US 20020087630 A1
A network-based system for routing data between software applications with access to the network is taught, the system including at least one router connected to the network for routing between applications and the router, software in the router for creating and deleting routes and for converting incoming data of differing markup languages into a common format, at least one client device connected to the network, the device adapted for communication with the router, and software in the client device for determining how data sent to its host device is rendered for use by the device. The client device receives data from the router in the form of the common format wherein the receiving device reads the data, builds an object model from logic instructions embedded in the data and executes the object model to implement the logic at the device for data rendering.
1. A network-based system for routing data between software applications with access to the network comprising:
at least one router connected to the network for establishing and maintaining routes between the router and the applications according to request;
a first version of software residing in and executable from the at least one router for controlling route creation and deletion and converting incoming data of differing markup languages into a common format;
at least one client device connected to the network, the at least one device adapted for communication with the at least one router; and
a second version of software residing in and executable from the at least one client device for determining how data sent to its host device is rendered for use by the device;
characterized in that data requested by the at least one client device is sent to the requesting device from the at least one router in the common format wherein the receiving device reads the data, builds an object model from logic instructions embedded in the data received and executes the object model to implement the logic at the device for rendering the data.
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12. A server application distributed to a client device for enabling the client device to interact with an information and presence service hosted on a data-packet-network the application comprising:
a data-interpretation module for interpreting data sent to the device from the service and for creating an object model from any logic instructions embedded in the data;
a run-time engine for executing the created object model; and
a data-rendering module for applying the logic resulting from execution of the object model to the function and display devices supported on the client device;
characterized in that a user controlling the device may control how data is rendered in conjunction with the display and function attributes of the device through creation of unique query applications used by the device in requesting the data.
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24. A method for client-side control of how data is rendered on a client device interacting with a Web based information and presence service comprising steps of:
(a) providing a server application capable of object modeling and object execution to reside and execute on the client device;
(c) developing a query application containing a message requesting data and logic instructions for data rendering;
(d) sending the query application to the information and presence service;
(e) receiving a response from the service, the response containing message data and the data rendering logic;
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 The present application claims priority benefit under 35 U.S.C. 119(e) of Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 60/242,045 filed on Oct. 20, 2000, and incorporates all disclosure of the prior application by reference.
 The present invention is in the fields of Internet communication including topic subscription, messaging, and presence reporting and pertains particularly to a method and apparatus for enabling an enhanced information and presence reporting service.
 Communication methods and technologies used over data-packet-networks have continually undergone evolution with the advent of new protocols, markup languages, and compression technologies. The well-known Internet network represents the most extensive and commonly used data-packet-network for communications. Network-based communications applications are available, which enable people and corporations to subscribe to and report presence information and subscribed information in near real time.
 More recently, popular handheld, Internet-capable, devices such as the Palm™, Bluetooth™, and Internet-capable cellular telephones have been utilized as client devices capable of subscribing to and posting information wirelessly in interaction with service equipment and Web-based software applications hosted on the Internet by various service providers.
 At the time of the writing of this application, there is no practical method for mobilizing web applications and enterprise data for use on handheld devices in an integrated fashion. One reason for this is proprietary considerations in software development and complexities of attempting to integrate various markup languages and proprietary Web-based service models.
 One attempted solution for providing viable Web-integration of applications for Web-enabled devices of disparate platforms and capabilities is the use of a proxy server. A proxy server is a server application that resides between a client applications and a real server. The generic function of the proxy is to intercept all requests from a client to a real server and attempt to fill the requests without the help of the real server. If the proxy cannot fill a request, it will forward the request on to the real server. The way proxy servers are used in messaging and presence service architecture is to retrieve content from, for example, the Internet on behalf of a client per client request. The proxy receiving the requested data then attempts to parse out specific portions of the content (content filtering) that are not compatible with a particular user's access device display requirements, which must be known to the proxy. After filtering the data, the re-purposed content from the Internet is delivered to the client's mobile device.
 One drawback to the proxy method is that processing data for display on disparate user devices requires considerable processing power within the proxy server. Another obvious drawback to the proxy method is that the proxy requires a set of defined rules for filtering data for a particular type device. Often the rules for parsing data are rather loose resulting in re-purposed data that is generally unappealing in format and presentation attributes due to lack of customization options for data presentation. If strict rules are provided to the proxy, a substantial amount of time is required to define them from the developer's point of view.
 One other way to provide universal integration of applications for custom presentation to mobile devices is to use Extensible Markup Language (XML) in conjunction with an XML transforming language known in the art as Extensible Stylesheet Language Transformations (XSLT), which is a transformation vocabulary used to specify how to create new structured information from existing XML documents. XML content is transformed for use on a particular device through the application of customized style sheets (CSS), and delivered to users.
