of the request the Advertising subsystem takes the identity of the user and creates a linear list of all the advertisements that are applicable to the user. Advertisements can be caused to be targeted by selecting values for several criteria such as age, gender, marital status, etc. These values are matched against those provided by Users at the time of Registration with the Service by the Ad Delivery Subsystem, and a linear hst of advertisements applicable to a user is created.
The sequence number received as part of the request determines the next banner to be displayed. The Ad Delivery subsystem composes a response that contains the sequence numbers of the advertisement banners, and their URLs. This response is sent back to the hidden WbAdsl web-browser in an HTML
document. The reason for using a hidden browser to make requests to the advertising subsystem by "looking-ahead".
Each such request made and corresponding advertisement banner response sent is logged in the database and the number of impressions delivered for each banner creative are counted. This information is used to manage campaigns limited to a certain number of impressions for each creative. These limits are selected by advertisers at the time of signing-up for a campaign.
When the period for displaying a banner advertisement has elapsed the advertisement URLs that have been retrieved and stored in the document contained in WbAdsl as described above are extracted by the Taskbar program, and the Iframes - AdFramel and AdFrame2 are caused to display the banner creatives that are located at the above URLs.
The first time that such a request is made by the taskbar creating means on behalf of a particular user, on a particular computer, the Banner Creative files are downloaded from the Creative Server by Internet Explorer and stored in the local cache. Subsequently, requests for the same banner creative are satisfied by displaying the file from the Local Cache. Such an approach allows for rapid transitions between advertisement banners with a minimal amount of information being downloaded from the Creative Server. This allows for significant scalability of the system with minimal load resulting on the Creative Server.
The Look-ahead mechanism and the Local caching mechanisms can be implemented without the user of Internet Explorer by substituting an HTTP
stack and developing appropriate methods for performing all of the steps described above.
Figure 7 describes the process by which a User requests to see information in the Ticker area in his Taskbar. The figure shows the Ticker Subsystem of the bar servers, which consists of script pages and persistent data in the database.
The visible portion of the Taskbar is indicated with a bold line. This section contains an HTML Iframe that contains the TickerDiv and the TickerCombo. The Taskbar also contains an invisible web-browser (TickerContainer) that is used to navigate to a script page on the servers. The taskbar passes the identity of the user and the identity of category of content stream selected by the User using the TickerCombo to this script page on the server.
The server dynamically creates a page that contains information about the sources selected by the said user for the said category, and parameters for the content extraction engine that describe to it, how to extract relevant content from the said sources. These sources are stored in the form of URLs in the database system. The server also logs the event of the user having selected a particular category into the relational database.
Upon the completion of the loading of the said dynamically created page, the central processing means extracts the said parameters and the said URL by accessing the contents of the document using the DHTML DOM
The TickerContainer web-browser control is caused by the client-program to load the pages referred to by the said URLs sequentially. Upon completion of
the loading of the first such URL, the central processing means extracts the links contains in the page using the DHTML DOM as well as the parameters supplied by the server, and displays them in the form of a scrolling linear list. Appropriate timeouts are built-into the set of parameters such that the next URL in the sequence commences to be loaded, in case a specific URL takes longer than the interval specified by the timeout.
There are two mechanisms available for selecting personalized content sources into the Ticker area.
In the first mechanism an individual who is typically the administrator or editor of the service selects sites and pages within sites and classifies them into suitable categories. These categories for classification may be pre-determined or created as needed. These categories are stored within the database system on the server.
A source of content may belong to one or more categories. Since the Combo Box that comprises the client interface to the process of selecting categories is populated dynamically, the number of categories that a user sees is not limited. Also, as new categories of content streams are added to the database, they will automatically show up in the users selection list. The user has the option of removing the categories and removing sources from a category by using pages on the web site provided for the purpose.
Prior to using a content stream as a valid source of content, it is added as a source to the database, in one or more categories. The information regarding
the URL for the source as well as the category that it is classified into is maintained on the server in the relational database.
Prior to addition of the information as a valid source to this database, several manual processing steps are performed in order to delineate the sections of the page that contain content that is fairly dynamic in nature, and hence would be of frequent interest to the user. This process is currently performed by visual inspection of the page referred to by the source URL. The process involves inspection of a page as a linear array of links. The editor selects the start and the end link that demarcate the section that contains relevant content.
If a web-page is viewed as a linear array of links, this process may be extended to define ranges of links associated with each page, and these ranges would form the parameters required to extract relevant content from the database.
Further an algorithm could be devised in order to automatically extract these ranges of links within some acceptable degree of relevance. This algorithm would monitor a page at a periodic interval, such as daily, and compute the checksum of each element of the array of links. After each period, the checksum of the links could be compared to the checksum of the links at the same position on the previous day. With this process being repeated daily, the process could deduce link ranges that change periodically (where there are significant differences in the periodic checksums), and include these as relevant links for display to the user.
