Title of Invention

"COMMUNICATIONS SYSTEM PROVIDING EXTENSIBLE PROTOCOL TRANSLATION AND CONFIGURATION FEATURES AND RELATED METHODS"

Abstract A communications system may include data storage devices and mobile wireless communications devices for accessing the data storage device, each using one or more different operating protocols. The system may further include a protocol interface device, which may include a protocol engine module for communicating with the data storage devices using respective operating protocols, and a front-end proxy module coupled to the protocol engine module. The front-end proxy module may include a respective proxy module for communicating with the mobile wireless communications devices using each different operating protocol, and at least one common core service module coupled to the proxy modules. The protocol interface device may also include a configuration file module coupled the front-end proxy module for storing a plurality of different sets of configuration files relating to different allocations of resources of the at least one common core service module. Ref. to fig. 1
Full Text Field of the Invention
[0001] The present invention relates to the field of communications systems, and,, more particularly, to communications systems using multiple operating protocols for data access operations and related methods.
Background of the Invention [0002] Software clients operating on or in conjunction with a computer system are often used tc access data stored at a server with which the computer system can establish communications, such as through a local area network (LAN). In many instances, the- data on the server is accessible only through a particular protocol, which in turn tends to limi a user to a particular client. Similarly, = particular type of client is typically configurable -co cperate with only certain types of servers or protocols. In an e-mail sysrera, for example, in which users have associated .. mailboxes on a mail server, a particular protocol end often a particular messaging client is required for e-
mail access. There is no single standard method for accessing e-mail stored on a server. Instead, there are several incompatible protocols defined by various vendors arid standards bodies. [0003] Each category of client accessing an application may have different capabilities and needs. For example, a POP client accessing a mail service may require a list of unique identifiers (UIDs) from the server, whereas a WAP client may require not only the UIDs, but also a subject. A desktop browser client may require not only UID and subject, but also information regarding message origination, date, importance, etc. When developing a service that can handle all of these needs, it would- a more efficient use of bandwidth and processing power, both on the server and on a target data system such as a mail store, if only the necessary attributes were requested and returned whenever possible.
[0004] Another problem is that each of these clients may require slightly different behavior in response to a request. For example, a POP client might request that a message on the server be deleted, however, instead of removing it at the time of the request, the service has to wait until the POP client issues the QUIT command. For a WAP client, on the other hand, the message should be deleted immediately in response to a delete request.
i
[0005] A further problem that frequently occurs when building an application has'to do with memory consumption and application performance. Tc improve performance, it often makes sense to cache results from a data store to more quickly respond to a follow-on request from the client. If data is stored in memory, the application can quickly use up all available
memory. Even caching the data on disk can lead to disk space problems.
[0006] It is also possible to access multiple data sources tha~ have different capabilities or support different mechanisms for querying information. In this case, code can quickly become convoluted when attempting to manage multiple and different req-jest types.
[0007] Various prior art approaches have been developed for providing communications between systems and devices using different operating protocols. Cr.e. such approach is set forth in U.S. Patent No. 6, 615,212 to Dutta-et al., in which a transcoding prosy server receives a request for content from a client machine. The- transcoding proxy server retrieves the consent from an originating server. The retrieved content is provided in a first format type. In response to a determination that an increase in efficiency would be obtained by allowing the client, to process the content in the first format type prior to transcoding the content into a second format type, the transcoding proxy server sends the content to the client in the first format type.
[0008] Furthermore, in response to a determination that the client does not have content processing . software for processing the content in the first format, the transcoding proxy server sends content processing software for the first format type alone with the content in the first format type to the client. The transcoding proxy server then transcodes the content from the first format type into the second format type and sends the content in the second fornat to the
[0009] Despite such prior art approaches, further
protocol translation and/or conversion functionality
may be desirable in certain applications.
Summary of the Invention
[0010] In viev of the foregoing background, it is
therefore an object of the present invention to provide
a communications system providing enhanced operating
protocol conversion features -and related methods.
[0011] This and other objects, features, and
advantages in accordance with the present invention are provided by a coimunications, system which may include a plurality of data storage devices each using at leasr one of a" plurality of different operating protocols, and a plurality of, mobile wireless communications devices for accessing the plurality of data storage devices. Each mobile wireless communications device may also use at least one of the plurality of different operating protocols. The system may further include a protocol interface device. In particular, the protocci interface device :r.ay include a protocol engine module for communicating with the plurality of data storage devices using respective operating protocols, and a front-end proxy module coupled to the protocol engine. The protocol interface device may further include a respective proxy nodule for communicating with the plurality of mobile wireless communications devices using each different operating protocol, and at least one common core service module coupled to the prosy modules-
[0012] Additionally, the front-end proxy module may.
also include a configuration file module coupled to the front-end proxy module for storing a plurality of different sets of configuration files relating tc

different allocations of resources of the at least one common core service module. The plurality of different sets of configuration files may include a primary set of configuration files corresponding to core resource allocation operations, and a secondary set of configuration files for customizing .the core resource allocation operations. Thus, for example, if a secondary file is specified, resources defined in the secondary file may override those specified in the corresponding primary configuration file(s). This allows a user to specify a core set of resources yet still modify these core resources as desired for a -. particular- application.
[0013] More particularly, the at least one common
core service module may be for routing traffic between the proxy nodules and the protocol engine module, for accessing data from the plurality of data storage devices," and/or rendering data for the plurality of mobile wireless communications devices. In other words, the front-end proxy module advantageously may be used with numerous types of operating protocols, yet still use common core services to route traffic, access data, and/or rer.der data. This provides greater efficiencies, as well as reduced complexity.
[0014] The at least one common core service module
may include a plurality of handlers for interfacing the proxy modules with the protocol engine module. More specifically, the plurality of proxy modules may convert access requests from the plurality of mobile wireless rommunications devices to common access parameters. In addition, the front-end proxy module may also include a flow controller module for receiving the coir.-ncn ac:ess parameters from the plurality of proxy

modules and selecting desired handlers for processing thereof. Moreover, the plurality of handlers and the protocol engine module may communicate using a common interface protocol.
[0015] Furthermore, the at least one common core
service module may include a renderer module for
cooperating with the proxy nodules to format data for
the plurality of mobile wireless communications
devices. Additionally, the at least one common core
service module may also include an extensible mark-up"
language (XML) engir.e module coupled to the renderer
module, such as an extensible -stylesheet language
transformations (XSLT) engine module, for example.
Also, the at least one common core service module may
further include a memory coupled to the XKL engine
module for storing a plurality of templates
corresponding to respective operating protocols.
[0016] A method aspect of the invention is for
interfacing a plurality of mobile wireless communications devices with a plurality of data storage devices. The mobile wireless communications devices and the data storage devices may each use at least one of a plurality of different operating protocols. The method may include providing a protocol engine module for communicating with the plurality of data storage devices using respective operating protocols, and coupling a fron~-end proxy module to the protocol engine module. More particularly, the front-end proxy module may include a respective proxy module for communicating with -he plurality of mobile wireless communications devices using each different" operating protocol, and at least one common core service module coupled to the proxy modules. The method may further

include providing a configuration file module for the front-end proxy module for storing a plurality of different sets of configuration files relating to different allocations of resources of the at least one common core service module.
[0017] A protocol interface device in accordance with the invention may include a front-end proxy module and a protocol engine module, and a configuration file module, such as those described briefly above, for example. Moreover, a computer-readable medium in accordance with the present invention may similarly include a front-end proxy module, a protocol engine module, and a. configuration file module.
Brief Description of the Drawings [0018] FIG. 1 is a schematic block diagram of a communications system in accordance with the present invention.
[0019] FIG. 2 is a schematic block diagram illustrating the protocol interface device of the communications system of FIG. 1 in greater detail. [0020] FIG. 3 is a schematic block diagram illustrating the extensible front-end proxy module of the protocol interface device of FIG. 2 in greater detail.
[0021] FIGS. 4 and 5 are schematic block diagrams illustrating an alternate embodiment of a communications system in accordance with the invention implementing an extensible proxy architecture similar to that of FIG. 3.
[0022] FIG. 6 is a schematic block diagram of ar. alternate embodiment of the protocol interface; device of FIG. 2.

