US 20060173990 A1
A browser, method and computer program product for managing documents. The browser can receive and process a request from an input device of a image processing device. Based on this processing, the browser can transmit information over a network to a document manager connected to the scanning device via the network. The document manager can be connected, for example, to application service providers that store documents or to servers that deliver documents, such as e-mail servers and fax servers. The browser can receive information from the document manager. The information exchanged between the browser and the document manger can include, but is not limited to, documents, requests to retrieve documents, requests to store documents, requests to retrieve destination information (e.g., e-mail addresses and fax numbers), and search criteria.
1. A method for managing image processing apparatus, comprising the steps of:
providing a request for an image processing apparatus;
processing said request so as to generate a command information;
transmitting said command information to a computer using a network;
receiving a response information from said computer, wherein said response information is generated by processing in said computer; and
controlling said image processing apparatus based on said response information.
2. The method of
3. The method of
4. The method of
5. The method of
processing image information with said image processing apparatus; and
transmitting said image information to said computer.
6. The method of
7. The method of
8. The method of
9. An image processing system, comprising:
an image processing apparatus configured to receive a request for an image processing operation;
a processor, of the image processing apparatus, configured to process said request so as to generate a command information;
a first network interface, of the image processing apparatus, configured to transmit said command information to a computer using a network;
the computer configured to generate response information based on the command information received from the image processing apparatus;
a second network interface, at the computer, configured to exchange the response information with the information processing apparatus; and
a controller, of the image processing device, configured to control said image processing apparatus based on said response information.
10. The system of
said controller is configured to generate an image for an LCD panel of said image processing apparatus.
11. The system of
12. The system of
13. The system of
the image processing device is configured to process image information; and
the first user interface is configured to transmit said image information to said computer.
14. The system of
15. The system of
16. The system of
The present application is a divisional application of Ser. No. 10/243,643 (“the parent application”) filed Sep. 16, 2002 (now pending) and claims priority to Provisional Application Ser. No. 60/374,811 filed Apr. 24, 2002, the entire contents of which is hereby incorporated by reference.
1. Field of the Invention
The present invention is directed to browsers used in systems for managing documents or files. More particularly, the present invention allows a multi function device to interact with another device connected to the multi function device via a network.
2. Discussion of the Background
Browsers are already known. For example, Netscape's Communicator™ and Microsoft's Internet Explorer™ are known World Wide Web browsers that allow personal computers to interact with a Web server. Typically, a Web browser contacts a Web server and transmits a request for information. The Web server locates and then transmits the information to the Web browser, which displays the information. The information exchanged between the Web server and the Web browser can be in Hypertext Markup Language (HTML).
While these conventional browsers work well for personal computers, they are not designed to efficiently work with certain other devices. In particular, these conventional browsers may not work efficiently with multi-function devices that incorporate scanners, copy machines, printers, and/or fax machines.
The present inventors have determined that there is a need for a browser that can be efficiently incorporated in a device, such as a multi-function device (MFD), to allow a user to manage documents over a network. An MFD can incorporate a scanner, a copy machine, a printer, a fax machine, a digital camera, other office devices, and combinations thereof. One object of the present invention is to provide a browser that allows the user of an MFD to transmit and receive documents, requests, information to and from a document manger connected to the MFD via a network. The document manager can be a device connected to application service providers (ASPs) via a network and configured to manage documents between the ASPs and the MFD.
Another object of the present invention is to provide a browser that allows the user of an MFD to process a document and to e-mail, fax, or otherwise electronically deliver the processed document from the MFD. In this embodiment, the document manager is a scan server configured to manage documents and destination information (e.g., e-mail addresses and fax numbers) between the MFD and various servers (e.g., e-mail servers and fax servers).
These and other objects can be achieved by providing a browser configured to receive a request from an input device of the scanning device (e.g., the touch buttons displayed on a screen). The browser processes the request and transmits information based on the request over a network to the document manager connected to the canning device via the network. The browser is also configured to receive information from the document manager. The browser can be configured to display the information received from the document manager on the display of the MFD. The request received by the browser can include, but is not limited to, a request to retrieve a document, a request to store a document, and/or a request to retrieve destination information (e.g., e-mail addresses and fax numbers). The browser can transmit information to the document manager. That transmitted information includes, but is not limited to, login information related to the identity of the user of MFD, a search criterion for searching a document, a document (e.g., scanned by the MFD), and/or a search criterion for searching a destination information. The browser can receive information from the document manager. For example, the browser can receive a retrieved document, information about the storage of the document, and/or destination information. The browser can transmit data using an HTTP protocol and an XML format.
