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user experience

Unicode and Cultural Experience: Ogham

I've just had a super new ring made for me by Irish designer Breda Haugh. It's in sterling silver with a single pink sapphire stone set around Ogham symbols. Silver pink sapphire Ogham ring by Breda Haugh. Breda specializes in design based on historical and cultural themes.[/caption]Wikipedia tells us that Ogham is "an Early Medieval alphabet used to write the early Irish language (in the so-called "orthodox" inscriptions, 1st to 6th centuries AD), and later the Old Irish language (so-called scholastic ogham, 6th to 9th centuries)", and that "according to the High Medieval Bríatharogam, names of various trees can be ascribed to individual letters." Here are the Ogham inscriptions on my ring explained in terms of the trees and their personal significance (I was born in September and my son's name is Fionn by the way): Ogham inscriptions on my ring explained. And guess what? Thanks to Unicode you can now digitally create your own story in Ogham too. Here is the Ogham Unicode block (via Wikipedia): Ogham Unicode block (via Wikipedia) Evertype even offers a Unicode Ogham script font for you to use: Everson Mono Ogham. I love it when the old meets the new in a different, stylish way that resonates personally, culturally and historically with our roots.And, if there's a digital way to make that experience easier for you to create yourself, then all the better.Oracle, of course, also uses Unicode at the heart of its Oracle Fusion Middleware and database globalization support.  More information on Ogham To find out more about the historical origins of Ogham and the relationship with trees, check out these sources: Mac Coitir, N (2003) – Ireland’s Trees Myths Legends & Folklore. Cork: The Collins Press The Book of Ballymote - held in the library of the Royal Irish Academy, Dublin The National Museum of Ireland:  Section on Archaeology Ogham in 3D: Dublin Institute of Advanced Studies

I've just had a super new ring made for me by Irish designer Breda Haugh. It's in sterling silver with a single pink sapphire stone set around Ogham symbols. Silver pink sapphire Ogham ring by Breda...

internationalization

The Power of Unicode: Saves Embarrassment

Oracle follows the Unicode Consortium's character set standards for delivering applications in multiple languages and conventions. You might think, what's an accent or two between friends, but there's more to it than that. In this case I'm talking about language orthography, specifically the Irish language equivalent of the acute accent, the fada or síneadh fada. The fada accent in the Irish language; used on vowels, in this case the letter "O". A letter in the Financial Times newspaper points out how the presence or absence of the a fada results in different words. Brendan Cahill corrects the newspaper  for its omission of the fadas on their spelling of "Áras an Uachtaráin", the formal address of the President of Ireland. The letter writer is quite right, of course, about how the fada can change the meaning of a word otherwise spelled the same way in Irish. "Sean" for example means "old", whereas "Seán" means the name "John"). In this case however, I think that given the context, "Aras an Uachtarain" is unlikely to cause any real confusion for readers. This is not always the case, however. A missing fada from the Irish word "Mná" on a toilet door in Ireland once confused the late, great actor, polyglot, and polymath Peter Ustinov. He assumed it was "Man" in the plural. "Mná" in Irish means "Women". How inconvenient.

Oracle follows the Unicode Consortium's character set standards for delivering applications in multiple languages and conventions. You might think, what's an accent or two between friends, but there's...

language

Craicing Code in Irish

It's often assumed that computing coding lessons are always taught in English because most (though not all) programming languages use English language syntax. Not so. Hour of Code is worldwide Take this great example of learning to code in Irish (Gaeilge), part of the Hour of Code initiative in 2016, thanks to computer science professor Kevin Scannell (@kscanne), from Saint Louis University in Missouri in the United States of America. The Irish Independent newspaper tells us that Hour of Code's focus is on "making coding fun through the use of popular games like Minecraft, as well as films such as Star Wars and Frozen". Learning to code in Irish thanks to Hour of Code and Professor Kevin Scannell. 2016 was the "third year the (Hour of Code) event has been run in Ireland since it was taken up by digital learning movement, Excited", co-founded by Irish member of parliament, Fine Gael's TD Ciarán Cannon (@ciarancannon). The Independent also says that "Prof Scannell kickstarted the initiative as he loves the language and believes children should be able to access coding lessons in their mother tongue." Who could argue with that? Super initiatives. Kudos, or should I say "Comhghairdeas" to all concerned. Oh, and about that Irish word "Craic". 

It's often assumed that computing coding lessons are always taught in English because most (though not all) programming languages use English language syntax. Not so. Hour of Code is worldwide Take this...

user experience

Citizen Developer as Citoyen du Monde: The Role of Composers

Interesting to see that Facebook has announced the launch of a multilingual composer tool that enables users to post status updates in different languages so that friends and followers can see the update in only their preferred language (45 languages are supported).  This notion of composers is not new of course. They’ve been around for a while and are often encountered in the e-commerce and SaaS spaces. Amazon lets sellers create, customize, and brand their own online stores, for example. What is interesting from a user experience perspective is that composers are now part of the emergence of a global citizen developer role, a role that now finds itself responsible for tailoring the language in the UI of cloud applications. Oracle SaaS Simplified UI Release 10 in Dutch. The language can be changed using a composer. The term citizen developer itself presents some difficulty and is, in many ways, a contradiction in terms. Nobody seriously expects governments, multinational corporations, and bodies of that nature to hand over their implementation or SaaS customization to “citizens” with basic “Hello, World” programming chops. Instead, think of citizen developers as more about the empowerment of software owners themselves to make their own changes, be they branding, extensions, localization, or translation modifications. It’s all about enabling customers to take real ownership of their cloud software, without resorting to making source code changes or needing any real software development skills. It's a low-code or no-code approach if you like. In other words, citizen development abstracts away the complexity of programming and integration so that the user experience can be tailored to your heart's desire as if by magic. The tool du jour for the job of making your own digital world? Composers. The very word has an element of artistry to it. Composers are more vital tools than ever now with the advent of SaaS, be they in the hands of the customers, implementation partners, user experience specialists, or design consultancies who don’t usually have, or need, deep-drive software development skills yet know what the desired result should be.  Oracle SaaS offerings offer powerful composer tools to enable customers to really make the cloud our own. Check out this Oracle PartnerCast with Greg Nerpouni (@gnerpouni), Director of Applications User Experience at Oracle, discussing Oracle Applications Cloud extensibility: Greg Nerpouni simplifies the world of extensibility for Oracle Partners. Composers enable Oracle partners, for example, to make sandbox-safe user experience changes quickly and relatively cheaply for customers, freeing up their own development resources for more critical tasks. Given that 80% of enterprise software applications require customization of some sort, composers are a key part of the partner world's implementation and maintenance toolkit, and of course there is an Oracle PartnerNetwork extensibility specialization available reflecting their importance. In the multilingual enterprise space, for example, a partner might be asked by a customer to make language changes across their suite of applications quickly and securely, ensuring that the changes are made in just the right places. That’s what’s happened in one case where Oracle PartnerNetwork member and UX champ central Certus Solutions was asked to change the out of the box German translation for performance to another word shown in Oracle’s simplified UI for SaaS. The customer wanted to use the English word instead. Language is a critical part of the UX; like everything else it must be designed. If you need the word Performance for your user experience; then so be it! German simplified UI customization by Certus Solutions using a composer (UI Text Editor). Other examples might be the need to change all those U.S. English spellings to their U.K. variants; or to make changes in language that reflect how customers actually structure and run their business. For example, employee might be changed to partner. The label My Team is often changed to My Department, a language change that doesn’t require even require a composer tool, but can be done at the personalization level with just a click and overtype if you have the right security settings. In the past, translations for the word worker have proven problematic in Arabic, Brazilian Portuguese, and French, requiring modification for certain customers (let's not go there). There are many examples where composers can be used to change language to reflect identity and the real ways you do things . . . . Autumn? Fall? Who cares! Change terminology in the SaaS simplified UI easily with a sandbox-safe composer. What is of interest to the translation world is that very few of these composer tools use localization industry standard formats or procedures, and yet seem the better for it. For example, although language changes are made directly into resource bundles or XLIFF files, they are done so at run-time, eliminating context problems. Composer tools rarely have any complex terminology look-up capability, offer TBX support, pack language QA features other than spell checkers, and they do not use translation memory or support TMX. Why not? Well, they aren’t needed by customers or partners and probably would just complicate things. Allowing a partner to make language changes is more cost-effective, faster, and a more secure solution than doing a retranslation or taking a UX hit by deciding to leave the language as is. Perhaps as composers evolve, additional functionality that might resonate in the translation industry might appear in composer tools. But only if the customers and partners demand it. Regardless, nobody in the translation industry is going to be out of a job.

Interesting to see that Facebook has announced the launch of a multilingual composer tool that enables users to post status updates in different languages so that friends and followers can see the...

Smart User Experiences and Man Versus Machine:
The Language Angle

Enter Parsey McParseface  Yes, the whole Boaty McBoatface thing has now entered the language space.   Boaty McBoatface: Your future in translation may lie in machine learning and related technology. Parsey McParseface, which is part of Google's SyntaxNet, an open-source neural network framework implemented in TensorFlow that provides a foundation for Natural Language Understanding (NLU) systems is out there. Google tells us: "Parsey McParseface is built on powerful machine learning algorithms that learn to analyze the linguistic structure of language, and that can explain the functional role of each word in a given sentence. Because Parsey McParseface is the most accurate such model in the world, we hope that it will be useful to developers and researchers interested in automatic extraction of information, translation, and other core applications of NLU." The Globalization, Internationalization, Localization, and Translation (or GILT) industry offers a fertile ground for innovation and exploring possibilities: from pop-up restaurant ventures to practical evaluations of the age-old man versus machine-type questions. I wonder could Parsey McParseface have a role in determining if a translation was correct or not, given the context (for example, as the UK's Daily Telegraph newspaper would so earthily have it, act as a "bolloxometer")? Or, whether the QA or real-time interpretation possibilities. . . . Smart User Experiences and Partners This is all fascinating stuff on one level. But it is a serious business on another. Machine learning is definitely a driver of smart user experiences, along with other areas.The Oracle Applications User Experience (OAUX) team is, naturally, exploring all these areas and what they offer for the smart user experience of ever-evolving world of work. Check out Smart User Experiences: Machine Learning and the Future of Enterprise Applications on the Voice of User Experience (VoX) blog for a great primer on what technology can do in the life/work domain. Oracle partners, and customers too, need to be on board with these emerging technologies and explore their possible application for user experiences. Often, for partners in particular, emerging technology and research and development is a "chicken-and-egg" situation: they cannot sell something unless they have it; yet they won't have it unless someone asks for it! That said, we (OAUX) are here to help partners build solutions they can show and sell. The use of these emerging technologies and innovation is ultimately a design decision. This is the kind of thing I had intended to talk about at Localization World 31 in Dublin, with a language angle naturally (yes, I even included Parsey McParseface). Alas, personal circumstances intervened, and I did not speak. Some other time perhaps. Make Sense of the Smarts  In the meantime, I am sharing the slides I had intended as a backdrop to the discussion. Perhaps they will help you orient yourself to the differences between machine learning, artificial intelligence, NLP, Big Data, robots, and more. They may even help you figure out if whether you might end up owning a robot or working for one, and what your future working life might look like. Enjoy: Smart User Experiences and the World of Work: Context is King from Ultan O'Broin Man versus machine, eh? I like to think of it as man with machine. These developments are, after all, a journey so we can arrive at a more human way of working. Comments welcome.

Enter Parsey McParseface  Yes, the whole Boaty McBoatface thing has now entered the language space.   Boaty McBoatface: Your future in translation may lie in machine learning and related technology. Parse...

