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使用标记语言的电子节目向导

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CN1124033C
CN1124033C CN 99809406 CN99809406A CN1124033C CN 1124033 C CN1124033 C CN 1124033C CN 99809406 CN99809406 CN 99809406 CN 99809406 A CN99809406 A CN 99809406A CN 1124033 C CN1124033 C CN 1124033C
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electronic
program
guide
markup
language
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CN 99809406
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CN1311954A (zh )
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托马斯·R·乐蒙斯
乔恩·C·泽令
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联合视频制品公司
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    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04NPICTORIAL COMMUNICATION, e.g. TELEVISION
    • H04N21/00Selective content distribution, e.g. interactive television, VOD [Video On Demand]
    • H04N21/40Client devices specifically adapted for the reception of or interaction with content, e.g. set-top-box [STB]; Operations thereof
    • H04N21/47End-user applications
    • H04N21/482End-user interface for program selection
    • H04N21/4821End-user interface for program selection using a grid, e.g. sorted out by channel and broadcast time
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04NPICTORIAL COMMUNICATION, e.g. TELEVISION
    • H04N21/00Selective content distribution, e.g. interactive television, VOD [Video On Demand]
    • H04N21/20Servers specifically adapted for the distribution of content, e.g. VOD servers; Operations thereof
    • H04N21/23Processing of content or additional data; Elementary server operations; Server middleware
    • H04N21/235Processing of additional data, e.g. scrambling of additional data, processing content descriptors
    • H04N21/2353Processing of additional data, e.g. scrambling of additional data, processing content descriptors specifically adapted to content descriptors, e.g. coding, compressing or processing of metadata
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04NPICTORIAL COMMUNICATION, e.g. TELEVISION
    • H04N21/00Selective content distribution, e.g. interactive television, VOD [Video On Demand]
    • H04N21/40Client devices specifically adapted for the reception of or interaction with content, e.g. set-top-box [STB]; Operations thereof
    • H04N21/41Structure of client; Structure of client peripherals
    • H04N21/414Specialised client platforms, e.g. receiver in car or embedded in a mobile appliance
    • H04N21/4147Personal Video Recorder [PVR]
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04NPICTORIAL COMMUNICATION, e.g. TELEVISION
    • H04N21/00Selective content distribution, e.g. interactive television, VOD [Video On Demand]
    • H04N21/40Client devices specifically adapted for the reception of or interaction with content, e.g. set-top-box [STB]; Operations thereof
    • H04N21/43Processing of content or additional data, e.g. demultiplexing additional data from a digital video stream; Elementary client operations, e.g. monitoring of home network, synchronizing decoder's clock; Client middleware
    • H04N21/431Generation of visual interfaces for content selection or interaction; Content or additional data rendering
    • H04N21/4312Generation of visual interfaces for content selection or interaction; Content or additional data rendering involving specific graphical features, e.g. screen layout, special fonts or colors, blinking icons, highlights or animations
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04NPICTORIAL COMMUNICATION, e.g. TELEVISION
    • H04N21/00Selective content distribution, e.g. interactive television, VOD [Video On Demand]
    • H04N21/40Client devices specifically adapted for the reception of or interaction with content, e.g. set-top-box [STB]; Operations thereof
    • H04N21/43Processing of content or additional data, e.g. demultiplexing additional data from a digital video stream; Elementary client operations, e.g. monitoring of home network, synchronizing decoder's clock; Client middleware
    • H04N21/435Processing of additional data, e.g. decrypting of additional data, reconstructing software from modules extracted from the transport stream
    • H04N21/4355Processing of additional data, e.g. decrypting of additional data, reconstructing software from modules extracted from the transport stream involving reformatting operations of additional data, e.g. HTML pages on a television screen
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04NPICTORIAL COMMUNICATION, e.g. TELEVISION
    • H04N21/00Selective content distribution, e.g. interactive television, VOD [Video On Demand]
    • H04N21/40Client devices specifically adapted for the reception of or interaction with content, e.g. set-top-box [STB]; Operations thereof
    • H04N21/45Management operations performed by the client for facilitating the reception of or the interaction with the content or administrating data related to the end-user or to the client device itself, e.g. learning user preferences for recommending movies, resolving scheduling conflicts
    • H04N21/462Content or additional data management, e.g. creating a master electronic program guide from data received from the Internet and a Head-end, controlling the complexity of a video stream by scaling the resolution or bit-rate based on the client capabilities
    • H04N21/4622Retrieving content or additional data from different sources, e.g. from a broadcast channel and the Internet
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04NPICTORIAL COMMUNICATION, e.g. TELEVISION
    • H04N21/00Selective content distribution, e.g. interactive television, VOD [Video On Demand]
    • H04N21/40Client devices specifically adapted for the reception of or interaction with content, e.g. set-top-box [STB]; Operations thereof
    • H04N21/47End-user applications
    • H04N21/475End-user interface for inputting end-user data, e.g. personal identification number [PIN], preference data
    • H04N21/4756End-user interface for inputting end-user data, e.g. personal identification number [PIN], preference data for rating content, e.g. scoring a recommended movie
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04NPICTORIAL COMMUNICATION, e.g. TELEVISION
    • H04N21/00Selective content distribution, e.g. interactive television, VOD [Video On Demand]
    • H04N21/40Client devices specifically adapted for the reception of or interaction with content, e.g. set-top-box [STB]; Operations thereof
    • H04N21/47End-user applications
    • H04N21/482End-user interface for program selection
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04NPICTORIAL COMMUNICATION, e.g. TELEVISION
    • H04N21/00Selective content distribution, e.g. interactive television, VOD [Video On Demand]
    • H04N21/40Client devices specifically adapted for the reception of or interaction with content, e.g. set-top-box [STB]; Operations thereof
    • H04N21/47End-user applications
    • H04N21/488Data services, e.g. news ticker
    • H04N21/4882Data services, e.g. news ticker for displaying messages, e.g. warnings, reminders
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04NPICTORIAL COMMUNICATION, e.g. TELEVISION
    • H04N21/00Selective content distribution, e.g. interactive television, VOD [Video On Demand]
    • H04N21/80Generation or processing of content or additional data by content creator independently of the distribution process; Content per se
    • H04N21/83Generation or processing of protective or descriptive data associated with content; Content structuring
    • H04N21/84Generation or processing of descriptive data, e.g. content descriptors
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04NPICTORIAL COMMUNICATION, e.g. TELEVISION
    • H04N21/00Selective content distribution, e.g. interactive television, VOD [Video On Demand]
    • H04N21/80Generation or processing of content or additional data by content creator independently of the distribution process; Content per se
    • H04N21/85Assembly of content; Generation of multimedia applications
    • H04N21/854Content authoring
    • H04N21/8543Content authoring using a description language, e.g. Multimedia and Hypermedia information coding Expert Group [MHEG], eXtensible Markup Language [XML]
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04NPICTORIAL COMMUNICATION, e.g. TELEVISION
    • H04N5/00Details of television systems
    • H04N5/44Receiver circuitry
    • H04N5/445Receiver circuitry for displaying additional information
    • H04N5/44543Menu-type displays
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04NPICTORIAL COMMUNICATION, e.g. TELEVISION
    • H04N5/00Details of television systems
    • H04N5/44Receiver circuitry
    • H04N5/445Receiver circuitry for displaying additional information
    • H04N5/44543Menu-type displays
    • H04N2005/4456Menu-type displays as a user interface for communicating with the broadcast station via a return link, e.g. for subscription or transaction terminal, for teleshopping, or as an interactive entertainment terminal, e.g. for quiz, for interactive games
    • H04N2005/44565Menu-type displays as a user interface for communicating with the broadcast station via a return link, e.g. for subscription or transaction terminal, for teleshopping, or as an interactive entertainment terminal, e.g. for quiz, for interactive games the menu or graphical user interface display parameters being downloaded by the service provider or by the broadcast station