A more complete appreciation of the invention and many of the attendant advantages thereof will be readily obtained as the same becomes better understood by reference to the following detailed description when considered in connection with the accompanying drawings, wherein:
Referring now to the drawings, wherein like reference numerals designate identical or corresponding parts throughout the several views,
In the preferred embodiment shown in
The user devices 10, 20 and 30 are remote with respect to the document manager 40. The networks 100 and 102 are preferably the Internet in this embodiment, but can also be a local area network, a wide area network, any type of network such as an intranet, an extranet, or a combination thereof. An extranet may be used to provide controlled access to external users, for example through the Internet. How the user devices 10, 20 and 30 and the document manager 40 can be connected to the Internet 100 and 102 is well-known in the art and is explained for example, in part 38 of “How Computers Work”, by Ron White, Que Corporation, pps. 340-349, September, 1999, ISBN: 0-7897-2112-0, the entire content of this book being hereby incorporated by reference. Other communications links for the networks 100 and 102, such as a virtual private network, or a wireless link, may be used as well.
The user devices 10, 20 and 30 include an image processing apparatus, such as a multi-function device, or “MFD.” An MFD can incorporate a scanner, a copy machine, a printer, a fax machine, a digital camera, other office devices, and combinations thereof. Various types of MFDs are commonly known in the art and share common features and hardware with the MFDs of the present invention. In one embodiment of the present invention, the MFD is a portable device, such as a digital camera, connectable to the Internet via wireless connection/network. Such an MFD combines digital imaging with the power of the Internet so that one can capture still, sounds or videos and share them wirelessly from various locations. The MFD can create web pages, send and receive e-mails with attachments, edit images, FTP files, surf the Internet, and send a fax. In another embodiment, the MFD is a multiple scanner, photocopier and printer, as described in more detail below with corresponding
For example, in the embodiment shown in
In one embodiment, the user of the MFD 20 can access the document manager 40 by providing login information, for example by transmitting a user-name and a password, which can be verified by user interaction device 261. In this case, the browser 25 is configured to transmit that login information to the user interaction device 261 of the document manager 40. The user interaction device 261 can verify the user's authorization by comparing the login information to information stored in a storage device at the document manager 40. The user interaction 261 can also transmit to the MFD 20 a confirmation of the user's authorization. In this case, the browser 25 is configured to receive this confirmation from the document manager 40.
The browser 25 can also be configured to transmit job information to the user interaction device 261. The job information relates to the job performed by the MFD 20 and can include the scanning parameters (e.g., the scanning resolution, the compression ratio, the image data format, the color selection, the size of paper), the number of pages scanned or printed, the number of documents scanned or printed. The document manager 40 can include a charge engine 266 configured to generate billing information based on the job information. For example, the charge engine 266 can compute bills by multiplying the values of certain scanning parameters (part of the job information) by charges determined for each parameter. After computing these billable items, the charge engine 266 can transmit the billing information and/or the bills to the ASP 51. The browser 25 is configured to transmit this job information from the MFD 20 to the document manager 40. The charge engine 266 can also receive bills from the ASPs 51-81 and generate other bills to be transmitted to the MFD 20. In this case, the browser 25 is configured to receive the bills from the document manager 40 at the MFD 20.
The document management 40 can also include a search engine 271 configured to search and access ASPs 51-81 based on data, or search criteria, input from the user of the MFD 20. In this case, the browser 25 is configured to transmit the search criteria to the document manager 40. The browser 25 is also configured to receive from the document manager 40 the results of the search, e.g., documents retrieved form the ASPs. The document manager 40 can also include a format standardizing device 276 configured to standardize the formats of the documents retrieved from various ASPs and the MFD 20. For example, the format standardizing device 276 can re-format the documents so that they may be accessed using a single GUI. In this case, the browser 25 can be configured to transmit the documents from the MFD 20 to the document manager 40 with a request to standardize the documents. In another embodiment, the document manager 40 includes a consulting device 281 configured to provide the user of the MFD 20 consulting services regarding the services provided by the document manager 40. In this case, the browser 25 is configured to transmit requests for information to the document manager 40 from the MFD 20. The browser 25 is also configured to receive from the document manager 40 the requested information.