Whether performed manually or using a programmed algorithm, the goal of this process is to extract sections of web-pages that contain relevant
information, and leave out the navigational and advertising related information from web-pages.
In the second case, the User selects one or more sources of content and uses a configuration interface that assists him in selecting the content from the said source or sources. The source of content in the current implementation should be a page that is created in HTML, and hosted on a web-site on the internet. The content selection interface allows the user to enter a start link and end link, i.e., the range of links on the web page, that are extracted and displayed on the ticker.
As the algorithm to extract information from a web-page becomes more automated and sophisticated, an appropriate interface will also be required.
The method of extraction of information from web-pages, although currently being performed on a user's desktop computer, can equally be performed on a server. In such a configuration, the extraction of the links can be stored in a database system or similar persistence mechanism on the server, and categorized. Such categories and links can then be displayed on alternate display mechanisms such as cellular phones or set top boxes as well.
The Ticker Extraction process also inserts into the Ticker Stream an HTML anchor element that is associated with the source of the content. This association is stored in the relational database system. Such an anchor element may perform one of many functions. One possibility is to display an image that is associated with the brand of the content provider. Another possibility to link some of the anchor elements with prizes that can be claimed by clicking
on the anchor elements. Another possibility is to link all of the anchor elements with a Contest that is specifically designed such that a click on an anchor element takes the user to a web-page provided by an advertiser. Several additional applications for this banner separator can be envisaged.
Figure 8 describes other methods of Branding on the Taskbar available to
There are two types of branding available besides the Advertisements and the
Separators on the Ticker.
The first is the background image of the Taskbar known as the Skin. A skin provides a group of images and a layout for enhancing the appearance of the bar. Skins are various combinations of colors, texture, layouts, and image elements which together comprise a design for the bar and its look and feel. Skins are an expression of a User's personality through the bar. Users can select "skins" for the bar through the web site's personalization interface. Skins are designed by graphic designers and consists of named images for the various functions of the bar.
By default, the bar delivery system defines a skin for each user, in case the user has not selected a skin of his choice. During the bar Initialization process, the scripts on the server in conjunction with information regarding the skin to be displayed to the user can be deliver a skin that is targeted to his or her profile by advertisers. This information is stored along with the user's personalization information and information targeting skins at users in the relational database system.
The second method of branding available is through the use of buttons as indicated. These buttons are images that associated with URLs. Clicking on the button causes the user's web-browser to navigate to the associated URL. The number of buttons that are available on the Taskbar is limited by the amount of space that can be allocated for the same.
The images that need to be displayed at each of the positions is stored in the relational database system and dynamically delivered to the user. This buttons function as Quick Access points for web sites that are interested in being in the user's field of vision for a prolonged period of time.
Each of the 6 button positions indicated can hold a different image and i different link over time, with this configuration being done through the database.
Some of these buttons can also be associated with distinct functionality implemented within the taskbar creating means itself. This functionality is implemented in the Dynamically Loaded Library that is downloaded as ar upgrade at the time of Intialisation. The buttons that implement specific functionality are tagged with identifiers in the database. Clicks on buttons witfc specially designated identifiers is recognized by the Taskbar program anc appropriate windows and other mechanisms are displayed to initiate the functionality associated with the button.
Since the functionality is linked only to the identifier given to the button, the display of certain buttons can be limited for a period of time, and possibly tc certain pre-defined set of users that satisfy a particular profile. Only such users
would be able to initiate the functionality, at such time, and not others, to whom the buttons would not be displayed.
In manner similar to the Personalization of Ticker Content, certain button sections could be reserved to allow the user to select the buttons of his choice. This configuration information could be stored along with other user personalization information, in the relational database.
The Buttons and Skins framework provide for a persistent mechanisms of branding on the bar, that last through the entire session without being replaced during a session. This is a powerful medium available to advertisers.
Figure 9 describes the framework for Categorized services that allows for Quick Entry of inputs required by several popular web-based services.
These services are manually researched and selected, categorized and stored in directory. This directory of services and their classification information is resident in the relational database system.
The Taskbar displays a hierarchical menu-based interface as indicated in the figure. The first level contains categories such as Autos or Travel, the next and subsequent levels could contain further categorization or menu items which invoke the interfaces for accepting inputs for the services (labeled as "Service 1", "Service 2", etc. in Figure 9). Clicking on these menu items directly brings up HTML forms (such as "Form for Collecting Input via Service 1) that are created and stored within the Quick Services subsystem on the WebServers. These HTML forms allow the user to directly enter the inputs required to
Query the Service, for example, the City to Travel from and To and the Date of Travel, etc.