[0023] FIG. 7 is a schematic block diagram further illustrating the protocol engine module of the protocol interface device of FIG. 3 and-interface connector modules therefor.
[0024] FIG. 8 is a schematic block diagram of an alternate embodiment of the protocol engine module and interface connector modules of FIG. 7. [0025] FIG. 9 is a schematic block diagram of still another alternate eirbodiment of the protocol interface device of FIG. 2.
[0026] FIG. io is a schematic block diagram of yet another alternate embodiment of the protocol interface device of. FIG'. 2.
[0027] FIG. 11 is a flow diagram illustrating operation of the protocol interface device of FIG. 2. [0028] FIG. 12 is a flow diagram illustrating operation of the front-end proxy module of FIG. 3.. [0029] FIG. 13 is a flow diagram illustrating operation of the communications system of FIG. 5. [0030] FIG. 14 is a flow diagram illustrating operation of the protocol interface module of FIG. 6. [0031] FIG. 15 is a.flow diagram illustrating operation of the protocol engine and interface connector modules of FIG. 7.
[0032] FIG. 16 is a flow diagram illustrating operation of the protocol interface device of FIG. 9. . [0033] FIG. 17 is a flow diagram illustrating operation of the protocol interface device of FIG. 1C. [0034] FIG. 18 is a schematic block diagram of an exemplary mobile wireless communications device for use with the present invention.

Detailed Description of the Preferred Embodiments [0035] The present invention will now be described more fully hereinafter with reference to the accompanying drawings, in which preferred embodiments of the invention are shown. This invention may, however, be embodied in many different forms and should not be construed as limited to the embodiments set forth herein. Rather, these embodiments are provided so that this disclosure will be thorough and complete, end will fully convey the scope of the invention to these skilled in the art. Like numbers refer to like elements throughout, and prime notation and multiple prime , notation -are used to indicate siir.ilar elements in alternate embodiments.
Turning now to FIG. 1, a communications system 10 includes a protocol interface device 14 that provides access to a plurality of data storage devices or systems 16, 18, 20. The communications system 10 illustratively includes a plurality of communications devices, namely a mobile wireless communications device 11 and a communications device 12 connected to the system via a wired connection. 3y way of example, various mobile wireless communications devices may be used in accordance with the invention, such as personal data assistants (PDAs), cellular telephones, etc. An exemplary mobile wireless communications device-11 suitable for use with the present invention is described in the example provided beiow with reference to FIG. 18. Moreover, examples of wired communication a devices include personal computers, telephones, fax machines, etc. Of course, numerous wired and wireless devices may be used, although only two are shown in the exemplary embodiment for clarity of illustration.

[0036] The communications devices 11, 12 typically include software clients, which are software modules or applications that operate on or in conjunction with their respective communications device to provide access to data stored at one or more of the data storage devices 16, 18, and 20 through the protocol interface device 14. Those skilled in the art will appreciate that such communications devices also include further components and/or software modules, which have not been explicitly shown in FIG. 1 for clarity of illustration. With "respect to the mobile wireless communications device 11, its software client communicates with the protocol interface device 14 via a wireless communication network 13, and perhaps other networks as-well (e.g., a public switched telephone network (PSTN) or the Internet), as will be appreciated by those skilled in the art.
[0037] The various functions and operations of the protocol interface device 14 are preferably implemented in software' operating thereon, or in conjunction therewith. The protocol interface device 14 illustratively bridges the software clients of the communications devices 11, 12 and the data storage devices 16, 18, 20. Communications between the protocol interface device 14, the communications devices 11, 12, and the data storage devices 16, 18, 20 are preferably via a wide area network (WAN) such as the Internet. That is, the communications devices 11, 12 may communicate with the protocol interface device 14 via the Internet, as noted above, ar.d so too may the protocol interface device communicate with the data storage devices 16, 18, 20.

[0038] Of course, other implementations are also contemplated. For example, the protocol interface device 14 may be implemented in a private network that also includes the data storage devices 16, 18, 20, the communications devices 11, 12, or both the data storage devices and the communications devices (e.g., in a WAN) . It should be noted that the present invention is in no way limited to any particular connection or communication scheme.
[0039] The data storage devices 16, 18, 20 store data to be accessed by the software clients of the communications devices 11, 12. Although some software -clients are. configurable to directly access certain types of data storage devices, they are often data system specific or protocol specific, as described briefly above. More particularly, on constrained electronic devices such as the mobile wireless communication device 11, processor power, memory resources, and communication channel characteristics may preclude the installation and operation of software clients having the same capabilities as those commonly used on desktop and laptop computer systems, for example. In addition, while the installation of multiple software clients for accessing data storage devices, associated with different protocols is feasible for desktop and laptop computer systems, providing multiple-protocol support on such constrained devices may not be possible.
[0040] The data storage devices 16, 18, 20. are accessible using different operating protocols or access schemes. As-'-such, the protocol interface device 14 accesses the data -storage devices 16, 18, 20 via an operating protocol supported by respective data storage

devices, and provides data to the communications device 11 , 12 via a respective client-supported operating protocol. The protocol conversion functionality of the protocol interface device 14 provides a unified approach to support access to multiple types of data system. As described in further detail below, the protocol interface device 14 provides an "any-to-any" bridge between different protocols or access schemes. [0041] The protocol interface device 14 is illustrated in -further detail in FIG. 2. As noted above, the protocol interface device 14 bridges different types of communications devices with different-types of data storage devices. In the illustrated embodiment, data storage devices 24, 26, 28 are systems/servers for storing electronic mail (e-mail). However, it should be noted that the present invention is not limited to mail system access. Each of the mail systems 24, 26, 28 supports a different operating protocol or access scheme. More particularly, the mail system 24 supports Outlook Web Access (OWA), the mail system 26 supports Microsoft Messaging Application Programming Interface (MAPI), and the mail system 28 supports a proprietary protocol, such as that used by America Online (AOL), for example. [0042] The protocol interface system 14 illustratively includes a front-end proxy module 30. The front-end proxy module illustratively includes proxy modules 34, 36, 38, 40 which respectively support the Wireless Application Protocol (WA?), the Post Office Protocol (POP), the Internet Message Access Protocol (IMAP), and the Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) for communication with clients.

[0043] The front-end proxy 30 also- communicates with
a protocol engine module 32. The protocol engine module
32 translates OWA, MAPI, the proprietary protocol of
the mail system 28 (and other protocols, if desired)
into a format compatible with the front-end proxy
module 30. To this end, a respective interface
connector module may 70-77 (FIG. 7) be coupled to the
protocol engine module 32 for each "of the operating
protocols used by the mail systems 24, 26, 28, as will
be discussed further below, in a preferred embodiment,
the front-end proxy module 30 and the protocol,engine
module 32 are extensible or expandable to accommodate
additional ..operating protocols as they become
available, as will also be discussed further below.
[0044] in operation, a user accesses a mailbox on
one of the mail systems 24, 26, 28 through client software on his communications device. For example, a WAP browser on a mobile wireless communication device communicates wich the WAP proxy -nodule 34 to access the mail system 24. Access commands or instructions received' by the WAP proxy 34 are converted into a format compatible with the protocol engine module 32. Communications between the front-end proxy module 30 and the protocol engine module 32 are preferably achieved via a common interface protocol, which may be a proprietary protocol or an established public " protocol.
[0045] The protocol engine module 32 then translates
the access commands or instructions received from the front-end proxy module 30 into a protocol associated with the mail system, to be accessed (e.g., OWA for the mail syster. 24). Data received from the mail system (e.g., e-mail messages, a list of new messages.

calendar appointments, tasks, etc., depending on the particular mail system), the features that its access protocol supports, and the nature of the access command are translated into the common interface protocol and transferred to the front-end proxy.
[0Q46] The active proxy module (i.e., the WAP proxy
module 34 in the present example) then formats the received data, or at" least portions thereof, for the requesting client. Further commands from the client are also translated by the protocol interface device 14. Access commands from other types of clients are similarly processed. It should be noted that several mail systems,may be accessed in response to a single access command, where a user has enabled multiple mailbox access through the protocol interface device 14.
[0047] The protocol interface device 14 thus allows
clients using different operating protocols to access the mail systems 24, 26, 28, which also use different operating protocols. Access coirmands such as move, delete, create, send, fetch, and view, for example, that are generated at a client affect the data stored at the mail systems 24, 26, 28 instead of copies of the data. Through the protocol interface device 14, a client compatible with any one of the proxy modules 34, 36, 38, 40 is provided access to one or more of the mail systems 24, 26, 28. The client itself advantageously need not support the access protocol or scheme associated with the mail system(s, to be accessed.
[0048] Since the mail system protocol and the client
protocol need not be compatible, feature support between the protocols may be different, For example, a

