Therefore, different composition and layout processes may produce different final form output. The interchange of revisable form electronic documents can meet many authors' needs. But there are cases where these formats are not sufficient to meet the needs of the author. For these cases, interchange of final form electronic documents is necessary. The key problem with interchanging only revisable form documents is the inability to guarantee page fidelity.
Page fidelity means that a given revisable form document will always produce the same final form output no matter where it is processed. There are a number of reasons why page fidelity is required.
The most obvious reason is that the composition and layout process involve a human designer's decisions. Only in the final form is it possible to capture these decisions. These formatting decisions are important in the presentation of the represented information. This is quite obvious in advertisements, where design plays an important role in the effectiveness of communicating the intended message.
It is perhaps less obvious but equally important in the design of other information presentations. For example, the placement of text in association with graphical structures, such as in a map of the Washington, D. In addition, formatting rules may not adequately describe complex information presentations, such as mathematics or complex tables, which may need to be hand designed for.
Figure 1 Metro system map. Figure 2 has simple examples of mathematics and tables. Finally, the composition and layout design may reflect the artistic expression of the designer, making the document more pleasing to read Figure 3. The rich tradition of printed documents has established the practice of using page and line numbers to reference portions of documents, for legal and other reasons.
These references will work for electronic documents only if page fidelity can be guaranteed. Many governmental bodies have built these references into their procedures and require that they be preserved, in electronic as well as in paper documents. The final set of cases does not require page fidelity; they are just more simply handled with a final form representation than a revisable one.
Documents that exist only in paper form, legacy documents, can be scanned and their content recognized to produce an electronic document. Although this recognized content could be represented in many forms, it is simplest when the content is represented in final form. Then it is not necessary to decide, for each piece of recognized content, what part of the original document content, such as body text, header, or footer, it belonged to. Since the final form is preserved, the reader of the document can correctly perform the recognition function. See Figure 2 for an example of a legacy page that would be difficult to categorize correctly.
Finally, preparing a document as an SGML or HTML document typically involves a substantial amount of markup of sections of content to ensure that a rule-driven composition and layout process will produce the intended effect. For documents that are of transient existence, it may be far simpler to produce the composition and layout by hand and to interchange the final form representation than to spend time tuning the document for a rule-driven process.
For a final form representation to be a suitable electronic document interchange format for the NII, it should meet a number of requirements:. It should have an open, published specification with sufficient detail to allow multiple implementations. There are many definitions of openness, but the key component of them all is that independent implementations of the specification are possible. This gives the users of the format some guarantee of there being reasonable cost products that support the format.
With multiple implementations, the question of interoperability is important. This can be facilitated, although not guaranteed, by establishing conformance test suites for the open specification. It should provide page fidelity. This is a complex requirement.
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For text, this means representing the fonts, sizes, weights, spacing, alignment, leading, and so on that are used in the composition and layout of the original document. For graphics, this means representing the shapes, the lines and curves, whether they are filled or stroked, any shading or gradients, and all the scaling, rotations, and positioning of the graphic elements. For all of the above, the shapes and colors must be preserved where defined in device- and resolution-independent terms.
It should provide a representation for electronic navigation. The format should be able to express hyperlinks within and among documents. These links should be able to refer to documents in formats other than this final form format, such as HTML documents, videos, or animations. The format should be able to represent a table of contents or index using links into the appropriate places in the document. The format should also allow searches for words or phrases within the document and positioning at successive hits. It should be resource independent.
The ability to view an electronic document should not depend on the resources available where it is viewed. There are two parts to this requirement. A standard set of resources, such as a set of standard fonts, can be defined and required at every site of use.
These resources need not be transmitted with the document. For resources, such as fonts, that are not in the standard set, there must be provision for inclusion of the resource in the document. It should provide access to the content of the document for the visually disabled. It should be possible to create electronic documents in this format using a wide range of document generation processes. Ideally, any application that can generate final form output should be usable to generate an electronic document in this format. There should also be a means for paper documents to be converted into this format.