The forms containing the inputs are manually extracted from the web-sites providing these services and stored along with any associated validations. In the current implementation, only services from Alliance Partner sites are extracted manually, with the consent of the Alliance Partner.
The Form Extraction process could be automated in such a way that the required interface and the code required for the validation could be automatically extracted from the relevant HTML, and stored in an XML format in the relational database system on the server. This would permit the User to select services that are useful to him from partner web-sites and provide an interface to those services directly on his Taskbar, by extracting the required input forms for accepting the inputs required by these services.
The inputs accepted from the User is directly sent via an HTTP post operation to the Alliance Partner web-site, where a script or associated program processes them, and returns an HTML page containing the required result.
The information sent from the server to the Taskbar is in the form of XML Schema an excerpt of which is listed below:
This XML output is used to construct the Hierarchical menu interface for accessing the Quick Services. The advantage of using XML is that it can be easily re-formatted in order to fit other menu systems such as WAP based-phones.
Figure 10 outlines the Notifications Subsystem of the Taskbar.
The Notifications Subsystem of the Taskbar handles notifications from a variety of types of information sources such as new e-mails received on Multiple accounts, information available on web-pages that might of interest to the user, etc.
The objects and algorithms that comprises the notification subsystem executes on the client computer. The System uses a timer for polling these information sources periodically, and checking for the appropriate events occurring. For each type of Notification desired there is an appropriate adapter that accepts parameters required to generate the notification. These parameters are stored in the relational database system on the servers.
When the adapter is requested to check for the occurrence of an expected event, it uses the method that is specific to the source and or protocol, and parameters that give it information on how to locate the source and recognize the event and creates a notification event.
The notification event is passed on to a Notification Manager for display. Information relevant to the display mechanism are encapsulated in the event,
and the Notification Manager extracts this information and displays the appropriate messages to the user.
As an example, the e-mail notifications adapter uses the POP3 protocol to check for new e-mails.
It accepts parameters from the server in the form of e-mail accounts, passwords, the server names, the POP3 port, the timeout period, and the last time a server was checked.
This information is stored in the relational database and is associated with each user of the system.
The XML string that is used for the configuration is illustrated below.
This configuration information is stored in a local persistent store such as the system registry along with a timestamp of modification. It is re-requested from the server only in case the local information is either unavailable or out of date.
The POP3 adapter periodically checks all of the accounts configured by a user. Each time an account is checked the times at which it was checked is noted. Using methods provided by the POP3 protocol, headers for any e-mails received since the last checked time are retrieved and displayed to the user as an alert.
Using this generic alerting framework, several other types of alerts can be generated that depend on polling a source periodically for new information available that matches a set of relevant criteria.
Figure 11 describes the mechanisms used to log various automatic and user-initiated actions on the Taskbar.
The information logged is stored in a temporary local storage, such as a file on the hard-disk, and is periodically sent to the Logging Subsystem on the Servers. This information is sent using the POST method of the HTTP protocol.
Upon successful posting of the logged information the taskbar creating means deletes the logged information from the local file. This mechanism ensures that there is minimum continuous use of bandwidth required for posting information, as it avoids the overheads required to establish an HTTP connection.
An extract of the log file is indicated below:
"Tclk,email@example.com,http://news.sawaal.com/21 -Jul-2000/taemational/27.htm,07/21/2000 11:59:39;" "Cclk,firstname.lastname@example.org,07/21/2000 11:59:39;"
The above excerpt indicates a single entry of clicking on a link that is part of the ticker by the user with the e-mail address sumantag(o),cheecoo.com. This link points to the URL http://news.sawaal.eom/21-Jul-2000/International/27.htm. The user clicked on this ticker item at the date and time logged, i.e., 07/21/2000 11:59:39.
Similarly, the other items being logged at as follows, with each log entry containing the identity of the user performing the action and the time at which the action was performed:
xii. Clicks to separators between items on the ticker along with their target
xiii. Clicks to Buttons delivered on the Taskbar as described in the Buttons
xiv. Clicks to links on the Ticker
xv. Passage of time with the taskbar still running and connected to the
This information is stored in the log file using a simplistic encryption means.
In addition to the logging mechanism that uses the Log file, two other logging mechanisms described earlier are also employed as part of the Ticker Subsystem and the Ad Delivery Subsystem.
In the Ad Delivery subsystem, these include logging of advertisement impressions delivery, with the time and the user to whom they were delivered. Also, clicks to advertising banners are also logged with the time and user identification.
In the Ticker Subsystem, the changes to the Ticker Combo, i.e, selection of a content category by the user, are logged in the server at the time when the change is requested from the server, and sources for the said source are sent back by the server.
The reason for excluding the above two items from the Log file are because they involve communication with the bar servers in order to complete their function. However, some of these functions could be equally implemented using the Log file and the Logging Subsystem.
