|Publication number||US20070198930 A1|
|Application number||US 11/691,095|
|Publication date||Aug 23, 2007|
|Filing date||Mar 26, 2007|
|Priority date||May 27, 2003|
|Also published as||US7242413, US20040239683|
|Publication number||11691095, 691095, US 2007/0198930 A1, US 2007/198930 A1, US 20070198930 A1, US 20070198930A1, US 2007198930 A1, US 2007198930A1, US-A1-20070198930, US-A1-2007198930, US2007/0198930A1, US2007/198930A1, US20070198930 A1, US20070198930A1, US2007198930 A1, US2007198930A1|
|Inventors||Heng Chu, Thomas Haynes|
|Original Assignee||Internation Business Machines Corporation|
|Export Citation||BiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan|
|Referenced by (16), Classifications (5)|
|External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet|
This application claims priority as a continuation application from U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/446,198, filed May 27, 2003, the disclosure of which is hereby incorporated herein by reference in its entirety.
The present invention relates generally to displaying hierarchical data on an electronic display or other display device. More particularly, the present invention relates to controlling the display of hierarchical data that is displayed on “tree diagram” graphical user interfaces.
A wide variety of computer operating systems and computer application programs incorporate, display and/or perform operations on data or information which is hierarchical in nature. For example, most computer operating systems provide users access to a hierarchy of directories and/or sub-directories where documents, programs and/or other information are stored. Many computer e-mail systems likewise provide a hierarchy of files and/or sub-files in which e-mail messages may be stored. Organizer applications typically allow a user to establish task listings and/or store other forms of data which, once again, may be hierarchical in nature. The number and variety of computer systems and programs which store and/or manipulate hierarchical data sets continues to increase as computer processing applications continue to proliferate.
With the advent and expanded use of graphical user interfaces over the last fifteen or so years, it has become possible to display all or part of hierarchical data sets to the user of a computer via a “tree diagram” representation. Tree diagrams are particularly useful in displaying hierarchical data as the levels of the tree diagram visually depict the location of each piece of data in a way that quickly and intuitively conveys to a user both the location of the data within the hierarchy and the relationship of that data to other data in the hierarchy. Additionally, the hierarchical structure of a tree diagram may allow a user to more quickly and efficiently peruse the data, such as by reviewing the entries at the higher levels to locate particular branches which are most likely to contain the information of interest. A user also typically can “expand” or “collapse” the tree diagram at various points (i.e., displaying or hiding information in the higher levels of the tree) to further facilitate viewing the hierarchical data. Both custom programs, as well as tree diagram objects, are known in the prior art for providing a tree diagram graphical user interface to a user. For example,
While the use of tree viewer objects and custom tree viewer programs has expanded in recent years, so has the complexity of many of the hierarchical data sets that are displayed to the user via the tree diagram. Moreover, as computer memory and processing capabilities have expanded, users are now opening up more and more applications at the same time, resulting in desktop displays that typically have numerous windows open simultaneously in what may be a confusing, layered display of icons, windows and the like. Additionally hierarchical data is now displayed using tree diagrams on many mobile computing devices that have different constraints in terms of the size of the display and the control of windows. The complexity of the hierarchical data sets and the proliferation of environments in which they may be used have left a need for improved graphical user interfaces that display hierarchical data in tree diagram form.
Embodiments of the present invention provide for controlling tree diagram graphical user interfaces by selectively displaying portions of a hierarchical data set on an electronic display. At least a portion of the hierarchical data set may be displayed on the electronic display in a tree diagram format, and then input from a user may be obtained to identify one or more nodes in the tree diagram that are to be hidden. Based on this input, at least one node in the tree diagram is partially collapsed to hide the one or more identified nodes. Partially collapsing a node may be performed by collapsing at least one descendant node of the node at issue into the node without collapsing all the descendant nodes of the node at issue into the node. User input identifying one or more nodes in the tree diagram that are to be hidden may be obtained by having a user identify the nodes that will remain displayed when an ancestor node is partially collapsed.
Likewise, input from the user may be obtained to identify one or more currently hidden nodes in the tree diagram that are to be displayed. Based on this input, at least one node in the tree diagram may be partially expanded to display the identified nodes. Partially expanding a node may be performed by expanding the node to display a subset of its descendant nodes such as only some of its children nodes or selected nodes at various descendant node levels.