As shown in
Conventional MFDs include ECSs, MCSs, OCSs, NCSs, SCSs, and CISs, which are firmware for implementing and controlling each hardware component of the MFD. In the present invention, however, the NCS 220 is configured to communicate with the browser 25. For instance, the NCS 220 has additional capabilities for communicating using the HTTP protocol. The NCS 220 is also configured to communicate with the document manager 40 so that the NCS 220 exchanges data between the browser 25 and the document manager 40. For example, The NCS 220 can transmit to the document manager 40 a document storage request and/or a document search request and can receive from the document manager 40 storage information and/or a retrieved document.
The browser 25 includes an HTTP command processor 235 that communicates with the network control service (NCS) 220 of the MFD 20. For example, a request for a document entered by the user via the MFD keyboard, or a request for displaying information on the LCD, such as
The HTTP command processor 235 can be provided with a program code for implementing a specific application, such as, user authentication processing which can be implemented with the directory service of the document manager 40. The HTTP command processor 235 can process information based on definitions of the specific application. For example, the HTTP command processor 235 can process information provided by the user, such as User Name or Password, and generate an HTTP request based on this processing for the document manager 40. The HTTP command processor 235 can process information provided by the MFD components, such as job information (number of documents processed, scan/print parameters, date and time of job, user ID, etc . . . ) and generate an HTTP request based on this processing for the document manager 40. The HTTP command processor 235 can transmit such HTTP requests to the NCS 220 to be transmitted to the document manager 40.
The HTTP command processor 235 can also process information received from the document manager 40 (via the NCS 220). For example, the HTTP command processor 235 can receive an HTTP response generated by the document manager 40 which includes parameters for operating the MFD. The parameters can be stored for example in the user interaction device 261 of the document manager 40. The parameters can include a specific user ID as a result of the user authentication processing. Furthermore, the parameters can include destination computer to receive job information, destination folder on the networked computer's hard drive for the documents processed by the MFD, restrictions for the MFD functions depending on user authentication, scanning/printing job parameters for the specific user ID, such as default size of papers, scanning resolution setting, condition of the document feeder, or department code for billing the operation. The HTTP command processor 235 can process this information and generate commands to control the MFD in accordance with the information, e.g., can request the MFD to scan/print according to the job parameters for the specific user ID. As another example, the HTTP command processor 235 can generate a graphic drawing command for the LCD panel. The HTTP command processor 235 can transmit the commands to the appropriate MFD firmware (e.g., the OCS 215) so as to be executed. For example, the OCS 215 can receive the graphic drawing command and execute it by displaying a graphic (e.g.,
At step 3250, the CIS 240 transmits the command to the HTTP command processor 235. At step 3300, the HTTP command processor 235 generates an HTTP requests composed in the HTML language and/or the XML language based on the command. At step 3350, the HTTP command processor 235 transmits the HTTP request to the NCS 220. Optionally, the HTTP command processor 235 transmits the HTTP request to the SSL 230, i.e., the HTTP request is sent using HTTPS protocol or Secure Sockets Layer over HTTP, based on the definition of the predetermined program code for the specific application. At step 3400, the NCS 220 transmits the HTTP request to the document manager 40.
As shown in
The system 5 provides access to the users of the MFDs 10-30 of the information stored at the directory server 60 via the scan server 40. Accordingly, a user can create a document (e.g., scan, capture image) at the MFD 20, and request a search of the company's global directory stored at the directory server 60. The scan server 40 can pass the search request to the directory server 60 and can receive the search results (e.g., e-mail addresses and/or fax numbers) from the directory server 60. The scan server 40 can pass the search results to the MFD 20, which can temporarily store and display them. In a preferred embodiment, the stored search results are erased automatically from the MFD after the job of the MFD is completed, or after a time period (e.g., two minutes) that can be set by the administrator of the system. The user can select e-mail addresses and fax numbers from the displayed search results and request that the document be e-mailed and/or faxed to the selected addresses. Alternatively, the user can enter the addresses and numbers, or can select addresses and numbers from a local directory stored in the scanning devices 10-30. The local directory can be updated automatically or periodically after the directory server is updated.