Iconic #WearableTech: Gucci Translate Anyone?

With my interest in all matters translation, wearables, and fashion technology (#fashtech) related, this little innovation from IconSpeak naturally caught my eye. It’s a t-shirt printed with icons that enables global travellers to communicate with others by pointing to the icons, doing away with the need for those "so-so" mobile translation apps or having to carry clunky phrase books into the bargain. The icons themselves are said to be easily recognizable worldwide and have been chosen to represent the most frequent translation needs of travellers. IconSpeak World t-shirt: Wearable tech taken literally? Here’s what Travel + Leisure website has to say: “The IconSpeak T-shirt design is surprisingly straightforward: it’s a series of 40 “universal” icons laid out in a grid. By pointing to one or more of the pictures, you can create a very basic message without having to speak a lick of the language. You’ll just have to find someone willing to play T-shirt charades with you. A taste of the icons you have to work with: an airplane, tools, an open book, camera, clock, bus, boat, a person seated on a toilet. Basically anything you need to portray day-to-day necessities.” Yes, it's wearabletech being taken more literally.  It’s always great to see innovation, but as a seasoned traveler and fashion fan, whatever about the idea of using icons in yet another curious ritual to interact with others (and there are some social limitations), I think the cut and colours of the t-shirts themselves might need the input of a more happening fashionista. However, you have to admire the simplicity of the idea. You can read about IconSpeak’s inspiration on their blog.  From a usability perspective, what kinds of things might be considered for keeping icon-based communication simple? Check out this blog post from our user experience friends and Oracle Usability Advisory Board member EchoUser (@EchoUser) to find out: When Simple Becomes Complicated Perhaps you feel there is more potential in using icons on clothes or other places too. Find the comments…

With my interest in all matters translation, wearables, and fashion technology (#fashtech) related, this little innovation from IconSpeak naturally caught my eye. It’s a t-shirt printed with icons that...

“Hello. Is it .ME You’re Looking For?” Storytelling for Coders

Using plain language and developing solutions that reflect the user’s world are some of the long-laid foundations of software user experience (UX). These days we might talk more about context and storytelling as part of our UX communications strategy than usability heuristics, but the message is the same: talk to your users in way that relates to them. What’s in a name? It depends. Some good advice from Paul Tomkiel helps you architecture that software the right way for global users. So, I really love this article by Paul Tomkiel (@paul_tomkiel) of CodeL10n.com: First, Middle, Last – Why Not Full Name? Paul writes a very compelling article about how to architecture software for the entering and storing of user names in a way that work globally. He’s aimed this important piece at developers using clear, plain language that they’ll understand. Chances are they will read it. Naturally, Paul begins with a story we can relate to. In my own experience, I’ve found that my Irish surname (Ó Broin) has been stored and printed in many ways (O Broin, O’Broin, Obroin, OBROIN, Broin, and so on), even in Ireland. Outside of Ireland, I think that only the Social Security Administration in the U.S. got it right – and those guys track you by number anyway. At times, I am sorry I just don’t give up and use the English form of my surname: Byrne. But, why should I?  Paul steers clear of the linguistic mumbo-jumbo and "I'm a language expert and can order beer in three languages so listen up, devs" attitude that is such a turn-off for developers (and the rest of us). The article is refreshingly short compared with the usual lectures on the subject, and Paul ends with some useful recommendations and examples from the real world of consumer software. A fine example of developer relations. Here’s another great plain language, no-nonsense approach on the subject of i18n and L10n education for developers from Java, Android, and i18n domain whizz John O’Conner (@joconner): the absolute minimum they need to know. Examples of the i18n and L10n story told well. * This article is based on a Blogos article. 

Using plain language and developing solutions that reflect the user’s world are some of the long-laid foundations of software user experience (UX). These days we might talk more about context and story...

The Minimum You Need to Know about Internationalization

Internationalization (i18n). A vital aspect to development of enterprise applications in today's world. Without i18n at the core of development activity, product globalization would be impossible, feature localization a nightmare, and UI translation turned into a twisted joke on the eventual end user. True, thanks to the baked-in world-ready goodness of Unicode and Java itself, much of the pain we've endured in the past when it came to internationalization is gone. But... It's still good to know the basics, and... there's still a lot of legacy stuff out there that needs to be integrated with, or needs to be rebuilt to work in, the cloud. So, here's a great little blog post from John O'Conner (@joconner) on the absolute minimum you should know about internationalization. John's an experienced Java and Android head, and an i18n veteran too. Yes, he really was doing i18n before it was cool! Let's keep the following kinds of experiences behind us forever: A real-world example from ye olde days of #i18nfail. Character encoding failure, hard-coded line-breaks, no expansion space, no externalization from the SQL, it's a classic! Circa 1998 I think. The content has been reworked to protect the näive at the time. To explore more about Oracle ADF internationalization, then head on over to the ADF Architecture TV YouTube channel and check out what our own Frédéric Desbiens (@blueberrycoder) has to say in his awesome series of recordings.

Internationalization (i18n). A vital aspect to development of enterprise applications in today's world. Without i18n at the core of development activity, product globalization would be impossible,...

Oracle ADF and Simplified UI Apps: I18n Feng Shui on Display

I demoed the Hebrew language version of Oracle Sales Cloud Release 8 live in Israel recently, and the crowd was yet again wowed by the simplified UI (SUI). I’ve now spent some time playing around with most of the 23 languages, the NLS (Natural Language Support) versions, as we’d call them, available in Release 8. Hebrew Oracle Sales Cloud Release 8 The simplified UI is built using 100% Oracle ADF. The framework is a great solution for developers to productively build tablet-first, mobility-driven apps for users who work in natural languages other than English. Oracle ADF’s internationalization (i18n) support leverages Java and Unicode and also packs more i18n goodness such as Bi-Di (or bi-directional) flipping of pages, locale-enabled resource bundles, date and time support, and so on. Comparing Spanish (left) and Hebrew Bi-Di (right) page components in the simplified UI. Note the change in the direction of the arrows and alignment of the text. So, developers don’t have to do anything special with regard to ADF components thanks to this baked-in UX Feng Shui, as Grant Ronald of the ADF team would say to the UK Oracle User Group. Find out more from Frédéric Desbiens (@blueberrycoder) about ADF i18n on the ADF Architecture TV YouTube channel and check out the Developer's Guide.

I demoed the Hebrew language version of Oracle Sales Cloud Release 8 live in Israel recently, and the crowd was yet again wowed by the simplified UI (SUI). I’ve now spent some time playing around with...

user experience

Translation and UX Trends in the Enterprise: Your Reason to Attend Oracle Apps UX Events

Are you an Oracle partner who wants to know more about what's hot in user experience (UX)? Are you an Oracle applications customer with a workforce that needs to translate material quickly to be productive? Are those workers on the go? Need to keep their hands free? Well, here's just one reason why you need to be aware of the Oracle Applications UX team's outreach and communications programs run by Misha Vaughan (@mishavaughan). At an Oracle partner event in Manchester in the  UK that the Applications UX team ran with Oracle Worldwide Alliances and Channels for applications partners, the UX team showed what's coming in enterprise applications technology. This included  a demo of Google Glass (that would fall into the "wearables" trend) with Word Lens augmented reality (or AR, that's another hot topic in UX) translation. Attendees were blown away by UXer Noel Portugal (@noelportugal) translating a warning sign from German to English live, in real time (below) just by looking. Think of the enterprise use cases prompted by this alone! Noel Portugal using Google Glass Word Lens AR translation app live demo at Oracle Manchester, UK. You can read more about that event on the Usable Apps blog, "Simple to Use. Simple to Build. Simple to Sell." The UX team is up on the latest in enterprise technology trends, and Oracle partners and customers can participate in shaping its user experience..The Oracle Applications UX team is running these events for partners and customers worldwide. Stay tuned to the Voice of User Experience (VOX) blog or @usableapps on Twitter for upcoming events, and to your Oracle PartnerNetwork and other channels too.

Are you an Oracle partner who wants to know more about what's hot in user experience (UX)? Are you an Oracle applications customer with a workforce that needs to translate material quickly to be...

Shout-out for Oracle Cloud and Fusion Apps Multilingual Support: Pseudo-translation Explained

Ever heard the acronym "MLS" used in the context of Oracle E-Business Suite, Fusion or Cloud Service applications, and wondered what it meant? It stands for Multilingual Support. The Fusion Applications Developer Relations blog has the architecture details and is worth a read. The business significance of MLS, along with the applications' translations known as National Language Support (or NLS) versions, and the localizations support required for doing business in different countries and regions, is that Oracle customers can run applications in different ways to suit their business requirements. MLS architecture provides for such requirements common in the business world as when a multi-national customer needs the same application to support a wide variety of national languages, countries or regions globally, or where a customer needs an application user interface in one national language (the language of business, English for example) but to needs enter, store, view, and publish data in other national languages. The applications can be patched easily and safely (see how the tables separate logic from translatable strings) too. You can read more about the subject in my blog on the Oracle E-Business Suite features and capabilities for global user experience. Those "Ω'+++ '+++ '+Ø" characters you can see in the table in the developer relations blog are, in fact, the ends of what we call pseudo-translated strings. This technique of automatically padding, or adding extra, or special characters to source strings ones is used in development environments to simulate what happens when an application is translated and deployed globally. Pseudo-translated strings simulate text expansion (strings usually get longer than the source U.S. English ones by varying lengths) and that nothing gets truncated or misplaced in the UI, are a check for multi-byte (now Unicode) character set support, bi-directionality (or Bi-Di) enablement (for Arabic and Hebrew languages, for example), and are used to detect hard-coded source strings that cannot be accessed by the translation tool (in other words, will be left in English). The pseudo-translated version of the application must be tested in a suitable environment with realistic data by development teams and tools. If something breaks in the environment during this functional testing then it can be fixed before translation, rather than finding out the hard way, after implementation. Oracle applications uses pseudo-translation simulations for Latin character-based languages, Asian-based characters, and for Bi-Di ones too. You can find out the basics of making internationalized and easily translatable enterprise applications that meet the needs of local workers and global businesses, and about using best practices such as pseudo-translation and more, in my SlideShare presentation delivered at the Action Week for Global Information Sharing at the Localisation Research Centre in Ireland, a few years ago. 