It should be platform independent; that is, the format should be independent of the choice of hardware and operating systems, and transportable from one platform to any other platform. It should also be independent of the authoring application; the authoring application should not be required to view the electronic document. It should effectively use storage.
In particular, it should use relevant, data type-dependent compression techniques.
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It should scale well. Applications using the format should perform nearly as well on huge 20,page documents as they do on small ones; the performance on a large document or a large collection of smaller documents should be similar. This requirement implies that any component of the electronic document be randomly accessible. It should integrate with other NII technologies. It should be possible to encrypt an electronic document both for privacy and for authentication. It should be possible to revise and reuse the documents represented in the format.
Editing is a broad notion that begins with the ability to add annotations, electronic ''sticky notes," to documents. At the next level, preplanned replacement of objects, such as editing fields on a form, might be allowed. It should be extensible, meaning that new data types and information can be added to the representation without breaking previous consumer applications that accept the format. Examples of extensions would be adding a new data object for sound annotations or adding information that would allow editing of some object.
These requirements might be satisfied in a number of different ways. We describe below a particular format, the portable document format PDF which has been developed by Adobe Systems Inc. There are three basic architectures that facilitate interchange of electronic documents: 1 the architecture for document preparation, 2 the architecture of the document representation, and 3 the architecture for extension. These three architectures are illustrated in Figure 4. The architecture for document preparation is shown on the left-hand side of the figure and encompasses both electronic and paper document preparation processes.
The right-hand side of the figure shows consumption of prepared documents. The portable document format PDF is the architecture for document representation and is the link between these components. The right-hand side of the figure shows consumption at two levels. There is an optional cataloguing step that builds full text indexes for one or a collection of documents.
Above this, viewing and printing PDF documents are shown. The architecture for extension is indicated by the "search" plug-in, which allows access to indexes built by the cataloguing process. To be effective, any system for electronic document interchange must be able to capture documents in all the forms in which they are generated. This is facilitated by the recent shift to electronic preparation of documents, but it must include a pathway for paper documents as well. Unlike the wide range of forms that revisable documents can take, there are relatively few final form formats in use today.
This is another reason that it makes sense to have a final form interchange format. Since, historically, final forms were prepared for printing, one can capture documents in final form by replacing or using components of the printing architectures of the various operating systems. Two such approaches have been used with PDF: 1 in operating systems with selectable print drivers, adding a print driver that generates PDF and 2 translating existing visually rich print formats to PDF.
Both these pathways are shown in the upper left corner of Figure 4. Some operating systems, such as the Mac OS and Windows, have a standard interface, the GUI graphical user interface , which can be used by any application both to display information on the screen and to print what is displayed. By replacing the print driver that lies beneath the GUI it is possible to capture the document that would have been printed and to convert it into the electronic document interchange format. For operating systems without a GUI interface to printing and for applications that choose to generate their print format directly, the PostScript language is the industry standard for describing visually rich final form documents.
Therefore, the electronic document interchange format can be created by translating, or "distilling," PostScript language files. This distillation process converts the print description into a form more suitable for viewing and electronic navigation. The PostScript language has been extended, for distillation, to allow information on navigation to be included with the print description, allowing the distillation process to automatically generate navigational aids. The above two approaches to creation of PDF documents work with electronic preparation processes. But there is also an archive of legacy documents that were never prepared electronically or are not now available in electronic form.
For these documents there is a third pathway to PDF, shown in the lower left corner of Figure 4. Paper documents can be scanned and converted to raster images. These images are then fed to a recognition program, Acrobat Capture, that identifies the textual and nontextual parts of the document. The textual parts are converted to coded text with appropriate font information including font name, weight, size, posture.
The nontextual parts remain as images. This process produces an electronic representation of the paper document that has the same final form as the original and is much smaller than the scanned version. Because the paper document is a final form, the same final form format can be used, without loss of fidelity, for paper documents and for the electronically generated documents. Page fidelity is important.
The current state of recognition technology, though very good, is not infallible; there are always some characters that cannot be identified with a high level of confidence. Because the PDF format allows text and image data to be freely intermixed, characters or text fragments whose recognition confidence falls below an adjustable level can be placed in the PDF document as images. These images can then be read by a human reader even if a mechanical reader could not interpret them.