 Yet another approach to presenting appealing customized information is the creation of content specifically for a target device. The well-known Palm Query Application (PQA) format is one example of this approach. Variants of these formats exist. A drawback with PQA is that it only supports Palm devices and is fairly generic with respect to multiple versions of the device. Complex definition of strict parsing rules applies to the XML/XSLT and the PQA techniques as well as the proxy technique described above. Moreover, it is noted that in all of these approaches, server-side processing is considerable.
 The problems with content presentation to mobile devices exist principally because there is no common and standard set of rules for building Web-applications that run on small wireless devices. Furthermore, prior-art solutions focus on sever-side capability and provide no programmability on the client side of interaction.
 Therefore, what is clearly needed is a method and apparatus for building customized Web-applications that are usable at the client-side of an information and presence subscription service and delivery system wherein processing requirements can be distributed among clients. A system such as this would ensure that requested content is optimally presented to mobile devices regardless of device type while reducing server-side processing requirements.
 A network-based system for routing data between software applications with access to the network is provided. The system comprises at least one router connected to the network for establishing and maintaining routes between the router and the applications according to request; a first version of software residing in and executable from the at least one router for controlling route creation and deletion and converting incoming data of differing markup languages into a common format; at least one client device connected to the network, the at least one device adapted for communication with the at least one router; and, a second version of software residing in and executable from the at least one client device for determining how data sent to its host device is rendered for use by the device.
 Data requested by the at least one client device is sent to the requesting device from the at least one router in the common format wherein the receiving device reads the data, builds an object model from logic instructions embedded in the data received and executes the object model to implement the logic at the device for rendering the data. In a preferred embodiment, the network-based system is practiced on the Internet network.
 Applications receiving information, in a preferred embodiment, comprise both network applications and client applications. The software applications subscribe to data according to a shared topic. In one embodiment the at least one client device is a mobile device connected to the network through a wireless network. Also in the case of more than one client device, the devices comprise a mix of different types and platforms.
 In another aspect of the present invention, a server application is provided and distributed to a client device for enabling the client device to interact with an information and presence service hosted on a data-packet-network. The server application comprises a data-interpretation module for interpreting data sent to the device from the service and for creating an object model from any logic instructions embedded in the data; a run-time engine for executing the created object model; and, a data-rendering module for applying the logic resulting from execution of the object model to the function and display devices supported on the client device.
 The server application enables a user controlling the device to control how data is rendered in conjunction with the display and function attributes of the device through creation of unique query applications used by the device in requesting the data.
 In a preferred aspect, the data-packet-network hosting the information and presence service is the Internet network. Also in a preferred aspect, message data is propagated between the service and the client device using the query application and response format. In one aspect, the query applications contain logic instructions executed on the client side, the logic instructions developed by the client.
 In a preferred application of the method, in step (a) the server application includes full Web browser functionality. In this aspect in step (a) the client device is a mobile device and connects to the service through a wireless network. Also in a preferred application of the method, in step (c) the message requesting data is of the form of XML or SOAP.
 In one application of the method, in step (d) the query application is specific to particular data source hosted by the service and in step (e) the response is of the form of a compact markup language rendered from a traditional markup language. In a preferred aspect, in step (e) the response is compressed for transport and in step (f) the response is decompressed before interpretation.
 Now for the first time, an information and presence service architecture and software model is provided wherein the client has control over custom data rendering and server-side processing is reduced through distribution of server functionality to the client.
FIG. 1 is a block-diagram illustrating basic components of a wirelessly accessible Web-based presence and information service according to prior art.
FIG. 2 is a block-diagram illustrating basic components of a wirelessly-accessible Web-based presence and information service according to an embodiment of the present invention
FIG. 3 is a block diagram illustrating components and processing capability of a programmable client application according to an embodiment of the present invention.
FIG. 4 is a block diagram illustrating a request/response format for messaging facilitated by the micro server of FIG. 3.
FIG. 5 is a flow diagram illustrating user/server steps for processing requests according to an embodiment of the present invention.
FIG. 6 is a process flow diagram illustrating steps for interpreting an event received at a client device and dynamically displaying the event data according to an embodiment of the present invention.
FIG. 1 is a block-diagram illustrating basic components of a wirelessly accessible Web-based presence and information service according to prior art. As was described with reference to the background section of the specification, there are a variety of information and presence services available on the Internet network. In this prior art example, basic components of such a service are described. The two main communicators of an information and presence service are a client device, illustrated in this example as client device 101, and an application server illustrated herein as application server 105.