Ever heard the acronym "MLS" used in the context of Oracle E-Business Suite, Fusion or Cloud Service applications, and wondered what it meant? It stands for Multilingual Support. The Fusion...

user experience

Thought Oracle Usability Advisory Board Was Stuffy? Wrong. Justification for Attending? Your Business

Looking for reasons to tell your boss why your organization needs to join the Oracle Usability Advisory Board (OUAB)? Or why you need to attend one of its meetings (see the customer and partner requirements)? Well, try phrases such as "UX matters for our apps return on investment (ROI)", "That announcement from the <your company's name> AGM about increased productivity", "Happy Workers going home early" or even "Oracle, the Apple of the Enterprise, er, why don't you come along, too?" Or show your boss this meeting report. With OUAB your participation is about realizing and sustaining ROI across the entire applications life-cycle: from early input to designs and beta access to implementation choices that makes for great usage and task completion on the road or office, sure.  Then, there's stakeholder involvement that goes beyond end users, including integration and performance, as well as measuring improved onboarding, adoption and support experience to show your decision makers and investors. It's all going on at OUAB... If you think OUAB is a boring meeting of old people sitting around moaning about the grief of desktop order entry forms, shaking their heads when somebody mentions "Facebook" as they scroll through texts from the accounts department on their BlackBerries, well think again! Read about about the latest meeting's rich agenda: all designed to engage the audience in a thought-provoking and feedback-eliciting day of swirling interactions, contextual usage, cultural relevance, mobility, consumerization, gamification, and the tailoring your apps implementation to reflect real users doing real work in real environments in your country or region.  Foldable, rollable e-reader technology provides a newspaper-like UX for electronic reading (e-reader) devices. Electronic reading devices and technology featured at OUAB Europe meeting in December 2012, but not as a way to wrap silicon chips! Nom! (Photograph from Terrace Restaurant in Oracle TVP by Ultan O'Broin) At the 7 December 2012 OUAB Europe meeting in Oracle Thames Valley Park (TVP), in the United Kingdom, Oracle partners and customers from all over Europe and Oracle staff from worldwide locations, stepped up to the mic and Microsoft PowerPoint decks with a range of facts and examples to astound any C-level UX skeptic. Over the day we explored how to deliver great UX in the enterprise (mobile or desktop workers, too natch); it was all part of a theme of a new contextual, flexible, simplified, never too fast or too usable, yet inherently personal way of engaging with users worldwide to enable them to deliver results for business: that means design stops only when the business problem is gone (so it's iterative then!).  OUAB is about customers and partners knowing more about Oracle UX but also their own users and their tasks so that design and ICT can together transform work into a productive activity that users and bean counters will all be excited by. The sessions together really gelled for me into a value-packed, engaging, cohesive event. For example: 1. Mobile design patterns: A powerful proposition for customers and partners already on entering the mobile UX space is now offered by using our design resources, implemented with Oracle ADF Mobile. Customers' and partners' developers existing Oracle Application Development Framework (ADF) developers are now productive, efficient mobile developers too, applying proven UX guidance using Oracle ADF Mobile components and other Oracle Fusion Middleware in the development toolkit. You can find the Mobile UX Design Patterns and guidance on building mobile apps on the Oracle Technology Network (OTN). 2. Oracle Voice and apps: Now, this medium offers so much potential in the enterprise and offers a window in Oracle Fusion  cloud web services, Oracle RightNow and Nuance technology. Exciting science now stuff, customizable for your UX, and demoed live on a mobile phone. Stay tuned for more Oracle Voice features and modalities and how you can tailor your own apps user experience for your workers.  Oracle Voice demo. Voice makes perfect sense in the enterprise. Maybe more than in the personal world only: how many times can you ask Siri about the weather! See the Usable Apps YouTube channel for an Oracle Voice demo too. (Photograph by Ultan O'Broin) 3. Oracle RightNow Natural Language Processing (NLP) technology: Wow! Discover how contextual intervention and learning from users sessions delivers a great personalized UX for users interacting with Ella, a fifth generation VA that uses real conversations to solve problems and prevent others. Meet Ella. Demoing contextual NLP-based customer experience, an example of great Oracle RightNow technology solving real business problems in real-time using real context and learning from the user, ready for the next interaction too. (Photograph by Ultan O'Broin) 4. Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) keynote: A balanced keynote address contrasting Fujitsu's explaining of the concept, challenges, and trends and setting the expectation that BYOD must be embraced in a flexible way,  with the resolute, crafted high security enterprise requirements that nuancing the BYOD concept and proposals with the realities of their world of water tight information and device sharing policies. Fascinating stuff, as well providing anecdotes to make us thing about our own BYOD deployments. One size does not fit all. BYOD is a hot topic in UX and the enterprise: whether to embrace or tolerate though? A keynote delivery at OUAB, you can download your own killer artwork poster here, explaining the concept and exploring the challenges, solutions, and emerging best practices. 5. Icon cross-cultural research and design insights: Ever wondered about the cultural appropriateness of icons used in software UIs and how these icons assessed for global use? Or considered that social media "Like" icons might be  unacceptable hand gestures in culture or enterprise? Or do old world icons like Save floppy disk icons still make sense to users, worldwide? Well the survey results told you. Challenges must be tested, over time, and context of use is critical now, including external factors such as the internet and social media adoption. Indeed the fears about global rejection of the face and hand icons was not borne out, and some of the more anachronistic icons (checkbooks, microphones, real-to-real tape decks, those famous 3.5" floppies for Save) have become accepted metaphors for current actions. Importantly, the findings brought into focus the reason for OUAB: to engage with customers and partners and understand their needs and issues so we can make great usable apps for them. We must obtain feedback though working groups and Board members, and others, before we build anything. The Save icon is accepted now, despite its original inspiration no longer being in use. But what would you replace that icon with? Or do you even need to? OUAB discussed! 6. E-Readers and Oracle iBook: What is the uptake and trends of e-readers? And how about a demo of an iBook with enterprise apps content?  Well received by the audience, this session included a live running poll of e-reader usage and revealed a lot about enterprise adoption of the technologies on offer and customer and partner plans for same. 7. Gamification design session: Fun, hands on event for teams of Oracle staff, partners and customers, actually building gamified flows, a practice that can be applied right away by customers and partners.  8. UX Direct: A new offering of usability best practices, coming to an external website for you in 2013. Find a real user, observe their tasks, design and approve, build and measure. Simple stuff to improve apps implications, no end. You can do it with our investment in UX Science turned over to you in plain language. No special tools, resources, or PhDs needed (we have those so you don't need to). 9. Simplified and Modern UX (FUSE): FUSE is an internal Oracle term really, but since it's out there it means Fusion Simplified Experience). Learn about, and see for real, the new Face of Fusion Applications:  lightweight, simple to use, social, personalizable and fast. We saw three great live demos from HCM, CRM and ICT use cases on how these flexible, thoughtful UX designs brought to life in 100% Oracle ADF can be used in different ways to excite and delight users on different devices and deliver productivity to benefit your entire business. The New Face of Fusion Applications (HCM). Demoed live at OUAB. So, a powerful breadth and depth of UX solutions and opportunities for customers and partners to engage with and explore how they can make their users happy and benefit their business reaping continued ROI from those apps investments. And what a fun day too. Catering provided, superb TVP conference facilities, and a wonderful meeting host (me!). What more could you want as reasons to joining OUAB and attending! Find out more about the OUAB and how to get involved here ... 

Looking for reasons to tell your boss why your organization needs to join the Oracle Usability Advisory Board (OUAB)? Or why you need to attend one of its meetings (see the customer and...

user experience

Fujitsu Raku-Raku SmartPhone: Japanese Digital Seniors UX Insight from @debralilley

Super blog posting on the super-important subject of digital inclusion by Oracle partner Fujitsu appstech maven and Oracle Applications User Experience FXA-er and ACE Director Debra Lilley (@debralilley). Debra tells us how Fujitsu is enabling digital inclusion for older mobile users in Japan with their  Raku-Raku (らくらくホン) smart phone: Fujitsu Raku-Raku - My UX Homework (Raku-Raku means easy or comfortable in Japanese). There are UX mobile, social media, and methodology takeaways for us in Debra's blog. Fujitsu Raku-Raku Smartphone Demo  I encourage you to read what Debra found out. She also makes reference to a tailored social media experience for those digital seniors (デジタルシニア) as they'd be called in Japan (UK and Ireland uses the term silver surfers). You can find that online community website here. Online Community Site for Fujitsu Raku-Raku Smartphone Digital Seniors (English translation via Google Translate) It's an important reminder that UX is global sure, but also that worldwide accessibility and digital inclusion are priority components for UX. It's vital that we understand  broad societal aspects of technology adoption and how the requirements of different categories of technology users can be met in the enterprise too. Oracle is committed to providing the best possible user experience for enterprise users of all ages and abilities. That means talking with all sorts of users worldwide and understanding how and why they want to use our technology and what their context of use is. Such users are now heavily influenced by the ICT usability experience in their personal lives too. You can read more about Oracle's accessibility program on our corporate website. Proud to say I prompted a few questions in Japan all the way from Ireland. So, UX is not only global but you can drive UX research globally too without ever leaving home! Brilliant job, Debra. Here's to more such joint research creativity and UX collaboration worldwide between us. Wondering where we might go next? And what a fun way to do things too.

Super blog posting on the super-important subject of digital inclusion by Oracle partner Fujitsu appstech maven and Oracle Applications User Experience FXA-er and ACE Director Debra Lilley (@debralille...

user experience

Discount Multilingual Day in the Life of User Experience

Super article by the WikiMedia Foundation engineering folks about Designing for the Multilingual Web using the Wikipedia Universal Language Selector user interface as an example. Great ideas about tools that are available, as well as covering the basics of wireframing (mockups), prototyping, and user testing. Lots of inspiration there for developers and builders of apps who want to ensure their user experience (UX) really delivers for a global audience. Check out the use of the Firefox-based Pencil, how to translate your mockups, and how to perform remote user testing using Google+ Hangouts. Paul Giner demonstrates how to translate mockups. A little clunky and homespun in parts (I would prefer if tools such as Pencil or Balsamiq MockUps, and so on, could roundtrip directly from SVG to XLIFF for example, and Pencil doesn't work yet with the latest versions for Firefox) and I am not sure how it can really scales to enterprise-level use. However, the UX methodology is basically sound, and reinforces the importance of designing and testing in more that one language. The most powerful message for me is that you do not need special resources, training or expensive tools to deliver great-looking usable apps if you're a developer. Definitely worth considering if you're building apps out there in the community.

Super article by the WikiMedia Foundation engineering folks about Designing for the Multilingual Web using the Wikipedia Universal Language Selector user interface as an example. Great ideas about...

user experience

Not All iPhone 5 and Galaxy SIII in Some Markets #UX #mobile #BBC #L10n

The BBC World Service provides news content to more people across the globe, and has launched a series of new apps tailored for Nokia devices, allowing mobile owners to receive news updates in 11 different languages. So, not everyone using an iPhone 5 or Samsung Galaxy SIII then? hardly surprising given one of these devices could cost you a large chunk of your annual income in some countries! The story is a reminder of taking into account local market requirements and using a toolkit to develop solutions for them. The article tells us The BBC World Service apps will feature content from the following BBC websites: BBC Arabic, BBC Brasil (in Portuguese), BBC Chinese, BBC Hindi, BBC Indonesia, BBC Mundo (in Spanish), BBC Russian, BBC Turkce, BBC Ukrainian, BBC Urdu and BBC Vietnamese. Users of the Chinese, Indonesian and Arabic apps will receive news content but will also be able to listen to radio bulletins.It’s a big move for the BBC, particularly as Nokia has sold more than 675 million Series 40 handsets to date. While the company’s smartphone sales dwindle, its feature phone business has continued to prop up its balance sheet. Ah, feature phones. Remember them? You should! Don't forget that Oracle Application Development Framework solution for feature phones too: Mobile Browser. So, don't ignore a huge market segment and opportunity to grow your business by disregarding feature phones when Oracle makes it easy  for you to develop mobile solutions for a full range of devices and users! Let's remind ourselves of the different mobile toolkit solutions offered by Oracle or coming soon that makes meeting the users of global content possible. Mobile Development with ADF Mobile (Oracle makes no contractual claims about development, release, and timing of future products.) All that said, check out where the next big markets for mobile apps is coming from in my post on Blogos: Where Will The Next 10 Million Apps Come From? BRIC to MIST.