Figure 2 shows a document captured by this process. There is more to the architecture of the document representation than meeting the above requirements for a final form representation. Architectures need to be robust and flexible if they are to be useful over a continuing span of years. PDF has such an architecture. The PDF architecture certainly meets these requirements, as will be clear below. PDF also goes beyond the final form requirements. For example, the content of PDF files can be randomly accessed and the files themselves can be generated in a single pass through the document being converted to PDF form.
In addition, incremental changes to a PDF file require only incremental additions to the file rather than a complete rewrite of the file. These are aspects of PDF that are important with respect to the efficiency of the generation and viewing processes. The PDF file format is based on long experience both with a practical document interchange format and with applications that were constructed on top of that format.
Adobe Illustrator is a graphics design program whose intermediate file format is based on the PostScript language. By making the intermediate format also be a print format, the output of Adobe Illustrator could easily be imported into other applications because they could print the objects without having to interpret the semantics. In addition, because the underlying semantics were published, these objects could be read by other applications when required.
PDF uses the PostScript language imaging model, which has proven itself over 12 years of experience as being capable of faithfully representing visually rich documents. Yet the PostScript file format was designed for printing, not for interactive access. To improve system performance for interactive access, PDF has a restructured and simplified description language.
Experience with the PostScript language has shown that, although having a full programming language capability is useful, a properly chosen set of high-level combinations of the PostScript language primitives can be used to describe most, if not all, final form pages. Therefore, PDF has a fixed vocabulary of high-level operators that can be more efficiently implemented than arbitrary combinations of the lower-level primitives. The user sees a PDF document as a collection of pages.
Each page has a content portion that represents the final form of that page and a number of virtual overlays that augment the page in various ways. For example, there are overlay layers for annotations, such as electronic sticky notes, voice annotations, and the like. There are overlay layers for hyperlinks to other parts of the same document or hyperlinks to other documents and other kinds of objects, such as video segments or animations.
There is an overlay layer that identifies the threading of the content of articles from page to page and from column to column. Each of the overlay layers is associated with the content portion geometrically. Each overlay object has an associated rectangle that encompasses the portion of content associated with the object. Each of the layers is independent of the others. This allows information in one layer to be extracted, replaced, or imported without affecting the other layers. This facilitates exporting annotations made on multiple.
This also makes it possible to define hyperlinks and threads on the layout of a document that only has the test portion present and then to replace the text-only pages with pages that include the figures and images to create the finished document. In addition to the page-oriented navigational layers, there are two document-level navigation aids. There is a set of bookmark or outline objects that allow a table of contents or index to be defined into the set of pages.
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Each bookmark is a link to a particular destination in the document. A destination specifies the target page and the area on that page that is the target for display. Destinations can be specified directly or named and referred to by name. Using named destinations, especially for links to other documents, allows the other documents to be revised without invalidating the destination reference.
Finally, associated with each page is an optional thumbnail image of the page content. These thumbnails can be arrayed in sequence in a slide sorter array and can be used both to navigate among pages and to reorder, move, delete, and insert pages within and among documents. Abstractly, the PDF document is represented as a series of trees. A primary tree represents the set of pages and secondary trees represent the document-level objects described in the user model.
Each page is itself a small tree with a branch for the representation of the page content; a branch for the resources, such as fonts and images used on the page; a branch for the annotations and links defined on the page; and a branch for the optional thumbnail image. The page content is represented as a sequence of high-level PostScript language imaging model operators. The resources used are represented as references to resource objects that can be shared among pages. There is an array of annotation and link objects.
The abstract document tree is represented in terms of the primitive building blocks of the PostScript language. There are five simple objects and three complex objects. The simple objects are the null object which is a placeholder , the Boolean object which is either true or false , the number object which is an integer or fixed point , the string object which has between 0 and octets , and the name object which is a read-only string.
The three complex objects are arrays, dictionaries, and streams.