-POP client does net support the same features as OWA. The interface protocol used between the protocol engine module 32 and the front-end proxy module 30 is preferably designed to be able to represent a desired number of protocol-supported elements or features for a desired operating protocol. More specifically, the common interface protocol is preferably able to represent all protocol-supported elements for the most "capable" protocol (OWA in the present example), to provide the broadest possible feature support. Further still, the conation interface protocol may support a full feature set across all supported protocols, if desired. [0049] By vay of example, the common interface protocol may be e proprietary protocol based or. the Web-based Distributed Authoring ana Versioning {KebC-.V) protocol. An example of an authentication request using such a common interface protocol is provided as program listing #1, below. This exemplary authentication request routine allows the' protocol interface device 14 to be authenticated by a mail system using a user identifier and password provided by a user, and it also retrieves a root folder and basic capabilities of a target mailbox on the mail system.
[0050] An exemplary inbox request in accordance with a WebDAV-based common interface protocol is set forth below as program listing #2. In accordance with this routine, responsive to an inbox request, the capabilities of the inbox in a target mailbox are queried, and then its contents are queried. Another example is provided below as program listing #3, which is for a folder search request in accordance with the aforementioned WebDAV-based common interface prctoco1. Here, a list of subfolders for a given folder is

returned in response to this request. It will be
appreciated by those skilled in the art that numerous
other requests and operations may be used as well.
[0051] It should be noted that the software clients
need not initiate data access requests in all embodiments. For example, in some embodiments the protocol interface device 14 may include (or communicate with) a polling or aggregation-engine module (not shown) that prompts the protocol engir.e module 32 to aggregate messages for respective users from the mail systems 24, 26, 28 at predetermined intervals, as will be appreciated by those skilled'in the art. -The protocol engine module 14 would then cooperate with the front-end proxy module 30 to provide the aggregated messages to the respective software clients, as described above. Additionally", the fronc-end proxy module 30 need not communicate directly with the communications devices 11, 12 in all embodiments, but it may instead communicate therewith via an intervening mail system or server, for example. Thus, in the case where an aggregation engine module is used, the aggregated messages may be first transferred by the front-end proxy module 30 to an intervening mail server, which in turn provides the messages to the appropriate communications device, as will also be' appreciated by those skilled In the art. Here again, the front-end- proxy module 30 would use the appropriate protocol(s) supported by such intervening mail server for communicating therewith.
[0052] A method for providing access to a plurality
of data storage devices, such as the mail systems 24, 26, 28, using the protocol interface system 14 is illustrated in FIG. II. Beginning at Block 110, an

access command or data is first received, at Block 111. The access command or data is translated into the common interface protocol, at Block 112. An access command is then translated (Block 113) into a data system protocol associated with the data system tc be accessed, such as OWA for the mail system 24, for example.
[0053] On the other hand, data is translated into
the client protcccl, at Block 113. Depending upon z'r.e particular features supported by the client protocol, only those portions of the data corresponding to elements' of the interface protocol thsr are supperred by the" client protocol are translated during this step. The protocol interface device 14 may generate an error responsive to a non-supported operating protocol, ■•'ore particularly, non-suppor.ted interface protocol elements are preferably ignored or processed according to a default or error-processing scheme. Translated access commands or data are then transferred to a data system or a client, at Block 114, thus concluding the illustrated method (Block 115) .
[0054] Turning now additionally to FIG. 3, an
exemplary erjbodiment of the front-end proxy module 30 is now described. The front-end proxy module 30 illustratively includes the proxy modules 34, 36, 38, 40, a renderer module 44, an extensible stylesheet language transformations (XSLT) engine module 46, a memory or template store 48, a flow controller module 50, and handlers 52a-52n.
[0055] As noted above, each proxy module 34, 36, 38,
40 effectively "fronts" the protocol engine module 32 and translates respective operating protocols for different client types. For example, a WAP proxy module

provides information retrieved from one or more of the handlers 52a-52n in the form of WML documents targeted for display on devices such as- cell phones and PDAs. A POP proxy makes use of at least some of the same proxy components, including the flow controller module 50 and the renderer module 44 to render data in the form required by the POP protocol.
[0056] One particularly advantageous benefit of the illustrated front-end proxy module 30 is that each proxy nodule 34, 36, 38, 40 makes use of the same core services to route traffic, access data, and render data. In other words, the renderer"module 44, XSLT engine module 46, template memory 48, flow controller module 50, and handlers 52a-52n provide a common core service module for the proxy modules 34, 36, 38, 40. The only differences between translations by the different proxy modules 34, 36, 38, 40 would be in the configuration of the flow controller 50, the handlers 52a-52n, and the XSL templates used to translate the data into its final form. It many cases, the saute handlers 52a-52n will be re-used between by the various proxy modules 34, 36, 38, 40, as will be appreciated by those skilled in the art.
[0057] During operation, a data access request from a client is passed to the appropriate proxy module 34, 36, 38, 40 using standard mechanisms for the client protocol. For a WAP client, for example, parameters are passed via a query string and/or form variables. The WAP proxy module 34 determines a component identifier (which identifies a target item such as a mail folder), an action identifier (which identifies an action to be performed), and any parameters based on data in the request. In the case of WAP, the component and action

identifiers are passed in the query string or form. Other parameters in the query string or form are packaged into a parameter list.
[0058] The active proxy module then calls the flow
controller 50, passing along the identifiers and
parameter list. The flow controller looks up the
appropriate handler via the component and action
identifiers and constructs the handler, passing the
parameters as arguments to a constructor {not shown; .
Using the handler 52a as an example, this handler would
processes -he request, using a data layer "(.FIG. 5) to
gather information needed for a response.
[0059] For mail system access, for instance, the
data layer comnuinicates with the protocol engine module 32 for any information related to the contents of the user's mailbox, calendar, or address book, for example. Communications with other components may be established for different types of information, such as information related tc authentication services and a user's e-mail account. The handler 52a then decides 'whether the request should be forwarded to another handler, or if its results should be rendered.
[0060] All information passed back by the handlers
52a-52n is preferably in a common format, such as org. xml. sax. Input Source, for example, a provider of extensible mark-up language (XML) data. The active proxy module then calls the renderer module 44, passing along the. InputSource, locale information, the name of the template to be rendered, and an OutputStream. The renderer module 44, making use cf the XSLT engine 46, renders the page into the OutputStream. The OutputStream is then provided to the client by the active proxy module using the client protocol.

[0061] The above system provides a generic
application framework following the classic model/view/controller (MVC) architecture that implements most of the application infrastructure- One important feature is that a base set of functionality may be defined for similar services and then extended to provide the service-specific functionality requirec to fully implement a given service. Within a given implement at ion, the flow controller 50, the handlers 52a-52n, and/or the data access layer are fully extensible or replaceable.
[0062] With this in jnind, supporting a brand new
service simply involves defining and implementing zhe data layer, defining the control flew and discrete actions within the .system (i.e., the flow .controller module 50}, and defining and implementing the interface with the service (i.e., the rencerer module 44}. On the other hand, supporting a new type of client with an existing service involves making minor changes to,- and extending actions within, the flow controller module 50 and handlers 52a-52n to support additional client-required functionality, and defining and implementing the interface between the client and the system (i.e., the renderer module 44) .
[0063] Operation of the fror.--end proxy module 30 to
perform protocol translation is further described with respect to the block diagram of FIG. 12. Certain of the illustrated operations have beer, described in detail above, and thus will be described only briefly below to avoid undue repetition. Beginning at Block 120, an access request or command is received at a proxy module 34, 36, 38, 40, at Block 121. Tr.e access request is

translated into the common interface protocol by one or more of the handlers 52a-52n, at Block 122. [0064] Data is received from a given mail system 24, 26, 28 in response to the request, at Block 123. This data, which has already been translated into the common interface protocol by the protocol engine module 32, is rendered {Block 124) and returned to the client, at Block 125, thus concluding the illustrated method (31ock 126) . Depending upon the particular features supported by the client protocol, only portions of the data corresponding to elements of the common interface protocol chat are supported by the client protocol* are rendered or translated. Non-supported interface protocol elements may be ignored or processed according to a default or error -processing scheme, as noted above.
[0065] It should be noted that the extensible, common cere service architecture, of the front-end proxy module 30 may also be used for a variety of applications. One such application is to address various shortcomings of the disparate methods used to respond to HTTP requests from a Web application. Referring now to FIGS. 4 and 5, a Web data access system 100 having an extensible architecture in accordance with the present invention is now described. The components of the Web data access system 100-communicare bi-directionally, and they illustratively include s user request 101, a Web server 102, a proxy server 104, and an extensible controller system 106. [0066] More particularly, the user request 101 refers tc a user using a web browser or web application to request a web page (e.g., from a FDA or personal computer) . Once the request is made, the Web server 102