The scan server 40 receives the document and the selected addresses/numbers from the MFD 20 and routes the scanned document to the appropriate server. For example, if the user requests the document to be e-mailed, the scan server 40 routes the document to an e-mail server 70. If the user requests the document to be faxed, the scan server 40 routes the document to a fax server 80. The scan server 40 can also route the document to other applications 90, which may, for example, convert a document from one format (e.g., TIFF, “Tag Image File Format”) to another (PDF, “Portable Document Format”).
In the present embodiment, the Scan Server 40 can be configured to act as an intermediate agent between a plurality of computerized services (e.g., provided by devices 50, 60, 70, 80, and 90) so that the MFDs can perform a plurality of functions in a same scanning job. The Scan Server 40 can be configured to display the plurality of services based on a request from the browser 25. The MFD can display screens prompting the entry of a plurality of parameters such as e-mail addresses, fax numbers and billing codes, on the LCD panel based on the communication between the Browser 25 and the Scan Server 40. The MFD can then transmit the document to a plurality of servers, e.g., servers 70, 80, and 90.
In a preferred embodiment, the browsers 25 of the MFDs 10-30 and the scan server 40 exchange data using the protocol HTTP (“Hypertext Transfer Protocol”) or HTTPS (HTTP over Secure Socket Layer) over the network 100. Other protocols can equivalently be used with the present invention. Preferably, the browsers 25 of the MFDs 10-30 and the scan server 40 exchange data using the format XML (“Extensible Markup Language”). Other formats, such as HTML, can equivalently be used with the present invention. In a preferred embodiment, the e-mail server 70 is incorporated into the scan server 40. E-mail server 70 can include, but is not limited to, Lotus Notes™ e-mail server, Microsoft Exchange™ e-mail server, and SMTP (“Simple Mail Transfer Protocol”) e-mail servers. In a preferred embodiment, the fax server 80 is the Captaris' RightFax™ server.
The system 5 provides three levels of user authentication. At a first authentication level, no user authentication is performed. Under this first level, any user can use the MFDs 10-30 to scan, copy, print, access the global directory server 60 to e-mail and fax documents.
At the second authentication level, the user is domain authenticated by the network domain controller 50. Under this second level, the user enters login information, such as a login name and a password. This login information is transmitted to the scan server 40 via the network 100 by the MFD's browser 25. The scan server 40 passes the login information to the network domain controller that confirms (or not) the user's domain authentication. The confirmation is passed to the browsers of the MFDs 10-30 via the scan server 40. If the user is domain authenticated, the user can use the MFD and its functions. In one embodiment, the system 5 can be configured so that certain functions of the MFDs 10-30, such as copying and direct e-mail and faxing (without access to the global directory server 60), be accessible to a user who is not domain authenticated. Under this embodiment, however, the system bars the non-authenticated user from using other functions, including access to the global directory server 60. Under another embodiment, the system bars the non-authenticated user from using all functions provided by the MFDs 10-30.
At the third authentication level, the user is authenticated by the directory server 60. Under this third level, the directory server 60 can control what portions (if any) of the directory, to which the user can have access. For example, employees of a particular division of the company (e.g., human resources, legal, etc . . . ) may have access to the portion of the directory that corresponds to that division only. More sensitive information can thus be protected and accessible only by certain individuals within the company. This third authentication level can be, but need not be, in addition to the second level.
Under the second and third authentication levels, the system can create a user profile such that upon authentication, the system provides access to the user only for certain functions that correspond to the user profile. Under this embodiment, different authenticated users can have different user profiles and thus have access to different functions. The administrator can control the user profiles.
In a preferred embodiment, the scan server 40 can include a profiler that sets a specific MFD profile for a specific MFD. The administrator of the system 5 can create, change and maintain profiles via a profile screen on the scan server 40. The profile can include an identification for the MFD, such as a serial number, and various parameters (computer network-name, machine location, etc . . . ) used to configure the exchange of information between the scan server 40 and the browsers of the MFDs 10-30. These parameters can relate to the authentication scheme used for each MFD, to the data format/protocols used, to the e-mail server 70, to the fax server 80, and/or to the directory server 60. The profile can also include the time period during which the search results from the directory server are stored at the scanning device before being erased.