The BBC World Service provides news content to more people across the globe, and has launched a series of new apps tailored for Nokia devices,allowing mobile owners to receive news updates in...

mobile

Oracle Worldwide Product Translation Group and Applications User Experience Working Together

The Applications User Experience (UX) Mobile team has been extending its ethnographic research to even more countries. Recently, the team conducted research in Sweden, and I am pleased to say I made the connection for the UX team with the Oracle's Worldwide Product Translation Group (WPTG) local (that is, in-country) language specialists. It struck me that WPTG's local market knowledge and insight that we heard about at an Oracle Usability Advisory Board meeting in the UK in 2011 would be very valuable to the UX efforts while, at the same time, UX could afford WPTG an opportunity to understand our design and development direction so that linguistic resources (terminology, style guides, translatability guidelines, and so on) for any translation of our mobile solutions could be prepared in advance. Brent White of the Mobile UX team takes notes as ethnography participant Capri Norrman uses mobile technology to work in Stockholm. Pic credit: Oracle Applications UX. The UX team acknowledges Capri's kind permission to use this image. I'm told by Brent White of the Mobile UX team that the co-operation was a big success.  A WPTG Swedish language specialist joined a couple of ethnographic sessions, taking great notes and turning them around very fast for the UX team. And of course, a great local insight into Swedish culture and ways of working was provided too, along with some very convivial socializing!  More research in more countries is planned. Watch out for future blog posts and other communications about this super worldwide co-operation.

The Applications User Experience (UX) Mobile team has been extending its ethnographic research to even more countries. Recently, the team conducted research in Sweden, and I am pleased to say I made...

user experience

Oracle Usability Advisory Board Europe Globalization Working Group April 2012 Debrief

Doors to manual! The Oracle Usability Advisory Board (OUAB) Europe met in the Oracle Thames Valley Park, UK and Oracle Geneva offices on the 17th and 19th of April 2012, respectively. These were the biggest and best European meetings yet (with nearly 30 people present); a testament to the importance of, and customer and partner interest, in applications user experience (UX) not just in the EMEA region, but worldwide. Sten Vesterli of Scott/Tiger Explaining about usability (and other) superheroes. Picture by Ultan O'Broin. There was a top-notch agenda for both meetings, with rich, engaging content, demos of Oracle Fusion Applications UX innovations and concepts, opportunities to input into new designs and features, data gathering exercises, updates from new Board members and from Oracle too on UX and strategic activities. With networking and communication strengthened on personal and professional levels, I have to say, it was fun too, and all conducted in a spirit of candid openness and good humor! Particular highlights for me were the sessions on designing usable icons for international applications, delivered by Applications User Experience colleagues Lulit Bezuayehu and Eric Stilan, and the gobsmackingly-brilliant keynote in Geneva by Fusion User Experience Advocate and Oracle Ace Director Sten Vesterli (@stenvesterli) of Scott/Tiger called Superhero Usability. Lulit Bezuayehu and Eric Stilan of Oracle talking in TVP about usable icon design. Picture by Anna Wichansky. In the globalization working group space, my main activities were to elicit feedback from OUAB members on language preferences and search of translated content in the Oracle Fusion Applications Help (see this great white paper for more information). I delivered an update on the Fusion apps translation releases, and explained what was translated and the strategy behind such decisions.  I also gathered data about international interest in mobile applications UX, about gamification, and about browser usage by bi-di language-speaking apps users. My main observations from the globalization-related side of the Board interactions are: Customers on existing apps are still reporting insufficient space for expansion of names and issues with cross-cultural requirements for apps users. I will take a personal action to follow up. Deployment of mobile solutions and interest in tablet devices in the enterprise in particular is increasing, big time. A hot topic in EMEA for sure, and as you can ascertain from Oracle's new Oracle Fusion Tap for Oracle Fusion Applications web site, a strategic one too. There is emerging interest in enterprise apps gamification, particularly in CRM and HCM space. However, more outreach on the potential and what it actually means in the apps space is needed. Not as strong as in the US at present, but definitely there. Generally, there appears to be no requirement for apps customers to search in the same place for help translated into multiple languages beyond two at most perhaps. However, research continues on this, so no real conclusion there yet. Customers are adopting enterprise apps cloud solutions, and other deployments too naturally, that require language versions on UX grounds, which is great! Cloud-based translated versions for SMEs in EMEA too, are, surprise, surprise, a requirement for success. Machine translated (MT) apps help content. Oh dear! WTF has happened here with user expectations? Mentioned at the Board, the reaction from members about MT told me much about the issue of translations quality but also about the prescience of what is happening in the personal and consumer space influencing enterprise applications UX expectations (a good thing). Oracle MT is not like Google Translate, but is domain specific and quality oriented with human input and verification before release. It is very encouraging that OUAB members continue to care about the quality of the translated content. But, we (OUAB)  need to communicate in plain language (duh) about what improvements in enterprise applications translation technology really means for customers and partners in terms of their user experience. Context of use, and all that. My action item. Watch out for other blogs covering the non-globalization side of events. In all, the OUAB Europe events were a very valuable exercise, and here's to more OUAB events outside of the US! If your organization would like to participate, then check out the OUAB section of the usableapps web site. Again, thanks to all the OUAB members for participating, and a big shout out to colleagues Anna Wichansky and Alisa Hamai for their hard work in making this program so successful worldwide.

Doors to manual! The Oracle Usability Advisory Board (OUAB) Europe met in the Oracle Thames Valley Park, UK and Oracle Geneva offices on the 17th and 19th of April 2012, respectively. These were the...

Oracle Fusion Apps NLS Release: Translations Available

Oracle Fusion Applications NLS versions (that's translations to you lot) are available.  The following translations are included (I make it 11): Arabic, Chinese (Simplified), Chinese (Traditional), Dutch, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese (Brazilian), and Spanish. See the document Oracle Fusion Applications NLS Release Notes, 11g Release 1, Update 1 (11.1.2.0.0) [ID 1394137.1] on My Oracle Support (MOS). Access to MOS required to read the notes. Oracle Fusion Applications Arabic version during language QA. Image may not represent final released version. Some notes: Fusion Apps UIs, including embedded help is fully translated. Basically, seed data, messages, and anything in ADF resource bundles (I think that just about covers it) is translated. XLIFF is used. Nonembedded help (that means the doc and help) is not translated in 11g Release 1, Update 1 (11.1.2.0.0). The strategy for that translation is communicated in-country and can also be explained to any Oracle Usability Advisory Board (OUAB) members who are interested in apps globalization issues. Arabic requires the use of a later version of Microsoft Internet Explorer, still. Other browsers are currently in certification. If you have observations on this, let me know. NLS install requires you to have English Oracle Fusion Applications 11g Release 1, Update 1 installed first. See the following docs: Oracle Fusion Applications Installation Guide Oracle Fusion Applications Patching Guide Oracle Fusion Applications Release Notes for instructions for installing Oracle Fusion Applications 11g Release, 1 Update 1 (English, on MOS)

Oracle Fusion Applications NLS versions (that's translations to you lot) are available.  The following translations are included (I make it 11): Arabic, Chinese (Simplified), Chinese (Traditional),...

Color and other Favorites: Microsoft Does UK English in the UI

Said it before, but the excuse that "you bought it from an American company" just isn't good enough as a response to Oracle user feedback about US spellings used in the UI (who reads that doc, anyway?). I've heard many times from customers outside the US that they're driven nuts by color, favorites, and so on, but also by US-centric terminology used in the UI. There is a serious UX downside to not letting customers have language the way they want it, and indeed the way their corporate culture, whatever about country or region, demands. Productivity, training, morale, loyalty are all impacted, and Oracle needs to respond. Delighted to see that in time for International Mother Language Day 2012, Microsoft has announced that Windows 8 users in the UK will have UK English UIs. Well done Microsoft! I pointed out last year how Google already did this. Oracle, too, is serious about a total user experience and giving customers what they want in their UIs, the means to easily change it, and to look up terms is now on the cards. Stay tuned for information on this. Enterprise apps are under pressure from consumerization of IT trends.  Clearly, then Microsoft is responding to the market, a fact reflected by the release of an UK English Style Guide for Windows Phone. Mobile UX is one where consumerization cannot be so easily dismissed (SAP hasreleased a consumer mobile app too). Choice of language needs to reflect all this, too.  If you want to er, complain to someone about US versus UK English in your Oracle apps UI, then contact me!

Said it before, but the excuse that "you bought it from an American company" just isn't good enough as a response to Oracle user feedback about US spellings used in the UI (who reads that doc,...

user experience

Oracle E-Business Suite: Features and Capabilities for Global UX

There is excellent global user experience afforded to users of Oracle E-Business Suite Release 12, all based on solid internationalization (i18n) and out of the box multilingual support (MLS). The engineering and features were covered by Maher Al-Nubani, Director of Internationalization Development in his webcast about Oracle E-Business Suite Internationalization and Multilingual Features. Maher covered such areas as single global instance deployment, Unicode, BiDi, regional preferences (locale), MLS architecture basics, international calendar and first day of the week support, currencies, and  multilingual reporting. Check out the presentation slides (PDF) for full details. Here's a few features and capabilities, amongst others, that I think are particularly well-grounded in meeting the user experience needs of Oracle applications customers who deploy globally.  These are the kind of usability areas that the Oracle Usability Advisory Board (OUAB) members address through the Globalization UX working group. EBS implementors, take note. Lightweight MLS support: New in EBS 12.1.3, by using OAM, multinational companies can activate languages without applying NLS (translation) patches. This means the user interface (UI) remains in English but setup, data and reporting is in the customer's language.  This is a customer requirement often missed. Combined with localizations functionality, an English UI with language data entry and printing is a powerful and effective solution that enables enterprises to work globally while using and sharing information according to local conventions. Full translations can be later easily added if required, for extra flexibility and evolution of the user experience. Complete Excel data exchange: Business users just love Microsoft Excel! And, in EBS 12.1.3, customers can export data using comma or tab separated values (commas, of course, can be other kind of delimiters in other countries/locales). Plus, a choice of Unicode UTF-8 or UTF-16 export options means users can safely use Microsoft Excel to handle their data's character set encodings. Cultural calendars: EBS 12.1.1 added support for the Arabic Hijrah and Thai Solar calendars. EBS 12.1.2 allows users to specify their first day of the week (it's Sunday, and not Monday for some). These UI features allow users to work in accordance with their local customs and conventions, but without impacting business logic or data. BI Publisher global reporting: BIP's excellent internationalization foundation enables customers to communicate with other parts of their organization, suppliers, vendors, and other agencies easily. Without any dependency on installed languages or the DB character set, customers can create a report template for their language, country or region, and translate it easily themselves using XLIFF. For apps customers, reporting in the local language using customized templates and flexibility in how they work is a very big deal. More Unicode support: Been there for a while now through Unicode (UTF8) introduced in Release 11i, EBS 12.1 uses the AL32UTF8 encoding, based on the latest Unicode standard to support more characters and languages. AL32UTF8 is is the default Unicode database character set for EBS 12.1 installations for multiple languages. AL32UTF8 is the default in Oracle Fusion Applications Release 11g R2, by the way. Additional language translations: EBS 12.1  is now translated into 34 languages, adding Indonesian, Lithuanian, Ukrainian, and Vietnamese. The myth that  every enterprise apps user speaks English has long been exposed as just that, a myth. It is also important to realize that not only do local users demand UIs in their own language, but the domain specific aspects of enterprise apps means that it is easier for them to understand and use translated versions, even when they do speak conversational English. Better productivity and user satisfaction in the workplace is the result. Great features and support for our global customers! Refer to the resources at the end of Maher's presentation for availability, implementation details and more information. Watch out for some news about OUAB activities globally soon, too.