Abstract

本发明提供了一种交互式电视节目向导。利用标记语言文件定位和风格化节目向导的显示元素。所述标记语言文件也可以指示和选择节目向导功能。节目向导解释所述标记语言文件,生成显示屏幕和节目向导功能而不需要用户的干预。该节目向导也可以通过提供新的用来修改显示屏幕和节目向导功能的标记语言文件的方式进行更新。所述标记语言文件可以由主设施或者电视转播设施提供。

Description

使用标记语言的电子节目向导

发明背景本发明涉及视频系统,尤其是可以对节目向导用户屏幕的布局和节目向导的功能进行灵活修改的交互式电视节目向导系统。

电缆、卫星和广播电视系统为观众提供了大量的电视频道。用户传统上通过印刷的电视节目单来知道特定时间播放什么节目。最近,交互式电子电视节目向导的发展可以将电视节目单显示在用户的电视机上。

交互式节目向导允许用户使用遥控装置浏览电视节目单。在一种典型的节目向导显示中,电视节目单是按照多种选择标准以小组组织和显示的,并以各种方式排序。例如,一种方法,是将节目单组织为表格。

使用目前的交互式节目向导,用户屏幕(例如含有节目单的屏幕)和节目向导功能是固定的。如果不下载完整的新的节目向导程序,通常不可能改变用户屏幕或者节目向导功能。

因此,希望有一种标记语言(markup language),可用来在任何时候作为插件下载用户屏幕的显示特征和节目向导功能,而不用修改程序代码。使用超文本标记语言文件在电视屏幕上提供文本和图形显示例如在于1998年4月22日公开的欧洲专利申请EP0837599A2中有说明。这样的方法类似于网络浏览器的使用,要求用户对显示屏幕进行干预。

因此,本发明的一个目的是提供一种用标记语言安排节目向导显示要素的交互式电视节目向导。

本发明还有一个目的是提供一种用标记语言来指示和选择节目向导功能的交互式电视节目向导。

本发明还有一个目的是提供一种可以在没有用户干预的情况下通过下载标记语言文件而更新的交互式电视节目向导。

发明内容

本发明的所述目的及其他目的是按照本发明的原理提供一种交互式节目向导系统而实现的,该系统的节目向导显示屏幕外观以及功能可以用标记语言文件赋予或更新。

节目向导数据是由一个卫星上行链路设施(uplink facility)中的数据源提供的。所述信息通过卫星链接传送到一个电视转播设施比如电缆转发器(headend)。该电视转播设施将所述信息(和电视节目信号)分发给其上实现有交互式电视节目向导的用户电视设备。一种合适的分发机制涉及在所述频道之一的垂直信号消隐间隔中或者边带中传送电视频道并分发节目单。或者,所述节目单可以在某个电视频道边带上提供——利用带内数字频道、带外数字信号,或者利用合适的任何其他数据传输技术。

用来接收和处理电视节目单和节目单信息的用户电视设备可以包括一个机顶盒。该机顶盒也能够接收由所述电视转播设施转播的电视节目。实现在该机顶盒上的节目向导处理节目单,生成用来例如在标准电视显示器上显示的显示屏幕(例如一个交互式电视节目向导表格)。