As will be readily appreciated, numerous variations and combinations of the features set forth above can be utilized without departing from the present invention as set forth in the above description of the invention . Such variations are not regarded as a departure from the spirit and scope of the invention, and all such modifications are intended to be included within the scope of the above description. Various modifications and improvements can be envisaged without departing from the nature and the cope of the invention described hereinabove.
1. Apparatus for displaying information in the form of scrolling text in a taskbar on a display screen said information being collated from a plurality of sites in an electronic network, comprising a display screen connected to an information processing means and first controlling means to control the information processing means associated with the display screen, interface means to connect the information processing means to an electronic network having a plurality of sites providing information and data through a bank of database servers including at least one server and includes a second controlling means associated with the bank of database servers , the first controlling means adapted to form a display task bar on the display screen and to connect the information processing means with the bank of data base servers, the said second controlling means adapted to receive signals from the first controlling means to link the two controlling means and means to capture information desired by a user located at the display screen, navigate plurality of sites, linked to the electronic network fetch desired information from one or more sites transmit the information fetched from the sites and cache the information in the information processing means associated with the display screen, parse the information so fetched to convert it to desired data and in association with the first controlling means display the information so fetched, collated and parsed in a taskbar formed on the display screen in the form of scrolling text in a ticker taskbar, said apparatus further having the capability to perform identical actions simultaneously on a plurality of remotely located display screens independently and in a sessions independent manner.
2. Apparatus for displaying information in the form of scrolling text in a taskbar on a display screen as claimed in claim 1, in which the first controlling means includes selection means which permits the user to select desired information to be displayed to be fetched from the sites.
3. Apparatus for displaying information in the form of scrolling text in a taskbar on a display screen as claimed in claim 2, in which the apparatus further includes means to permit the user to change and alter the selections.
4. Apparatus for displaying information in the form of scrolling text in a taskbar on a display screen as claimed in any one of the preceding claims in which, a separator means is provided cooperating with the second controlling means and the plurality of sites associated with links derived from the web site which permits the web site to individually brand information fetched from the site and displayed in the taskbar on the display screen of the user.
5. Apparatus for displaying information in the form of scrolling text in a taskbar on a display screen as claimed in any one of the preceding claims which, includes matching means associated with the second controlling and the first controlling means which matches information available on the plurality of sites and various 6) advertisements aired in the network against the User's profile as provided by the user at the time of registration for the service using registration means and relays such advertisements at preset intervals and frequency in the taskbar on the display screen of the user.
6. Apparatus for displaying information in the form of scrolling text in a taskbar on a display screen as claimed in any one of the preceding claims
which, includes logging means including a counter which permits the second controlling means to maintain a log of the information and advertisements displayed in the taskbar on the display screen including the number of times the information and advertisement is displayed and the duration for which the information and advertisement is resident in the taskbar on the display screen.
7. Apparatus for displaying information in the form of scrolling text in a taskbar on a display screen as claimed in any one of the preceding claims in which, the first controlling means includes personalizing means which permits the user to alter and vary the taskbar formed on the display screen and alter the look and the feel of the information displayed.
8. Apparatus for displaying information in the form of scrolling text in a taskbar on a display screen as claimed in any one of the preceding claims which, includes a load balancing switch associated with the bank of database servers which allow for distribution of a plurality of user across the bank.
9. Apparatus for displaying information in the form of scrolling text in a taskbar on a display screen as claimed in any one of the preceding claims in which, the taskbar creating means comprises a an executable file component, and a dynamically loadable component the executable file component being provided for logging the user into the bank of data base servers and establishing the connection and the dynamically loadable component being involved with creating a discreet window on the display screen for execution of the task bar said window not being coverable by any other window said dynamic loadable component including three-browser instance component
means for synchronously executing all the activities to be performed by the taskbar (i) a first instance component means in which the user initiated actions are performed; (ii) the second and the third instance component means which are hidden which perform navigation and parsing of the information available on the plurality of sites in the network and prefetching the desired informing and caching it in the central processing unit downloading the selected content source information from the selected sites in the network and displaying the selected information in scrolling mode in the window created in the display screen for the taskbar.
10. An apparatus for displaying information in the form of a scrolling text in a task bar on a display screen, said information being collated from a plurality of sites in an electronic network, as described herein with reference to the accompanying drawings.
Dated this 12th day of April 2001
Of R. K. Dewan & Co.,
Applicants' Patent Attorney
|Indian Patent Application Number||363/MUM/2000|
|PG Journal Number||23/2007|
|Date of Filing||18-Apr-2000|
|Name of Patentee||NAIR NEEPA|
|Applicant Address||A1/2, GROUND FLOOR, MIG COLONY, BANDRA (E), MUMBAI.|
|PCT International Classification Number||G 06 F 03/14|
|PCT International Application Number||N/A|
|PCT International Filing date|