There is excellent global user experience afforded to users of Oracle E-Business Suite Release 12, all based on solid internationalization (i18n) and out of the box multilingual support (MLS). The...

mobile

Sirious Business of Voice-based Assistance: Enterprise Apps and Global UX Considerations

Yes, voice-based user experience has been around for a while. HCI freshmen grappling with Molich and Nielsen's seminal 1990 CHI paper on usability heuristics for the past two decades would have come across such user interfaces - twice. Even on mobile phones voice assistance is not new. I've used voice-based Google search on my iPhone and Google Translate Conversation Mode on my Nexus S for a long while now, for example. But now the inclusion of Siri as a native feature on the iPhone 4S has really caught the attention of the consumer market and UX professionals alike. We've had discussion on whether Siri is or isn't a Google search killer, jokes about its inability to deal with Scottish accents, the unfortunate meaning of the word Siri in Japan and Georgia,  outrage over the outages, and all the rest. Two questions interest me: What are the enterprise applications user experience (UX) implications of Siri? What are the global UX aspects to the Siri potential? As a UX professional I can see Siri use cases for mobile workers, sure, for simple input and creation tasks, but also for finding and manipulating more complex business transactions by taking direct action on data, contacts, locations, analytics, you name it, from one small device. Richard Bingham has some great points about Siri's potential in the enterprise customer service space. Siri offers a logical means of interacting with devices that are essentially phones while on the move-your voice-and takes the natural user interface experience currently dominated by gestures to a new level. Obviously personalization and alternative interaction options will still always be needed as not everyone will want to use voice-based assistance all the time. Fine for telling Siri to approve an purchase requisition in your worklist or to map a route to the next service request within a 5 mile radius while you're driving (using a headset mind), but nobody is going to intone, Stephen Hawking-fashion, into their iPhone "Tell me who won't make quota in my sales territory this quarter" while waiting in line in Starbucks. For enterprise use, a more scalable service will also be required. An ability for Siri to handle domain-specific terms and jargon that a now comprehensive range of enterprise applications user profiles use in their conversations is a requirement too. With the mass uptake of iPhones and the fact that Siri learns from input means that shouldn't be a huge problem. As far as I can tell in terms of international language support, Siri supports English sure, especially well if you like to speak like a real android, but also French and German. Additional languages will be needed to penetrate lucrative Asian, Japanese and South American markets. It will need to handle the more, shall we say, nuanced accents of non-native English speakers too. All this is very doable. Siri uses Nuance Communications technology acquired from the infamous Lernout and Hauspie, so global capability is in the DNA. As for usage in the field worldwide, will mobile workers in every culture take to Siri the same way, or at all? Looks like a fine ethnographic study on mobile voice assistance use in the making.  Can we expect Google and Android to react? You bet. With all that mobile Google Translate and search expertise expect something spectacular before the iPhone 5 appears.  Of course, Siri is currently beta anyway, so by then, Apple will have moved it along significantly too. Note: Apple says it have no plans to backport Siri to previous Apple iPhone versions, though Steven Stroughton-Smith and others have a solution to that. 

Yes, voice-based user experience has been around for a while. HCI freshmen grappling with Molich and Nielsen's seminal 1990 CHI paper on usability heuristics for the past two decades would have come...

user experience

Czeching out DITA Europe 2011

Attended the DITA Europe 2011 Conference in Prague. Presented with Erika Webb (@erikanollwebb) the research into using comics to explain DITA concepts. Delivery went down very well, positive vibes, lots of interaction in the Q&A session, and a few souls now up for trying comics for themselves as a result. Score. Clearly, from what we heard at the conference there is a need for getting across to writers the fundamentals of DITA and structured authoring, so comics are worth a look if you find yourself with that need. Loved Marie-Louise Flacke's (@flacke) session called iconmania: the use of icons in documentation when they are neither needed nor wanted--just because you can--and the dismal result for the user and DITA adoption. Future stress testing is clearly required by the IMF (Icon Monitoring Foundation) and the time is now right for a French woman to bring some badly needed sanity to the global icon commodity market, methinks. Delighted to also find a copy of Oracle's Marta Rauch's (@martarauch) article on mobile user assistance in circulation at the conference by way of the Center for Information Design and Management's Best Practices Newsletter. It was encouraging to hear about a widening use of personas and task analysis in information design and about the need for usability testing of DITA artifacts and outputs. Still not enough user-centered design methodology being demonstrated IMO, but it is moving in the right direction. The now established practices of community content engagement and the buzzword du jour "gamification"  surfaced in ways that, to me, seem orthogonal to DITA. Uptake and success of a community content strategy with or without the use of game mechanics doesn't depend on DITA. As we heard at the conference, a “build it and they will come attitude” isn’t sufficient. SAP appears to have DITA nailed as a corporate mandate (Oracle does not use DITA on this basis) and clearly has a very well-defined and managed way of going about evaluation and implementations that reminded me of the SAP diligence when adopting information quality tools (DFKI/Acrolinx). Translation, generally, within the DITA context, continues to be spoken about in somewhat janitorial terms of a declining cost (y-axis) over time (x-axis) imperative. Whether the source or target information adds any user value in the first place--discussed within the context of the total cost of a full content life cycle--might be a more constructive approach. Generally, I remain unconvinced about DITA saving greater translation cost than any other proper content strategy management. To reduce word counts, ergo the most visible variable in cost of translation, what you do need a change management strategy that includes migration, talent management, training, enforcement, and reporting, but above all user-centred design principles and a change in writing behavior. DITA translatability best practices that I come across are conceptually no different from those for dealing with linguistic, rendering or processing issues in other translated formats (see my own). DITA best practices for machine translation (statistical or rule-based) remain elusive, however.Sessions on multilingual asset management made the case well for dealing with all the large number of topics, files, objects associated with DITA-based information development, and the promise of visualization of those assets seemed a brilliant feature idea (reminded me of eye tracking scan paths) for any CMS rather than the unwieldy object trees and hierarchies we see now. Great to be back in Prague after all these years. Once I finally got through the shambolic passport control at the airport (nobody in the EU should accept such bureaucratic buffoonery in 2011) and got to the city, I found Prague's character hadn't changed too much since I had been there in the 1990s: wonderful sights, sounds and smells, and taxi drivers each worth avoiding by a 10km radius. There is a frustrating lack of multilingual signage at key points in the city. However there are some welcome new locations that require no translation at all, so I was happy. I easily navigated about the city on shank’s mare and the superb public transport, relying on Google Maps on the iPhone again. Never got to try Czech option on Android Google Translate Conversation Mode. Next time. Maybe at passport control. In all, a well-attended conference (120+, I’d say), excellent organization, varied subjects and expertise levels, and a superb location that’s easy to get to if you’re in EMEA. Certainly, plenty to think about after the conference, which is always a win.

Attended the DITA Europe 2011 Conference in Prague. Presented with Erika Webb (@erikanollwebb) the research into using comics to explain DITA concepts. Delivery went down very well, positive vibes,...

translation

PayPal Error Message 3005: Where User Experience and Translatability Collide…

… and neither comes off very well. I received this huge error message as I was updating my credit card details in PayPal. I was working in the English language, yet this multilingual monster came my way. Generally, these multilingual messages cause translatability issues. Most translatable files conform to a bilingual source-target paradigm, and not a multilingual one. The single language target enables better use of language assets and flexibility with process. Of course, the arrival of CMS and GMS-based translation solves a lot the coordination problems of keeping multiple languages translation in sync. It is also possible this message was served up from a server way rather than being actually multiple translations in a single container on the file system (I didn’t view the page source). Regardless, why bother? The users working language is known.As for those message numbers (Message 3005), are users expected to look them up and act? Generally in the enterprise applications space these numbers are only useful to help desk or support personnel or specialized functional administrators with the right security permissions to actually do something with the application in response to looking up what that number means in a knowledge base. In this case, looking up the number leads to frustration too.Dealing with these generic application failure issues has long been a user experience issue. If would have been better to throw a shorter specific message in my working language was shown, one with a more precise title, a cause text that reflected what I was doing, and a precise action text to perform to fix the issue. An assurance that my money and other personal details were safe too should have been provided. Making that message number and some diagnostics available on demand only, and capturing any details in the background so that a security specialist or other help desk person could check that none of my data was compromised would have been preferable. At least I was not told to contact my system administrator, so I am thankful for that!

… and neither comes off very well. I received this huge error message as I was updating my credit card details in PayPal. I was working in the English language, yet this multilingual monster came my...

internationalization

What's in a Name: Global Considerations for Apps

Enjoyed this article about the assumptions made by programmers (andtherefore developed applications) about names: FalsehoodsProgrammers Believe About Names "My system will never have to deal with names from China.Or Japan.Or Korea.Or Ireland, the United Kingdom, the United States, Spain, Mexico,Brazil, Peru, Russia, Sweden, Botswana, South Africa, Trinidad, Haiti,France, or the Klingon Empire, all of which have 'weird' naming schemesin common use." Head-wrecking stuff. Actually, it's a little unfair to blame it all on programmers, they aren't the only ones to fall into this trap, and if they have not been educated in the ways of internationalization, there's little point in blaming them. However, there are serious UX implications of these kinds ofassumptions. You can read more about this impact on users in the usableapps entry Cross-CulturalFactors Should Be Considered in Enterprise Software UX Design. "Names may require prefixes to delineate male or female employees,but sometimes there is no place to put these prefixes in the formfields. And some recent immigrants to Europe do not use last names (forexample, those from Myanmar, Afghanistan, and Pakistan)." Oracle Fusion Applications offers superb support for global names and how the user wants to see them. That's another post. Bottom line: Don't allow developers to design your apps, leave that to user experience professionals. Internationalize code so that it is neutral of any one nameformat and can be localized for regional requirements. Investigate your target market and what regional conventionsmeans for the UX and design accordingly. For more great information on the global challenges of handling names, and how you might deal with them on the UI and database side, see the W3C's Internationalization article Personal Names Around the World.