As shown in
In a preferred embodiment, the MFDs 10-30 provide interactive menus based on information inputted by the operator of the MFD, so as to allow the operator to conveniently take advantage of the services provided by the system 5. Examples of menus displayed on touch sensitive LCDs of the MFDs are shown in
Upon touching the button 310, the MFD displays a screen (such as screen 500 shown in
The screen 400 can also include a “Create PDF” button 430 that requests, upon touching, the document to be converted to the PDF format. This conversion can take place at the MFD, at the scan server, or at a conversion server 90. In a preferred embodiment, the browser 25 transmits the document to the scan server 40 in the TIFF format along with the request to convert to the PDF format. The scan server 40 then sends the document to the conversion server 90 to be converted into the PDF format.
If the user does not want the document converted to the PDF format, the user can touch a “Keep TIFF” button 435 to request that the document be kept in the TIFF format. In this case, the browser 25 transmits the document in the TIFF format to the scan server 40 along with a request not to convert the document to another format. Alternatively, the browser 25 can transmit the document to the scan server 40 in any format and without any request. In this case, the scan server 40 can be configured to keep the document in whatever format it is received.
The user can also touch the “Scan Size” button 440 to set the size of the document to be scanned. The user can also select a single sided scan by touching the “Single-Sided” button 420, or select a double sided scan by touching the “Double-Sided” button 425. Once the user has selected all the scanning parameters, the user can save his selection by touching the “Save” button 445. Alternatively, if the user wants to return to the previous screen 300, the user can touch the “Exit” button 450.
Upon touching the “Lookup Fax Number” button 525, the MFD displays a screen that prompts the user to enter the name(s) of a recipient(s), or the name of a group of recipients (e.g., “marketing,” “management,” “security,” “legal department,” “blue division,” “softball team,” etc . . . ). Search criteria other than names can be used. The MFD can send the names or other search criteria to the scan server 40, which passes the information to the directory server 60. The directory server 60 then returns the fax numbers for the names entered by the user to the scan server 40, which passes the fax numbers to the MFD for displaying on the portion 545 of the screen 500. The display portions 550 can be touched to select (e.g. by highlighting) fax numbers listed on the portion 545. The selected fax numbers can be removed from the recipients' list by touching the “Remove Fax Number” button 530. Upon touching the “OK” button 535, the information received via the screen 500 can be processed by the MFD to fax the document. The user can return to the previous screen by touching the “Cancel” button 540. Upon touching the “Billing Code” button 515, the MFD displays a bill management screen (not shown) to receive billing information. For example, the bill management screen would prompt the user to enter a department code representing the department to which the user belongs. With this feature, the MFD can either locally process the billing information and/or transmit the billing information to the server 40 for centralized processing.
Turning to the screen 600 illustrated in
Upon touching the “Lookup E-mail Address” button 625, the MFD displays a screen that prompts the user to enter the name(s) of a recipient(s), or the name of a group of recipients (e.g., “marketing,” “management,” “security,” “legal department,” “blue division,” “softball team,” etc . . . ). Search criteria other than names can be used. The browser 25 can receive the entered names or other search criteria and transmit them to the scan server 40, which passes the information to the directory server 60. The directory server 60 then returns the e-mail addresses for the names entered by the user to the scan server 40, which passes the e-mail addresses to the MFD 20. The browser 25 receives the e-mail addresses from the scan server 40 and can display them on the portion 645 of the screen 600. The display portions 650 can be touched to select (e.g. by highlighting) the e-mail addresses listed on the portion 645. The selected e-mail addresses can be removed from the recipients' list by touching the “Remove E-mail Address” button 630. Upon touching the “OK” button 635, the information received via the screen 600 can be received and processed by the browser 25. In particular, the browser 25 can transmit to the scan server 40 the document to be e-mailed along with a request to e-mail the document to the e-mail addresses selected or entered by the user. The scan server 40 processes this information and routes the document to the e-mail server for e-mailing. The user can return to the previous screen by touching the “Cancel” button 640.