 Application server 105 is typically hosted on the Internet network represented herein by a double arrow given the element number 102 and labeled the Internet. Application server 105 can be a main server providing the functionality of the information and presence service, or it may be a proxy server setup between clients and a main server. Application server 105 is illustrated as having a logical connection to Internet 102. Client device 101 can be any handheld device operating in a wireless mode and having Internet connection capability.
 A wireless network 106 represents any wireless network that a client uses to access Internet 102 from device 101. A carrier gateway (GWY) 107 is illustrated in this example within the domain of network 106. Gateway 107 is adapted to receive and send communication from and to Internet 102 over land-lines and to send and receive communication from to and from client device 101 in wireless mode.
 Client device 101 has a Web browser 104 adapted to enable the device to access Internet 102. Web browser 104 is illustrated separately from client device 101 for illustrative purposes only. In prior art implementation (depending on the service) browser 104 may be a thin mini-browser plug-in provided by a host of the information service, or may simply be a generic Web browser installed on device 101. The functionality of information and presence services revolves around a server/client software application illustrated in this example as software application 103 a (server) and 103 b (client). Server application 103 a includes logic for processing events and responses and for configuring responses to particular display type of client device 101. Client application 103 b can be a browser plug-in (BRP LG) as is illustrated in this example, or it may comprise the entire Web browser 104. This again depends upon the nature of the service offered.
 In typical operation of the architecture as presented in this example, client device 101, assumed to be a subscriber, initiates a request event through Web browser 104 with the aid of client 103 b. The request is generally of the form of a hyper-text-transfer-protocol (HTTP) request. Web browser 104 establishes communication with application server 105 through gateway 107 and wireless network 106 and propagates the request event to application server 105. The request portion of the illustrated transaction is illustrated herein by the directional arrows labeled Event, one of which is broken to show wireless propagation.
 Application server 105 receives the request from client device 101 and processes that request with the aid of software 103 a. If application server 105 is a proxy server an additional communication they be required between the proxy and a main application server. In any event information from Web pages written in one or more formats for wireless devices may be accessed by application server 105 or be maintained within application server 105. One responsibility of application server 105 is to utilize server application 103 a in formatting a response to the request event received, the format applicable and displayable on client device 101. A response sent from application server 105 as a result of receipt and processing of the request event is illustrated in this example by directional arrows labeled Response, one of which is broken to show wireless propagation.
 In this prior art example all of the processing capability required to process requests from device 101 into appropriate responses that can be disseminated by the device is contained in application server 105 and represented by server application 103 a. Client application 103 b has no important processing capabilities other than to render the data received to the display mechanism of device 101. In some prior-art cases, some functionality may be burned into the memory of client device 101 however, this is typically limited to services that support only one type of device and format.
 In this example a user operating client device 101 has no control over how information will be displayed or presented on device 101. All query application formats and device presentation configurations for those formats are developed for and managed at application server 105. A client-operating device 101 cannot dynamically change the way data is presented on his device according to preference unless the particular change option is supported and recorded in application server 105 an executable by a preset code or signal initiated by device 101.
FIG. 2 is a block-diagram illustrating basic components of a wirelessly accessible Web-based presence and information service 200 according to an embodiment of the present invention. Service 200 is in a preferred embodiment, is a complete information, presence, and messaging service that specializes in facilitating a group of clients (subscribers) who access the service through a variety of Internet-capable appliances in wireless mode. Service 200 is exemplified in this example by an illustrated edge server (ES) 203, a wireless gateway (GWY) 205, and a client device 206. Edge server 203 replaces application server 105, which was described with reference to FIG. 1 above. Edge server 203 is illustrated within an Internet network cloud 202 and is connected to an Internet backbone exemplified herein as a bidirectional arrow extending through cloud 202.
 Edge server 203, unlike application server 105 described with reference to the prior art example of FIG. 1 is adapted mainly as a router that establishes routes between listeners (subscribers) to the service and information topics established according to universal resource identifiers (URIs). More detail regarding the routing function of edge server 203 will be provided further below.
 Unlike application server 105, edge server 203 does not contain the equivalent of logic 103 a described with reference to the prior art example of FIG. 1. That is to say that software and processing capability dedicated to establishing and defining complicated rules sets for data display on various devices is not required and in a preferred embodiment is not present within edge server 203. Instead, edge server 203 has a comparatively simple software (SW) instance 207 provided therein and adapted primarily to facilitate the carrier or routing functions of service 200.