Enjoyed this article about the assumptions made by programmers (and therefore developed applications) about names: Falsehoods Programmers Believe About Names"My system will never have to deal with...

user experience

Internationalizing Designs and Usability Testing for Enterprise Apps: Points to Consider

User experience is global, and usability research and testing must involve real applications users doing realistic tasks in all of Oracle's target markets worldwide. However, creating designs and prototypes for every language that Oracle translates its applications into (30 plus) is neither feasible nor required. Here's some guidance about creating lo-fi designs, prototypes and testing scenarios that will work well internationally, make the target audience comfortable, while obtaining relevant feedback on materials.The Reality...Optimally, the user experience shown in designs, prototypes and described in testing tasks should be in the natural language and use the regional preferences of users in the target market. Users should always be allowed to work in the language of their choice, entering and printing and viewing data, and seeing their local data, time, currency separators, sort orders, and so on of their region. The reality of the modern global enterprise allows us some more leeway however, and this can work in favor of more scalable UX processes too. How to Adapt Designs, Prototypes and Test Tasks for International Audiences Remove any obvious US functionality from the UI or required test tasks. For example, social security numbers, address formats, data pickers that launch US-format calendars, or popups on editable fields suggesting US date formats as examples. If localization functionality is being shown, then change the UI and tasks to reflect the reporting or other legal requirements of the country or region. For example, VAT in the EU instead of sales tax, what the various statutory requirements for employee leave and holidays are and so on. Consult with local sales consultants and localization developers to tailor the UIs. Take care when showing personal or employment data in designs or prototypes intended the EU especially, avoiding invalid tasks that might cause privacy issues in Germany for example. Remember social media-type interactions and integrations too in this regard. Adjust any functionality and testing tasks to reflect what users might do locally. For example, if searching for information using a mobile app, German users may prefer to search a German website (.DE domain) for local information, using translated keywords and so on. Find our what are the most common formats and variables used by the organization as it works, and adjust any test tasks to reflect those. For example, rather than a list of currencies to scroll through, why not present the local users most used currencies at the top of a currency list of values. Other observations about taking international user experience considerations into account are detailed in the usableapps blog Cross-Cultural Factors Should Be Considered in Enterprise Software UX Design. Decide About Translating Designs, Prototypes, and Testing Materials Whether the design or prototypes needs translation depends on the user profile and the work involved, so review that information carefully. In some countries (for example, Japan, Korea, China, France, and others) using an untranslated UI for testing is not advisable, and certainly for public sector users a translated version should be used too. Do not fall for the old argument that “they all speak English” when testing in European countries. Although conversational English is widespread amongst users of enterprise apps in Europe, the domain expertise required by some enterprise applications is more easily acquired and functionality understood in the native language of the user. Any public sector testing will hinge on being able to provide translated designs and test scenarios. In other cases, such as testing with users in US-based multinationals, an English language UI may suffice if it uses the regional settings of the local users and the tasks involved in any testing reflect what local users do when working. Depending on the market and user profile and other information you may also need to translate any test instructions, questionnaires, surveys and other materials, as well as translating any quantitative data or other observations gathered. Test sessions may also require you to use an interpreter to guide users through tasks, so pilot these sessions so the interpreter and usability engineer knows what's involved, and the right cultural approach can be taken when coaxing information out of test subjects or helping them along. Use professional translation services and interpreters who preferably have domain expertise in the test area. Do not rely on Google Translate. Working with local in-country domain experts who speak the language of the user is the way to go. Leverage the language assets and expertise of the corporate translation team, or already subcontracted translation companies working on applications. Create designs in formats that can be easily translated. HTML is ideal, and PhotoShop layers or Visio (VSD) files can also be translatable. If you cannot translate the UI, then be prepared to explain how to users how application will be translated, and also explain how the language shown in applications can be changed further. If in the UK, for example, be prepared to deal with the issue of US spellings used instead of the UK variants by emphasizing regional support, localizations, and how the language can be changed to reflect the enterprise requirements using personalization or other extensibility tools to maximize the usability of the application. Personalization is particularly important in the mobile apps space (as evidenced by the Apple iOS5 personalization feature, coming). Using Regional Settings Always use local regional or common formats in user preferences. In enterprise applications, multilingual support (MLS) is critical: this functionality allows users to enter and view data in their own language and use local settings while running the UI in another language; a situation often encountered in multinational companies. Change the US defaults for dates, times, currency symbols, decimal separators, and so on to reflect what is used in the target market. Construct test tasks that require users to enter or use data using those settings, not the US equivalents. There is nothing more infuriating to non-US user than being told to enter a date of 03/03/03. If you must compromise on these regional settings, for reasons of scale for example, then choose a common format instead over the US one. For dates for example, a common format of dd-MMM-yyyy will avoid confusion internationally. Even something as simple as changing the sign in name in your application to a friendly local format can make testers feel more comfortable. Do you have any other guidance on successful internationalization of designs, prototypes or usability testing? Any observations or tips to share? Let me know, using the comments.

User experience is global, and usability research and testing must involve real applications users doing realistic tasks in all of Oracle's target markets worldwide. However, creating designs...

internationalization

Agile Localization: More Questions than Answers. Still.

What are the best practices forlocalization (in the enterprise applications translation sense of theword) operating within the agile software development framework,using scrum for example? I posted a similar question on Quora, and haven'texactly been overwhelmed by the response. Notmuch change there, then. The best reference I can find on theinterwebs is Tex Texin's (@textexin) document AgileLocalization Practices. Recommendations (October2010). I exchanged some email with Tex about this piece before itwas published, so I should disclose I have more than a passinginterest in it. I would agree with Tex that thelocalization industry appears to be reacting to the agile frameworkadoption rather than help determining it. The evidence from the interwebsis that LSPs have a stock response in the affirmative, “Yes we doagile”, while being very low on 'how-to' specifics or showing any real thought leadership Here are my own observations on thegeneral seeming lack of 'hard' information. One thing is very clear to me: Ifyou development processes and tools aren't up to the job foragile-based operations, you will find out pretty quickly. Same fortranslation tools and processes. Whither the role of the crowdand disruptive innovation in agile localization.Internationalization (I18n) is a sine qua non for any agile-basedlocalization, not just the basics of character set handling, codeconversion, multilingual tables in databases, and country, language,or regional-neutral code that can handle variabilized settings forcurrencies, dates, times, sort orders and the rest, buttranslatability. Make sure your product uses technology that isinternationalized, but pay attention too to areas of compositemessaging, string externalization, the building in of context,and of unique and persistent Ids on strings and content or otherdevices to aid reuse. Agile has key advantages in theareas of shortening innovation cycles, exposing technical andproject risk early, and shortening time-to-market for competitivecontent. Getting real, working content out there to a globalaudience in multiple languages, early, means a better global UX too.The idea behind the framework is that all functions are performedtogether within sprints, rather than preceding or bolting onparticular functions to the entire process – usually the latter,waterfall style. Parts of the traditional localization (and UX)process are immediately pressured by this agility. How is terminologydeveloped (for source and target)? Using locked-down, frozenterms in advance of development is hardly agile, yet it's common.Terminology takes time to research and develop in a source language,and getting the language equivalents agreed and onto some kind ofusable system isn't an overnight task either. Terminology is alsogoing to change during sprints, in response to customer feedback,like it or not. Possible solutions here are to start the agileprocess with the best terminology available, using possiblycrowdsourced validation, and revise terminology as customer feedbackcomes in, in context from real user. Or allow users to personalizetheir own user experience. Why try to anticipate the ever-changingmindset of say, teen gamers in Korea when you can accommodate theiropinions another way. An term submission and approval workflow andability to reapply terms to code rather than a spreadsheet ofopinion is the way to go here. A terminology-only sprint isn'tagile. Testing localized versions shouldbe done in parallel. A build environment that can produce localizedproduct or site versions automatically at regular intervals andpublish them to customers for evaluation can be used. In theenterprise applications space, where complexity of functionality,and the need to integrate with other products, databases, andtechnology stacks, agile translation testing requires automation,coordination, and the setting of clear expectations as to what is ineach build is a requirement, and isn't easy. However, a testing-onlysprint ins't agile. That's the waterfall we all know and love somuch. Communications across allstakeholders in the localization process also needs to beconsidered. How is that done between development, internal clientlocalization management, outsourced LSP project management,in-country translators, localization QA and linguistic expertsworking globally, across time zones? Does the daily stand up meetingscale in cyberspace? Video-conferencing? Plasma screens of dailyobjectives? Web-based reports? Scrum of scrums? Best of luck. Some content is probably bettersuited to the agile localization process than others, and the rangeis broad: social media, web sites, mobile apps, games, anythingwhere UX and language decisions are heavily dependent on user opinion or more complex UX-criticaldeliverables that don't require a ton of technical integration orthe provision of dedicated build environments for each languageversion for sure. Content where terminology and style isn't missioncritical works well with repositories full of stodgy content, butthat's hardly competitive.In some of these areas, thetraditional notions of language quality are challenged anyway, andthe decisions of the users are the deal-breakers on what works inthe market, not professional linguists. Such an approach only worksin the enterprise applications space if its moderated carefully.Some middle ground, based on iterative process of getting goodenough fast enough would work, but not if you're implementationcycle takes months, and you're a public sector organization behind afirewalls with very strict demands on what can and cannot be said.Tough calls for product owners. Consider, of course, localizinguser assistance (PDF, online help, multimedia). Very easy to sayDITA,topic-based content is the solution, but how does that reallyhelp? What of the information quality? How is that content rendered?How much translatabilityhas been considered? And what of the budget for this? If users don'twant documentation, fine, but how do you know? It may be required tohelp users configure their application and actually use it. And insome markets, translated doc may be a legal requirement. How fastcan you write doc or create videos or demos, and localize them to gowith the software? As for acceptance criteria andreview meetings, well, how is feedback from global users andlocalization teams accommodated? What is the process for improvingtranslatability and translation tools? How are development processesinfluences to improve the process next time around? How is thefeedback from international customers made to support, todevelopment, to product development? What about real-time feedbackfrom users? Bug databases online? Focus groups? Private Twitterstream or Blackberry IMs with real users? Does your organizationhave any track record of doing any of this really well, anyway? Ifnot, why would agile be any different? Finally, why assume the sourcecode and content is in English? How would an agile framework workfor a Japanese game localized into English (or Korean for example).Do tools and processes work for those scenarios? I don't know of any organizationproviding meaningful agile or scrum training aimed at integrating afull localization process into a product life-cycle. If you know ofany, let me know using the comments. Other observations on agile andscrum are welcome too. Lots of questions, not too many answers. “Yes,we can” is a fine declaration, but let's hear some “Here'show we can do it...” statements too!

What are the best practices for localization (in the enterprise applications translation sense of the word) operating within the agile software development framework,using scrum for example? I posted...