节目向导显示元素可以具有一组有关的属性。显示元素属性可以包括显示元素风格和布局信息(例如字号、字体、颜色、屏幕坐标等等)、与显示元素关联的动作,或者其他合适的属性。显示项目的动作可以用标记语言文件指示和选择。所使用的标记语言可以是任何适当的标记语言,或者标注或标记文件(例如文本文件)以使该文件向用户指示显示屏幕布局和风格以及节目向导功能的系统。例如,所述标记语言文件可以含有超文本标记语言(HyperText Markup Language,HTML)、动态超文本标记语言(Dynamic HyperText Markup language,DHTML)或者可扩展标记语言(Extensible Markup Language,XML)代码。所述节目向导程序如此编写,使之解释所述标记语言文件,并根据所述文件生成显示屏幕,提供节目向导功能。

标记语言的使用提供了一种交互式电视节目向导,其中的显示屏幕可以通过下载标记语言文件的方式进行修改,而不需要用户的干预,也不需要修改程序代码。程序的功能可以以同样的方式将文件附加到不同的模块上而进行修改。标记语言的使用还允许控制实体控制向导的某些外观和功能,用现成的标记语言编辑器和/或查看器设计屏幕布局而创建增强功能和推销信息。

从附图以及下文对优选实施例进行的详细说明,可以更加清楚地理解本发明的其他特征、其特点和各种优点。

图面说明图1是依据本发明的原理的一个系统的示意框图。

图2是依据本发明的原理的用户电视设备举例的示意框图。

图3是图2所示举例性电视设备的某些部分的综合示意框图。

图4是依据本发明的原理的节目单表格举例。

图5是依据本发明的原理的节目单表格举例。

图6a和图6b是依据本发明的原理的显示屏幕举例。

图7a和图7b图解了如何可以用不同的标记语言文件来定位和风格化显示元素、指示和选择节目向导功能。

图8到图10是本发明的操作所涉及步骤的流程图。

优选实施例的详细说明在图1中示出了本发明的一个举例性系统10。主设施12从节目向导数据源14通过通信链接18向电视转播设施16提供数据。最好有多个电视转播设施16,但在图1中仅示出了一个这样的设施,以免图面过于复杂。链接18可以是卫星链接、电话网络链接、电缆或者光纤链接、微波链接、所述链接的组合,或者其他任何合适的通信路径。处理数据信号之外,如果需要在链接19上传送视频信号,与带宽较低的链接比如电话线相比,最好用带宽较高的链接比如卫星链接。电视转播设施16可以是任何适宜的转播设施,比如电缆系统转发器,广播转播设施,或者卫星电视转播设施。

主设施12传送给电视转播设施16的节目向导数据包括电视节目单数据(例如节目时间、频道、标题和说明)和其他除了电视节目单之外的附加服务的节目单(例如天气信息、有关的因特网网页链接、计算机软件等等)。其也可以含有标记语言文件比如超文本标记语言(HTML)、动态超文本标记语言(DHTML)或者可扩展标记语言(XML)文件,用来在没有用户干预的情况下更新节目向导的显示屏幕布局和功能。

标记语言文件可以包括任何适当的标记语言的代码,或者标注或标记文件(例如文本文件)以使该文件配置用户的显示屏幕布局和风格并指示节目向导功能的系统。例如,标记语言文件可以含有HTML、DHTML或者XML代码。所述节目向导程序如此编写,使之解释所述标记语言文件,并根据所述文件生成显示屏幕,提供节目向导功能。

电视转播设施16将所述电视节目单、附加数据以及标记语言文件通过通信路径20分发到多个用户。每个用户均拥有用户电视设备22,用来使用一个交互式电视节目向导显示所述电视节目单。通信路径20最好具有充足的带宽,以允许电视转播设施16向用户电视设备22分发电视节目。如果需要,可以在独立的通信路径(图中未示出)上提供电视节目。

节目向导数据可以利用任何适当的机制分发给用户电视设备22。例如,节目向导数据可以以连续流的形式提供,也可以按照适当的时间间隔传送(例如每小时一次)。如果是连续传送,就可以不需要在用户电视设备22本地存储数据。另外,用户电视设备22还可以根据需要抽取“传送中的”(“on the fly”)数据。如果需要,电视转播设施16可以定期轮询用户设备22获取特定信息(例如付费节目帐号信息,或者关于已经用本地生成授权技术(locally-generated authorizationtechniques)购买并观看了的节目的信息)。

为了清楚起见,将结合这样的系统配置对本发明进行说明:该系统配置中,节目向导数据从主设施经由一个电视转播设施分发到实现在用户电视设备上的交互式电视节目向导。其他的合适系统包括,利用其他合适的分发机制,比如涉及因特网或类似媒介上的数据传输的机制,将数据分发到用户电视设备上的节目向导的系统。如果需要,可以用客户-服务器结构来实现所述交互式电视节目向导程序,在所述结构中,程序的主要处理能力是由位于电视转播设施或者主设施的服务器提供的,用户电视设备作为客户处理器。

在图2中示出了用户电视设备22的一种配置举例。图2中的用户电视设备22在输入端从电视转播设施16(图1)接收视频和数据。在正常观看电视时,用户将机顶盒28调谐到所需的电视频道。然后在视频输出端30提供该电视频道的信号。输出的信号一般或者是预定频道(例如频道3或4)上的射频(RF)信号,或者是解调的视频信号,但也可以是通过适当的数字总线(例如使用IEEE1394标准的总线(图中未示出))提供给电视机36的数字信号。输出端30的视频信号由可选的辅助存储设备32接收。

可选的辅助存储设备32可以是任何合适类型的模拟或数字节目存储设备(例如磁带录像机、有刻录DVD盘功能的数字视盘(DVD)播放机等)。节目存储和其他功能可以由机顶盒28通过控制路径34控制。如果辅助存储设备32是磁带录像机,例如,典型的控制路径34包括使用与磁带录像机的红外接收器相配合的红外发射器。磁带录像机通常接受来自遥控装置比如遥控器40的指令。遥控器40可以用来控制机顶盒28、辅助存储设备32和电视机36。

