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Researchers Submit Patent Application, "Process Executing System, Process Executing Method, and Information Processing Device", for Approval

July 29, 2014



By a News Reporter-Staff News Editor at Information Technology Newsweekly -- From Washington, D.C., VerticalNews journalists report that a patent application by the inventor MIHARA, Ayumi (Tokyo, JP), filed on December 12, 2013, was made available online on July 17, 2014.

The patent's assignee is Ricoh Company, Ltd.

News editors obtained the following quote from the background information supplied by the inventors: "The present invention relates to a process executing system in which one or more devices for executing a process are connected via a network.

"There is known a network system in which each of the devices connected to a network processes data according to procedures that have been set. Each device includes modules for processing the data by unique functions (for example, modules referred to as a plug-in and an application), and can perform various processes according to the combination of modules (see, for example, Patent Document 1). Patent Document 1 discloses a communication device for communicating with a plurality of external devices, receiving data from a certain external device, sending the received data to another external device, and causing the other external device to process the data, thereby realizing data processing performed by combining functions of a plurality of external devices.

"Data processing performed by combining modules is referred to as a workflow, and the processing procedures of the workflow are referred to as flow definition information. For example, when 'scan original document.fwdarw.OCR.fwdarw.send electronic mail' is set in the flow definition information, the workflow is executed by the modules of one or more devices.

"However, in a conventional network system, the control device that performs workflow control plays a central role in delivering the job data used in the workflow (for example, image data obtained by scanning) to each of the devices, and therefore the load is concentrated at the control device and the network.

"FIG. 18 illustrates an example of transferring job data in a network system. The respective devices in the network system are connected via a network 400.

"A. The job data scanned by a scanner of an MFP (multifunction peripheral) 201 is sent to the control device. B1. The control device sends the job data to a server 1 for performing an OCR process. B2. The server 1 sends the job data that has undergone the OCR process to the control device. C1. The control device sends the job data to the server 2 for sending the job data by e-mail. C2. The server 2 sends the sending result to the control device.

"As described above, when a plurality of devices execute the workflow, the sending/receiving of the job data is concentrated at the control device.

"Patent Document 1: Japanese Laid-Open Patent Publication No. 2012-063972"

As a supplement to the background information on this patent application, VerticalNews correspondents also obtained the inventor's summary information for this patent application: "The present invention provides a process executing system, a process executing method, and an information processing device, in which one or more of the above-described disadvantages are eliminated.

"According to an aspect of the present invention, there is provided a process executing system including a first device configured to receive a plurality of processes and a setting of an execution order of the plurality of processes; and at least one second device configured to execute the plurality of processes, wherein the first device and the at least one second device are connected via a network, wherein the first device includes a first sending unit configured to send, to the at least one second device, process definition information defining process contents of each of the plurality of processes and a next process to be executed subsequently in the plurality of processes, and process object data or instruction information of the process object data, and the at least one second device includes a receiving unit configured to receive the process definition information and the process object data or the instruction information of the process object data, a process execution control unit configured to analyze the process definition information and determine whether the next process is to be executed at a self-device (the device itself), which is the at least one second device in which the process execution control unit is included, a process execution unit configured to execute the next process on the process object data when the process execution control unit determines that the next process is to be executed at the self-device, a definition information updating unit configured to update the process definition information by changing a definition of one of the plurality of processes, which is defined to be processed after the next process according to the execution order, to be a new next process, and a second sending unit configured to send the process definition information and the process object data to an other one of the at least one second device other than the self-device.

"According to an aspect of the present invention, there is provided a process executing method performed by a process executing system including a first device configured to receive a plurality of processes and a setting of an execution order of the plurality of processes, and at least one second device configured to execute the plurality of processes, wherein the first device and the at least one second device are connected via a network, the process executing method including sending, from the first device to the at least one second device, process definition information defining process contents of each of the plurality of processes and a next process to be executed subsequently in the plurality of processes, and process object data or instruction information of the process object data; receiving, by the at least one second device, the process definition information and the process object data or the instruction information of the process object data; analyzing, by the at least one second device, the process definition information and determining, by the at least one second device, whether the next process is to be executed at a self-device, which is the at least one second device performing the determining; executing, by the at least one second device, the next process on the process object data when the next process is determined to be executed at the self-device; updating, by the at least one second device, the process definition information by changing a definition of one of the plurality of processes, which is defined to be processed after the next process according to the execution order, to be a new next process; and sending, by the at least one second device, the process definition information and the process object data to an other one of the at least one second device other than the self-device.

"According to an aspect of the present invention, there is provided an information processing device including a communicating unit configured to communicate, via a network, with a first device that receives a plurality of processes and a setting of an execution order of the plurality of processes; a receiving unit configured to receive process definition information defining process contents of each of the plurality of processes and a next process to be executed subsequently in the plurality of processes, and process object data or instruction information of the process object data; a process execution control unit configured to analyze the process definition information and determine whether the next process is to be executed at a self-device, which is the information processing device in which the process execution control unit is included; a process execution unit configured to execute the next process on the process object data when the process execution control unit determines that the next process is to be executed at the self-device; a definition information updating unit configured to update the process definition information by changing a definition of one of the plurality of processes, which is defined to be processed after the next process according to the execution order, to be a new next process; and a sending unit configured to send the process definition information and the process object data to an other information processing device other than the self-device.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

"Other objects, features and advantages of the present invention will become more apparent from the following detailed description when read in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, in which:

"FIG. 1 schematically illustrates a process executing system according to a first embodiment;

"FIG. 2 illustrates a system configuration of the process executing system;

"FIG. 3 illustrates a hardware configuration of a workflow execution request device as an MFP;

"FIG. 4 illustrates a hardware configuration of a delivery server;

"FIGS. 5A through 5C are diagrams for describing examples of flow definition information;

"FIG. 6 is an example of a functional block diagram of the workflow execution request device, the delivery server, and the service providing device;

"FIG. 7 illustrates an example of a device determination table;

"FIG. 8 illustrates an example of overall operation procedures by the process executing system;

"FIG. 9 is an example of a flowchart indicating the procedures when the delivery server or the service providing device executes a process;

"FIG. 10 illustrates a system configuration of a process executing system according to a second embodiment;

"FIGS. 11A through 11C schematically illustrate an example of the creating of flow definition information;

"FIG. 12 illustrates an example of overall operation procedures by the process executing system according to the second embodiment;

"FIG. 13 is an example of a flowchart indicating the procedures when the delivery server or the service providing device executes a process according to the second embodiment;

"FIG. 14 is an example of a functional block diagram of the workflow execution request device, the delivery server, and the service providing device according to a third embodiment;

"FIGS. 15A through 15D schematically illustrate examples of association information of various patterns;

"FIGS. 16A and 16B illustrate examples of user information in the flow definition information before and after being updated;

"FIG. 17 is a flowchart of procedures performed when the delivery server or the service providing device executes a process according to the third embodiment; and

"FIG. 18 illustrates an example of transferring job data in a network system."

For additional information on this patent application, see: MIHARA, Ayumi. Process Executing System, Process Executing Method, and Information Processing Device. Filed December 12, 2013 and posted July 17, 2014. Patent URL: http://appft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO2&Sect2=HITOFF&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsearch-adv.html&r=602&p=13&f=G&l=50&d=PG01&S1=20140710.PD.&OS=PD/20140710&RS=PD/20140710

Keywords for this news article include: Information Technology, Information and Data Processing, Ricoh Company, Ricoh Company Ltd.

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Source: Information Technology Newsweekly


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