The World Wide Web Web is a hypermedia system. It has largely achieved the goal of Tim Berners-Lee, its British inventor, of a universal information space. Thanks to the global reach of the Internet, there is potentially universal access to an enormous volume of documents over the Internet. Of course, in many developing countries, access is poor, which raises issues of disenfranchisement and disempowerment.
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This application is a continuation and claims the benefit of U. This invention relates generally to manipulating data in a computer network, and specifically to retrieving, presenting and manipulating embedded program objects in distributed hypermedia systems.
Computer networks are becoming increasingly popular as a medium for locating and accessing a wide range of data from locations all over the world. The most popular global network is the Internet with millions of computer systems connected to it. The Internet has become popular due to widely adopted standard protocols that allow a vast interconnection of computers and localized computer networks to communicate with each other.
Computer systems connected to a network such as the Internet may be of varying types, e. The computers are manufactured by different companies using proprietary hardware and operating systems and thus have incompatibilities in their instruction sets, busses, software, file formats and other aspects of their architecture and operating systems.
Localized computer networks connected to the Internet may be incompatible with other computer systems and localized networks in terms of the physical layer of communication including the specific hardware used to implement the network. The Internet provides a uniform and open standard for allowing various computers and networks to communicate with each other. See, e. A hypertext document is a document that allows a user to view a text document displayed on a display device connected to the user's computer and to access, retrieve and view other data objects that are linked to hypertext words or phrases in the hypertext document.
In this way, the user is able to navigate easily among data objects. The data objects may be local to the user's computer system or remotely located over a network. An early hypertext system is Hypercard, by Apple Computer, Inc. Hypercard is a standalone system where the data objects are local to the user's system. When a user selects a phrase in a hypertext document that has an associated link to another document, the linked document is retrieved and displayed on the user's display screen.
This allows the user to obtain more information in an efficient and easy manner. Objects may be text, images, sound files, video data, documents or other types of information that is presentable to a user of a computer system. When a document is primarily text and includes links to other data objects according to the hypertext format, the document is said to be a hypertext document.
When graphics, sound, video or other media capable of being manipulated and presented in a computer system is used as the object linked to, the document is said to be a hypermedia document.
A hypermedia document is similar to a hypertext document, except that the user is able to click on images, sound icons, video icons, etc. Hypermedia document 10 includes hypertext 20 , an image icon at 22 , a sound icon at 24 and more hypertext Hypermedia document 14 is retrieved and displayed on the user's display screen. Similarly, additional hypertext 26 can be selected by the user to access hypertext document 12 via link 32 as shown in FIG.
If the user selects additional hypertext 26 , then the text for hypertext document 12 is displayed on the user screen. Note that hypertext document 12 , itself, has hypertext at Documents, and other data objects, can be referenced by many links from many different source documents. A distributed hypertext or hypermedia document typically has many links within it that specify many different data objects located in computers at different geographical locations connected by a network.
Hypermedia document 10 includes image icon 22 with a link to image One method of viewing images is to include an icon, or other indicator, within the text. Typically, the indicator is a very small image and may be a scaled down version of the full image. The indicator may be shown embedded within the text when the text is displayed on the display screen.
The user may select the indicator to obtain the full image. When the user clicks on image icon 22 browser software executing on the user's computer system retrieves the corresponding full image, e. When a browser program invokes a viewer program, the viewer is launched as a separate process. This means that the browser program is no longer active while the viewer is active. By using indicators to act as place holders for full images that are retrieved and displayed only when a user selects the indicator, data traffic over the network is reduced.
Also, since the retrieval and display of large images may require several seconds or more of transfer time the user does not have to wait to have images transferred that are of no interest to the user. Returning to FIG. When the user selects sound icon 24 , the user's computer accesses sound data shown symbolically by data file The accessed sound data plays through a speaker or other audio device.
As discussed above, hypermedia documents allow a user to access different data objects. The objects may be text, images, sound files, video, additional documents, etc.
As used in this specification, a data object is information capable of being retrieved and presented to a user of a computer system. Some data objects include executable code combined with data. Such a combination of executable code and data is limited in that the user can do no more than invoke the code to perform a singular function such as performing the self-extraction after which time the object is a standard data object.
At least one shortcoming of these approaches is that neither is capable of allowing a user to access embedded interactive program objects in distributed hypermedia documents over networks. In FIG. The user's computer is equipped with various components, such as user input devices mouse, trackball, keyboard, etc. Typically, small computer is connected to a larger computer, such as server A at The larger computer may have additional users and computer systems connected to it, such as computer operated by user Any group of computers may form a localized network.
A localized network does not necessarily adopt the uniform protocols of the larger interconnecting network i. Internet connects other localized networks, such as server B at , which interconnects users , and and their respective computer systems to Internet Internet is made up of many interconnected computer systems and communication links.
Communication links may be by hardwire, fiber optic cable, satellite or other radio wave propagation, etc. Data may move from server A to server B through any number of intermediate servers and communication links or other computers and data processing equipment not shown in FIG.