交互式电视节目向导可以运行在机顶盒28上、电视机36(如果电视机36具有合适的处理电路和存储器的话)上或者连接到电视机36的适当的模拟或者数字接收机上。交互式电视节目向导也可以相互配合地同时运行于电视机36和机顶盒28上。相互配合的交互式电视节目向导运行于多个设备上的交互式电视应用程序系统例如在Ellis于1998年11月5日提交的美国专利申请No.09/186,598中有说明。该文献在此全文引用,作为参考文献。

用户可以将节目和节目数据以数字格式存储在可选的数字存储设备31上。数字存储设备31可以是可写光学存储设备(比如能够刻录DVD盘的DVD播放机)、磁存储设备(比如磁盘驱动器或者数字磁带),或者其他任何数字存储设备。具有数字存储设备的交互式电视节目向导系统例如在Hassell et al.的美国专利申请No.09/157,256中有说明。该文献在此全文引用,作为参考文献。

数字存储设备31可以包含在机顶盒28中,或者可以作为外部设备通过输出端口和合适的接口连接到机顶盒28。如果需要,机顶盒28中的处理电路将接收到的视频、音频和数据信号格式化为数字文件格式。最好,所述文件格式为开放文件格式比如运动图像专家组(MPEG)MPEG-2标准。所得到的数据通过合适的总线(例如使用IEEE1394标准的总线)流入数字存储设备31,并存储在数字存储设备31上。

电视机36通过通信路径38从辅助存储设备32接收视频信号。通信路径38上的视频信号既可以是在回放预先录好的存储媒介(例如磁带盒或者可写的数字视盘)时由辅助存储设备32生成的,也可以是在回放预先录好的数字媒体时由数字存储设备31生成的,可以通过机顶盒28传送,如果用户电视设备22中没有辅助存储设备32的话可以从机顶盒28直接提供给电视机36,或者可以由电视机36直接接收。在正常观看电视时,提供给电视机36的视频信号与用户用机顶盒28已调谐的所需频道相应。当用机顶盒28来回放存储在数字存储设备31中的信息时,视频信号也可以由机顶盒28提供给电视机36。

用户电视设备22(图2)的一个更为综合的实施例示于图3中。如图3所示,来自电视转播设施16(图1)的节目向导数据、节目和标记语言文件由用户电视设备22的控制电路42接收。视频信号一般在多个电视频道上提供。节目向导数据和标记语言文件可以在某个电视频道边带上、某个电视频道的垂直信号消隐间隔中、利用带内数字频道、利用带外数字信号或者用其他合适的数据传输技术提供。

可以设计控制电路42,用其解释标记语言文件,并输出用来在显示器45上显示的节目向导显示屏幕。输出的节目向导显示屏幕的显示元素可以是所述标记语言文件所表示的位置和风格。另外,可以用控制电路42选择由所述标记语言文件赋给显示元素的动作,以实现节目向导的功能。控制电路42的功能可以用图2所示的机顶盒配置提供。或者,这些功能可以集成到高级电视接收机、个人电脑电视机(PC/TV)或者其他合适的设备中。如果需要,可以使用所述方案的组合。在基于客户-服务器方案的节目向导中,例如,控制电路42可以包含在电视转播设施16的适当设备中。

用户用用户接口46控制用户电视设备22的操作。用户接口46可以是定位设备、无线遥控器、键盘、触摸板、语音识别系统或者其他合适的用户输入设备。为了观看电视,用户指令控制电路42在显示器45上显示所需的电视频道。为了访问节目向导的功能,用户指令实现在用户电视设备22上的节目向导输出一个用来显示在显示器45上的主菜单或者所需的节目向导显示屏幕。

当用户表示出查看电视节目单的愿望时(例如使用遥控器40上的“向导”键),节目向导就生成一个合适的节目向导显示屏幕,比如节目单屏,显示在显示器45上。节目单屏可以含有一条或者多条节目单,按照多种组织标准组织(例如按照节目类型、主题或者其他预定的或用户定义的可选标准)起来并按照各种方式排序(例如按照字母顺序)。在“浏览”模式下,节目单屏可以叠加在用户观看的节目上面,或者叠加在该节目的一部分上。

一种方法是将节目单组织为节目单表格。图4图示了显示为节目单表格150的节目单。节目单表格150可以分为多个列162与节目播放时间对应,并可以等间距(例如按照每三十分钟)。节目单在所述表格中按照预定的或者选择的组织标准按照小组显示,并按照不同的方式排序。节目单的行152包括,例如,频道46(公共电视)上“非洲沙漠”和“WILDLIFE”的可选节目单。节目单的行154包括,例如,频道47(HBO)上“GHOST”和“TITANIC”的可选节目单。节目单的行156包括,例如,频道48(VH-1)上“BLUES BROTHERS”的可选节目单。节目单的行158包括频道49(ADU)上PPV1和PPV2节目的可选节目单。节目单的行160包括,例如,频道50(WPTU)上“烹饪”的可选节目单。每个频道上的节目一般是不同的。

节目单表格150可以具有可移动的高亮单元区151,用来突出显示当前的表格单元。用户可以用用户接口46输入适当的命令而定位该高亮区151。例如,如果用户输入接口46具有键板,用户就可以用上下左右光标键来定位该高亮区151。远程节目单也可以通过使用遥控器40上的光标键定位高亮区151而上下左右移动。或者,可以用触摸屏、跟踪球、语音命令或者其他合适的设备来移动高亮区151或者选择节目单而不使用所述高亮区151。在另一种方法中,用户可以对着语音请求识别系统说出某个电视节目单。也可以使用其他任何合适的方法。