Arrays are sequences of 0 to objects that may be mixed type and may include other arrays. Dictionaries are sets of up to key-value pairs where the key is a name and the value is any object. Streams are composed of a dictionary and an arbitrary sequence of octets. Encoding algorithms are used to limit the range of octets that appear in the representation of the stream. Compression algorithms are used to reduce storage requirements. The terminal nodes of the abstract tree are represented by simple objects and streams.
The nonterminal nodes are represented by arrays and dictionaries. The branches arcs of the tree are represented in one of two ways. The simplest way is that the referenced object is directly present in the nonterminal node object. This is called a direct object. The second form of branch is an indirect object reference. Objects can be made into indirect objects by giving the direct object an object number and a generation number. These indirect objects can then be referenced by using the object number and generation number in place of the occurrence of the direct object.
Indirect objects and indirect object references allow objects to be shared. For example, a font used on several pages need only be stored once in the document. They also allow the values of certain keys, such as the. Indirect objects and indirect object references do not allow direct access to the objects. This problem is solved by the PDF file structure. There are four parts to the file structure. The first part is a header, which identifies the file as being a PDF file and indicates the version of PDF being used in the file.
The second part is the body, which is a sequence of indirect objects. The third part is the cross-reference table.
This table is a directory that maps object numbers to offsets in the body of the file structure. This allows direct access to the indirectly referenced objects. The final part is the Trailer, which serves several purposes. It is the last thing in the file and it has the offset of the corresponding cross-reference table. It also has a dictionary object. This dictionary is the size of the cross-reference table. It indicates which indirect object is the root of the document tree.
It indicates which object is the "info dictionary," a set of keys that allow attributes to be associated with the document. These keys include such information as author, creation date, etc. Finally, the trailer dictionary can have an ID key whose value has two parts. Both parts are typically hash functions applied to parts of the document and key information about the document.
The first hash is created when the document is first stored; it is never modified after that. The second is changed whenever the document is stored. By storing these IDs with file specifications referencing the document, one can more accurately determine that the document retrieved via a given file specification is the document that is desired. In accordance with a preferred embodiment of the invention, the spatial objects define at least one column and preferably three columns on each page structure.
Further in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the invention, the data objects are stored in one or more computer files which also comprise tags identifying the type of data object and its rank and optionally links to other data objects. The present invention may be used for automatically displaying an electronic publication, such as a newspaper or magazine, on a computer screen in a multiple page layout, the publication comprising a multiplicity of text articles, graphics and other data objects of variable types and sizes.
The publication may be disseminated over a computer network, such as the Internet, and have multiple subscribers, each subscriber receiving a different edition of the publication, and yet the "look and feel" of the publication as it is displayed on each subscriber's computer screen is substantially identical regardless of variations in content or the number or size of the data objects.
According to a preferred embodiment of the invention, the method for automatically displaying the electronic publication on the subscriber's computer screen comprises:. In accordance with a preferred embodiment of the invention, steps a to d are carried out on a server associated with the publisher of the publication and steps e to g are carried out on the client associated with each subscriber.
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In accordance with a preferred embodiment of the invention, the step of assigning also comprises the steps of. Further in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the invention, the data objects may comprise any of the following: text, graphics, animation, video, audio, multi-media material and inter-active applications. In accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention, the data objects are selected based upon a list of personal preferences obtained from the subscriber.
The present invention will be better understood and appreciated on the basis of the following detailed description, in conjunction with the accompanying drawings in which:.
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The present invention may be implemented in a wide variety of applications. For the sake of convenience and greater clarity, the following detailed description of the invention will focus on one particular application of the invention, it being understood that this particular description is not meant to be limiting in any way. The application described in detail below is that of an "electronic newspaper,", i. After the newspaper has been received by the client, it may be read by the subscriber after it is displayed on his computer screen. The electronic newspaper of the instant application is published on a regular basis e.
Each page typically has up to three columns of text, and may also contain graphics pictures, advertisements, etc. The electronic newspaper of this application is a general newspaper, capable of publishing information covering a wide range of topics. However, in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention, the content of the newspaper as it actually appears on the screen of each subscriber differs from subscriber to subscriber, since each subscriber receives a particular sub-set of all the information offered by the publisher, based upon a set of "preferences" pre-selected by the subscriber.
