|Title of Invention||
METHOD FOR GENERATING WEB CONTENT
|Abstract||An architecture for presenting web content that modularizes the various components of that content. A "wire frame" defines spatial regions of a page of content. The regions are called "slots." A "view" defines a mapping or binding between the slots in a wire frame, and objects that generate content. A rendering engine fills the slots with content based on the objects bound to the slots. Slots can be bound to controls, extensible Style Language (XSL) tags, or other views. Controls are executable or interpretable code that generate content to fill a slot. An XSL processor can also generate such content based on an XSL tag. Additionally, views can be used recursively so that the content of a slot can be generated by another view. Controls can receive parameters from a configuration file, so that a given control can produce different variations of a given underlying piece of content. -26-|
|Full Text||FORM 2
THE PATENTS ACT 1970
[39 OF 1970]
[See Section 10; rule 13]
'INFRASTRUCTURE FOR GENERATING WEB CONTENT"
MICROSOFT CORPORATION, a corporation of the State of Washington having
a place of business at One Microsoft Way, Redmond, Washington 98052,
United States of America,
The following specification particularly describes the nature of the
invention and the manner in which it is to be performed:-
INFRASTRUCTURE FOR GENERATING WEB CONTENT
FIELD OF THE INVENTION
 The present invention relates generally to the field of computing. More particularly,
the present invention provides an infrastructure that can be used to dynamically create web content,
such as the web pages created by portal sites and search engines.
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
 A conventional web page comprises content in a markup language, such as
Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) or extensible Hypertext Markup Language (XHTML),
which is suitable for rendering by a web browser. Some web pages are static - i.e., a piece of
constant, unchanging HTML or XHTML content may be stored in a file that can be downloaded to
a client machine and displayed on a browser. However, most commercial web content, such as
content provided by search sites, portal sites, E-commerce sites, is not static, but rather is generated
dynamically so that it can be personalized for the user or generated in response to some input from
 Dynamically-generated content is generated by a program designed for that
purpose. Such a program is a module of executable or interpretable code that creates content
according to set of rules or procedures. For example, when a user transmits a query to a search
engine site, the search engine consults various sources (e.g., databases of known web pages) to
produce results, and then a content-generating program at the search engine site generates a page of
HTML content that includes the results, and transmits that page to the user. Clearly, such a results
page must be generated dynamically, since the content of the results page will differ depending
upon what query the user has submitted.
 While existing software is effective at dynamically generating web content, such
software suffers from a lack of flexibility when there is a creative change to the content that the
program needs to produce. For example, a search engine may use a program that displays search
results as a list of the titles of web pages that the search engine has located. However, if the operator
of the search engine wishes to introduce a new way of presenting these results (e.g., enhancing the
list with thumbnail images of the located web pages), in general the only way to accomplish this
change is to rewrite the program (or, at least, to add code to the program that supports inclusion of
the thumbnail images).
 Most web content can be viewed as being built from modular "building blocks" of
smaller pieces of content. For example, a search results page is made up of various separate pieces
of content (e.g., a logo, a copyright notice, the results of the most recent search, a search box for
entering another search query, advertisements, etc.). In theory, the modular nature of web content
suggests that a single program could drive the content generation process, by building content from
modular building blocks that the content designer would provide at run time. A creative change to
the content would not necessitate a change to such a program, since the program could simply be
directed to use different building blocks to produce different content. However, conventional
content-generation software is extremely limited in terms of what types of created changes can be
made to the content without changing the software itself.
 In view of the foregoing, there is a need for a system that overcomes the drawbacks
of the prior art.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
 The present invention provides an infrastructure for generating content, such as
web pages. The infrastructure is based on the idea that a page of content can be built from smaller
components that can be designed, implemented, and modified separately. The present invention
allows these smaller components, as well as the way they fit together, to be specified to the content-
generation software at runtime.