In further embodiments of the present invention, an indicia is provided on the electronic display that is associated with each partially collapsed node and that identifies the node as being a partially collapsed node. An ellipsis may be used as this indicia, and may be located between the partially collapsed node and the first descendant node of the partially collapsed node that is displayed on the electronic display. Additionally, user input may be obtained to identify one or more portions of the hierarchical data set that are not currently displayed in the tree diagram and then partially expanding at least one node in the tree diagram to display the one or more identified portions of the hierarchical data set.
A dialog box may also be associated with one or more nodes in the tree diagram. This dialog box may display at least some of a node's descendant nodes to facilitate obtaining input from a user identifying the nodes that are to be hidden when a partial collapse function is implemented. Similarly, the dialog box may alternatively (or additionally) display at least some of the nodes between the node at issue and the root node to facilitate obtaining the user input identifying nodes that are to be hidden when a partial collapse function is implemented.
In additional embodiments of the present invention, a hierarchical data set is selectively displayed on an electronic display by displaying a portion of the hierarchical data set on the electronic display in a tree diagram format and then obtaining user input to identify one or more hidden nodes in the tree diagram that are to be displayed. Based on this input, at least one node in the tree diagram may be partially expanded to display the one or more identified nodes.
As will further be appreciated by those of skill in the art, while described above primarily with reference to method aspects, the present invention may be embodied as methods, apparatus/systems and/or computer program products.
The present invention now will be described more fully hereinafter with reference to the accompanying drawings, in which illustrative embodiments of the invention are shown. This invention may, however, be embodied in many different forms and should not be construed as limited to the embodiments set forth herein; rather, these embodiments are provided so that this disclosure will be thorough and complete, and will fully convey the scope of the invention to those skilled in the art. Like numbers refer to like elements throughout.
As will be appreciated by one of skill in the art, the present invention may be embodied as a method, data processing system, or computer program product. Accordingly, the present invention may take the form of an entirely hardware embodiment, an entirely software embodiment or an embodiment combining software and hardware aspects all generally referred to herein as a “circuit” or “module.” Furthermore, the present invention may take the form of a computer program product on a computer-usable storage medium having computer-usable program code embodied in the medium. Any suitable computer readable medium may be utilized including hard disks, CD-ROMs, optical storage devices, a transmission media such as those supporting the Internet or an intranet, or magnetic storage devices.
Computer program code for carrying out operations of the present invention may be written in an object oriented programming language such as JavaŽ, Smalltalk or C++. However, the computer program code for carrying out operations of the present invention may also be written in conventional procedural programming languages, such as the “C” programming language. The program code may execute entirely on the user's computer, partly on the user's computer, as a stand-alone software package, partly on the user's computer and partly on a remote computer or entirely on the remote computer. In the latter scenario, the remote computer may be connected to the user's computer through a local area network (LAN) or a wide area network (WAN), or the connection may be made to an external computer (for example, through the Internet using an Internet Service Provider).
The present invention is described in part below with reference to flowchart illustrations and/or block diagrams of methods, apparatus (systems) and computer program products according to embodiments of the invention. It will be understood that each block of the flowchart illustrations and/or block diagrams, and combinations of blocks in the flowchart illustrations and/or block diagrams, can be implemented by computer program instructions. These computer program instructions may be provided to a processor of a general purpose computer, special purpose computer, or other programmable data processing apparatus to produce a machine, such that the instructions, which execute via the processor of the computer or other programmable data processing apparatus, create means for implementing the functions/acts specified in the flowchart and/or block diagram block or blocks.
These computer program instructions may also be stored in a computer-readable memory that can direct a computer or other programmable data processing apparatus to function in a particular manner, such that the instructions stored in the computer-readable memory produce an article of manufacture including instruction means which implement the function/act specified in the flowchart and/or block diagram block or blocks.
The computer program instructions may also be loaded onto a computer or other programmable data processing apparatus to cause a series of operational steps to be performed on the computer or other programmable apparatus to produce a computer implemented process such that the instructions which execute on the computer or other programmable apparatus provide steps for implementing the functions/acts specified in the flowchart and/or block diagram block or blocks.
Embodiments of the present invention provide for selectively displaying hierarchical data in tree diagram format on an electronic display. Many current computer applications require the manipulation and/or display of hierarchical data sets. To facilitate manipulation and navigation of such data sets, the hierarchical data is typically displayed to the user in tree diagram format on an electronic display.