processes the request. The proxy server 104 assists the Web server 102 in processing the request. For comparison purposes, the proxy server 104 here functions similar to the protocol Interface device 14 discussed above, and the extensible controller system 106 would be implemented as a software module that is run on or in conjunction with the proxy server, as will be appreciated by those skilled in the art. Of course, in some embodiments the proxy server 104 and extensible ccr.rroller system 106 could be implemented in different physical devices or servers, fcr example. [0067] The proxy server 104 provides' a process of providing^cached or "storage items available on'other servers which are- slower or more resource intensive to access. The proxy server 104 accepts URLs with a special prefix. When it receives a request for such a URL, .-it strips off the prefix and looks for the resulting "KL in its local cache. If found, it returns the document immediately, otherwise it fetches it from the remote server, saves a copy in the cache, and returns it to the requester. The pages returned by the proxy server 104 can be either szatic or dynamic in nature. The proxy server 104 may communicate with application servers or data servers, and in this specific embodiment, the extensible controller system 106.
[0068] Mere particularly, the components of the proxy server 104 illustratively include an aggregate server 202, a renderer ir.odule 212, an XSLT engine module 214, and a memory 216 for storing a series of templates, similar to those described above. The components of the extensible controller system 106

include an action map 204, and a series of handlers
206, also similar to those discussed above.
[0069] The aggregate server 202 performs the
processing of incoming information and passes it onto other components for assistance. The renderer module 212 renders the resultant data into a viewable format. The' renderer module 212 makes use of the XSLT engine module.214 and any necessary templates from the memory 216 to render the page.
[0070] The aggregate server 202 sends data tc the
action map 204, which maintains the control flow and
handles the business logic in the system. The action
map 204 interacts with a series of handlers 206. The
handler 206 utilizes the data layer 208 to retrieve
information from other data sources 210. The other data
sources 210 may include, for example, XML for web data,
a universal proxy for any information related to the
contents of user applications (e.g., e-mail, calendar
or contact), or a provisioning API for authentication
services and data relating to a user account.
[0071] The system functions by having a user send in
a URL as a user request 101°. This request is received at the Web server 102, which passes on to the proxy server 104 for processing using standard mechanisms for the protocol. For example, a WML request would pass a WAP parameter guery string and/or form variables. The-aggregate server 202 component of the proxy server 104 determines the component ID, action ID and any parameters based on data in the request. Using the same WAP example, the component and action IDs are passed in the query string or form. All" other parameters in the query string or form are packaged up into a parameter list.

[0072] The aggregate server 202 then calls the action map 204 of the extensible controller system 106 and passes along the IDs and parameter list. The action map 204 looks up the appropriate handler 206 via the component and action IDs and constructs the handler, passing the parameters as arguments to the constructor. The" handler 206 processes the request, using the data layer 208 to gather information needed for a response. The data layer 208 will retrieve information from other data sources 210 located within the network or external to the network. The handier 206 then decides whether the request should be forwarded to another- handler 206, or if its results should be rendered.
[0073] ' If the system decides to render the data, the data is passed from the handler 206, back to the action map 204, and back to aggregate server 202 of the proxy server 104. The aggregate server 202 then calls the rencerer module 212, which invokes the XSLT engine module 214 and any necessary templates to render the data into a viewable output. This output is then returned to the Web server 102 to serve the data as a viewable web page as a result of the user request 101. [0074] The various steps involved in processing Web data using the extensible controller system 106 will now be further described with reference to FIG. 13. More particularly, this diagram illustrates in greater detail the processing and interaction of the proxy-server 104 and the extensible controller system 106. The system flow begins with a user request 101. This request is sent to the Web server 102, which passes the information to the proxy server 104 for processing. The proxy server 104 invokes the aggregate server 202 for processing.

[0075] . The aggregate server 202 determines whether a context is available, at Block 302. If it is available, the system will move to the next step to mine the IDs - (Block-306} .- If it-is not available, the system will first create the. context, at Block 304, and then continue onto the step to mine the IDs, at Block 306. The action ID and component ID are also mined out of the system. These IDs, along with the request parameters and any form data, are packaged into an envelope and gathered together, at Block 308. [0076] An invoke procedure is called tc pass the data from ~he aggregate server 202 to the action map 204 of the extensible controller system 106. This invoke procedure- will pass information pertaining to the envelope, an action code, the component ID and context info to the action map 204. The action map 204 looks up the action, at Block 310, and determines whether the action exists, at Block 312. If it does, then it moves tc the next step to determine whether the action requires authentication, at Block 316. If the action does not exist, the system retrieves the default action, at 31ock 314, and then determines whether the action requires authentication, at Block 316. " [0077] At this point, if the action does not require authentication, the system determines if any requests are pending, at Block 320. If the action does require authentication, the system then determines whether the context is in an authenticated state, at Block 318. If the context is in an authenticated state, the system, then determines whether a request is pending, at block 320. However, if the context is not in an authenticated state, the system returns the request to the retrieve

default action, at Block 314, until authentication is accepted.
[0078] At Block 320, the system determines if a request is pending. If a request is pending, the system executes on the pending request and jumps to.next stage, determining whether a process is in queue, at Block 346.' If no request is pending, the system executes on the action and validates on the envelope data, at Block 322, and passes control to the handler 206 to create the action handler, at Block 324. Once the action handler is created, it is initialized, at Block 326.
[0079] ^ "Che system then determines whether background processing is allowed, at Block 328. If so, a bapkground handler is created, at Block 344, and the system determines whether a process is in queue, at Block 346. However, if background processing is not allowed, the system then processes the action handler, at Block 330, and then returns the result, at Block 332. Revisiting the system, at Block 346 the system determines whether a process is in the queue. If the process is in the queue, it then determines whether the action is complete, at Block 350. If the process is not in the queue, then it submits it to the queue, at Block 348, and then determines whether the. action handler is complete, at Block 350.
[0080] If the action handler is complete, the system returns the action handler result, at Block 352. If the action handler is not complete, the systera returns the pending render result, at Block 354. The output of the steps illustrated at Blocks 352 and 354 (returning either an action handler result or pending renderer

result) will be used to determine whether to render the result, at Block 334.
[0081] More particularly, the results of the steps illustrated at Blocks 332 (return result), 352 (return action handler result) and 354 (return pending render result) are used to determine whether to render the result (Block 334). If the system decides to render the result, the system sends the data from the extensible controller system 106 to the proxy server 404 and renders the data, at Block 340, at the renderer module 212. The data is then passed onto the Web server 102 to display the result, at Block 342, as a respcr.se to the ' user request 101. However, if the system decides not to render the result and has instead decided to forward the request to another action handler for processing, the system retrieves the ID keys, at Block 336, retrieves the envelope data, at Block 338, and then looks up the appropriate action, at Block 3l0. The system will loop around at this point until 3 decision to render a result is ultimately accepted, at Block 334.
[0082] The above-described method involves using a single source for defining the components within the system. In this particular embodiment, the source is an XML file, but other formats could be used as well, as will be appreciated by those skilled in the art. .This source would define the code that handles the request, the URL syntax and parameters, templates or code used to generate the response for the request, and the routing information for the request, for example. [0083] The code that handles the request, along with the parameter definition, is used by the system to create the action handler, pass the correctly typed

parameters, and pass control to it for processing. The
parameters include type information allowing for
strongly typed data. The parameters may also be defined
as optional or required. The template or templates_ are
used to generate the response for the request. If an
attempt is made to generate a response other than to
what was defined an error is generated.
[0084] The source would also define the routing
information for the request. Often times, it is
desirable for a handier to perform work within its
scope and then hand off control to another handler to
allow it to perform its work. However, if the handler
attempts to hand control to something not defined in
the source, an error is generated.
[0085] Other, variations are also possible. For
example, the source may be used whenever generating URL's for use within the system. Moreover, request routing may be separated from the actual processing of those requests. Control flow is then handled by one component of the system, not by each handler. The handler would then simply ask the controller to forward a request to another handler. Thus, incoming data may be kept in a known state for the life of a particular request.
[0086] Yet another approach involves enforcing
control flow through the system where one handler does .not call another handler directly to do its work. Still another approach involves keeping the handlers relatively small and simple. That is, rhis will limir the handler's purpose and scope to receiving requests and calling the appropriate business logic to gather the desired results. Another variation involves keeping each handler focused on one task, and upon completion

of the task, allowing the results to be rendered or forwarded on to the next handler.
[0087] A further variation involves providing an extensible mechanism for handling requests that can handle immediate needs, as well as grow over time without becoming overly complex. When loading the system, the user is able to specify a primary and secondary action map. In this way, generic business logic and control flow may be specified by the primary action map while still providing the user with a method of adding or modifying the functionality. Another approach is to provide the developer with a generic; mechanism for responding quickly "to long running requests to avoid generating a timeout. This enables the developer to specify background processing at either a handler level, or at the entire system. [0088] The above-described extensible controller is particularly advantageous for addressing shortcomings in Web or KTTP-based applications. Of course, it will be also appreciated by these skilled in the art that this same architecture may be extended to support other types of r.on-HTTP based applications as well. [0089] Turning now to FIG. 6, an alternate embodiment of the protocol interface device 14' is now described. In the illustrated embodiment, all requests to a data storage device, such as the mail systems 24', 26', 28', are defined in configuration files stored in a configuration file store or memory 31' . In this way, for a given client category, an application developer can easily request only those properties required to support the client for which it was written. [0090] A resource manager, which may be part of the frcnt-er.d proxy module 30' or a separate component of