在用户选择了节目单后,所述交互式电视节目向导可以向用户提供访问多个节目向导功能的机会。例如,用户可以访问关于节目单的附加信息(一般是文本的或者图形的,但也可能是视频或其他信息),设定提醒信息,计划要存储的有关节目,设定家长控制功能,设置和浏览最受欢迎频道,或者其他合适的节目向导功能。

节目单也可以对用户显示为清单列表。图5示出了一个节目单显示屏,其节目单按照本发明的原理显示。可滚动的节目单列表可以按照用户选择的组织标准分组显示节目单。可以使用任何适当的组织标准和排序体系。图5的可滚动节目单列表170,例如,是按照节目类型组织节目单的,每组中的节目单按字母排序。图5的电视节目单显示屏还具有可移动的高亮单元区171,可以在表列中移动从而选择节目单。

节目向导显示屏幕可以显示许多显示元素,比如节目单表格150、节目单列表170,或者其他合适的显示元素。显示元素可以用标记语言文件定位和风格化。可以用标记语言文件指示和选择节目向导功能。最好,所用的标记语言是标准化的和被广泛接受的标记语言,比如HTML、DHTML或者XML.节目向导程序还编写得可以解释标记语言文件。节目向导的编程使之能够根据所述标记语言文件生成显示屏幕、选择节目向导功能。

节目向导的显示屏幕风格和布局以及节目向导功能可以初始设定,并可以随后用主设施12(图1)向交互式电视节目向导提供的标记语言文件进行修改。在实践中,当即将用新的标记语言文件更新节目向导时,主设施、电视转播设施或者其他有关设施的操作员利用任何合适的字处理器或者标记语言文件编辑器生成所需的标记语言文件。该标记语言文件然后手工或者自动(例如在预定的时间)提供给所述交互式电视节目向导。所述交互式电视节目向导接收、存储并解释所述标记语言文件,而无需用户的干预。这样就允许操作员集中更新节目向导的显示特征和功能而无需用户干预。

显示元素用非标记语言方法定义,并在编程时预先编入节目向导。显示元素可以,例如,用任何合适的编程语言(例如Visual BASIC、C++等)编入交互式电视节目向导中。标记语言文件可以将显示元素属性(例如风格、布局、动作属性)组织到确定的显示元素属性组中,这些组可以是实际编入该节目向导的属性的子集。这些显示元素属性组可以用标记或者标签分配给显示元素。所述标签也可以指示要应用在显示元素上的风格。最好,所述显示元素的编程使其自身显示在节目向导显示屏幕上由所述标记语言文件定义的位置并具有所述标记语言文件所定义的风格。所述被定义的显示元素可以包括任何适当的节目向导显示屏幕元素,比如广告元素、节目单表格元素、视频窗口元素、文本窗口元素,或者其他任何合适的显示屏幕或者标准标记语言元素。

节目向导功能用非标记语言的方法定义,并被预先编程到节目向导中。例如,可以用任何合适的编程语言(例如Visual BASIC、C++等)将功能编入节目向导中。节目向导功能对于用户来说可以通过显示元素的动作而外显,或者可以是透明的。任何适当的显示元素的动作都可以用标记语言文件来赋予和选择。例如,一个动作可以是响应适当的用户命令用全屏的节目单表格来取代部分屏幕的节目单表格(例如表格150)。另一个动作可以是响应适当的用户命令使所述表格滚动、翻页、改变显示方式(例如,用主题取代频道来显示节目单,以列表形式取代表格形式显示信息)、开始节目搜索或者动作列表,或者执行其他任何合适的动作。用户对表格中某个节目单的选择可以,例如,导致节目向导显示一个节目单屏幕、开始存储、设定提醒信息或者执行其他合适的动作。

当标记语言文件提供给交互式电视节目向导时,节目向导解释所述文件,并根据所述文件生成或者修改合适的节目向导显示屏幕和节目向导功能,而无需用户的干预。显示屏幕的显示属性可以在不需要更新程序代码的情况下进行改变,并可以实时完成,绝对不需要用户参与更新过程。

图6a举例示出了节目向导在被一个标记语言文件编程,解释了该文件并生成了显示屏幕、选择了节目向导功能之后,显示屏幕也就是屏幕50是什么样子。屏幕50可以含有多个显示元素。例如,屏幕50可以含有视频窗口52和文本窗口54,用来分别显示视频和关于正在推销中的节目的信息(例如预订价格)。屏幕50还可以具有图形窗口57,用来显示节目单列表,比如节目单表格150(图4)或者节目单列表,比如节目单列表170(图5),或者其他图形。

屏幕50还可以含有其他显示元素,比如屏幕选项或者说“按钮”,可以让用户访问节目向导的某些功能。例如,用户可以通过在用户接口46(图3)上输入适当的命令而“按下”“预订”按钮56。通过按下预订按钮56,用户可以预订所述正在推销中的节目。屏幕50还可以包括一个本地服务提供商的标识图案,比如标识区58。

随着时间的推移,屏幕50的布局可能会变得过时。例如,可能会认为更大的视频区域和更小的文本区域对用户更有吸引力。也可能需要给显示屏幕添加附加功能,比如提供“下一个”和“前一个”按钮以允许用户按照自己的节奏在多个推销中的视频当中滚动。还可能需要更新服务提供商的标识。

图6b举例示出了从主设施12或者电视转播设施16(图1)向节目向导提供了一个新的标记语言文件,该节目向导解释了该文件并重新生成屏幕50后,该屏幕50的显示屏幕特征有了什么样的改变。在节目向导重新生成屏幕50后,视频窗口52、文本窗口54和图形窗口57可以相应地重置大小和重新定位。另外,如果图形窗口57含有节目单列表,例如,可以改变该表格的行数或者列数,调整表格的起始时间,或者对表格作其他合适的变动。标识区58可以重置大小和重新定位。标识区58可以重新格式化或者风格化,例如,改变所用文本的风格,改变标识的颜色,或者添加其他任何类型的特殊效果。也可以添加“下一个”按钮60和“前一个”按钮62。