 According to the invention, the creation of content is specified by a combination of
"wire frames/' "views," and content-generating objects. A wire frame is a data structure that defines
spatial regions of a piece of content. For example, a wire frame could define a web page as having
four rectangular regions, running vertically from the top of the page to the bottom. Each of these
regions is called a "slot." A "view" is a data structure that binds each of the slots in a wire frame to
a content-generating object, or a sequence of content-generating objects (or, alternatively,
designates a particular slot as being empty).
 In order to render a view, a rendering engine accesses the wire frame identified in.
the view and, for each slot in that wire frame, causes the content-generating object bound to that slot
to pYoduce content. The rendering engine then places the content produced by the object into the
slot. The process is repeated for each slot in the wire frame. The output of the rendering engine is a
piece of content (e.g., an HTML web page) that contains content produced by each of the content-
generating objects in the appropriate region of the wire frame.
 Content-generating objects include "controls," extensible Style Language (XSL)
tags, and views. A control is executable or interpretable code that generates HTML or XHTML
content that is to be placed into a slot. An XSL tag is a datum that can be used by XSL processing
software to generate HTML or XHTML content. Since evaluating a view results in the production
of content, a view is itself a content-generating object. Thus, content can be built hierarchically
from views that are actually sub-views, sub-sub-views, etc., of the top-level view. When the
rendering engine encounters a slot that is bound to a sub-view, the rendering engine can call itself
recursively to generate content for the slot based on that view.
 According to one feature of the invention, controls can exhibit different behavior
based on parameters contained in a configuration file. Thus, a given control can be designed to
produce different variations of a piece of content based on which parameter is provided in the
 Other features of the invention are described below.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
 The foregoing summary, as well as the following detailed description of preferred
embodiments, is better understood when read in conjunction with the appended drawings. For the
purpose of illustrating the invention, there is shown in the drawings exemplary constructions of the
invention; however, the invention is not limited to the specific methods and instrumentalities
disclosed. In the drawings:
 FIG. 1 is a block diagram of an exemplary computing environment in which
aspects of the invention may be implemented;
 FIG. 2 is a block diagram of the user interface of an exemplary web browser;
 FIG. 3 is a block diagram of an first exemplary wire frame;
(0017) FIG. 4 is a block diagram of a first exemplary control;
 FIG. 5 is a block diagram of a first exemplary view that binds controls to the first
exemplary wire frame;
 FIG. 6 is a block diagram of a second exemplary wire frame;
 FIGS. 7-8 are block diagrams of exemplary extensible Style Language (XSL) tags;
 FIG. 9 is a block diagram of a second exemplary control;
 FIG. 10 is a block diagram of a second exemplary view;
 FIG. 11 is a block diagram of a third exemplary view;
 FIG. 12 is a block diagram of exemplary content generated in accordance with
aspects of the invention;
 FIG. 13 is a block diagram of an exemplary infrastructure for generating content in
accordance with aspects of the invention; and
 FIG. 14 is a flow diagram of an exemplary process for generating content in
accordance with aspects of the invention.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION
 Much commercial web content is built from smaller pieces of content that fit
together graphically in a defined way. The present invention provides an infrastructure that allows a
content provider to specify how content is to be constructed based on these smaller pieces. The
infrastructure includes a rendering engine that dynamically generates the content based on the
content provider's specification.
Exemplary Computing Environment
 FIG. 1 shows an exemplary computing environment in which aspects of the
invention may be implemented. The computing system environment 100 is only one example of a
suitable computing environment and is not intended to suggest any limitation as to the scope of use
or functionality of the invention. Neither should the computing environment 100 be interpreted as
having any dependency or requirement relating to any one or combination of components illustrated
in the exemplary operating environment 100.
 The invention is operational with numerous other general purpose or special
purpose computing system environments or configurations. Examples of well known computing
systems, environments, and/or configurations that may be suitable for use with the invention .
include, but are not limited to, personal computers, server computers, hand-held or laptop devices,
multiprocessor systems, microprocessor-based systems, set top boxes, programmable consumer
electronics, network PCs, minicomputers, mainframe computers, embedded systems, distributed
computing environments that include any of the above systems or devices, and the like.