' the protocol interface device 14', advantageously allows a user to specify a primary and secondary set of configuration files. If a secondary configuration file is specified, any resources defined in it will override those specified In the primary "configuration file. This allows the user to specify a core set of resources and then tweak -them to fit a particular implementation. [0091] Moreover, configuration files may be stored for processing operations at different network layers. For example, configuration, files for data layer operations for interfacing the front-end proxy module 30' and protocol engine module 32' may be stored in .the memory 31', as well for upper network' layer operations performed by the flow controller module 50, for
' example. Other types of configurations files may be used as well, as will be appreciated by those skilled in the art.
[0092] A configuration file also preferably specifies the implementation class that is created to handle the response to a given request. This makes it a simple matter to slightly change the behavior of an object in a data model, or even completely replace it. Caching behavior and strength for each request may also be specified in a configuration file. With a combination of these two properties, a developer can have much greater control over memory consumption and
. response/request performance. [0093] In addition, configuration files also allow a user to specify multiple requests for a given resource. This makes it possible to support data systems with different request/response formats. An exemplary configuration file is provided below as program listing #4. This configuration file is suitable for a data

store that supports a WebDAV interface, as discussed above, or in the case of the protocol interface device 14', a protocol engine that supports a WebDAV interface. However, it could be used for other types interfaces/data Stores as well.
[Q094] It should also be noted that, in addition to
the" content class specified for the resource, a user
may also specify a command to further identify a given
resource. This allows the user to perform multiple
different operations on a giver, resource type, as will
be appreciated by those skilled in the art.
[0095] Operation of the protocol interface device
14' using configuration'files will now be described further with reference to FIG. 14. Beginning at Block 140, an access. request or command is received at a proxy module, at Block 141. The access request is translated into the common interface protocol by a handler 52a-52n, at Block 142, with reference tc one or more configuration filesl Data that is received from the data system (Block 143) in response to the request, and which has already been translated into the common interface protocol by the protocol engine module 32', is formatted into a response and rendered, at Block 144. Again, this is done with reference to one or more configuration files. The rendered response is then . returned to the client (Block' 145), thus concluding the illustrated methods, at Block 146.
[0096] Referring now additionally to FIG. 7, the
protocol engine module 32 will now be described in further detail. The protocol engine module 32 provides a framework to incorporate various interface connector modules 70-77 that communicate with various mail systems using different protocols. The protocol engine

module 32. also provides a common interface XML and WebDAV, for example, that the clients, through the front-end proxy module 30, use to access various mail accounts. Common operations like retrieving only the essential headers of new mail and determining the presence and size of attachments without downloading then are highly efficient. All operations are performed directly on the source, and only the essential data is retrieved.
10097] The protocol engine module 32 uses an appropriate one of at plurality of interface connector modules 70-77 to access a mail account. All of the connector modules 70-77 preferably support a common application programming interface (AEI), such -hat adapting the protocol engine module 32. to support a new protocol amounts to simply adding a new interface connector module. The connector modules "70-77 may be written in Java, for example, although other suitable languages or protocols may also be used. Overall system performance and availability may be improved, for example, by providing multiple dynamically load-balanced protocol engine machines. [0098] Results received by the protocol engine module 32 from the mail systems 24, 26, 28 are similarly translated into the common interface protocol for translation into a client-supported protocol, if necessary, and transmission to a clier.t. The results communicated back to a client preferably include only data that was requested by the client. Data corresponding to features that are supported fry a mail system protocol but not by a client protocol may be translated into the common interface protocol, but it

may also be ignored or handled according to a default
or error processing .scheme, as noted above.
[0100] A method of protocol translation using the
protocol engine module 32 and interface connector modules 71-77 is now described with reference to FIG. 15. Beginning at Block 150, an access request or command is received, at Block 151. The access request' is translated into a protocol supported by the target data system, at Block 152. Data is received from the data system in response to the request, at Block 153, and it is translated into the common interface protocol, at Block 154,further translation of thev data into a client protocol may be performed, if necessary, at Block 155, and .the data transmitted to the client at ■Block 156, thus concluding the illustrated method, at Block 157.
[0101] Again,, depending upor. the particular features
supported by the client protocol, only portions of the
data corresponding to elements of the common interface
protocol that are supported by the client protocol are
translated. As described above, non-supported interface
protocol elements may be ignored or processed according
to a default or error processing scheme.
[0102] Turning now to FIG. S, an alternate
(embodiment of the above-described protocol conversion module architecture is now described. Here, the. protocol engine module 32 takes the form of a universal proxy (UP) servlet module 80, and each interface connecter module 81, 82, 83 and a respective provider module 84, 85, 86 are associated with different operating protocols. In the illustrated example, the different protocols are OWA, IMAP, and POP. Further or different protocols may be supported by corresponding

provider/connect ion pairs, as will be appreciated by those skilled in the art.
[0103] For a common interface protocol, such as the
proprietary interface protocol described above, the UP servlet module 80 takes incoming common format requests and translates them into calls, using the defined interfaces, to the interface connector modules 81-83. The UP servlet module 80 also takes the results of these calls and formats them intc common format requests. Each common format request ir.ciudes a method request and a path in the form of a URL. It may also include an XML document that provides additional parameters'for the request.
[0104] Conceptually, below the U? servlet xodule 80
there is a provider module 84-86 for each supported mail system protocol. The providers take care of handling the calls made by the UF servlet module 80-r As shown, each provider has a connection, which takes care of communicating with the source mailbox/account pn a target mail system. Initially, the connection will also be the provider.
[0105] The interfaces used by the 'UP servlet 80 and
implemented by the provider modules 84-86 define loose folder hierarchy, in fact, it may be conceptualized as a collection of collections of items. An item can be a message, a folder, or a contact, for -example, or any other data item tc be represented. Each item has a defined type'(e.g., mail, contact, appointment:) . Ar. interface for each type of item defines the properties ar.d action. that- are available for that type of item. A folder item ir.ciudes a collection of items, and provides methods to enumerate the items within a folder.

[0106] The connector interface modules 81-83 provide a common way for the UP servlet module 80 to communicate with different provider modules/interface connector modules. Some connector modules may only implement a subset of the protocol and/or may only support a single folder (collection) of items* as in the"case of POP.
[0107] The basic flow for an exemplary common format request proceeds as follows. The UP servlet module 80 receives ,the request, and it either reprieves cr creates the appropriate provider/connection. The UF servlet module 80 then calls an appropriate "get t folder" or similar function associated with the interface connector module, passing a target mail system identifier, such as a URL that.was included in the common format request. The interface connection module returns a reference to some object that implements the folder interface and represents the requested folder. In its simplest implementation (e'.g., POP), a single object could be the interface connector module and also represent the mailbox folder. [0108]- The UP servlet .module 80 uses the returned folder reference to make additional calls to satisfy the common format request. For example, if the UP servlet module 80 needs to reprieve a specific iteir., it may first call a "get folder" function, passing the Requested URL, and after it has the folder, it will then call a "get item" function, again passing the "JRL. The results of the cali(s) are then fornatted. into an appropriate format, such as XML, and returned in ar. HTTP response.
[0109] It will be up to the provider module/interface connection module to interpret a 'URL

passed in and return the appropriate reference. This . will not be complicated because the provider module/interface connection module provides the UBLs in the-first place. The only URL that any interface connection module will be required to know about is "\". All other URLs are generated by the provider/connect ion. As long as the URLs within the hierarchy/cclleczions are unique, the provider will be able to resolve to the correct item when a "get" function is called.
[0110] The provider modules 84-86 and interface
connection.modules 81-83 preferably support, a root folder. If only a root folder is supported, then inbox,-calendar, and contact items (as appropriate) should be items within that folder if they are to be accessible through a protocol engine.
[0111] In accordance with cne aspect'-of the
invention,. a single, advantageous mechanism to access various types of protocols is provided. This mechanism supports the full functionality of each data system protocol for similarly capable client protocols, and degrades when a specific data system protocol feature is not supported by a client protocol. Requests received in a common format are translated into a ■provider/protocol specific fomat before forwarding the request on to the destination server. Responses .from the destination server, which are in provider/protocol specific format, are translated back into the common format.
[0112] A mechanism for a client to query supported
functionality for a specific provider module, giving the client greater control over how it generates requests to the provider, is also provided. Any client