At the same time, the basic layout of the newspaper and the way the newspaper appears on the screen of all the s ubscribers is substantially the same, thereby enabling the publisher to establish and maintain a "look and feel" and a brand-image for the newspaper that is distinctive, irrespective of the varying content. The electronic newspaper may optionally be associated with a standard "print-edition" newspaper, and in such event the "look and feel" of the electronic newspaper as it appears on the subscriber's screen may reflect the "look and feel" of the newspaper as it actually appears in print.
In accordance with a preferred embodiment of the invention, the distinctive "look and feel" of the electronic newspaper is determined by the publisher by the creation of specific, substantially rigid, layout "structures" for each page of the newspaper. Typically, the publisher will create at least three such structures, one for the first page of the newspaper, at least one for the following pages, and one for a "continued from" page for display of the concluding portions of articles which because of their length do not fully fit within the layout structures of the pages on which they first appear.
However, additional page structures may also be created, depending upon the particular "look and feel" which the publisher wishes to create for the newspaper— e. Each page "structure" describes the general layout of the page, without reference to any actual content. Such description is done by dividing each page into "spatial objects", each "spatial object" having a particular size and a given position on the page. Optionally, several "spatial objects" may be grouped into a single "block", thereby allowing them to share one or more common characteristics e.
The "spatial objects" on each page are ranked, in accordance with a hierarchical order of importance determined by the publisher. For example, the "spatial object" in the upper left hand corner of the page may be tanked 1; the "spatial object" in the upper right hand corner of the page may be ranked 2; and so forth.
Reference is now made to Figs. IB being particularly suitable for a "continued from" page comprising the concluding portions of articles continued from other pages. As can be seen, each of the page stmctures of Figs. The page structure of Fig. I A comprises four "blocks" the rectangles marked by a dotted line and seven "spatial objects" the rectangles marked by a solid line. IB comprises a single "block" and three "spatial objects. The position of each of the "spatial objects" on each of the pages is defined by reference to the x, y coordinates of its four corners, as marked.
The relative importance or rank of the "spatial objects" is indicated by the assigned letters and numbers, i. In accordance with a preferred embodiment of the invention, each page "structure" created by the publisher is defined by a set of commands which are written to and stored in a unique "page structure file" hereinafter: "psf associated with that page. The following is an illustrative example of a set of commands comprising a "psf, which would define the page.
It will be appreciated that the syntax of the commands comprising a "psf may take numerous forms and that the example given above is offered for illustrative purposes only and is not to be deemed limiting in any manner. In the given example of a "psf," default settings for the page as a whole are provided, as follows:. In this case, the specific page structure is to be used for the front page of the newspaper. In the given example, the listed units are arbitrary. Typically, the coordinates will be based upon an actual grid drawn for an A4-size page with the units given in centimeters, inches or pixels.
The wallpaper command can also be utilized to fill areas of the page not defined by "blocks" or "spaces. A wallpaper file may be in any standard graphic format, such as "bmp" bitmap. In this case, the default font is "Times New Roman", 12 pt. In this case, the default font is Arial, 18 pt. In this case, the default position is "center" which indicates that the graphic will be inserted at the top-most position of the Space and centered with respect to the x axis.
In the given example, after the default settings for the page as a whole are provided, the page "structure" is defined with reference to "blocks" and "spaces. In the given example, four "blocks" are defined, labeled Block A-D. Each of the "spaces" is then defined in turn, with at least two parameters being provided for each space — 1 its "Area" - defined in terms of its x, y, ax, ay coordinates; and 2 its "Type" - which sets an association between the space and the type of material which the space may contain.
In the given example, Space Al and Space Bl may be filled only by a "headline;" Spaces A2, A3, B2 and Cl may be filled either by a "headline," a "text" article, a "graphic" or a combination thereof; Space Dl may be filled only by a "graphic. Additional parameters may also be determined for the page as a whole, or for a given "block" or a given "space. In the specific example provided above, Space Al has been assigned a specific "Font" command, which over-rides the "DefaultHeadlineFont" and sets the font for the headline to be inserted in space Al as Arial, 20 pt. Once the publisher has created all the necessary "psfs" for the newspaper, they are transmitted to every subscriber, and are thereafter available for use by the proprietary Formatter and Display Engine which is created in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention and operative on each client.
