Patent number 8656270 is assigned to
The following quote was obtained by the news editors from the background information supplied by the inventors: "At present, spreadsheet applications are widely used in many fields. A common application is for an enterprise to generate periodically financial reports, submitting spreadsheet reports with similar or same templates monthly, weekly, or even daily. An accountant also needs to establish salary reports based on the same template every month.
"Especially for small or medium-sized enterprises, because of limitations in system resources, spreadsheet applications are commonly used in place of relational databases, which are more powerful but impose high requirements on system resources, to store and manage data. Relational databases, although more powerful, are more expensive, and have very high development and maintenance costs, therefore small and medium-sized enterprises would sometimes use spreadsheet software to store and maintain data. For example, in a warehouse management scenario, if a conventional spreadsheet application is used, the warehouse keeper needs to generate inventory tables periodically to be queried. This has at least two problems. First, the time granularity for query can be limited. The inventory information changes occurring between two time points designated for storing the information could not be queried. Second, the warehouse keeper often has to maintain multiple spreadsheet files to ensure that the inventory information in a past period could be queried. Not only warehouse keepers need to store data into spreadsheets periodically or non-periodically, but also researchers may need to generate the tables of each experiment. Accountants may also need to record the salaries of the employees periodically. Teachers may also need to store the students' scores after each exam, etc.
"At present, if a user is to use a conventional spreadsheet application, a common approach is to generate a template, copy/paste areas/sheets in a spreadsheet file, etc. Then the user can submit conventional reports based on the template. Querying/aggregating these reports can be a difficult job because data of different periods are often stored separately, although they may relate to the same thing. Such queries may occur frequently.
"In a conventional spreadsheet application, valid changes to data in the spreadsheet are often discarded, and only the current value of each item is recorded in the spreadsheet file. Thus, some useful operations may not be performed on the dataset conveniently.
"There is a need for a change oriented spreadsheet application, wherein when a spreadsheet file is updated, not only the original content, but also the updated content and the time information related to the update are recorded in the same spreadsheet file, so that the user can obtain historical data using different query conditions, and view the historical data in various ways, such as in snapshots, charts, etc. Further, there is also a need for a data organization method for a change oriented spreadsheet application, which can guarantee valid updates insertion operations, as well as valid updates to query operations, as well as a need for query and presentation methods based on the data organization method. In addition, there is also a need for a data management method for a change oriented spreadsheet application that provides for archiving, restoring, deleting, and refining valid updates.
"According what is needed is a method and system to over come the problems encountered in the prior art."
In addition to the background information obtained for this patent, VerticalNews journalists also obtained the inventors' summary information for this patent: "What is presented is a spreadsheet application that provides a data organization method for a change oriented spreadsheet application for storing valid updates to cells of a change oriented spreadsheet file. The spreadsheet application is an enhancement to a conventional spreadsheet application and includes a 'time' dimension such that, in the change oriented spreadsheet application, not only the original data of the cells but also the valid updates to the cells are recorded along with the time information related to the valid updates in the same spreadsheet file.
"In one embodiment, the data organization method for the change oriented spreadsheet application stores the valid updates to cells and the update times with cell positions as the primary index for at least part of the cells in a spreadsheet, and all valid updates to the same cell are arranged in the order of time.
"In another embodiment, the data organization method for the change oriented spreadsheet application stores the valid updates to cells with the update time points of the valid updates to the cells as the primary index for at least part of the cells in a spreadsheet, and organizes all valid updates at the same time point into an update table which has the same cell structure as the spreadsheet file.
"In yet another embodiment, the data management method for the change oriented spreadsheet application stores the valid updates to cells and the update times in the spreadsheet file of the change oriented spreadsheet application for at least part of the cells in the spreadsheet; and maintains a first data structure and a second data structure on the valid updates. In the first data structure, the valid updates to cells and the update times are stored with the cell positions as the primary index, and all valid updates to the same cell are arranged in the order of time. In the second data structure, the valid updates to cells are stored with the update time points of the valid updates to the cells as the primary index, and all valid updates at the same update time point are arranged in an update table which has the same cell structure as the spreadsheet file.
"In addition, the invention provides a data query method and a data presentation method for a spreadsheet file of the change oriented spreadsheet application based on the data organization method for the change oriented spreadsheet application in the above embodiments.
"Moreover, the invention provides data management methods for the change oriented application, including a data archival method for the change oriented spreadsheet application, a data restoring method for the change oriented spreadsheet application, a data deletion method for the change oriented spreadsheet application, a data refinement method for the change oriented spreadsheet application, and a method for generating a refined report of a spreadsheet file of the change oriented spreadsheet application.
"Further, the invention provides a data organization apparatus for the change oriented application corresponding to the data organization methods for the change oriented application in the three embodiment of the invention.
"Furthermore, the invention provides a change oriented spreadsheet application system, comprising an input/output apparatus, a data organization apparatus, a data query apparatus, and a data presentation apparatus.
"Preferably, the spreadsheet application system further comprises a data maintenance apparatus, comprising one or more of a data archival apparatus, a data restoring apparatus, a data deletion apparatus, and data refinement apparatus.
"The invention will next be described in connection with certain illustrated embodiments. It should be understood that various changes and modifications can be made by those skilled in the relevant art without departing from the spirit or scope of the invention.
"The foregoing and other features and advantages of the present invention will be apparent from the following more particular description of the preferred embodiments of the invention, as illustrated in the accompanying drawings."
URL and more information on this patent, see: Rui, SuYing; Wang,
Keywords for this news article include: Information Technology, Information and Data Archiving, Information and Data Management, Information and Data Architecture,
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