图7a图示了可以如何利用标记语言文件来定位和风格化显示元素,并利用最初提供给节目向导的标记语言文件指示和选择节目向导功能。可以使用任何合适的标记语言或方法。在实践中,标记语言文件可以是连续地从上到下,显示元素的属性可以紧跟在显示元素标记的下面。但是,为了更清楚地说明本发明的原理,图中示出了具有左区302和右区304的标记语言文件300。标记语言文件300的302区示出了可以如何用标签306来标记显示元素标识330。标记语言文件300的右区304示出了可以如何用标记语言文件将显示元素属性组织为组,并利用所述标签进行分配。

如图7a所示,显示元素属性310和312可以组织到组313、315和317中。每个显示元素可以分配一组属性。标记语言文件300可以用标签306来标记显示元素标识330。标签306一般标记为T1、T2和T3,以指明标记的是哪个显示元素(分别为显示元素1、显示元素2和显示元素3)。标签306具有来自所述属性组的相关属性310(例如A1、A2、A4、A5、A7和A8),这些属性可以指明,例如,显示元素将被置于显示屏上什么地方,显示元素的大小,以及显示元素为什么样的风格(例如颜色、字体特殊效果等等)。为了生成显示屏幕比如屏幕308,交互式节目向导可以分析所述标记语言文件,得到所述风格和布局信息,然后生成相应的显示屏幕。

图7a还示出了如何用标记语言文件指示和选择节目向导功能。节目向导的程序中可以是已经编入了许多动作。标记语言文件300的304区可以用来从这些动作中选择适合特定显示元素的动作。属性312可以包括在属性313、315和317的确定的属性组中,用来指明所选择的动作。当某个显示元素可能具有多个相关动作(例如菜单)时,图中也仅示出了一个属性312,以免图面过于复杂。如图7a所示,动作可以用标签306分配给显示元素314。

图7b示出了可以如何利用不同的标记语言文件比如标记语言文件340来重新定位和风格化显示元素314,从而改变或者修改显示屏幕308的显示特征。如图所示,标记语言文件340可以用标签306将属性组分配给显示元素。当交互式节目向导解释并分析标记语言文件340时,就从所述属性组获得新的或者改变了的属性310′,并利用标签306生成,例如,具有显示元素314′的显示屏幕308′。如图所示,显示屏幕308′与图7a的显示屏幕308相比,显示元素314可以重置大小、重新定位并重新风格化(图中未示出)。这样,交互式节目向导就可以用第一标记语言文件(300)来生成第一显示屏幕308,利用第二标记语言文件(340)修改所述显示屏幕(308′)(例如对显示元素314重定位、重置大小和重新风格化),从而生成具有不同于第一显示屏幕的显示特征的第二显示屏幕。

图7b还示出了可以如何利用标记语言文件来为显示元素分配和选择不同的动作。当比较图7a的属性组313、315、317与图7b的属性组313′、315′、317′时,不同的动作可以包括在如图所示的属性组中。可以指定新动作,也可以释放先前指定的动作,如属性组317′和315′所示,(例如A12和A6)。另外,可以为示于属性组313′中的不同显示元素选择动作(例如,A7被从图7a的属性组317移到图7b的属性组313′)。

在图8到图10示出了本发明的节目向导的操作所涉及的步骤。图8示出了生成显示屏幕所涉及的步骤。在步骤400,作为节目向导初始编程的一部分,向节目向导提供标记语言文件,来定位和风格化显示元素。所述文件最好是被广泛接受的标准化的标记语言,比如HTML、DHTML、XML或者其他合适的标记语言。在步骤410,节目向导解释所述标记语言文件。特定类型的标记语言文件可以分别在分步骤412、414和415进行解释。在步骤420,根据所述标记语言文件生成显示屏幕。这个步骤可以包括分步骤422、424和426,在这些分步骤中,分别为显示元素定位、确定大小和风格化。在步骤440,节目向导根据所述标记语言文件显示所述显示屏幕。

图9图示了修改节目向导显示屏幕所涉及的步骤。在步骤450,向节目向导提供可以对显示元素重置大小、重定位和重新风格化的标记语言文件。所述文件最好是被广泛接受的标准化的标记语言,比如HTML DHTML、XML或者其他合适的标记语言。在步骤460,节目向导解释所述标记语言文件。特定类型的标记语言文件可以分别在分步骤462、464和465进行解释。在步骤470,修改所述显示屏幕。这个步骤可以包括分步骤472、474和476,在这些分步骤中,分别为显示元素重置大小、重定位和重新风格化。在步骤480,节目向导根据所述标记语言文件显示所述显示屏幕。

图10图示了分配和选择节目向导功能所涉及的步骤。所指示和选择的节目向导功能对于用户来说可以是外显的也可以是隐藏的。在步骤500,将向显示项目分配节目向导功能的标记语言文件提供给节目向导。该文件可以作为节目向导初始编程的一部分提供,也可以在更新节目向导时由主设施或者电视转播设施提供。所述文件最好是被广泛接受的标准化的标记语言,比如HTML、DHTML、XML或者其他合适的标记语言。在步骤510,节目向导解释所述标记语言文件。如图所示,可以分别在分步骤462、464和465解释HTML、DHTML或者XML标记语言文件。在步骤520,根据所述标记语言文件为显示元素选择节目向导功能。在步骤540,节目向导执行所选定的功能。