Various embodiments of the present invention will now be described with reference to the figures.
As shown in
As is further seen in
As will be appreciated by those of skill in the art, a tree diagram refers to a display of data in which the data is arranged in a series of levels.
In the tree diagram 300 of
The nodes in a tree diagram may be “leaf” nodes or “non-leaf” nodes. A leaf node refers to a node that has no other nodes branching out from it. In
In many applications, the hierarchical data sets that are to be viewed and/or manipulated are very large. Consequently, the tree diagrams corresponding to these data sets may be very wide (i.e., they have many levels) and/or very deep (i.e., they have many nodes in one or more levels). When this occurs, the entire tree diagram may not fit on the user's electronic display, thus making it more difficult to view and manipulate the hierarchical data set. While tree diagram graphical user displays typically include scrolling mechanisms in the horizontal and/or vertical directions that allow a user access to the entire tree diagram, the user may be interested in portions of the tree diagram that are physically distant from each other such that time and effort may be wasted scrolling between the views that show the nodes that are of interest. This is particularly true given the recent proliferation of numerous handheld computing devices such as Personal Data Assistants (“PDA”), inventory tracking handheld computers, cell phones and the like which typically have physically small electronic displays.
Because of this problem, prior art tree diagram graphical user interfaces typically provide capabilities to “collapse” or “expand” nodes to vary the amount of information in the tree diagram that is actually displayed on the electronic display. By way of example, in the tree diagram of
Embodiments of the present invention provide an expanded set of controls for a tree diagram graphical user interface. In particular embodiments of the present invention, mechanisms for a user to partially collapse and/or partially expand a node such that a user defined subset of the descendant nodes that branch out from the node are displayed on the electronic display are provided. By “partially collapsing” a node it is meant that at least some, but not all, of the descendant nodes of the node at issue are hidden from view (i.e., they are not displayed on the electronic display). Likewise, “partially expanding” a node refers to expanding a node so that at least some, but not all, of the previously hidden descendant nodes of the node at issue are added to the display. The term “partially expanding” is not meant to encompass a full expansion of the node (i.e., when all the descendant nodes of the node are displayed) or a one level expansion of a node (i.e., when a node is expanded to display all the children of the node but no other descendant nodes). A user can, by partially collapsing various nodes, hide the nodes in the tree diagram that are not of interest, while leaving the remaining nodes displayed. In this way, a user can reduce the number of nodes that are actually shown on the electronic display such that it is more likely that the entire non-hidden part of the tree diagram will fit within the display, thereby reducing or eliminating the need to scroll the display.
In some embodiments of the present invention, a control for a tree diagram graphical user interface is provided that allows a user to partially collapse an expanded node in the tree diagram. Through this partial collapse capability, a user may identify a set of nodes along a branch of the tree diagram that are to be collapsed into a higher node so that they are no longer displayed on the electronic display. By way of example, in the tree diagram 300 of
In certain embodiments of the present invention, the partial collapse capability may be implemented as three separate operations that may be applied to a particular node of the tree diagram. The first of the three operations that may be used to implement the partial collapse capability is the Hide Intervening Nodes operation. Pursuant to this operation, the user may collapse the selected node and, if desired, one or more other nodes between the selected node and the root node 21, into a higher ancestor node. For example, in the tree diagram 300 of
The second of the three operations is the Hide Contained Nodes operation. Pursuant to this operation the user may collapse selected of the descendant nodes of a first node into the first node. For example, in the tree diagram 300 of
The final of the three operations is the Hide Me operation, which may be used to hide a selected node. This operation may be set up so that selection of the Hide Me operation would only hide a selected node, and/or so that it also hides some or all of the descendants of the selected node.
As will be appreciated by those of skill in the art, the partial collapse capability and/or access to the “hide” operations may be implemented in a variety of different ways and thus, the present invention is not limited to the specific embodiments disclosed herein.
In the example of
In the example of
The tree diagram graphical user interface embodiments of the present invention may also include the capability to partially expand a node. This capability is the converse of the partial collapse function in that it allows a user to select a subset of the descendants of a collapsed node and then only display the selected subset of nodes on the electronic display. Like the partial collapse capability, the partial expand feature may be implemented using dialog boxes, control buttons or any other input mechanism that allows the user to specify the nodes that are to be displayed (or hidden).