written to support the common protocol format, directly
or through a proxy, can easily provide access to any
mail store without concerning itself with the details,
of the mail store provider module/protocol.
[0113] Referring now additionally to FIG. 9, another
embodiment of the protocol interface device 14" is now
described- Here, user e-mail account information
associated with e-mail accounts to be accessed through
the protocol interface device 14' is stored in a data
store 90'* . The per-account information preferably
includes an indication of the access protocols
supported for.each e-mail account. [0114] Records in the data store 90" may be arranged by an account identifier, such as an e-mail address, or by a user n^me. associated with the protocol interface device 14' such that all e-mail account information for particular users is grouped in the data store 90", for example. Where access protocol support is the same for ail e-mail" accounts on each of the mail systems 24", 26", the per-account information may include mail system information indicating the operating protocols supported by each mail system. [0115] A data store 91' stores a list of all operating protocols supported by the protocol engine module 32"'/ and corresponding metrics (i.e., ranking) representing protocol preferences. These metrics are calculated based on capability criteria, such as the degree to which features of each mail system 24y', 26' ' are supported by s protocol and the security level of a protocol, for example. Other criteria may also be used and will be apparent to those skilled in the art. In the data store 91', OWA would typically have a higher metric or ranking than MAPI, and IKAP would generally

be ranked higher than POP. Each of the data stores 90", 91' may be implemented, for example, in a database on a local hard disk or other memory at the protocol interface device 14", or on a file server with which the protocol interface device communicates. [0116] The protocol engine module 32' determines to which mailbox(es) or account: (s) the command or instruction relates, and then accesses the per-account information in the data store 90" to determine whether mors than one access protocol is supported for each account to be accessed. If only one access protocol is supported, then"that protocol is selected..Where more than one-access protocol is supported for the account, then the protocol engine module 32" accesses the data store 91' to determine which supported protocol is preferred or desired, and the supported protocol with the highest metric or ranking, is selected. For the nail system 24', OWA is preferably selected over MAPI, and for the nail system 26', IMAP is preferably selectee over POP.
[0117] The protocol interface device 14' thus allows access to the mail systems 24",. 26" using a most capable supported protocol. Through the protocol interface device 14", a client compatible with any of the proxy modules 34", 36", 38", 40" is provided access to one or more of the mail systems 24", 26". The client itself need not support the access protocol or scheme associated with the mail system's) to be accessed.
[0118] A method of data system access protocol selection using the protocol interface device 14' is now described with reference to FIG. 9. Beginning at Block 160, an access command is received from a clier.-

at Block 161. A determination is made (Block 162) as to whether each data system to be accessed in response to the command supports more than one access protocol. If so, then the most capable supported protocol is" selected, at Block 164. Otherwise, the one supported protocol is selected, at Block 163. Each data system is accessed using the selected protocol, at Block 165, thus concluding the illustrated method, at Block 166. Where more than one data system is to be accessed, the protocol selection steps illustrated at Blocks 162-164 are preferably repeated for each data system. [0119] it should be noted that the protocol and , metric data store 91" is but one example exemplary of a protocol preference-ranking technique that may be used in accordance with the present invention. Protocol preferences may be inherent in the ordering of a list of supported protocols, for example. [0120] Further criteria than metrics or overall preferences may also be .considered when selecting a protocol. The type of client from which the access command is received may also affect protocol selection. Where the access command is received from a POP client, for example, many of the enhanced features supported by OWA cannot be represented in FOP for transfer to the device. If a user has only one type of client for accessing the protocol interface device 14", then the per-account information may be adapted to reflect the type of client or to limit the list of supported protocol based on the type of client. Otherwise, a further step in protocol selection may be to determine the type of client from which an access request is received.

[0121] Alternatively, a most capable protocol supported by a data system to be accessed may always be selected, and-any incompatibility between the selected access protocol and the protocol supported by the client is handled during translation of data to the client protocol. Portions of data corresponding to elements of the interface protocol that are supported by the client protocol are translated, whereas nonsupported interface protocol elements are ignored or processed according to a default or error processing scheme.
[0122] Generally speaking, clients often access
servers through proxies. Also, the latency is often .
positively correlated to the cardinality of the
collection being accessed (e.g., number, of email
messages in the mailbox being accessed). As will be
-evident from the following description, the present
invention provides an apparatus and technique that may
be used by the proxy to give the client the illusion
that the collection being accessed is smaller than it
really is. For example, a proxy may show only'the 100
most recent messages in a mailbox, while the mailbox
itself has 2000+ messages. The present invention
advantageously allows this proxy to select a small
subset of the collection that can be presented to the
client in lieu- of the entire collection without a-
significant impact to the user experience.
[0123] More particularly, turning now to FIG. 10,
another advantageous embodiment of the protocol interface device 14'' is now described. Generally speaking, when a data access request is received from a client, the protocol interface device 14'" accesses one or more of the data systems 24'", 26"'. However,

in some cases accessing the data systems and providing a response to the client night otherwise cause timeouts for certain client protocols, and longer than desired wait, -times for a user of a client after a request has been sent.. Yet-, in- accordance with the present aspect of the invention, certain data may be stored at the protocol interface device 14'" which may be used to reduce response times.
[0124] Mere particularly, the protocol engine module 32"' polls the data systems 24'", 26'" to determine whether they currently store data items associated with users that have been configured for access thereof.. Users are configured in the protocol interface device 14"' by establishing a-user account associated therewith, for example. Polling is preferably performed in accordance with a polling interval. The polling interface may be a static predetermined polling interval, or an adaptive polling interval that can be adjusted based on operating conditions or the occurrence of "particular events, as will be appreciated by those skilled in the art.
[0125] In response to a poll from the protocol engine module 32"', a given data system 24'", 26'" returns.data items, or at least data item identifiers that can be used to retrieve the data items, to the protocol interface device 14''. These data items or identifiers are then stored by the protocol engine module 32"' in the data store or memory 92"'. [0126] In particular, the protocol engine module 32" ' may determine whether new data items for a user are stored in any of the data systems 24'", 26'". Where the data systems 24'", 26"' are e-mail systems, for example, the protocol engine module 32'' queries

mailboxes .associated with each user configured for e-mail access through the protocol interface device 14"'. For each mailbox query, a mail system returns, at a minimum, a list of unique identifiers (UIDs) associated with e-mail messages stored in the mailbox. [0127] A current DID list is then compared" with a previous UID list for the mailbox in the DID store 92'" to determine whether new messages have been stored in the mailbox at the mail system. If new messages are detected, an alert is preferably sent to a user's client by the protocol engine module 32'" in cooperation with the front-end proxy module 30'" (or another component of the protocol interface device 14'"), and the-current DID list including the new messages is stored to the DID store 92"'. [0128] One of the most common data access operations is viewing a listing cf data items currently stored as data systems, especially where the data items are messages stored on mail systems. As described above, the protocol engine module 32'" polls one or more of the data systems 24"', 26'" to detect new data items based on a list of OIDs stored in the DID store 92'" . Therefore, the protocol interface device 14'" has a local listing of OIDs of data items that were stored at the data systems 24'', 26'' the last time the data systems were polled.
[0129] In accordance with the present aspect of the invention, the protocol engine module 32"' retrieves the stored DID list from the UID store 92' ' when a "view items" or similar access request is receired. This stored DID list, which is accurate to within the current polling interval, is then returned to the requesting client. This- provides a much faster respor.se

time than accessing the data systems 24" ', 26'' when the request is received, as will be appreciated by those skilled in the art. - [01303 In the case of a POP client, for example, the client times out if no response to a request is received within 30 seconds. Where the POP client is operating on a mobile wireless communications device, latency within the wireless communications network can cause delays that are significant relative to this limited response time. The faster response tine associated with providing a stored UID list in response to a data access request is particularly adventageous in these types' of scenarios. Even in the absence of such time constraints, a faster response time enhances the user experience at a client by reducing the wait time between sending a data access request and receiving a response.
[0131] As described above, the stored UID list is
accurate to within the polling interval. When the
stored UID list is provided to a client in response to
a data access request, the protocol engine module 32'"
preferably polls the data system(s) 24'", 26'" _o
determine whether the stored UID list is still
accurate. If new items have been stored at the data
system(s) 24'", 26"' since the last poll, then a new
UID list is sent to the client. This further polling of
■the data systems 24"', 26"' is performed either
according to the polling interval or initiated by the
data access request.
[0132] It will be appreciated that the preceding description relates to "view items" or similar data access requests. Other types of data access requests may be processed by other components or modules of the

protocol interface device 14'" . For example, such data access requests are translated, if necessary, by the front-end proxy module 30'", as described, above. [0133] The protocol interface device 14'' thereby allows access to the data systems 24'', 26'', and provides for reduced response times for various types of data access requests. Through the protocol interface device 14" ', a client compatible with any of the protocols handled by the front-end proxy module 30'' is provided access to one or mere of the data systems 24"', 26'". The client itself need not support the access protocol or scheme associated with the data. system(s) 24'", 26"' to be accessed, as noted above. [0134] A method of reducing response times for data system access requests using the. protocol interface device 14'" is now described with respect to FIG. 17. Beginning at Block 170, a data access request is received at 31ock 171. A determination is then made, at Block 172, as to whether data pertinent to the data access request (i.e., a UID list) is locally stored. Where such data is in a local store 92'', then the stored data is provided to the requesting client, at Block 173. After the stored data has been transmitted to the client, or if no such data has been stored, the data system(s) 24"', 26'" to which the data access ' request relates is polled, at Block 174. [0135] An optional step of determining whether the polled data received in response to a poll is different from the stored data may then be performed at Block 175. If so, this means that there is new data stored on the data system(s) 24'", 26"', and the data received in response to the poll is provided to the client, at Block 176. It is also locally stored in the data store