It will be appreciated that the "psfs" need to be transmitted to the client only once, and thereafter can be repeatedly used by the client, in a manner more, fully described below. If the publisher decides to alter any of the parameters of a "psf, a replacement file can be easily transmitted to the client and stored thereon, in place of the original "psf. In accordance with a preferred embodiment of the invention, after the publisher has created all the necessary "psfs" and these are transmitted to the client, the publisher may publish any edition of the newspaper without having to concern himself further with the format and layout of the newspaper.
In particular, the publisher may not only vary the number of articles appearing in each edition of the newspaper but he may also include articles of varying length, without regard to the question whether or not the articles "fit" within a given space on a given page. The text of the articles which will appear in the newspaper may be transmitted to each subscriber as plain text, and these will be displayed on the subscriber's computer screen in accordance with the "psfs" and the additional formatting capabilities of the Formatter and Display Engine hereinafter: the "FDE" in accordance with the present invention, thereby ensuring that the "look and feel" of the newspaper as it appears on each subscriber's screen will remain substantially constant.
Prior to the transmission of the newspaper contents to each subscriber, the publisher assigns a "tag" to each data object, containing information which can be read thereafter by the. FDE and utilized in the page-by-page display of the newspaper on the subscriber's computer screen. For data objects that are text articles and headlines, the "tag" will typically comprise:. Data objects that are graphics will also be assigned "tags" which will include additional information such as their size based upon a pre-determined classification and whether they are to be associated with text articles or are "stand-alone.
For example, for files containing text articles the following may be written at the beginning of the file:. In accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention, all of the articles and other data to be included in each subscriber's newspaper are transmitted to the client automatically,. Although the connection may be initiated manually by the subscriber, preferably the connection will be established automatically, at off-peak hours, without direct involvement of the subscriber.
Reference is now made to Fig. These comprise:. Procedure obtaining the subscriber's "personal preferences" from the client. These are essentially a list of categories, topics or key words which are of particular interest to the subscriber and concerning which the subscriber would prefer to read about in his personalized newspaper. Typically, each newspaper contains both "personalized" information as well as articles of general interest supplied to all subscribers.
These "personal preferences" are selected by the subscriber from a list of categories, topics or key words determined by the publisher, and transmitted from time to time to the client from the server. Once the subscriber has made his selection, the list of "personal preferences" is saved in a file on the client, and this list of preferences is sent to the server each time the client contacts the server to obtain a new edition of the newspaper. It is appreciated that the user may change his list of preferences at any time, and also that the publisher may update or change the categories of choice at any time.
In the latter event, the user is prompted by the FDE to make a new selection, when the user next calls up the program. Procedure comparing the subscriber's list of "personal preferences" obtained in procedure with the subscriber's previous list of "personal preferences" as stored on the server and determining whether the list has been changed; Procedure ascertaining whether an index has already been prepared, with markers to all the articles and other data to be included in the subscriber's personal newspaper, based upon the subscriber's preferences stored on the server's database; Procedure 14Q- in the event a change is detected in the personal preferences or in the event an index has not been prepared, preparing an index based upon the most recent list of personal preferences;.
Procedure "packaging", i. The compression of the data helps reduce the time needed for transmission, thereby reducing network traffic and the cost of transmission; and. It is appreciated that since most subscribers will not vary their personal preferences on a regular basis, the prior preparation of an index for each subscriber's personal newspaper will enable the server to respond much more quickly to the client and will significantly reduce the amount of connection time between client and server.
In accordance with a preferred embodiment of the invention, the "packaging", i. One advantage of using different compression ratios is that they can be used as identifiers by the FDE of the different types of data, when the data is decompressed on the clieni, as more fully described below. Procedure building a directory tree for the newspaper just received.
