Apple Files Patent Relating to their One-Time Piles Project
On February 8, the US Patent & Trademark Office published Apple’s patent application titled Method and apparatus for organizing information in a computer system . Apple’s patent relates to the field of computer systems and more particularly to user interfaces for computer systems and to methods and apparatuses for implementing user interfaces for organizing information in a computer system. Apple’s current filing, noted as being filed in July 2006, doesn’t state that it’s is a continuation patent although some illustrations actually note the date 1991. More interesting is the fact that the patent appears to relate to the one time Apple project code named Piles. In fact some of the patent authors listed on this current patent are also noted in The Register’s 2003 report.
The invention provides a method and apparatus for organizing information in a computer system, particularly one having a graphical user interface which includes graphical representations of documents. The apparatus of the invention displays graphical representations of a plurality of documents each of which may be manipulated by the user by positioning a system cursor over one of the graphical representations (e.g. Icon) and signaling to the computer to select the document for some operation specified by the user. In the method of the invention, the user creates a pile (or collection of documents) by positioning the cursor (for example, a pointer) over one graphical representation of a document and then selecting that document and moving the graphical representation of the document (by moving the cursor) over to another graphical representation of another document and then depositing the first document on top of the second document in order to create a pile. The system will typically display a graphical representation of the pile which is different than the graphical representation of each document separately and after a pile is created, the original graphical representation of each document in the collection will typically no longer be displayed. A side-ways view of the graphical representation of the document replaces the original graphical representation of the document, and the side-ways view of the graphical representation is located in the graphical representation of the collection. The user may then browse through the pile by positioning the cursor at an item in the pile for a predetermined period of time to reveal a proxy within a viewing cone for the item positioned under the cursor. After the user creates a pile, the system may display a base (or plinth) under the pile to further indicate to the user that the collection of documents is a pile and to allow the user to select the pile as a group. The user may then select the pile for further action by pointing the cursor to the base of the pile.
The system and method of the invention provide the user with various ways to organize piles and to manipulate piles stored in the filing system of the computer. For example, the filing system may be used to automatically file new documents into the appropriate pile according to criteria specified by the user or according to the internal contents of the document relative to the contents of a particular pile. The invention also provides a way for the user to visualize the contents of a pile according to various criteria (e.g. date) such as using visual cues such as color. The appearance of the graphical representation of the pile (e.g. dynamic or static icon of the pile) provides further information to the user, including the texture, thickness, and color of the various documents within the pile. Moreover, the user may specify to the system that it is the users’ preference to have system created piles look neat and user created piles look disheveled. The system may also, at the users’ request, create sub-piles from an original pile (or any set of selected documents such as documents within a folder) according to criteria specified by the user or determined or suggested by the system.
Another aspect of the present invention is an apparatus and method for providing an internal representation of the contents of a pile, which representation is used as a criteria for organizing documents and folders within the pile. This internal representation is also used when the system automatically files documents at the users request or automatically when a new or modified document appears in the filing system of the computer.
The internal representation may also be used when the system creates sub-piles from an original pile or when searching for documents in the filing system and for other operations relating to the present invention. In the preferred embodiment of the present invention, each document is provided with a vector which is representative of the words contained in the document and each pile includes a representation, such as a vector, which embodies the collective contents of the pile. The vector between a document and a pile may be compared for the purpose of determining the relatedness/similarity of the document to the pile for purposes of filing or other operations described as part of this invention.
Patent Figures: FIG. 6 shows, in temporal fashion, the operation of adding an item to the top of a pile. FIG. 7 shows, in temporal fashion, the operation of adding an item to the middle of a pile. FIGS. 8a and 8b show, in temporal fashion, the operation of obtaining an alternate view for two different embodiments of the invention. FIGS. 8c and 8d show another embodiment for obtaining an alternate view of a pile according to the present invention. Below: FIG. 13b shows another visualization window containing four piles. FIG. 14 shows a script/criteria control window according to the present invention.
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Written and researched by Neo.