GB2437600A - Media communications system for providing digital content through a network - Google Patents

Media communications system for providing digital content through a network Download PDF

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Publication number
GB2437600A
GB2437600A GB0608379A GB0608379A GB2437600A GB 2437600 A GB2437600 A GB 2437600A GB 0608379 A GB0608379 A GB 0608379A GB 0608379 A GB0608379 A GB 0608379A GB 2437600 A GB2437600 A GB 2437600A
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United Kingdom
Prior art keywords
gt
lt
client
content
stored
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Withdrawn
Application number
GB0608379A
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GB0608379D0 (en
Inventor
Richard Jonathon David Edwards
Robert James Douglas Eberstein
Julian Brett Guppy
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MY-ZEBRA Ltd
MY ZEBRA Ltd
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My Zebra Ltd
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Priority to GB0608379A priority Critical patent/GB2437600A/en
Publication of GB0608379D0 publication Critical patent/GB0608379D0/en
Publication of GB2437600A publication Critical patent/GB2437600A/en
Application status is Withdrawn legal-status Critical

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Classifications

    • GPHYSICS
    • G06COMPUTING; CALCULATING; COUNTING
    • G06FELECTRIC DIGITAL DATA PROCESSING
    • G06F16/00Information retrieval; Database structures therefor; File system structures therefor
    • G06F16/90Details of database functions independent of the retrieved data types
    • G06F16/95Retrieval from the web
    • G06F16/957Browsing optimisation, e.g. caching or content distillation
    • GPHYSICS
    • G06COMPUTING; CALCULATING; COUNTING
    • G06FELECTRIC DIGITAL DATA PROCESSING
    • G06F16/00Information retrieval; Database structures therefor; File system structures therefor
    • G06F16/90Details of database functions independent of the retrieved data types
    • G06F16/95Retrieval from the web
    • G06F16/957Browsing optimisation, e.g. caching or content distillation
    • G06F16/9574Browsing optimisation, e.g. caching or content distillation of access to content, e.g. by caching
    • GPHYSICS
    • G06COMPUTING; CALCULATING; COUNTING
    • G06FELECTRIC DIGITAL DATA PROCESSING
    • G06F16/00Information retrieval; Database structures therefor; File system structures therefor
    • G06F16/90Details of database functions independent of the retrieved data types
    • G06F16/95Retrieval from the web
    • G06F16/958Organisation or management of web site content, e.g. publishing, maintaining pages or automatic linking
    • GPHYSICS
    • G06COMPUTING; CALCULATING; COUNTING
    • G06FELECTRIC DIGITAL DATA PROCESSING
    • G06F16/00Information retrieval; Database structures therefor; File system structures therefor
    • G06F16/90Details of database functions independent of the retrieved data types
    • G06F16/95Retrieval from the web
    • G06F16/958Organisation or management of web site content, e.g. publishing, maintaining pages or automatic linking
    • G06F16/972Access to data in other repository systems, e.g. legacy data or dynamic Web page generation

Abstract

The arrangement comprises content servers CP1-CPn each having electronic pages which are subject to periodic update; ```an intermediate server MZS having a stored program including a feed handler for communication with the content servers, a client handler for interaction with client stations, and a database for client identities each associated with selected content sources; and ```client stations CL1-CLn each having a stored identity and a stored program for communication with the intermediate server and including a plurality of browser programs, the stored program having instructions for: ```transmitting a request including the client station identity to the intermediate server; ```receiving a response from the intermediate server including data corresponding to that identity and identifying selected stored locations to be accessed by the browser programs; and ```storing said data locally for use at the client station.

Description

<p>METHOD AND APPARATUS FOR MEDIA COMMUNICATIONS</p>

<p>FIELD OF THE INVENTION</p>

<p>The present invention relates to a method and apparatus by which content providers can communicate content to client stations.</p>

<p>BACKGROUND TO THE INVENTION</p>

<p>US-A-2005/0289147 (Kahn el al; the disclosure of which is incorporated herein by reference; see also US-A-2005/0289468 whose disclosure is similar) discloses software tools for accessing a news feed, and more particularly to software tools for detecting, displaying, and managing a news feed.</p>