A user at a workstation or personal computer need not connect to the Internet via a larger computer, such as server A or server B. This is shown, for example, by small computer connected directly to Internet as by a telephone modem or other link. Also, a server need not have users connected to it locally, as is shown by server C at of FIG. Many configurations of large and small computers are possible.
Client computers are computers that typically request information from a server computer which provides the information. For this reason, servers are usually larger and faster machines that have access to many data files, programs, etc. However, the role of a server may also be adopted by a smaller machine depending on the transaction. That is, user may request information via their computer from server A.
At a later time, server A may make a request for information from computer Server A may have the information in a storage device that is local to Server A or server A may have to make requests of other computer systems to obtain the information. User may also request information via their computer from a server, such as server B located at a remote geographical location on the Internet. Clients are generally information requestors, while servers are generally information providers.
Referring again to FIG. Since these data objects may be linked to a document located on another computer the Internet allows for remote object linking. For example, hypertext document 10 of FIG. When user makes a request by, for example, clicking on hypertext 20 i. In this example, we assume that document 14 is stored at a remote location on server B. Thus, in this example, computer issues a command that includes the address of document This command is routed through server A and Internet and eventually is received by server B.
Server B processes the command and locates document 14 on its local storage. Server 14 then transfers a copy of the document back to client via Internet and server A. After client computer receives document 14 , it is displayed so that user may view it. Similarly, image object 16 and sound data file 40 may reside at any of the computers shown in FIG. Assuming image object 16 resides on server C when user clicks on image icon 22 , client computer generates a command to retrieve image object 16 to server C.
Server C receives the command and transfers a copy of image object 16 to client computer Alternatively, an object, such as sound data file 40 , may reside on server A so that it is not necessary to traverse long distances via the Internet in order to retrieve the data object. The open distributed hypermedia system provided by the Internet allows users to easily access and retrieve different data objects located in remote geographic locations on the Internet.
However, this open distributed hypermedia system as it currently exists has shortcomings in that today's large data objects are limited largely by bandwidth constraints in the various communication links in the Internet and localized networks, and by the limited processing power, or computing constraints, of small computer systems normally provided to most users.
Large data objects are difficult to update at frame rates fast enough e. Moreover, the processing power needed to perform the calculations to animate such images in real time does not exist on most workstations, not to mention personal computers. Today's browsers and viewers are not capable of performing the computation necessary to generate and render new views of these large data objects in real time.
For example, the Internet's open distributed hypermedia system allows users to view still images. These images are simple non-interactive two-dimensional images, similar to photographs. Much digital data available today exists in the form of high-resolution multi-dimensional image data e. An example of such type of data is in medical imaging where advanced scanning devices, such as Magnetic Resonance Imaging MRI and Computed Tomography CT , are widely used in the fields of medicine, quality assurance and meteorology to present physicians, technicians and meteorologists with large amounts of data in an efficient way.
Because visualization of the data is the best way for a user to grasp the data's meaning, a variety of visualization techniques and real time computer graphics methods have been developed. However, these systems are bandwidth-intensive and compute-intensive and often require multiprocessor arrays and other specialized graphics hardware to carry them out in real time. Also, large amounts of secondary storage for data are required.
The expense of these requirements has limited the ability of researchers to readily exchange findings since these larger computers required to store, present and manipulate images are not available to many of the researchers that need to have access to the data. On the other hand, small client computers in the form of personal computers or workstations such as client computer of FIG.
Further, it is common for these smaller computers to be connected to the Internet. Thus, it is desirable to have a system that allows the accessing, display and manipulation of large amounts of data, especially image data, over the Internet to a small, and relatively cheap, client computer.
Wide area networks "WAN's" , notably the Internet, are assuming the role of "information superhighways" and are distributing electronic embodiments of mail, textbooks, magazines, advertisements, and even audio and video clips around the world. Herein, the term "document" denotes and includes any and all such electronic content, generically. Figure 1 conceptually illustrates the basic architecture of a "client-server" WAN like the Internet. Servers lOa-n form the backbone of the WAN. The servers are interconnected by a telecommunications infrastructure and exchange information in the form of one or more recognized protocols, such as protocol For example, in the case of the Internet, network protocols include FTP, for file transfer, and Telnet, for remote log-in.
This paper introduces an approach to utilise open hypermedia structures such as links, annotations, collections and guided tours as meta data for Web resources. OHIF resembles XLink with respect to its representation of out-of-line links, but it goes beyond XLink with a more rich set of structuring mechanisms, including e. Following a link to an OHIF file automatically invokes a Webvise download of the meta data structures and the annotated Web content will be displayed in the browser. These Webvise facilities goes beyond ealier open hypermedia systems in that it now allows fully distributed open hypermedia linking between Web pages and WebDAV aware desktop applications. Finally, it argues for better support for handling user controlled meta data, e. Services such as Alexa and the Netscape "What's related?
This application is a continuation and claims the benefit of U. This invention relates generally to manipulating data in a computer network, and specifically to retrieving, presenting and manipulating embedded program objects in distributed hypermedia systems. Computer networks are becoming increasingly popular as a medium for locating and accessing a wide range of data from locations all over the world. The most popular global network is the Internet with millions of computer systems connected to it.