92"' at Block 177, thus concluding the illustrated method (Block 178).
[0136] 3y way of example, data, access systems and
methods according to aspects of the invention may be applied to other types of data storage devices than mail systems, and other protocols and access schemes than those specifically described above and shown in the drawings.
[0137] Additional features cf the inventior. r.ay be
found in co-pending applications entitled COMMUNICATIONS SYSTEM PROVIDING REDUCED ACCESS LATENCY AND RELATED METHODS, attorney docket number- ID-49 COMMUNICATIONS SYSTEM INCLUDING PROTOCOL INTERFACE FOR MULTIPLE OPERATING PROTOCOLS AND RELATED METHODS, attorney docket number ID-4S3; COMMUNICATIONS SYSTEM PROVIDING EXTENSIBLE PROTOCOL TRANSLATION FEATURES AND RELATED METHODS, attorney docket number ID-507; COMMUNICATIONS SYSTEM WITH DATA STORAGE DEVICE INTERFACE PROTOCOL CONNECTORS AND RELATED METHODS, attorney docket number ID-506; COMMUNICATIONS SYSTEM PROVIDING MULTI-LAYERED EXTENSIBLE PROTOCOL INTERFACE AND RELATED METHODS, attorney docket number ID-503; an COMMUNICATIONS SYSTEM INCLUDING PROTOCOL INTERFACE DEVICE PROVIDING ENHANCED OPERATING PROTOCOL SELECTION FEATURES AND RELATED METHODS, attorney docket number ID-495, the entire disclosures of which are hereby incorporated herein by reference.
EXAMPLE
[0138] An exemplary hand-held mobile wireless
communications device 1000 that can be used in the present invention is further described in the example below with reference to FIG. IS. The device 1000

includes a housing 1200, a keyboard 1400 and an output
device 1600. The output device shown is a display 1600,
which is preferably a full graphic LCD. Other types of
output devices may alternatively be utilized._A
processing device 1800 is contained within the housing-
1200 and is coupled between the keyboard 1400 and the
display 1600. The processing device 1800 controls the
operation of the display 1600, as well as the overall
operation of the mobile device 1000, in response tc
actuation of keys on the keyboard 1400 by the user.
[0139] The housing 1200 may be elongated vertically,
or may take on other sizes and shapes (including
clamshell housing structures) . The keyboard .may include
a mode selection key, or other hardware or software for
switching between text entry, and telephony entry.
[0140] In additipn to the processing device 1800,
other parts of the mobile device 1000 are shown schematically in FIG. 18. These include a communications subsystem 1001; a short-range communications subsystem 1020; the keyboard 1400 and the display 1600, along with other input/output devices 1060, 1080, 1100 and 1120; as well as memory devices 1160, 1180 and various other device subsystems 1201. The mobile device 1000 is preferably a two-way RF communications device having voice and data communications capabilities. In addition, the mobile device 1000 preferably has the capability to communicate with other computer systems via the Internet.
[0141] Operating system software executed by the
processing device 1800 is preferably stored in a "persistent store, such as the flash memory 1160, but may be stored in other types of memory devices, such as

a read only memory (ROM) or similar storage element. In addition, system software, specific device applications, or parts thereof, may be temporarily loaded into a volatile store, such as the random access memory (RAM) 1180. Communications signals received by the mobile device may also be stored in the RAM 1180. [0142] The processing device 1800, in addition to its operating system functions, enables execution of software applications 1300A-1300N on the device 1000. P-. predetermined set of applications that control basic device operations, such as data and voice communications 1300A and 1300B, may be installed on ths device 1000 during manufacture. In addition, a personal information'manager (PIM) application may be installed during manufacture. The PIM is preferably capable of organizing and managing data items, such as e-mail, calendar events, voice ni.aJ.ls, appointments, and task items. The PIM application is also preferably capable of sending and receiving data items via a wireless network 1401. Preferably, the PIM data items are seamlessly integrated, synchronized and updated via the wireless network 1401 with .the device user's corresponding data items stored or associated with a host computer system.
[0143] ' Communication functions, including data and voice ' communications, are performed through the . communications subsystem 1001, and possibly through the short-range communications subsystem. The communications subsystem 1001 includes a receiver 1500, a transmitter 1520, and one or more antennas 1540 and -1560. In addition, the communications subsystem 1001 '.alsrO includes a processing module, such as a digital signal processor (DSP) 1580, and local oscillators

.(LOs) 1601. The specific design and implementation of
the communications subsystem 1001 is dependent upon the
communications network in which the mobile device 10Q0
is intended to operate. For example, a mobile device
1000 may include a -communications subsystem 1001
designed to operate with the Mobitex™, Data TAC™ or
General Packet Radio Service (GPRS) mobile data
communications networks, and also designed to operate
with any of a variety of voice communications networks,
such as Al-IrS, TDMA, CDMA, PCS, GSM, etc. Other types of
data and vcice networks, both separate and integrated,
may also ire utilized with the mobile device 1000.
[0144] Network access requirements vary depending
upon the type of communication system. For example,- in the Mobitex and DataTAC networks, mobile devices are registered on the network using a unique personal identification number or PIN associated with each device. In GPRS networks, however, network access is associated with a subscriber or user of a device. A GPRS device therefore requires a subscriber identity module, commonly referred to as a SIM card, in order to operate on a GPRS network. •
[0145] When required network registration or
activation procedures have been completed, the mobile device 1000 may send and receive communications signals over the communication network 1401. Signals received from the communications network 1401 by the antenna 1540 are routed to the receiver 1500, which provides for signal amplification, frequency down conversion, filtering, channel selection, etc., and may also provide analog to digital conversion. Analog-to-digital conversion of the received signal allows the DSP 1580 to perform more complex communications functions, such

as demodulation and decoding. In a similar manner, signals to be transmitted to the network 1401 are processed (e.g. modulated and encoded) by the DSP 1580 and are then provided to the transmitter 1520 for digital to analog conversion, frequency up conversion, filtering, amplification and transmission• to the communication network 1401 (or networks) via the antenna 1560.
[0146] In addition to processing communications
signals, the DSP 1580 provides for control of -he receiver 1500 and the transmitter 1520. For example, gains .applied to .communications signals "in the recei"-~=r 1500 and transmitter 1520 may be adoptively controller: through automatic -gain control algorithms implementsz in the DSP 1580.
[0147] In a data communications mode, a received
signal, such as a text message or web page download, is
processed by the communications subsystem 1001 and is
input to the processing device 1800. The received
signal is then further processed by the processing
device 1800 for an output to the display 1600, or
alternatively to some other auxiliary I/O device 1060.
A device user may also compose data items, such as e-
mail messages, using the keyboard 1400 and/or some
other auxiliary 1/0 device 1060, such as a touchpac, a
rocker switch, a thumb-wheel, or some other type of
.input device. The composed data items may then be
transmitted over the communications network 1401 via
the communications subsystem 1001.
[0148] In a voice communications mode, overall
operation of the device is substantially similar to the data communications mode, except that received signals are output to a speaker 1100, and signals for

transmission are generated by a microphone 1120. Alternative voice or audio I/O subsystems, such as a voice message recording subsystem, may also be implemented on the device 1000. In addition, the display 1600 may also be utilized in voice communications mode, for example to display the identity of a calling party, the duration of a voice call, or ether voice call related information. The short-range communications subsystem enables communicazion between the mobile device 1000 and ether proximate systems or devices, which need not necessarily be similar devices. For example,' the shorc-range ccmr.unications subsystem may include an infrared device and associated circuits and components, cr a Bluetooth1* communications module to provide for' communication with similarly-enabled systems and devices.
[0149] Many modifications and other embodiments of the invention will come to the mind of one skilled in the" art having the benefit of the teachings presented • in the foregoing descriptions and the associated drawings. Therefore, it is understood that the invention is not to be limited to the specific embodiments disclosed, and that modifications and embodiments are intended to be included within the scope of the appended claims.
i
Computer Program Listings
Program Listing #1 - Exemplary Authentication" Request
(List Removed)