以上所述仅仅用于说明本发明的原理。本领域的技术人员可以作出各种各样的修改而不脱离本发明的范围和实质。

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1.一种允许操作员更新交互式电视节目向导的特征的系统,其中,交互式电视节目向导和电视节目的显示屏幕显示在用户电视设备上,电视节目单信息显示在用户电视设备上的一个节目向导显示屏幕中,该显示屏幕具有至少一个预先编程到交互式电视节目向导中的显示元素,该系统包括:允许操作员在没有用户干预的情况下向交互式电视节目向导提供一个第一标记语言文件的装置,其中,所述第一标记语言文件指出所述交互式电视节目向导如何在用户电视设备上显示所述预编程显示元素;用所述交互式电视节目向导解释所述第一标记语言文件的装置;用所述交互式电视节目向导生成第一节目向导显示屏幕的装置,其中,所述第一节目向导显示屏含有预编程的显示元素,具有所述被解释了的第一标记语言文件指定的特征;允许操作员在希望更新所述交互式节目向导的特征时在没有用户干预的情况下向所述交互式电视节目向导提供一个第二标记语言文件的装置,其中,该第二标记语言文件指出所述交互式电视节目向导如何在用户电视设备上显示所述预编程显示元素;利用所述交互式节目向导解释所述第二标记语言文件的装置;用所述交互式电视节目向导生成和显示取代所述第一节目向导显示屏幕的第二节目向导显示屏幕的装置,其中,该第二节目向导显示屏幕含有所述预编程显示元素,后者具有所述被解释了的第二标记语言文件指定的特征。
2.如权利要求1所述的系统,其中:所述交互式电视节目向导的特征是所述预编程显示元素如何由所述交互式电视节目向导在用户电视设备上显示;所述第一标记语言文件为所述预编程显示元素指定如何由所述交互式电视节目向导在用户电视设备上显示;所述生成和显示第一节目向导显示屏幕的装置包括利用所述交互式电视节目向导生成和显示含有所述预编程显示元素的第一节目向导显示屏幕的装置,所述预编程显示元素按照所述被解释了的第一标记语言文件所指定的方式显示;所述第二标记语言文件为所述预编程显示元素指定如何由所述交互式电视节目向导在用户电视设备上显示;所述生成和显示第二节目向导显示屏幕的装置包括利用所述交互式电视节目向导生成和显示含有所述预编程显示元素的第二节目向导显示屏幕的装置,所述预编程显示元素按照所述被解释了的第二标记语言文件所指定的方式显示,其中,所述第二节目向导显示屏幕的显示特征不同于所述第一节目向导显示屏幕的显示特征。
3.如权利要求2所述的系统,其中:所述第一标记语言文件为所述预编程显示元素指定一个第一位置;所述生成和显示第一节目向导显示屏幕的装置包括利用所述交互式电视节目向导生成和显示含有位于所述第一位置的预编程显示元素的第一节目向导显示屏幕的装置;所述第二标记语言文件为所述预编程显示元素指定一个第二位置;所述生成和显示第二节目向导显示屏幕的装置包括利用所述交互式电视节目向导生成和显示含有位于所述第二位置的预编程显示元素的第二节目向导显示屏幕的装置。
4.如权利要求2所述的系统,其中:所述第一标记语言文件为所述预编程显示元素指定一个第一尺寸;所述生成和显示第一节目向导显示屏幕的装置包括利用所述交互式电视节目向导生成和显示具有所述第一尺寸的预编程显示元素的第一节目向导显示屏幕的装置;所述第二标记语言文件为所述预编程显示元素指定一个第二尺寸;所述生成和显示第二节目向导显示屏幕的装置包括利用所述交互式电视节目向导生成和显示具有所述第二尺寸的预编程显示元素的第二节目向导显示屏幕的装置。
5.如权利要求2所述的系统,其中:所述第一标记语言文件为所述预编程显示元素指定一个第一风格;所述生成和显示第一节目向导显示屏幕的装置包括利用所述交互式电视节目向导生成和显示具有所述第一风格的预编程显示元素的第一节目向导显示屏幕的装置;所述第二标记语言文件为所述预编程显示元素指定一个第二风格;所述生成和显示第二节目向导显示屏幕的装置包括利用所述交互式电视节目向导生成和显示具有所述第二风格的预编程显示元素的第二节目向导显示屏幕的装置。
6.如权利要求1所述的系统,其中:所述节目向导的特征是预先编入所述交互式电视节目向导并与所述显示元素相关的至少一个动作;所述第一标记语言文件向所述显示元素分配一个第一预编程动作;生成第一节目向导显示屏幕的装置包括生成和显示含有所述显示元素的第一节目向导显示屏幕,并为该显示元素按照所述被解释了的第一标记语言文件选择所述第一预编程动作的装置;所述第二标记语言文件向所述显示元素分配一个不同于所述第一预编程动作的第二预编程动作;生成第二节目向导显示屏幕的装置包括生成和显示含有所述显示元素的第二节目向导显示屏幕,并为该显示元素按照所述被解释了的第二标记语言文件选择所述第二预编程动作的装置;
7.如权利要求1或6所述的系统,其中:解释所述第一标记语言文件的装置包括解释超文本标记语言文件的装置;解释所述第二标记语言文件的装置包括解释超文本标记语言文件的装置。
8.如权利要求1或6所述的系统,其中:解释所述第一标记语言文件的装置还包括解释动态超文本标记语言文件的装置;解释所述第二标记语言文件的装置还包括解释动态超文本标记语言文件的装置。
9.如权利要求1或6所述的系统,其中:解释所述第一标记语言文件的装置还包括解释可扩展标记语言文件的装置;解释所述第二标记语言文件的装置还包括解释可扩展标记语言文件的装置。