 The invention may be described in the general context of computer-executable
instructions, such as program modules, being executed by a computer. Generally, program modules
include routines, programs, objects, components, data structures, etc. that perform particular tasks
or implement particular abstract data types. The invention may also be practiced in distributed
computing environments where tasks are performed by remote processing devices that are linked
through a communications network or other data transmission medium. In a distributed computing
environment, program modules and other data may be located in both local and remote computer
storage media including memory storage devices.
 With reference to FIG. 1, an exemplary system for implementing the invention
includes a general purpose computing device in the form of a computer 110. Components of
computer 110 may include, but are not limited to, a processing unit 120, a system memory 130, and
a system bus 121 that couples various system components including the system memory to the
processing unit 120. The system bus 121 may be any of several types of bus structures including a
memory bus or memory controller, a peripheral bus, and a local bus using any of a variety of bus
architectures. By way of example, and not limitation, such architectures include Industry Standard
Architecture (ISA) bus, Micro Channel Architecture (MCA) bus, Enhanced ISA (EISA) bus, Video
Electronics Standards Association (VESA) local bus, and Peripheral Component Interconnect (PCI)
bus (also known as Mezzanine bus).
 Computer 110 typically includes a variety of computer readable media. Computer
readable media can be any available media that can be accessed by computer 110 and includes both
volatile and nonvolatile media, removable and non-removable media. By way of example, and not
limitation, computer readable media may comprise computer storage media and communication
media. Computer storage media includes both volatile and nonvolatile, removable and non-
removable media implemented in any method or technology for storage of information such as
computer readable instructions, data structures, program modules or other data. Computer storage
media includes, but is not limited to, RAM, ROM, EEPROM, flash memory or other memory
technology, CDROM, digital versatile disks (DVD) or other optical disk storage, magnetic
cassettes, magnetic tape, magnetic disk storage or other magnetic storage devices, or any other
medium which can be used to store the desired information and which can accessed by computer
110. Communication media typically embodies computer readable instructions, data structures,
program modules or other data in a modulated data signal such as a carrier wave or other transport
mechanism and includes any information delivery media. The term "modulated data signal" means
a signal that has one or more of its characteristics set or changed in such a manner as to encode
information in the signal. By way of example, and not limitation, communication media includes
wired media such as a wired network or direct-wired connection, and wireless media such as
acoustic, RF, infrared and other wireless media. Combinations of any of the above should also be
included within the scope of computer readable media.
[0033J The system memory 130 includes computer storage media in the form of volatile
and/or nonvolatile memory such as read only memory (ROM) 131 and random access memory
(RAM) 132. A basic input/output system 133 (BIOS), containing the basic routines that help to
transfer information between elements within computer 110, such as during start-up, is typically
stored in ROM 131. RAM 132 typically contains data and/or program modules that are immediately
accessible to and/or presently being operated on by processing unit 120. By way of example, and
not limitation, FIG. 1 illustrates operating system 134, application programs 135, other program
modules 136, and program data 137.
 The computer 110 may also include other removable/non-removable,
volatile/nonvolatile computer storage media. By way of example only, FIG. 1 illustrates a hard disk
drive 140 that reads from or writes to non-removable, nonvolatile magnetic media, a magnetic disk
drive 151 that reads from or writes to a removable, nonvolatile magnetic disk 152, and an optical
disk drive 155 that reads from or writes to a removable, nonvolatile optical disk 156, such as a CD
ROM or other optical media. Other removable/non-removable, volatile/nonvolatile computer
storage media that can be used in the exemplary operating environment include, but are not limited
to, magnetic tape cassettes, flash memory cards, digital versatile disks, digital video tape, solid state
RAM, solid state ROM, and the like. The hard disk drive 141 is typically connected to the system ,
bus 121 through an non-removable memory interface such as interface 140, and magnetic disk drive
151 and optical disk drive 155 are typically connected to the system bus 121 by a removable "
memory interface, such as interface 150.