In particular embodiments of the present invention, the partial expand capability may be implemented as a set of three “unhide” operations that correspond to each of the three “hide” operations described above. Thus, an Unhide Intervening Nodes operation could be associated with nodes in the tree diagram that would allow the user to display any nodes between a selected node and the root node that were hidden using the Hide Intervening Nodes operation. Likewise, an Unhide Contained Nodes operation may allow the user to display any selected group of descendant nodes of a selected node. Finally, an Unhide Me operation may display a hidden node. Like the “hide” operations described above, the unhide operations may provide the capability to select the nodes either by designating the endpoints of a string of nodes and/or by individually selecting each node that is to be displayed.
Icons may also be associated with various nodes in the tree diagram that indicate the collapsed/expanded state of the node.
As will also be understood by those of skill in the art, the icon typically may be used to toggle between the different states. Thus, in the tree diagram 312 depicted in
Pursuant to the teachings of the present invention, one of several different actions may occur when a user clicks on a +/− icon. In one embodiment, the user could use the pointing device to point to either the “+” or the “−” part of the icon to implement an expansion or a collapse of the node. In another embodiment of the invention, clicking on the +/− icon will automatically implement either an expand or a collapse function (which is implemented may be set by the application or user controllable). In yet another embodiment, clicking on the +/− icon (or alternatively, allowing the cursor to rest on the icon) will cause a secondary menu to appear that will allow the user to choose between at least two different expand and/or collapse functions.
It will be understood that indicia other than the indicia shown in
Additionally, an ellipsis (i.e., “. . . ”) or some other indicia may be displayed on the electronic display to replace the nodes of a tree diagram that have been collapsed into an ancestor node. Such ellipses are shown, for example, in
In further embodiments of the present invention, descendant nodes for a non-leaf node may be manually designated or otherwise marked as “hot” nodes. Additional controls may then be provided that facilitate configuring the electronic display to show the partial subset of nodes marked as “hot” nodes. For instance, controls may be provided through which a user may expand a partially or fully collapsed tree diagram so that all the nodes that are marked as “hot” nodes are shown on the display. Controls may likewise be provided that partially collapse a fully or partially expanded tree diagram so that nodes that are not marked as “hot” nodes are hidden, but the “hot” nodes remain on the display. Controls could also be provided that that would partially expand a node by showing only those children nodes of the node that have been marked as “hot” nodes. A variety of additional controls could be provided for expanding or collapsing a tree diagram that has “hot” nodes in addition to the examplary functions described herein.
Controls for performing “hot” expansions and collapses may also be implemented with respect to specific nodes in the tree diagram 10. By way of example,
Capabilities may also be provided to automatically identify “hot” nodes based on a set of “filtering” rules. By way of example, the tree diagram graphical user interface might identify as a “hot” node any node in the tree diagram that the user has selected or operated on recently. Numerous other filtering rules could be used and/or provided, and the optimum rules will typically vary depending upon the hierarchical data set at issue. Typically, the filtering rules would be provided as part of the tree diagram graphical user interface, and could be applied automatically or, alternatively, the user could select from a menu of filtering rule choices. Such automatic filtering rules may reduce or eliminate the need for a user to manually mark nodes as “hot” nodes, and hence may simplify use of the tree diagram graphical user interface.
Pursuant to additional embodiments of the present invention, capabilities may be provided to save the configuration of nodes in the tree diagram that are displayed on the electronic display. Through this save feature, a user may save a desired configuration of the tree diagram that appears on the display so that this configuration may be made to appear on demand and/or to automatically appear when the tree diagram graphical user interface is opened. In one embodiment, the graphical user interface saves the configuration of the tree diagram that appears on the display each time the graphical user interface application is terminated. This configuration may then automatically appear on the display the next time the graphical user interface is opened. A user selectable control may also be provided that allows the user to display the saved configuration. In another embodiment of the invention, the user may save a particular configuration that appears on the display at any time, and may have the option to make any of a variety of saved configurations appear on the display.
The tree user graphical user interfaces of the present invention may be implemented as part of special purpose applications, as object-oriented programs, or in any of a variety of different ways known to persons of skill in the art.
As shown in
The flowcharts and block diagrams of
In the drawings and specification, there have been disclosed typical illustrative embodiments of the invention and, although specific terms are employed, they are used in a generic and descriptive sense only and not for purposes of limitation, the scope of the invention being set forth in the following claims.
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|International Classification||G06F9/44, G06F3/00|