10.一种允许操作员更新交互式电视节目向导的特征的方法,其中,所述交互式电视节目向导的显示屏幕和电视节目显示在用户电视设备上,电视节目单信息显示在用户电视设备上的一个节目向导显示屏幕中,该显示屏幕具有至少一个预先编程到交互式电视节目向导中的显示元素,该方法包括:允许操作员在没有用户干预的情况下向交互式电视节目向导提供一个第一标记语言文件,其中,所述第一标记语言文件指定显示屏幕的一个特征;用所述交互式电视节目向导解释所述第一标记语言文件;用所述交互式电视节目向导生成一个第一节目向导显示屏幕,其中,该第一节目向导显示屏幕含有所述预编程显示元素,并具有所述交互式电视节目向导所解释的第一标记语言文件所指定的特征;允许操作员在希望更新所述第一交互式节目向导显示屏幕时在没有用户干预的情况下向所述交互式电视节目向导提供一个第二标记语言文件,其中,该第二标记语言文件指出所述交互式电视节目向导如何在用户电视设备上显示所述预编程显示元素;利用所述交互式节目向导解释所述第二标记语言文件;用所述交互式电视节目向导生成和显示取代所述第一节目向导显示屏幕的第二节目向导显示屏幕,其中,该第二节目向导显示屏幕含有所述预编程显示元素,并具有所述被解释了的第二标记语言文件指定的特征。
11.如权利要求10所述的方法,其中:所述第一标记语言文件为所述预编程显示元素指定如何由所述交互式电视节目向导在用户电视设备上显示;所述交互式电视节目向导的特征是所述预编程显示元素如何由所述交互式电视节目向导在用户电视设备上显示;生成和显示第一节目向导显示屏幕包括利用所述交互式电视节目向导生成和显示含有所述预编程显示元素的第一节目向导显示屏幕,所述预编程显示元素按照所述被解释了的第一标记语言文件所指定的方式显示;所述第二标记语言文件为所述预编程显示元素指定如何由所述交互式电视节目向导在用户电视设备上显示;生成和显示第二节目向导显示屏幕以取代所述第一节目向导显示屏幕包括生成和显示含有所述预编程显示元素的第二节目向导显示屏幕,所述预编程显示元素按照所述被解释了的第二标记语言文件所指定的方式显示,其中,所述第二节目向导显示屏幕的显示特征不同于所述第一节目向导显示屏幕的显示特征。
12.如权利要求11所述的方法,其中:所述第一标记语言文件为所述预编程显示元素指定一个第一位置;生成和显示第一节目向导显示屏幕包括利用所述交互式电视节目向导生成和显示含有位于所述第一位置的预编程显示元素的第一节目向导显示屏幕;所述第二标记语言文件为所述预编程显示元素指定一个第二位置;生成和显示第二节目向导显示屏幕包括利用所述交互式电视节目向导生成和显示含有位于所述第二位置的预编程显示元素的第二节目向导显示屏幕。
13.如权利要求11所述的方法,其中:所述第一标记语言文件为所述预编程显示元素指定一个第一尺寸;生成和显示第一节目向导显示屏幕包括利用所述交互式电视节目向导生成和显示具有所述第一尺寸的预编程显示元素的第一节目向导显示屏幕;所述第二标记语言文件为所述预编程显示元素指定一个第二尺寸;生成和显示第二节目向导显示屏幕包括利用所述交互式电视节目向导生成和显示具有所述第二尺寸的预编程显示元素的第二节目向导显示屏幕。
14.如权利要求11所述的方法,其中:所述第一标记语言文件为所述预编程显示元素指定一个第一风格;生成和显示第一节目向导显示屏幕包括利用所述交互式电视节目向导生成和显示具有所述第一风格的预编程显示元素的第一节目向导显示屏幕;所述第二标记语言文件为所述预编程显示元素指定一个第二风格;生成和显示第二节目向导显示屏幕包括利用所述交互式电视节目向导生成和显示具有所述第二风格的预编程显示元素的第二节目向导显示屏幕。
15.如权利要求11所述的方法,其中:解释所述第一标记语言文件还包括解释超文本标记语言文件;解释所述第二标记语言文件还包括解释超文本标记语言文件。
16.如权利要求11所述的方法,其中:解释所述第一标记语言文件还包括解释动态超文本标记语言文件;解释所述第二标记语言文件还包括解释动态超文本标记语言文件。
17.如权利要求11所述的方法,其中:解释所述第一标记语言文件还包括解释可扩展标记语言文件;解释所述第二标记语言文件还包括解释可扩展标记语言文件。
18.如权利要求11所述的方法,其中:所述节目向导的特征是预编程到所述交互式电视节目向导中并与所述显示元素相关的至少一个动作;所述第一标记语言文件向所述显示元素分配一个第一预编程动作;该方法还包括按照用所述交互式电视节目向导所解释的第一标记语言文件的分配为所述显示元素选择所述第一预编程动作;所述第二标记语言文件向所述显示元素分配一个不同于所述第一预编程动作的第二预编程动作;该方法还包括按照所述被解释了的第二标记语言文件的分配为所述显示元素选择所述第二预编程动作;
19.如权利要求18所述的方法,其中:解释所述第一标记语言文件还包括解释超文本标记语言文件;解释所述第二标记语言文件还包括解释超文本标记语言文件。
20.如权利要求18所述的方法,其中:解释所述第一标记语言文件还包括解释动态超文本标记语言文件的步骤;解释所述第二标记语言文件还包括解释动态超文本标记语言文件。
21.如权利要求18所述的方法,其中:解释所述第一标记语言文件还包括解释可扩展标记语言文件;解释所述第二标记语言文件还包括解释可扩展标记语言文件。
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