<p>The above reference explains that many users turn to the Internet as a source of news. Millions of web pages are available as a source of news content. These web pages take many forms, including, for example, articles, blurbs, and web logs ("blogs"), among others. In general, news content is published by inserting it into a web page (e.g., coding it into a Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) file), which can then be viewed using a web browser. However it goes on to explain that there are drawbacks to this approach. Users who wish to see content from a variety of sources must typically visit many different web sites. In addition, if the user later wants to obtain the most current content from all the sources, he or she must visit all the different web sites again. This is very time consuming, especially if the user is interested in many different types of content and/or sources.</p>

<p>One possible solution is a software application that automatically visits a number of web sites that provide news content. The application analyzes the content found at each of the web sites, determines whether the content has changed, and notifies the user as to such changes. The user can then visit the web sites having newly-updated content. Alternatively, the application can automatically extract the updated content and present directly to the user. Unfortunately, in many cases it is very difficult (if not impossible) to identify the news content of a web page without a priori knowledge of the structure of the web page. "Feeds" have therefore been developed as a way to publish news content in a structured format that facilitates identification and analysis. A feed (also known as a "news feed" or "blog feed") can contain articles (content items), meta-data about the articles (e.g., title, date, and author), and/or meta-data about the feed itself (e.g., title, URL, and last-updated timestamp). Some feeds are described by Resource Description Framework (RDF) statements and/or encoded using extended Markup Language (XML) (such as, e.g., the XML syntax RDF/XML). These features of feeds make it easier for applications to automatically collect and evaluate news content for presentation to the user.</p>

<p>"Syndication XML" refers to XML that has been developed for feeds, such as Atom and RSS ("Really Simple Syndication," "Rich Site Summary," or "RDF Site Summary"). Since the general structure of a feed is known, it is possible to identify the news content within it. Software applications have been developed that work with content published using syndication XML.</p>

<p>One feature of such applications enables a user to view the content of a feed in a way that is more user-friendly than a raw XML (text) file. (Syndication XML identifies content, without requiring that the content be displayed in any particular way.) Applications and/or application handlers, commonly known as "feed viewers," "feed readers," or "feed aggregators," can read the syndication XML and present it to the user.</p>

<p>These applications, which can be implemented as (for example) stand-alone applications or web browser plug-ins, often contain useful user interface controls for facilitating navigation, searching, and the like with respect to news feeds. Another feature of many such feed viewers is "aggregation," which enables a user to specify multiple feeds and integrate their content into a single feed.</p>

<p>The above specification goes on to explain that while feeds have made it easier to access news content, existing techniques for detecting, managing, and presenting news feeds have some disadvantages. One problem is that users may be unable to determine whether a server is publishing a feed. Then, once a feed has been found and navigated to, the web browser will often prompt the user to save the feed to disk or display it as raw text, rather than display it in a user-friendly way. Another problem is that even if a feed can be displayed in a user-friendly way, this display often cannot be modified based on user preferences. Yet another problem is that if a user views a feed using multiple feed viewers (for example, on different computers), the state of the user's interaction with the feed (for example, which articles have been read) is inconsistent across the viewers. One viewer is not aware of the fact that the user has already viewed a particular article in another viewer.</p>

<p>The above application therefore suggests that what is needed is a software application and/or software architecture that solves these problems. A disclosed embodiment provides for: * A web browser to automatically determine that a web site is publishing a feed and to notify the user who can then access the feed easily.</p>

<p>* Notification of a user by displaying a badge in the Uniform Resource Locator (URL) address bar of the browser window. The user can access the feed, for example, by using the badge to toggle between viewing the web page and viewing the feed. In an embodiment this happens by causing the feed to appear to "roll down" over the web page, obscuring it.</p>

<p>* Automatic detection of whether a web site is publishing a feed e.g. by determining whether the Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) code of the web page contains a <link> element that refers to a feed and indicates the URL of the feed and its content type, e.g. syndication XML.</p>

<p>* Viewing by a user of the feed using a feed viewer e.g. in a content window of the web browser.</p>

<p>* Control of the content to be displayed, the order in which it is displayed and the display format.</p>

<p>* Bookmarking of selected feeds, and providing folders for bookmarked feeds so that e.g. a user can select a folder and simultaneously open the bookmarked feeds within that folder.</p>

<p>* Creation of custom feeds by aggregation or filtering of existing feeds.</p>

<p>US-A-2003/0023670 (Wairath, the contents of which are incorporated herein by reference) discloses a system and method for providing a distributed software application which includes multiple browser components that run together within a single browser window, each component managing and displaying data independently so that a series of internet pages can be simultaneously displayed and manipulated by a user.</p>

