METHOD AND SYSTEM FOR ACCESSING DECLINED EVENT INVITATIONS

US 2007 198 316A1

drawing #0

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A method and system for accessing declined invitations is provided. The method includes receiving notification of an available time slot, retrieving stored declined event invitations, and presenting the declined event invitations to a user. The user can accept of a previously declined event invitation for the available time slot. When the user receives an event invitation and declines the event invitation, the method includes saving the declined event invitation to a data store from which it may be retrieved. Stored declined event invitations are deleted once the time of the event has passed.

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Claims

1. A method for accessing declined event invitations, comprising:
receiving notification of an available time slot;
retrieving stored declined event invitations; and
presenting the declined event invitations to a user for acceptance of an event invitation for the available time slot.

Show 9 dependent claims

11. A system for accessing declined event invitations, comprising:
means for notification of an available time slot;
means for retrieving declined event invitations from a data store; and
means for presenting the declined event invitations to a user for acceptance of an event invitation for the available time slot.

Show 8 dependent claims

20. A computer program product including a computer readable storage medium, the computer readable medium having program code stored thereon for accessing declined event invitations, the program code comprising:
program code for receiving notification of an available time slot;
program code for retrieving declined event invitations; and
program code for presenting the declined event invitations to a user for acceptance of an event invitation for the available time slot.

Description

The present application claims priority under 35 USC 119 to United Kingdom Application Number GB0602296.6, filed Feb. 4, 2006.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

This invention relates to the field of messaging and scheduling software. In particular, it relates to accessing declined event invitations in order to accept a previously declined event.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Messaging and collaborative software has increasing importance in the workplace. Software that allows users to schedule their work commitments and communicate such scheduling effectively and efficiently to other participants can promote work productivity by removing administrative burden from the users. IBM's Lotus Notes/Domino architecture (IBM Lotus Notes and Domino are trade marks of International Business Machines Corporation) provides such software which connects and integrates users' resources including email, calendars and schedules, journals, to do lists, Web pages and databases.

Users, in the course of a working day, can receive invitations to many events. Inevitably some of them will coincide and the user will only be able to accept the invitation to one of them. Again, inevitably some of the events to which a user accepts an invitation will be cancelled or rescheduled. When a event is cancelled or rescheduled the user is free to accept a different invitation at that particular time. A problem arises in selecting a previously declined event.

To take an example, a user receives invitations to a number of meetings which are scheduled for a Thursday at 2 pm. One of the invitations is from the user's manager. This meeting being a priority the user accepts the manager's invitation and declines all others. Some time before the manager's meeting the user receives a mail from their manager rescheduling the meeting for a later date. The Thursday 2 pm time slot is now free for any of the other meetings previously declined.

The problem for the user is knowing what other events are now available for the freed time slot. At this stage a user has probably forgotten what other invitations he had received. The event invitations may be buried deep in the user's mail file and the user would have to spend an inordinate amount of time searching for them. The declined invitations may have been deleted from the mail file and so the user is no longer aware of what events he is now free to attend.

Conventional art can mark invitations as declined but cannot prompt the user that such invitations can be reactivated when a particular time slot becomes free.

Currently, users may tentatively accept invitations to all events knowing that some are likely to be cancelled or rescheduled. Users do this so that they do not forget that other events are available should one of them be cancelled or rescheduled. However, this is not a good scheduling practice and leads to confusion and last minute cancellations of attendance at previously accepted events.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

According to a first aspect of the present invention there is provided a method for accessing declined event invitations, comprising: receiving notification of an available time slot; retrieving stored declined event invitations; and presenting the declined event invitations to a user for acceptance of an event invitation for the available time slot.

When a client receives an event invitation and declines the event invitation, the method may save the declined event invitation to a data store.

The step of retrieving may access invitations to all previously declined event invitations. Alternatively, the step of retrieving may access invitations to previously declined event invitations overlapping the available time slot. In either case. The step of presenting may also present event invitations which have not been responded to, such as newly received event invitations or event invitations which have been ignored

The notification of an available time slot may be in the form of a cancellation or rescheduling of a previously accepted event invitation.