In a preferred embodiment, the program code instructions for the MFD 20 and for the browser 25 are stored on the HDD 935 via an IC card. Advantageously, an IC card can be used to upgrade the firmware for the MFD. Alternatively, the program code instructions can be stored on the floppy 907 so that the program code instructions may be read by the FDD 936, transferred to the RAM 934 and executed by the CPU 931 to carry out the instructions. These instructions can be the instructions to perform the MFD's functions and the browser 25's functions described above. In particular, these instructions permit the browser 25 to interact with the document manger 40 and permit the MFD 20 to control its control panel 937 and its image processing units of the MFD 20.
During a start-up of the MFD 20, the program code instructions may be read by the CPU 931, transferred to the RAM and executed by the CPU 931. Alternatively, the program code instructions may be loaded to the ROM 933. It is therefore understood that in the present invention any of the floppy disk 907, the HHD 935, the RAM 934, and the ROM 933 correspond to a computer readable storage medium capable of storing program code instructions. Other devices and medium that can store the instructions according to the present invention include for example magnetic disks, optical disks including DVDs, magneto-optical disks such as MOS, and semiconductor memory cards such as PC cards.
In a preferred embodiment, the control panel 937 includes a display screen that displays information allowing the user of the MFD 20 to interact with the document manager 40,such as screens 300-600 shown in
The mechanisms and processes set forth in the present description may be implemented using a conventional general purpose microprocessor(s) programmed according to the teachings of the present specification, as will be appreciated to those skilled in the relevant arts. Appropriate software coding can readily be prepared by skilled programmers based on the teachings of the present disclosure, as will also be apparent to those skilled in the software art. In particular, the computer program product for the browser functions, and for authenticating, routing, and managing scanned documents according to the present invention can be written in a number of computer languages including but not limited to C, C++, Fortran, and Basic, as would be recognized by those of ordinary skill in the art. The invention may also be implemented by the preparation of applications specific integrated circuits or by interconnecting an appropriate network of conventional component circuits, as will be readily apparent to those skilled in the art.
The present invention thus also includes a computer-based product that may be hosted on a storage medium and include instructions that can be used to program a computer to perform the browser functions and the document management functions discussed above in accordance with the present invention. This storage medium can include, but is not limited to, any type of disk including floppy disks, optical disks, CD-ROM, magneto-optical disks, ROMs, RAMs, EPROMs, EEPROMs, Flash Memory, Magnetic or Optical Cards, or any type of media suitable for storing electronic instructions.
Additional Benefits of the Present Invention
Historically, business applications ran on mainframe computers and users executed operations from terminal consoles by sending instruction commands. The terminal consoles had no computing power other than displaying data stream sent back from the mainframe computer which ran the actual applications. As LAN (Local Area Network) became available, the Client-Server architecture was introduced. The Client-Server architecture utilizes the client computer's computing power to offload the mainframe from data processing, resulting in a more efficient use of the resources and better overall performance.
This Client-Server technology introduced a new problem however. Each and every computer needs to have an application program installed. Installation upgrades, and maintenance of the client require a lot of time and human support, which increase operation cost. Furthermore, this approach lacks flexibility because different versions of applications on clients and servers should match.
Once introduced, the web browser was well accepted because it not only solves the problems of the Client-Server architecture but it also allows the user to maintain the benefit of distributed computing. Specifically, the web browser eliminates the need for client program maintenance because application programs and/or web pages are loaded dynamically at the time the user accesses the web site. The user is guaranteed to have the latest version of the application. As a result, PCs no longer need to have application programs installed manually and permanently on their local hard disk. This is why a PC web browser is sometimes referred to as “thin client technology;” it is free from relatively bulky application programs.
The MFD browser according to the present invention provides the benefits of thin client technology to MFDs because it does not need manual program installation or program upgrade but still guarantees the latest and/or only appropriate software loaded from a web site. Once the MFD browser is incorporated in the MFD, a web server can identify the capabilities of the MFD and dynamically download and run selected programs by a pre-defined criterion. This criterion can be used to run different types of applications by department, e.g. a patent search and a print program for a legal department or a resume management application for a human resources department. Advantageously, the present invention can be incorporated into the system and method for managing documents disclosed in co-pending Ser. No. 09/795,438, the entire content of which is hereby incorporated by reference.
Obviously, numerous additional modifications and variations of the present invention are possible in light of the above teachings. It is therefore to be understood that within the scope of the appended claims the present invention may be practiced otherwise than as specifically described herein.