<p>SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION</p>

<p>The present invention provides a system that at the client end includes a server window that becomes operative on client selection of an indicium that new content has appeared or becomes operative on selection of a control button or icon or becomes operative simply on moving a pointer or mouse to the right hand side of the screen, that only has to be updated in panes or in regions of panes where content has changed, and that that permits communication with a remote server.</p>

<p>In one aspect the invention provides apparatus for providing digital content through a network, comprising: content servers each having electronic pages which are subject to periodic update; an intermediate server having a stored program including a feed handler for communication with the content servers, a client handler for interaction with client stations, and a database for client identities each associated with selected content sources; and client stations each having a stored identity and a stored program for communication with the intermediate server and including a plurality of browser programs; the stored program having instructions for transmitting a request including the client station identity to the intermediate server, receiving a response from the intermediate server including data corresponding to that identity and identifying selected stored locations to be accessed by the browser programs, and storing said data locally for use at the client station.</p>

<p>In a further aspect, the invention provides a stored program for an intermediate server for use in the apparatus set out above, said program comprising: a feed handler for communication with content servers each having electronic pages which are subject to periodic update and for receiving and/or aggregating content from the content servers; a database for storing uploaded client identities each associated with selected uploaded content sources definable by stored metadata; and a client handler for communication with client stations each having a stored identity and a stored program for communication with the intermediate server and including a plurality of browser programs, the stored program having instructions for receiving a request from a client station including an identity of that client station, and responding with data corresponding to that identity for storage locally at the client station and identifying selected stored locations to be accessed by the browser programs of that client station.</p>

<p>In a yet further aspect, the invention provides a stored client station program for use in the apparatus set out above, said apparatus having in its intermediate server a feed handler for communication with content servers each having electronic pages which are subject to periodic update and for receiving and/or aggregating content from the content servers and a database for storing uploaded client identities each associated with selected uploaded content sources definable by stored metadata, and a client handler for communication with client stations; the client station program including a plurality of browser programs and having instructions for transmitting a stored identity for said client station to the intermediate server; receiving a response from the intermediate server with data corresponding to that identity for storage locally at the client station and identifying selected stored locations to be accessed by the browser programs of that client station; and storing said data locally at the server.</p>

<p>In a yet further aspect, the invention provides a stored client station program for receiving digital content through a network, said program including instructions for receiving through a network an indication of new content, displaying adjacent a right edge of a display of said client station an indicium, and on selection of said indicium causing the application to appear from the right edge of the display as a window which appears to slide on and slide off the display.</p>

<p>The right hand edge of a display or e.g. a control bar of an application program are uncluttered and a user interface that operates from the right hand edge of the display contributes significantly to the look and feel of the display.</p>

<p>BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS</p>

<p>An embodiment of the invention will now be described by way of example only with reference to the accompanying drawings, in which: Fig. 1 is a diagram showing content provider servers, an intermediate server and client stations in communication through the Internet; Fig. 2 is a more detailed diagram showing one of the content providers, the intermediate server and client stations together with some of the software and data resident thereon; Figs 3 and 5 are screen shots; and Fig. 5 is a further system diagram.</p>

<p>DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF PREFERRED EMBODIMENT</p>

<p>In Fig. 1, content provider servers CPI -CPn where n is an arbitrary integer communicate through the internet with intermediate server MZS and with client stations CLI-CLn where n is again an arbitrary integer. A significant difference between the present invention and the system disclosed in Khan el a! US 2005/0289 147 is that in the apparatus and method of the invention software resident at the intermediate server MZS predominantly controls communication with the content providers and with the client stations and the content downloaded by the clients determined by previously entered selections stored at the intermediate server MZS. The client stations therefore do not randomly poll websites at the content providers, but instead each client station downloads customized content (in an embodiment including targeted advertising, enabling advertisers to target advertising according to specific socio-economic criteria) according to selections previously uploaded to the client station. The content provider servers may include web servers of newspapers, broadcasting organizations, magazines and the like, as well as commercial organizations with products and services to be advertised e.g. manufacturers and wholesalers who may wish to alert retail outlets concerning new products, changes in price or conditions of sale, particular sales offers and the like, and online sports betting websites who may wish to display prices online and alert users at client stations to price changes. The intermediate server may be any PC-based server or cluster running standard operating systems, for example Windows or Linux. The client stations may be user PCs or workstations running standard operating systems such as Windows or Linux, or may be mobile communications devices, for example phones and pda's.</p>