Typically, the highest level of the directory tree will be based upon the date of the newspaper; and beneath this level will be a number of sub-directories or folders based upon data types — e. Optionally, each of the data types may also have its own sub-directories, organized according to subject. For example, the sub-directory "articles" may be further sub-divided into "news", "sports", "editorial", etc. The identification of the data type may be based upon the filename extension assigned to each file by the server, prior to packaging, or, if different compression ratio algorithms are used for each data type as explained above , the compression ratio algorithm may be used as the identifier of the file type.
Each data object is stored in its sub-directory as a separate file, with a filename indicator that reflects the order of priority assigned by the publisher. The package of data received from the server may also include data that is not to be included in that day's edition of the newspaper, but additional data needed for the proper interaction between server and client. These may comprise new "psfs", to replace or augment those already installed on the client; or new data for changing the configuration of the FDE, e.
These additional data will be stored in appropriate sub-directories or folders, in a manner similar to that described above with regard to the newspaper articles. These procedures comprise: Procedure selecting the appropriate "psf for each page. Since the formatting of the newspaper will be done in page order, i. However, in certain circumstances, other factors will also be taken into consideration. For example, if the publisher has determined more than one "psf for the middle pages of the newspaper, the FDE may randomly select one of the appropriate "psfs" for each intermediate page of the newspapet.
Procedure reading the "psf into memory and parsing the "psf commands, thereby assigning a specific article or other data object of the current newspaper to a given "spatial object" defined in the "psf, based upon the hierarchical order of "spatial objects" as defined in the "psf and the priority value assigned to the article, while applying to the selected data object the formatting characteristics specified in the "psf; and Procedure ' writing the results of the previous procedure to a Page Layout. File "plf , with a separate "plf typically being created for each page.
In carrying out procedure , the FDE evaluates the "fit", and is adapted to make the following adjustments: If the full text of an article cannot be displayed within the space to which it has been assigned, because the space is too small to accommodate the full text of the article, the article is split into two portions - a first portion which is assigned to the available space, and a second portion the balance of the article which is saved in a temporary file. A notice is then written to the last line of the space indicating that the article is continued on another page. The second portion will be retrieved and formatted for display at an appropriate location on the other page, preferably on a "continued from" page, which will contain all concluding nortions of articles that could not be fully displayed in the spaces to which they had been assigned.
Such a "continued from" page typically would be processed at the conclusion of the formatting and layout of all of the other pages included in that edition of the newspaper. If the full text of an article can be displayed within its assigned space while the space has not been completely filled, the balance of the space may be filled with another article if the "psf allows for more than one article in the space or it may be filled with one of several possible '"fillers" supplied by the publisher.
Typically, "fillers" are graphic files of the "stand-alone" type, and may take the form of an advertisement, a notice or the like. In accordance with a preferred embodiment of the invention, the notice that the article is continued on another page will comprise a "hyper-link" to the concluding portion of the article on the other page, making it possible for the reader to immediately read to the end of the article and then return to the page on which the article first appeared if he so desires.
The following table provides a more detailed description of the actual formatting process carried out by the FDE, in preparing the newspaper data for display on the subscriber's computer screen, in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the invention. The table should be read in conjunction with the illustrative "page structure" of Fig.
The results of this formatting process are illustratively displayed in Fig. Referring now to Fig. All of the "Blocks" and "Spaces" have been filled, while their size and position on the page have remained unchanged. The "Blocks" and "Spaces" contain either textual or graphic material, and these have been formatted in accordance with the formatting characteristics set forth in the "psf file corresponding to the page structure of Fig.
Typically, such second parts of articles will be processed by the FDE after all of the other pages of the newspaper have been formatted and will be displayed on a "continued from" page. IB illustrates one possible page "structure" for such a "concluded from" page, which comprises a single "block" and three "spaces" corresponding to three parallel newspaper columns. The concluding portions of the two articles from the page of Fig.
It will be appreciated that the data objects included in any edition of the newspaper need not be limited to text or simple graphics. These may also include any type of multimedia object, including video, animation, audio or even inter-active computer applications such as Java "applets" or ActiveX components.