 The drives and their associated computer storage media discussed above and
illustrated in FIG. 1, provide storage of computer readable instructions, data structures, program
modules and other data for the computer 110. In FIG, 1, for example, hard disk drive 141 is
illustrated as storing operating system 144, application programs 145, other program modules 146,
and program data 147. Note that these components can either be the same as or different from
operating system 134, application programs 135, other program modules 136, and program data
137. Operating system 144, application programs 145, other program modules 146, and program
data 147 are given different numbers here to illustrate that, at a minimum, they are different copies.
A user may enter commands and information into the computer 20 through input devices such as a
keyboard 162 and pointing device 161, commonly referred to as a mouse, trackball or touch pad.
Other input devices (not shown) may include a microphone, joystick, game pad, satellite dish,
scanner, or the like. These and other input devices are often connected to the processing unit 120
through a user input interface 160 that is coupled to the system bus, but may be connected by other
interface and bus structures, such as a parallel port, game port or a universal serial bus (USB). A
monitor 191 or other type of display device is also connected to the system bus 121 via an interface,
such as a video interface 190. In addition to the monitor, computers may also include other
peripheral output devices such as speakers 197 and printer 196, which may be connected through an
output peripheral interface 190.
 The computer 110 may operate in a networked environment using logical
connections to one or more remote computers, such as a remote computer 180. The remote
computer 180 may be a personal computer, a server, a router, a network PC, a peer device or other
common network node, and typically includes many or all of the elements described above relative
to the computer 110, although only a memory storage device 181 has been illustrated in FIG. 1. The
logical connections depicted in FIG. 1 include a local area network (LAN) 171 and a wide area
network (WAN) 173, but may also include other networks. Such networking environments are
commonplace in offices, enterprise-wide computer networks, intranets and the Internet.
 When used in a LAN networking environment, the computer 110 is connected to
the LAN 171 through a network interface or adapter 170. When used in a WAN networking
envirotvment, the computer 110 typically includes a modem 172 or other means for establishing
communications over the WAN 173, such as the Internet. The modem 172, which may be internal
or external, may be connected to the system bus 121 via the user input interface 160, or other
appropriate mechanism. In a networked environment, program modules depicted relative to the
computer 110, or portions thereof, may be stored in the remote memory storage device. By way of
example, and not limitation, FIG. 1 illustrates remote application programs 185 as residing on
memory device 181. It will be appreciated that the network connections shown are exemplary and
other means of establishing a communications link between the computers may be used.
Exemplary Web Browser
 FIG. 2 shows the visual interface of an exemplary web browser 200. As is known
in the art, a web browser is a piece of software that allows a user to interact with certain types of
content (e.g., HTML content), and to retrieve such content from a network. Browser 200 may, for
example, constitute software that is stored on computer 110 (shown in FIG. 1), and that executes on
processing unit 120 (shown in FIG. 1). Browser 200 may access content from a wide area network
173 (shown in FIG. 1), such as the Internet, to which computer 110 is connected. Typically, browser
200 is also able to access content that is stored locally on computer 110.
 The exemplary browser of FIG. 2 displays various information to the user. In
particular, browser 200 displays a navigation bar 202 to the user. Navigation bar 202 includes a box
204, into which a user may enter a Uniform Resource Locator (URL), into order to point the
browser to a particular content item. In the example of FIG. 2, the user has entered the URL
http://search.msn.com into box 204, thereby indicating that the user wishes to access the content
identified by that URL. Browser 200 retrieves this content from wherever on the Internet it may be
located, and displays the content in viewing area 206. In the example of FIG. 2, the content is
delivered in HTML or XHTML. (The phrase "http" in the URL stands for "Hypertext Transfer
Protocol; it's presence in a URL indicates that the underlying content is HTML or XHTML
content.) Browser 200 contains, or otherwise accesses, an HTML and/or XHTML interpreter that
renders the HTML or XHTML content received by browser 200. In the example of FIG. 2, browser
200 displays the title of the content ("MSN Search - More Useful Everyday") in title bar 208.