translation

Translatability Best Practices for Doc and Help

I've been involved with driving the architecture of Oracle applications doc and help content for easy translation for many years now, and had a lot of experience with DITA and DocBook XML specialization and exposure to a whole bunch of authoring tools too. For Oracle Fusion Applications, help content is created using DITA-based writing patterns, and to facilitate the creation of new information types we use loose prototyping schemas (again based on DITA) too. Most doc and help translatability generally considerations focus on the information quality aspects, a focus usually driven more by a desire to control the per word translation cost more than any user experience aspects. Nothing wrong with that, but here's a lot more to translatability than "minimalism" and some vague declarations about "less being more", as I outline here. XML-based structured authoring and use of rendering and transformation tools external to that structure is central to much of what follows. This guidance is intended for anyone in UX prototyping new XML information types, but anyone can use them as part of their content development process too. Use XML structurecorrectly and consistently. Transformations may need to be developed forindividual language versions. For example, inline XML elements such as guilabel or literal may have different renderings applied by XSL for different languages.The success of these transformations depends on the correct use of the XML elements,not on the information written within the elements.  Successful single-sourcing solutions depend on respecting the structural integrity of the XML DTD or schema too. Check that textreferenced into a topic using DITA conrefs or other sharing mechanisms makessense in context of the surrounding information. Avoid referencing in fragments of text, only complete titles,sentences or paragraphs. Check for pronouns and possessives used across the entire topic or forany terminology or same words that might have been used in a different context.  Ensure the entire topic makes sense when read. Avoid using XMLattributes to carry text that needs translation. Use text entitiesor variables for non-translatable words but not for concatenation of fragmentsof text or for translatable phrases (in some languages even product names maybe translated, so check. Avoid using an 's' to make any referenced text or variable plural. Best to avoid translatable entities if you can, frankly). Avoidlocale-specific examples in commonly available content. Any such examplesintended for a localization's (in the enterprise applications sense of the word) purposes are fine. Avoid screenshotsin nonembedded help, as these cannot be captured easily. Oracle's User Productivity Kit (UPK) is a viable and proven solution for screen-based instruction instead. Allow space inconceptual or diagram graphics for text expansion during translation (30% isfine for most text, but for short texts of less than 5 characters allow for at least 100% expansion). In some cases, redrawing may still be necessary however, so supply editablefile formats (Visio, for example) and instructions on colors, fonts andresolution for the binary image file equivalents. Avoid embeddingexisting binary files (for example, GIF, JPG, or PNG) inside translatablegraphics files. A binary file format cannot be processed or translated, and maycreate resizing issues or other localization or cultural issues in the targetmarket. When using sampledata in graphics (for example, data structures, tables, spreadsheets), providesource files in editable format (Microsoft Word or Excel, but not text files,for example) so that content can be easily translated too and added to thetranslated graphic. Watch out for BiDi issues too. See the Designing Global Graphics in Enterprise Apps blog entry. Use a commonly available graphics or design package that supports Unicode fonts and will run on different language versions of the O/S.  Keep index entries together, and with the target topic. If using DITA-based DTDs or schemas, create them in the prolog element. If using a DocBook-based schema, create index entries in the TopicInfo element or position the entries together at the beginning of a paragraph of text. Avoiding wrapping existing topic text in index entries, create entries explicitly instead. Avoid organizingtables, lists or other content, alphabetically in help topics if there is somespecial informational or usability significance to sequence. DITA Guide maps,tables of contents, indices, and glossaries must rely on alphabetical sortingat application run time or be sorted alphabetically by the authoringenvironment's transformation tools (such as XSL or XSL-FO) using the internationalization features of theschema or DTD (for example, the index-sort-as element in DITADTDs, schemas or maps) before publishing. The reading order of content, or the navigation oftopics, must not be hard-coded alphabetically in the source language. Avoidalphabetically ordered multiple index entries within a single XML indexelement. Use the index element structure for different levels of index entriesinstead. Adding multiple index terms within one index element,sorting them, and using delimiters like this violates XML structural andtransformation rules. This kind of violation of structural authoring principles does not work for any language, source included. Avoid creatingtables or examples of reports or log files using the programlisting or codeblock XML elements (usually transformed to the PRE element in HTML output). When text expands duringtranslation, the alignment will be destroyed. Translators cannot recreate thesealignments. Using programlisting or equivalent code elements inXML, or PRE in HTML, to format tables like this does not work as translated text expands. The approach is also a violation of structured authoring principles. Use searchkeyword and index entry synonyms. Translators cannot change number of keywords,entries, but can translate them for market or leave in English, if appropriate.Do not remove synonyms on translation grounds. When developing recorded UPK demos, provideinternational customers with instructions on how to create their own versions.Translated screens, sample data, and translation of additional information willbe required. In some cases, where context cannot be derived, implementers orcustomers will require additional navigation instruction for the task flow. See the Oracle User Productivity Kit Translation blog entry.  Do you have any other doc or help translatability considerations, tips, or insights to share with UX designers? Cherchez les comments.

I've been involved with driving the architecture of Oracle applications doc and help content for easy translation for many years now, and had a lot of experience with DITA and DocBook...

user experience

UX On Your Terms: Terminology Considerations for Enterprise Apps

Terminology is a critical part of the user experience. Here's some guidance for enterprise apps UX designers to consider when creating designs and prototypes for testing. When developing new terms, avoid puns, humor, jargon, symbols, or making up your own abbreviations or acronyms just to save space.  Avoid compound words (that is, words consisting of multiple nouns and verbs),gerunds (that is, words ending in ing) and adjectives. These can beproblematic for translation too. When designing native mobile apps (for Android, iOS, Blackberry, and soon) or integrations with third-party applications,remember the user experience may require you to use terminology other thanOracle’s version of the term. In some cases, conflicts are inevitable, UXdesigners should be prepared to clarify to developers which version should beused and why. Apple uses Starts and Ends inthe iPhone Calendar. Oracle uses From Date and To Date, Effective Start Dateand Effective End Date, From Date and To Date and so on in Oracle FusionApplications. The simple rule of terminology is that each term has only one meaning in that context. The same word can mean different things, depending how and where it is used. Supply a clear context for usage and a description for any new term requested.This information will be stored with the term. If you can, supply a screen shotof the prototype showing where and how the term is used to add morecontext. Specify what term should not be used in that context too--for example if users objected to particular terms during usability testing and you decided on something else, then include the rejected terms as deprecated versions of the approved one.  Research your terminology and language style requirements. Never dumb down the language used in the UI. It is a critical part of the overall UX. If you believe a term or style is required in English then pursue it using UX testing and market justification. Terminology and style can be developed for new interactions in any language, for example, check out how Apple's iOS and Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 deal with these issues in Spanish and German respectively: English Spanish Tap Pulse Double tap Pulce dos veces Touch and hold Mantenga pulsado Flick Deslice el dedo Drag Arrastre Pinch Pellizco Shake Agite (Source: Welinske J, Developing UserAssistance for Mobile Apps) (Source: Microsoft) Any other guidance on terminology for UX designers? Find those comments and share...

Terminology is a critical part of the user experience. Here's some guidance for enterprise apps UX designers to consider when creating designs and prototypes for testing. When developing new terms,...

translation

Comics: Translation and other Cultural Points to Consider

My Stand Up for Comics post garnered a lot of hits and comments. One of the references made in the comment section is to the  Duke University School of Law Center for the Study of the Public Domain's (CSPD) comic about the basics of copyright law, Bound by Law. The comic is available under a Creative Commons license that allows you to also translate the comic into your language. Examples of French, Portuguese, and Italian versions of the comics are already available. Perusing the translated examples, and the "translation kit" sources it became clear that whereas the text on the cover, in speech bubbles, and in a few other places, is easily translated, other text (such as the names of creators and their work) is not, and the comics characters and their interactions themselves remain constant across all language versions. Comic pages courtesy of the Duke University School of Law CPSD.  So, arising, from all this, a number of questions arise for all aspiring comic creators and translators: What is the best (in terms of ease or process compliance) translatable source? For example, are PhotoShop layered files (PSDs) the way to go? How about JPEGs? or XML?  What translatability considerations have been made in the source content? For example, can the speech bubbles be resized to cater for text expansion, or contraction without obscuring the characters or other information? How culturally applicable are the characters, the rest of the graphics, and even how the the action is portrayed? Do they need redrawing, replacement, or any other considerations? How will the comic's use of Onomatopoeia (those Ker-Pows! and so on) be handled? Check out this piece on how a Marvel Captain America comic was localized into French: "In other words, they are trying to translate the American Visual Language closer to French Visual Language."  What of the actual information being conveyed? Does it make sense once translated? The CSPD does offer the advice that translators to either rewrite relevant portions of the legal discussions to make them reflect the law of your jurisdiction, or post a warning conspicuously they are offering a translation of a comic book that discusses the situation of documentary filmmakers under United States law. Sounds like comics need localization, doesn't it? Clearly, a fully-translated and culturally-applicable comic book delivery can be a significant, but worthwhile, undertaking. That's not to knock anyone's effort here, of course. Even a basic translation can raise the quality of debate and public information and lead to further investigation by readers, but it must be made clear to consumers that's the intention of what they're reading. Furthermore, it is obvious that with the use of comics as a global communications device (see this 200 page manga comic from the US Navy, for example), the demand for translation (to and from English) of comics will increase. There is already ample advice available on how to proceed with this task, and great information sharing is happening. Check out the collaborative comics translation website Comix Influx for a start!

My Stand Up for Comicspost garnered a lot of hits and comments. One of the references made in the comment section is to the  Duke University School of Law Center for the Study of the Public Domain's...

translation

English as a Source and Target Language: The UX Dimension

I am often bemused by translation (or localization if you're outside the enterprise apps space) discussions on the interwebs that assume the source material for translation is always English and that the target language is always something else. The reality, of course, is different. There is a user-generated content explosion and much of which needs to be translated into English or other languages for global and community support reasons, multinational enterprises create content in languages other than English that may be relevant across their organization in other countries, and therefore needs translation, and so on. And then we have the age-old debate about US English versus UK English. Some say it doesn't matter that UK English users receive US English content. Claims are made that UK users can 'figure it out' or are already so familiar with US culture that the differences in terminology or spelling between the two country variants  of English (yes, I know there are other variants) are transparently consumed. I disagree. I think there is an important user experience (UX) dimension here. Admittedly hard to quantify in tangible terms, the use of the local variant in content is important and has an impact on user perception of the product. It can also have wider implications. Users who see themselves coldly described as  "ID  #" in a screen or help system when they should be called "Employee", "Associate", "Partner", or whatever, are hardly likely to warm to a product with hostile language and it certainly does nothing for corporate culture. In other words, the UX is diminished. Does it always have to be that way? No. Google has done a very good job in providing US and UK users with versions of the Chrome browser that reflect the differences in terminology and spelling. This is done by allowing the user to select the version they want at download time, and then by language, regional detection (the web-based help using en-GB for UK users for example). Check out the following screens. See how "preferences" becomes "options", "hood" becomes "bonnet", "wrench" becomes "spanner", and "customize" becomes "customise". Did Google do this just because they could? Doubt that very much. Preferences and Under the Hood in US version. Options and Under the Bonnet in UK version. Wrench and Under the Hood in US version error page. Spanner and Under the Bonnet in UK version help system. Customize in US version UI tooltip. Customise in UK version UI tooltip. Nice job. This is something we need to explore further with enterprise application users. Users should have the language they use in their workplace or at home and not that of another country or region. If they can't have that, then at least they should be able to change it easily to whatever they do want. That's what user-centered design and UX is all about.

I am often bemused by translation (or localization if you're outside the enterprise apps space) discussions on the interwebs that assume the source material for translation is always English and that...

user experience

Notes from the Oracle Usability Advisory Board Globalization Working Group

I am really happy with the outcome of the inaugural globalization (internationalization, localization, and translation) working group sessions at the Oracle Usability Advisory Board Europe in the Oracle office's in Thames Valley Park, near Reading in the UK. A large number of customers and partners from EMEA were in attendance, and representatives from Oracle Apps-UX and development flew in from the US and Ireland (i.e, me), along with participation from local Oracle teams. The translation part of the event opened with a great presentation by Bettina Reichart, Director with the Oracle Worldwide Product Translation Group (WPTG). Bettina explained the importance of translatability as part of the product development effort, the WPTG language quality process, about terminology development, and how customers can participate in translated applications assessments. Customers and partners are always interested to know about internal Oracle processes and how they can interact with them, and I intend offering more of such sessions at future meetings, covering localization, internationalization, and other topics too. Pseudotranslated Oracle EBS screen (Pseudotranslated environments and testing are central to internationalization in Oracle. We will cover this topic and other Oracle apps processes in more detail at a future OUAB) The data gathering exercise I designed for board members, asking them to identify their top internationalization, localization and translation issues and how they  impacted usability was a big success too. We discussed the findings and the possible follow ups in a lively, fully attended working group session that seemed to take on a life of its own! We addressed issues such as lack of space for expansion of text, partial translation issues, the importance of localization (in the Oracle enterprise apps space this means support for statutory and reporting requirements for countries and regions - VAT, for example) and questions about terminology and language style. I will follow up with each customer and partner. But there was more. I was delighted that the board members astutely exposed more complex areas about international versions such as the need to cater for connectivity and bandwidth issues,  and it was so encouraging to hear customers offer insights about the importance of language as a user experience topic, ranging from the more tangible aspects (productivity, and the need for extensibility and customization solutions, for example) to the more intangible aspects about how language it can impact employee loyalty and user perception. I firmly believe that as individual user expectations change we need to explore language aspects more and how we can allowing users to have the language they really want. Vanilla already doesn't cut it. Finally, it was great to spend some time with my friends in the HCM Localization and information development teams too. And of course, to spend some time in Reading again!