 SW 207 is adapted to disseminate incoming data content of the forms of disparate markup languages used such as wireless markup language (WML), CHTML (chunks of HTML), and HTML among others arriving into the server and is adapted to render the data into a bit-compacted and simple format known to the inventor as a “quick format” or compact markup language (CML) that supports XML messaging and object manipulation. Software 207 optimizes traffic sent into a wireless carrier's network exemplified in this example by a wireless network cloud 204 and gateway 205. In this example, edge server 203, with the aid of SW 207 intercepts all content requests from client device 206, discovers the required and relevant data, formulates a response in XML that is rendered in the quick format (CML). The result is that updated content requested by clients can be populated into an existing HTML template of an original request.
 Micro server 201 is, in a preferred embodiment, a mini browser application containing all of the required network browsing capabilities for network navigation. However, in one embodiment micro server 201 may be a browser plug-in to an existing browser, in which case the server is adapted to combine existing browser capabilities with the novel capabilities of the invention.
 A main and novel difference between service 200 of this example and the service of the prior art example described with reference to FIG. 1 is that the processing power normally required at server-side for initiating and implementing device display parameters for adequate display of data sent to requesting devices is distributed to each subscribed device and therefore performed locally (client side) instead of at the server. Therefore edge server 203 may be provided in a much more streamlined fashion in terms of required processor resource than prior-art application servers that do everything locally.
 Micro-server 201, although somewhat heavier than a state-of-art “thin browser client” used as a client in many wireless service applications at the time of the writing of this specification, does not require Java, Active-X or other heavier client-side code modules. Therefore, it is not significantly heavier and does not noticeably degrade or impede performance of a host device. More detail regarding the components and functions of micro server 201 are provided further below.
 An input/output (I/O) 302 is logically illustrated on device 206 to represent communication with an edge server analogous to edge server 203 of FIG. 2 above. Communication is of course bi-directional as represented by an illustrated double-arrow labeled To Edge Server. As previously described, the service of the present invention is HTTP request/response-based as is the format for Internet device communication. Micro server 201 enables mobile users to download, cache, and access QAs using any device. CML interpreter (CLMI) 304 enables the Universal Application Runtime (micro server) to read the basic QA format pioneered by Palm™ (PQA). However, server 201 should not be construed as limited in parsing capability to the well-known PQA format as other QA formats known to the inventor are also supported. Currently, the basic PQA format allows application developers to create static HTML applications (with no application logic), which is considered a major weakness of the format. The capability of micro server 201 allows developers to create dynamic applications (with application logic).
 In prior art, the basic QA format does not allow abstraction concerning the complex development attributes for rendering one format of data to multiple devices. For example, in PQA only Palm devices are supported. Micro server 201 is capable of abstraction to a level of obfuscating the usual complexities of developing web applications for disparate devices. Because micro server 201 has system-level knowledge of a devices profile (screen size, display capabilities, etc), it is able to shape the view of a particular application to the device dynamically. Application developers can therefore program applications against a single interface defined in HTML and expect universal compatibility among devices enabled with micro server 201. In addition, clients can execute a single application on multiple devices having different display capabilities using one runtime execution.
 Quick HTML (Developers)
 The term Desto used in the syntax refers to a brand name applied to the service of the present invention and may be repeated in script examples throughout this specification. As was previously mentioned in this specification, service 200 functions around a system of topics, events and routes. Topics contain events and routes. Events are sent to a topic and the topic will forward events along all of its routes. A route can point to another topic or to a generic listener. A topic is identified by a URI as previously described above. An example would be “/workorder/update/xml”. To avoid name conflicts, the topic names begin with domain names.
 wherein “from” refers to a topic to listen to for example, “/workorder” and “to” referrs to a “listener”.
 The types of parameters associated with “to” include “string”, a URL, for example, “/patient/status/update”, function, which is the name of the function that receives messages on the Web page, and object, which is the object in the Web page that receives the messages and is set to onMessgage.
 do_max_age: Requests the delivery of events that have occurred in the past and are younger than the specified maximum age in seconds. The value of Infinity can be used to specify all previous events. Do_max_n refers to the maximum number of recent events to be delivered. These events, and all future events, will be delivered to the specified destination. ID refers to optional. ID of a route. This can be used to change options of an existing subscription. If a subscription is changed, events might be re-sent based on the value of do_max_age. If a subscription is changed, the ‘from’ parameter must match the original subscription. The ID should be a globally unique ID. If not specified, the server will generate a unique ID.
 An example of an instruction to unubscribe to a particular topic is as follows:
 An example of an instruction for publishing is as follows:
 wherein “to” refers to destination topic and “event” refers to the published event object, properties of which include the payload (text string to send). Other properties of “event” are “id” (unique), expires (the time at which the event expires and is removed from the system), and “other”. Other refers to a custom value that can be created and added.