Declined event invitations may be copied to a data store and the stored declined event invitations may be independent of the original received invitation. In this way, if an original received invitation is deleted, the stored declined event invitation persists. The stored declined event invitations may be deleted once the time of the event has passed.

The method may be carried out in a messaging system or a messaging and calendar system. In a messaging and calendar system, the method may include generating a notification of an available time slot when a calendar entry is deleted.

According to a second aspect of the present invention there is provided a system for accessing declined event invitations, comprising: means for notification of an available time slot; means for retrieving declined event invitations from a data store; and means for presenting the declined event invitations to a user for acceptance of an event invitation for the available time slot.

The system may be a messaging system including: a server running a messaging application; a plurality of clients running client applications of the messaging application. The messaging system may include a calendar means which is updated to indicate events.

The means for notification may be in the form of a graphical user interface with means for selecting an option to view previously declined event invitations. The means for presenting the declined event invitations may be in the form of a graphical user interface with means for selecting an event invitation for acceptance.

The data store may be coupled to the server, either on the server or attached to it. Alternatively, the data store may be provided locally to a client. The data store may be hidden from a user to prevent unintentional deletion of event invitations.

The system may include means for automatically removing event invitations from the data store once the time of the event has passed.

According to a third aspect of the present invention there is provided a computer program product stored on a computer readable storage medium, comprising computer readable program code means for performing the steps of: receiving notification of an available time slot; retrieving declined event invitations; and presenting the declined event invitations to a user for acceptance of an event invitation for the available time slot.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The subject matter regarded as the invention is particularly pointed out and distinctly claimed in the concluding portion of the specification. The invention, both as to organization and method of operation, together with objects, features, and advantages thereof, may best be understood by reference to the following detailed description when read with the accompanying drawings in which:

FIG. 1 is a block diagram of a client server system as known in the prior art;

FIGS. 2A and 2B are block diagrams of a system in accordance with the present invention;

FIG. 3 is a graphical user interface of a messaging and scheduling application as known in the prior art;

FIGS. 4A and 4B are graphical user interfaces in accordance with the present invention; and

FIG. 5 is a flow diagram of the method in accordance with the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF EXEMPLARY EMBODIMENTS

The method and system for accessing declined invitations to events are described in the context of a scheduling software system. The method and system could also be applied in a purely messaging software system. Invitations to events may include invitations to meetings, conference calls, seminars, etc.

Referring to FIG. 1, a basic architecture of a scheduling system is shown with a server 101 to which a plurality of client applications 102, 103, 104 are connected. The client applications 102, 103, 104 may communicate with the server 101 via a suitable network.

The server 101 holds a number of databases 105, 106. A database 105, 106 contains a collection of documents and other information. An email inbox is a form of database and each email message in the inbox is a document. A calendar is a database and each appointment in the calendar is a document. There are other types of databases for a number of other purposes.

An authoritative copy of each database 105, 106 resides on the server 101. A client application 102 can hold replicas 115, 116 of databases. A replica 115, 116 of a database is a copy of the database 105, 106 held on the server 101.

Referring to FIG. 2A, a system 200 is shown with a server 201 and a number of clients 202, 203, 204, 205 all connected via a network. All the clients run a software application 212, 213, 214, 215 with messaging and scheduling functionality and are connected via the server 201. The server 201 runs a server messaging and scheduling application 211 with a calendar 208. The server 201 has or is coupled to a data store 230 for declined event invitations. The data store 230 may be accessed via the network or may reside locally on the server 201.

Each client 202, 203, 204, 205 has its own messaging account 222, 223, 224, 225 which are actually stored on the server 201 with the clients having local replicas on their machines. Any of the clients can be an inviter 202 or an invitee 203, 204, 205 in accordance with the described method and system.

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