<p>Fig 2 shows a single content provider CPI and a single client station CLI in communication with the intermediate server MZS.</p>

<p>The server CP1 has content pages e.g. providing a website, and a content management system that makes those pages and update information available to a network such as the internet. The content servers CP1-CPn can communicate with the intermediate server MZS using a variety of methods, including but not restricted to RSS, ODBC, SOAP, OPML, Atom, FTP of files and proprietary formats.</p>

<p>The intermediate server MZS includes an application program including a feed handler for communicating with content providers and a client handler for communicating with client stations. It further provides a SQL or other relational database for client identities and metadata associated with each client identity defining tabs corresponding to content providers selected by each client and web pages selected for access by each client e.g. in terms of URLs and corresponding to each tab. On receipt of a request from the client station, which includes an identity assigned to that client, the application program returns the metadata for that client for local storage. The application program may also include an accounting module for recording the numbers and optionally the identities and actions of client stations that have selected particular tabs corresponding to particular content providers within the set of participating content providers CP1-CPn and for debiting the content providers according to the number of client stations that have subscribed to their content by tab selection as aforesaid.</p>

<p>The client application includes instructions for storage of an identity, a plurality of browsers (in this instance five) to be controlled by tabbed browsing and a store or schema for metadata downloaded from the intermediate server MZS. The client can transmit or upload a request on start up and receive from the application program of the intermediate server metadata corresponding to previously entered selections. The metadata is stored in a local schema or set of tables corresponding to the downloaded data (but in an embodiment not stored relationally). That data can be used when the client application is activated for showing data downloaded by the browsers in individual simultaneously displayed content windows or panes, the browsers running independently and showing content downloaded independently from separate URLs whose addresses are defined by the stored metadata. The content pane URL's may be defined at the client station via the navigator wheel, but in an embodiment default values are provided for each tab.</p>

<p>Fig 3 shows a client display having a second window corresponding to the client application that can be selected from an icon or other indicium that appears adjacent the right hand edge of the display and that slides on or off on selection or de-selection. The displayed window in an embodiment is a local application rather than a web page and controls five browsers that appear as separate panes in the window. Movement of the window on or off the display is indicated by the double-headed arrow. It will be noted that in an embodiment the slide-onlslide-off application window when maximized occupies only a portion of the area of the display.</p>

<p>Fig 4 shows the local application window on a larger scale. In this instance there are in the application program window that slides on and off the display five tabs that can be selected at the client station (e.g. using a mouse or other pointing device) and that correspond to particular content providers. A first browser provides for a display in a top panel or "header pane". A second browser provides a main display pane for text or graphics or a combination of them. A third browser provides a left pane which may display data and/or controls. A fourth browser provides a window with control buttons, in this instance five, arranged in a wheel configuration for convenience of user operation (also referred to as a navigation wheel). Each control button sets one or more of the other panels to a pre-selected location which may be a default location provided by the content provider or may be selected at the client station for selection of a preferred feed from the content provider. The lowermost pane is provided by a further browser and is expected to be used to display advertising. It will be appreciated that the local application may provide for more or less tabs than the five shown, and that the control wheel may have more or less control buttons, but the number illustrated is convenient and provides a wide range of possible user content selections.</p>

<p>It will also be appreciated that selection of a tab does not mean the re-display of other portions of the application window. Furthermore, because each pane runs independently selection of one of the control buttons in the application wheel changes only the address for the browser or e.g. pair of browsers associated with that control so that the remaining panes are unaffected and update using the locally stored metadata is rapid and consumes little bandwidth. In order to further reduce the disruption of the display on update, at least some of the browsers are encoded in asynchronous JavaScript and XML (AJAX) permitting synchronous and asynchronous exchange of data with the intermediate server.</p>

Claims (1)