 A typical browser, such as browser 200, also allows the user to perform various
functions, such as: printing, mailing, or saving the displayed content; using a list of "favorites" or
"bookmarks" to navigate to other content; changing the default font for text content, etc. This
functionality is exposed to the user by means of menu bar 210 and/or buttons 212.
 As discussed below, the invention provides an infrastructure for generating content,
such as that which is displayed in viewing area 206.
Data Structures for Creating Presentations of Content
 The invention provides an infrastructure that generalizes and abstracts the process
by which content, such as the XHTML content for a web page, is created. (From this point forward,
examples of browser-renderable content shall refer to that content as being XHTML content.
However, it will be understood that the invention can be used to generate other types of content,
such as HTML, Wireless Markup Language (WML), Voice extensible Markup Language (VXML),
 The infrastructure of the invention makes use of four types of data structures: wire
frames, views, controls, and configuration files.
 A "wire frame" is a data structure that defines spatial regions of a page of content.
Each region is called a "slot."
 A "control" comprises executable or interpretable code that dynamically generates
XHTML content, to be placed within a particular slot defined by a wire frame.
 A "view" is a data structure that creates a mapping between a particular slot and a
particular control (or a particular sequence of controls). A view can also map an extensible Style
Language (XSL) tag, or another view, into a slot (a view can also map sequence of XSL tags or
views into a slot); the mapping of XSL tags and views into slots is discussed in greater detail below.
 A "configuration file" contains data that is used by controls to affect their behavior.
For example, a control may be capable of generating two or more different variations of a particular
piece of content, and the configuration file may contain a parameter that indicates which of these
different variations should be generated.
 FIG. 3 shows an exemplary wire frame 300. Wire frame 300 divides a conceptual -
page of content into regions, which, as noted above, are called "slots." In the example of FIG. 3,
there are four slots, 304(1), 304(2), 304(3), and 304(4). Each of the slots has a name; in this
example, the names of slots 304(1) through 304(4) are "slotjieader," "slot_results," "slot_sidebar,"
and "slot_footer," respectively. Wire frame 300 itself also has a name ("Wireframe_Site", in this
example). As discussed below, the names are used in a view data structure to identify the wire
frame and each of its slots.
 Typically, the wire frame is represented as an XHTML structure. Thus, the
exemplary wire frame shown in FIG. 3 can be defined as follows:
As can be seen, the above XHTML definition lays out four regions of content: a top region with the
slot name "slot_header"; a bottom region with the slot name "slot_footer"; and a two-column table
between the top and bottom regions, where the left column is named "slot_results" and the right
column is named "slot_sidebar."
 FIG. 4 shows an exemplary control 400, which generates XHTML content 402.
Control 400 has a name ("Control_Footer," in this example), and, as discussed below, the name is
used in a view data structure to identify the control. Control 400 may be used to produce the content
that will be inserted into the slot named "slot_footer" in wire frame 300.
 Control 400 comprises executable or interpretable code that is configured to
dynamically generate XHTML content 402 while it executes. Control 400 may be embodied in
various ways. For example, control 400 may comprise machine-executable code (such as an .exe or
-dll file), an interpretable script (such as a script in the Java or C# languages), virtual machine code
(such as Java bytecode), etc.
 The following is an example of pseudo-code that describes the function of control
400. (It will readily be appreciated that the following pseudo-code could be embodied in any "of the
above-mentioned executable or interpretable components);
strFooter = _
|Indian Patent Application Number||160/MUM/2004|
|PG Journal Number||27/2013|
|Date of Filing||13-Feb-2004|
|Name of Patentee||MICROSOFT CORPORATION|
|Applicant Address||ONE MICROSOFT WAY, REDMOND, WASHINGTON 98052,|
|PCT International Classification Number||G06F15/00|
|PCT International Application Number||N/A|
|PCT International Filing date|