We Claim:
1. A communications system comprising:
a plurality of data storage devices each using at least one of a plurality of different operating protocols;
a plurality of mobile wireless communications devices for accessing said plurality of data storage devices and each using at least one of the plurality of different operating protocols; and
a protocol interface device comprising
a protocol engine module for communicating with said plurality of data storage devices using respective operating protocols,
a front-end proxy module coupled to said protocol engine module and comprising
a respective proxy module for communicating with said plurality of mobile wireless communications devices using each different operating protocol, and
at least one common core service module coupled to said proxy module for routing traffic between said proxy module and said protocol engine module,
a configuration file module coupled to said front-end proxy module for storing a plurality of different sets of configuration files relating to different allocations of resources of the at least one common core service module,
said at least one common core service module allocating resources based upon a given service to be performed and a corresponding set of configuration files stored in said configuration file module,
said at least one common core service module comprising a plurality of handlers for interfacing said proxy module with said protocol engine module said proxy module converting access
requests from said plurality of mobile wireless communications devices to common access parameters,
said front-end proxy module further comprising a flow controller module for receiving the common access parameters from the proxy module and selecting desired handlers for processing thereof.
2. The communications system as claimed in claim 1, wherein said plurality of different sets of configuration files comprises a primary set of configuration files corresponding to core resource allocation operations, and a secondary set of configuration files for customizing the core resource allocation operations.
3. The communications system as claimed in claim 1, wherein said at least one common core service module is for accessing data from said plurality of data storage devices.
4. The communications system as claimed in claim 1, wherein said at least one common core service module is for rendering data for said plurality of mobile wireless communications devices.
5. The communications system as claimed in claim 1, wherein said plurality of handlers and said protocol engine module communicate using a common interface protocol.
6. The communications system as claimed in claim 1 further comprising a Tenderer module for cooperating with said proxy modules to format data for said plurality of mobile wireless communications devices.
7. The communications system as claimed in claim 6 further comprising an extensible markup language (XML) engine module coupled to said renderer module.
8. The communications system as claimed in claim 7 further comprising a memory coupled to said XML engine module for storing a plurality of templates corresponding to respective operating protocols.
9. A protocol interface device as claimed in claim 1 for interfacing a plurality of mobile wireless communications devices with a plurality of data storage devices, the mobile wireless communications devices and the data storage devices each using at least one of a plurality of different operating protocols, the protocol interface device comprising:
a protocol engine module for communicating with the plurality of data storage devices using respective operating protocols;
a front-end proxy module coupled to said protocol engine and comprising
a respective proxy module for communicating with the plurality of mobile
wireless communications devices using each different operating protocol, and
at least one common core service module coupled to said proxy module
for routing traffic between said proxy module and said protocol engine module;
and
a configuration file module coupled to said front-end proxy module for
storing a plurality of different sets of configuration files relating to different
allocations of resources of the at least one common core service module;
said at least one common core service module allocating resources based upon a given service to be performed and a corresponding set of configuration files stored in said configuration file module;
said at least one common core service module comprising a plurality of handlers for interfacing said proxy module with said protocol engine module said proxy module converting access requests from said plurality of mobile wireless communications devices to common, access parameters;
said front-end proxy module further comprising a flow controller module for receiving the common access parameters from the proxy module and selecting desired handlers for processing thereof.
10. The protocol interface device as claimed in claim 9, wherein said plurality of different sets of configuration files comprises a primary set of configuration files corresponding to core resource allocation operations, and a secondary set of configuration files for customizing the core resource allocation operations.
11. The protocol interface device as claimed in claim 9, wherein said at least one common core service module is also for at least one of accessing data from the plurality of data storage devices and rendering data for the plurality of mobile wireless communications devices.
12. A method for interfacing a plurality of mobile wireless communications devices with a plurality of data storage devices, the mobile wireless communications devices and the data storage devices each using at least one of a plurality of different operating protocols, the method comprising:
providing a protocol engine module for communicating with the plurality of data storage devices using respective operating protocols;
coupling a front-end proxy module to the protocol engine comprising a respective proxy module for communicating with the plurality of mobile wireless communications devices using each different operating protocol, and
at least one common core service module coupled to the proxy module for routing traffic between the proxy module and the protocol engine module; and
providing a configuration file module for the front-end proxy module for storing a plurality of different sets of configuration files relating to different allocations of resources of the at least one common core service module, the at least one common core service module allocating resources based upon a given service to be performed and a corresponding set of configuration files stored in the configuration file module;
the at least one common core service module corn rising a plurality of
handlers for interfacing the proxy module with the protocol engine module;
the proxy module converting access requests from the plurality of mobile
wireless communications devices to common access parameters;
the front-end proxy module further comprising a flow controller module for receiving the common access parameters from the proxy module and selecting desired handlers for processing thereof.
13. The method as claimed in claim 12, wherein the plurality of different sets of
configuration files comprises a primary set of configuration files corresponding to core
resource allocation operations, and a secondary set of configuration files for customizing
the core resource allocation operations.
14. The method as claimed in claim 12, wherein the at least one common core service
module is also for at least one of accessing data from the plurality of data storage devices
and rendering data for the plurality of mobile wireless communications devices.


Documents:

1347-DELNP-2006-Abstract-(17-07-2009).pdf

1347-delnp-2006-abstract.pdf

1347-DELNP-2006-Claims-(04-03-2010).pdf

1347-DELNP-2006-Claims-(07-09-2011).pdf

1347-DELNP-2006-Claims-(17-07-2009).pdf

1347-delnp-2006-claims.pdf

1347-delnp-2006-Complete Specification Granted.pdf

1347-DELNP-2006-Correspondence Others-(07-09-2011).pdf

1347-DELNP-2006-Correspondence-Others (12-01-2010).pdf

1347-DELNP-2006-Correspondence-Others-(04-03-2010).pdf

1347-DELNP-2006-Correspondence-Others-(04-06-2009).pdf

1347-DELNP-2006-Correspondence-Others-(17-07-2009).pdf

1347-delnp-2006-correspondence-others-1.pdf

1347-delnp-2006-correspondence-others.pdf

1347-DELNP-2006-CorrespondenceOthers.pdf

1347-DELNP-2006-Description (Complete)-(17-07-2009).pdf

1347-delnp-2006-description (complete).pdf

1347-DELNP-2006-Drawings-(17-07-2009).pdf

1347-delnp-2006-drawings.pdf

1347-DELNP-2006-Form-1-(17-07-2009).pdf

1347-delnp-2006-form-1.pdf

1347-delnp-2006-form-18.pdf

1347-DELNP-2006-Form-2-(17-07-2009).pdf

1347-delnp-2006-form-2.pdf

1347-DELNP-2006-Form-3 (12-01-2010).pdf

1347-DELNP-2006-Form-3-(04-06-2009).pdf

1347-delnp-2006-form-3.pdf

1347-delnp-2006-form-5.pdf

1347-DELNP-2006-Others-Documents-(04-06-2009).pdf

1347-delnp-2006-pct-210.pdf

1347-delnp-2006-pct-220.pdf

1347-delnp-2006-pct-237.pdf

1347-delnp-2006-pct-401.pdf

1347-DELNP-2006-Petition-Others-(04-06-2009).pdf


Patent Number 249018
Indian Patent Application Number 1347/DELNP/2006
PG Journal Number 39/2011
Publication Date 30-Sep-2011
Grant Date 21-Sep-2011
Date of Filing 13-Mar-2006
Name of Patentee TEAMON SYSTEM, INC.
Applicant Address 1180 NW MAPLE STREET, SUITE 201, ISSAQUAH, WASHINGTON 98027 USA.
Inventors:
# Inventor's Name Inventor's Address
1 CLARKE DAVID JAMES 9463 221ST PL NE, REDMOND, WA 98053-2049 USA
PCT International Classification Number H04L
PCT International Application Number PCT/US2004/005729
PCT International Filing date 2004-02-26
PCT Conventions:
# PCT Application Number Date of Convention Priority Country
1 10/777,936 2004-02-12 U.S.A.
2 60/494,234 2003-08-11 U.S.A.