  1. <p>CLAiMS 1. Apparatus for providing digital content through a network,
    comprising: content servers each having electronic pages which are subject to periodic update; an intermediate server having a stored program including a feed handler for communication with the content servers, a client handler for interaction with client stations, and a database for client identities each associated with selected content sources; and client stations each having a stored identity and a stored program for communication with the intermediate server and including a plurality of browser programs, the stored program having instructions for: transmitting a request including the client station identity to the intermediate server; receiving a response from the intermediate server including data corresponding to that identity and identifying selected stored locations to be accessed by the browser programs; and storing said data locally for use at the client station.</p>
    <p>2. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein at least one of the content servers stores instructions for providing content in XML.</p>
    <p>3. The apparatus of claim I or 2, wherein the intermediate server has a relational database for storing client identities and associated metadata.</p>
    <p>4. The apparatus of any preceding claim, wherein the stored program includes instructions for receiving the response from the intermediate server and storing the data in a schema.</p>
    <p>5. The apparatus of any preceding claim, wherein the stored program includes instructions for display at the client as a window having a plurality of panes corresponding to feeds.</p>
    <p>6. The apparatus of claim 5, wherein the window is tabbed.</p>
    <p>7. The apparatus of claim 6, wherein each tab has either a single pane or a plurality of panes.</p>
    <p>8. The apparatus of claim 7, wherein a framework defined by the application and/or at least one of the panes has a plurality of control buttons, at least one of the control buttons being arranged so that selection thereof affects the contents of one or more than one other pane.</p>
    <p>9. The apparatus of claim 6 or 7, wherein each pane provided by a web browser arranged to run in the stored program.</p>
    <p>10. The apparatus of any preceding claim, wherein instructions for at least one of the panes permits synchronous and asynchronous exchange of data with the intermediate server, utilizing but not restricted to Ajax, Ruby on Rails and/or other web technologies.</p>
    <p>11. A stored program for an intermediate server for use in the apparatus of claim 1, said program comprising: a feed handler for communication with content servers each having electronic pages which are subject to periodic update and for receiving and/or aggregating content from the content servers; a database for storing uploaded client identities each associated with selected uploaded content sources definable by stored metadata; and a client handler for communication with client stations each having a stored identity and a stored program for communication with the intermediate server and including a plurality of browser programs, the stored program having instructions for receiving a request from a client station including an identity of that client station, and responding with data corresponding to that identity for storage locally at the client station and identifying selected stored locations to be accessed by the browser programs of that client station.</p>
    <p>12. A stored client station program for use in the apparatus of claim 1, said apparatus having in its intermediate server a feed handler for communication with content servers each having electronic pages which are subject to periodic update and for receiving and/or aggregating content from the content servers and a database for storing uploaded client identities each associated with selected uploaded content sources definable by stored metadata, and a client handler for communication with client stations; the client station program including a plurality of browser programs and having instructions for transmitting a stored identity for said client station to the intermediate server, receiving a response from the intermediate server with data corresponding to that identity for storage locally at the client station and identifying selected stored locations to be accessed by the browser programs of that client station.</p>
    <p>13. A stored client station program for use in the for providing digital content through a network, said program including instructions for receiving through a network an indication of new content, displaying adjacent a right edge of a display of said client station an indicium, and on selection of said indicium causing the application to appear from the right edge of the display as a window which appears to slide on and slide off the display.</p>
    <p>14. The program of claim 13, including instructions for displaying tabbed pages in said window.</p>
    <p>15. The program ol claim 14, wherein each tabbed page includes a plurality of image panes.</p>
    <p>16. The program of claim 14, wherein each pane is provided by a browser forming part of the client station program.</p>
    <p>17. The program of claim 14 or 15, wherein at least one of the image panes comprises a plurality of control buttons, at least one of the control buttons on selection adjusting the content of at least two other of said image panes.</p>
    <p>18. The program of claim 14, 15 or 16, wherein instructions for at least one of the panes are encoded in asynchronous JavaScript and XML (AJAX) permitting synchronous and asynchronous exchange of data with the intermediate server.</p>
    <p>19. Apparatus for providing digital content through a network substantially as hereinbefore described with reference to and as illustrated in the accompanying drawings.</p>
    <p>20. A method of providing digital content for at least one client station using the apparatus of any of claims 1-10.</p>
GB0608379A 2006-04-27 2006-04-27 Media communications system for providing digital content through a network Withdrawn GB2437600A (en)

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US20110099071A1 (en) * 2009-10-26 2011-04-28 Moses Johnson Real Time Content Editing and Filtering
US8204961B2 (en) * 2005-09-06 2012-06-19 Interpols Network, Inc. Systems and methods for integrating XML syndication feeds into online advertisement

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US20110099071A1 (en) * 2009-10-26 2011-04-28 Moses Johnson Real Time Content Editing and Filtering

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