 XML and SOAP
 When an edge server such as ES 203 of FIG. 2 receives a POST such as the one immediately above, the object that was sent in the message is accessed from the “body” property of the message. Sub-properties are accessed via the same names as in the original object. For example: msg.body.patientupdate.fname and msg.body.patientupdate.1name.
 When publishing an object as XML or SOAP, it is required to provide the name of the object. For XML messages, this becomes the root tag of the document that is sent, and will be the name used to access the data when the message is received. For SOAP messages, this will become a sub-element of the Body sub-element.
 For example, the following properties:
 would generate the following XML:
 and would generate the following SOAP:
FIG. 4 is a block diagram illustrating a push format for messaging facilitated by micro server 201 of FIG. 3. In this example, edge server 203 is illustrated as connected to an Internet backbone as in previous examples. Micro server 201 communicates with edge server 203 also as previously described. Micro server 201 has a script 401 residing therein, which contains a function on Message and an alert order, presence information indicates that the user is actively receiving event pushed to micro server 201 as they occur in edge server 203. Script 401 is illustrated in expanded detail for clarity. It is noted that script, using syntax described above, is listening for the status of a patient. The script is followed by an appropriate response XML response in the form of a directed event 403 illustrated by a directional arrow labeled event associated with an event properties block given in the XML message format. After processing on the client device, the resulting displayed message is an illustrated message 404 reading “Your patient is in surgery”. An event handler 405 receives message 403 and it is processed as described with reference to FIG. 3 above. It is noted herein that there may be more than one event handler active at any given time. A bi-directional arrow illustrated between event handler 405 and displayed message 404 represents micro server processing of message 403 and subsequent display of event 404 in a human readable format.
 The service of the present invention is geared toward allowing pages and applications to interact without having to know the details of the other pages or applications. A common shared location or “topic” as described further above facilitates this concept. Each page or application need only be aware or know about and communicate with a topic rather than with every other page or application. Developers need only agree on the shared topics and the messages. This method is much simpler than coordinating what platforms, languages, APIs, etc. will be used as is the case with prior-art services.
 Messaging can be in any format, however in a preferred embodiment messages are in XML. A sample XML for presence information may be expressed as follows:
 if (msg.body.presence.status.code=‘online’) alert(“Online”);
 The service of the present invention supports well-known “Buddy Listing” and presence reporting. Following is a sample of a Buddy List Report XML:
 The service of the present invention also supports the well-known instant messaging “invite” request. A sample XML for inviting one to chat follows:
 alert(“Invitation from “+msg.body.invite.from);
 Event Source Development
 The service of the present invention supports simplified source event development. Developers can write dynamic applications that generate events. Following are some sample applications in developer's code. The exact code written depends, of course on the libraries and languages used.
 Sending XML
 Applications or Pages sending events to clients may send XML messages, which should use the following property name:
 content-type: text/xml
 Sending SOAP
 Applications or Pages sending events to clients may send SOAP messages, which should use the following property name:
 soapaction: <some uri>
FIG. 5 is a flow diagram illustrating user/server steps for processing user requests according to an embodiment of the present invention. At step 501, a new user subscribes to the service of the present invention. This step may also include a sub-step for distributing the micro server application described with reference to FIG. 2 above to the users mobile device or devices. At step 502 a user name is established for the subscriber. This step may also involve establishing a password for secure interaction.
 At step 503, a user selects a topic to listen to. A topic can be created or selected from a list of established topics. Listening to a topic involves sending a request to the topic and establishing a route between the selected topic and the user as exemplified by step 504, which is a server-side process. The Web page containing the topic is switched “on” for the user by activating an onMessage to handle incoming events directed to the listening user. The user may deselect the particular topic and select another topic or topics to listen to.
 It will be apparent to one with skill in the art that the process steps described above may be augmented with sub-routines without departing from the spirit and scope of the present invention.
FIG. 6 is a process flow diagram illustrating steps for interpreting an event recieved at a client device and dynamically displaying the event data according to an embodiment of the present invention.
 It is important to note herein that other functions may also be included in the object such as caching instructions, persistent storage instructions, and others according to capability of the device.
 The method and apparatus of the present invention can be practiced in conjunction with virtually any type of wireless mobile device that is capable of Internet connectivity and can support the client micro server application. There are many variant embodiments both existing and those that may be envisioned. Therefore, the method and apparatus of the present invention should be afforded the broadest possible scope under examination.
 The method and apparatus of the present invention is limited only by the claims that follow.