I am really happy with the outcome of the inaugural globalization (internationalization, localization, and translation) working group sessions at the Oracle Usability Advisory Board Europe in the...

internationalization

Context for All

Interesting post over on the Content Rules blog, discussing the issue of context (or lack of, really) for translators, and how it relates to granularity of content. It's great to see this issue raised and I think we need to be a lot more hardcore about examining the claims about how intractable the problem of lack of context for translation can be.For me, the problem with this context debate is that it is decontextualized (ho, ho) from the total content lifecycle and the tools and process side of things. For one thing, has anyone considered what context an application developer or technical writer has when reusing content (whether burst DocBook objects in a CMS or DITA conrefs)? Is it any worse/better than what translation teams have? Surely, if content developers have context from their CMS (or development environment) then isn't the issue why translators aren't accessing the CMS/environment and working in there too? Why ever remove content from a database just so to translate it?What is very clear to me is that context can be easily and automatically derived from the development environment and included within a translatable file format, if you so design it. Here's a simple Oracle-related example: Information quality helps a lot here too. A term should only have one meaning in that context. So, derived context, information quality, and repository-based operations can solve the problem. Sure, a badly written little piece of text copied and pasted into Notepad and sent around the world via e-mail is going to lead to trouble. Duh.What translation teams should not be pushing for however, is dumbed-down text devoid of any real style or necessary references just to make translation easier. Contextual information is a critical UX. Bland, generic content is not - that stuff damages the UX in all languages. Nor should content developers have to "write in" context in the form of translation notes for translation teams. That is a waste of development time and resources. Derive the context automatically, instead. Regardless of how this context is provided, the most frustrating part of this context debate is the lack of insight displayed by advocates about the application lifecycle. Context has been positioned by internationalization and translation teams as something exclusively required on translatability grounds. It's not.In fact, context is a critical part of any UX-effective customization or extensibility efforts. Less than a quarter of enterprise application deployments stay 'vanilla'. The rest are customized: modified for customer needs, and with extra bits of functionality added on that need to look the same as the rest. Without context for developers and functional users, such customization/extensibility efforts can be very tough indeed in UX terms. In fact, 'translation context' columns in databases are usually repurposed description columns intended for development, implementor and customization team notes. That internationalization and translation teams never leveraged a wider argument in support of improved context doesn't surprise me. I believe the context for all requirement is one that can be met. But it will be by UX people, and not translation teams.

Interesting post over on the Content Rules blog, discussing the issue of context (or lack of, really) for translators, and how it relates to granularity of content. It's great to see this issue raised...

UPK

Oracle User Productivity Kit Translation

Oracle's customers just love the User Productivity Kit (UPK). I hear only great things about it from our international customers at the Oracle Usability Advisory Board meetings too. The UPK is the perfect solution for enterprise applications training needs (I previously "eviewed a fine book about UPK btw).One question I am often asked is how source content created using the UPK can be translated into another language. I spoke with Peter Maravelias, Principal Product Strategy Manager for UPK about this recently.UPK is already optimized for easy source-target translation already. There is even a solution for re-recording demos. Here's what you can do to get your source content into another language:Use UPK's ability to automatically translate events and actions. UPK comes with XML templates that allow you to accomplish this in 21 languages with a simple publishing action switch. These templates even deal with the tricky business of using gender-based translations. Spanish localization template sample Japanese localization template sample Use the Import and Export localization features to export additional custom content in a format like XLIFF, easily handled by translation tools. You could also export and import in Word format. Rerecord the sound (audio) files that go with the recordings, one per screen. UPK's granular approach to the sound files means that timing isn't an option. Retiming demos isn't required.A tip here with sound files and XLFF-exported custom content is to facilitate translation context by avoiding explicit references to actions going on in the screen recordings. A text based storyboard with screenshots accompanying the sound files should also be provided to the translators. Provide a glossary of terms too.Use the re-record option in UPK to record any demo from a translated application. This will allow all the translated UI labels to be automatically captured. You may be required to resize any action events here due to text expansion issues. Naturally, you will need translated data in the translated application too, so plan for this in advance. However, source-target language skills aren't required for the re-recording.The UPK Player itself, of course, is also available from Oracle along with content and doc in 21 languages. The Developer and Setup is also translated in a smaller number of languages. Check the Oracle UPK website  for latest details. UPK is a super solution for global enterprise applications training deployments allowing source content to be translated into multiple languages easily. See this post on the UPK blog for more insight too!I would like to thank Peter for his time in talking with me.

Oracle's customers just love the User Productivity Kit (UPK). I hear only great things about it from our international customers at the Oracle Usability Advisory Board meetings too. The UPK is the...

localization

Games Localization: Cultural Points

Great article about localization considerations, this time in the games space. Well worth checking out.It's rare to see such all-encompassing articles about localization considerations aimed at designers. That's a shame. The industry assumes all these things are known, yet the evidence from practice is that they're not and also need constant reinforcement. We're not quite in the games space in enterprise applications yet, but we're getting there, and gamification is a hot UX topic. In the enterprise apps arena, there may be a role for games in the training space, in CRM through building relationships and contacts, gathering sales and marketing data, answering service requests, and so on. Or in HCM, for talent development or recruitment purposes. No end of possibilities. Other thoughts can be gleaned from this appslab post Why Gaming is the Future of Everything.Beyond the obvious considerations, check out the cultural aspects of games localization too. For example, Zygna's offerings, which you might have played on Facebook:Zynga, which can lay claim to the two most popular social games on Facebook - FarmVille and CityVille - has recently localized both games for international audiences, and while CityVille has seen only localization for European languages, FarmVille has been localized for China, which involved rebuilding the game from the ground up. This localization process involved taking into account cultural considerations including changing the color palette to be brighter and increasing the size of the farm plots, to appeal to Chinese aesthetics and cultural experience.All the more reason to conduct research in your target markets, worldwide.

Great article about localization considerations, this time in the games space. Well worth checking out.It's rare to see such all-encompassing articles about localization considerations aimed at...

internationalization

Text Expansion Awareness for UX Designers: Points to Consider

Awareness of translated text expansion dynamics is important for enterprise applications UX designers (I am assuming all source text for translation is in English, though apps development can takes place in other natural languages too). This consideration goes beyond the standard 'character multiplication' rule and must take into account the avoidance of other layout tricks that a designer might be tempted to try. Follow these guidelines. For general text expansion, remember the simple rule that the shorter the word is in the English, the longer it will need to be in English. See the examples provided by Richard Ishida of the W3C  and you'll get the idea. So, forget the 30 percent or one inch (excuse me?) minimum expansion rule of the old Forms days. Unfortunately, remembering convoluted text expansion rules, based as a percentage of the US English character count can be tough going. Try these: Up to 10 characters: 100 to 200%11 to 20 characters: 80 to 100%21 to 30 characters: 60 to 80%31 to 50 characters: 40 to 60%51 to 70 characters: 31 to 40%Over 70 characters: 30% (Source: IBM)So, it might be easier to remember at the prototyping and design stage a simpler rule that if your English text is less than 5 characters then allow it to double in length (an increase of 100 percent) during translation, if it's more than 20 characters then allow for a 30 percent increase, and if it's in between those two ranges then assume a 75 percent increase. (Bear in mind that ADF can apply truncation rules on some components in English too).Note that iIf your text is stored in a database, developers must make sure the table column widths can accommodate the expansion of your text when translated based on byte size for the translated character and not numbers of characters. Use Unicode. One character does not equal one byte in the multilingual enterprise apps world). Rely on a graceful transformation of translated text. Let all pages to resize dynamically so the text wraps and flow naturally. ADF pages supports this already. Think websites. Don't hard-code alignments. Use Start and End properties on components and not Left or Right. Don't force alignments of components on the page by using texts of a certain length as spacers. Use proper label positioning and anchoring in ADF components or other technologies. Remember that an increase in text length means an increase in vertical space too when pages are resized. So don't hard-code vertical heights for any text areas. Don't force wrapping by using tricks such as /n or /t characters or HTML BR tags or forced page breaks. Once the text is translated the alignment will be destroyed. The position of the breaking character or tag would need to be moved anyway, or even removed. Don't be tempted to manually create text or printed reports this way either. They cannot be translated successfully, and are very difficult to maintain in English. Use XML, HTML, RTF and so on. Check out what Oracle BI Publisher offers. When creating tables, use table components. Don't use manually created tables that reply on word length to maintain column and row alignment. For example, don't use codeblock elements in HTML; use the proper table elements instead. Once translated, the alignment of manually formatted tabular data is destroyed. Finally, if there is a space restriction, then don't use made-up acronyms, abbreviations or some form of daft text speak to save space. Besides being incomprehensible in English, they may need full translations of the shortened words, even if they can be figured out. Use approved or industry standard acronyms according to the UX style rules, not as a space-saving device. Restricted Real Estate on Mobile Devices On mobile devices real estate is limited. Using shortened text is fine once it is comprehensible. Users in the mobile space prefer brevity too, "as they are on the go, performing two to three-minute tasks, with no time to read lengthy texts. Using fragments and lightning up on unnecessary articles and getting straight to the point with imperative forms of verbs makes sense both on real estate and user experience grounds.

Awareness of translated text expansion dynamics is important for enterprise applications UX designers (I am assuming all source text for translation is in English, though apps development can...

localization

Designing Global Graphics in Enterprise Apps: Points to Consider

Continuing my series on translatability for UX professionals in the enterprise applications space, let's look at graphics. The essence of designing a global graphic is simple: aim to create an image file that requires no subsequent intervention by developers or translators to make it suitable for any other language versions. Use these guidelines: Design an image file that has no translatable text on it (including single letter such as B for Bold or whatever). The file should be used for every language version's UI without any further work on it. Avoid graphics that might present cultural issues in the translated version. Use generic icons. Be wary of designs that use body parts such as hands or feet, pictures of people, relies or a visual pun. Avoid flags for languages. There are lots of possibilities of things to avoid here, usually recommended by people who don't work in the enterprise applications space but on global web sites. If you're using crucifixes and pictures of pigs in an enterprise app UI, you're probably going wrong anyway. Common sense please! Use web-safe colors, but don't worry too much about overblown cultural issues about colors in the enterprise applications space. It's not like anyone will log a bug saying white and not black is the color of mourning in Asia, ignoring the coffin icons you've used for the Exit menu option (who ever does that?). Colors generally are only problematic when associated with objects, and not in their own right. If using arrows or pointer image files in the UI, then make sure you create equivalent files with reversed directions so that they will work with bi-di  language versions of the applications. Although browsers can mirror HTML UIs based on DIR (directional element) or locale preference settings, they cannot flip binary objects such as image files. So, create an right-to-left (RTL) equivalent for any left-to-right (LTR) directional image, give it an "rtl" (for right-to-left) filename suffix and work with your developers to implement code to use the RTL image when the detected user's language is Hebrew, Arabic, and so on. And it test to ensure that it works.Here's an example: LTR version arrow points to search icon (correct) How LTR version arrow points away from search icon in bi-di language version and towards an data entry field instead (incorrect) How RTL version arrow points to search icon in bi-di language version (correct) Use these guidelines for graphics that might require translator intervention (usually these are in user assistance components): If there is translatable text on a graphic, then make sure the image has enough space to allow the text length to expand. Don't use abbreviations or acronyms on the image as a way to save space. Supply image file format, font, color, line weight, and screen resolution information to the translation team so the translated image will have the same rendering and look and feel as they source image. Create the image files in tools that support Unicode fonts so they will work for all languages. For conceptual images, diagrams, and so on in user assistance deliverables, use an editable source file format that can be easily redrawn if necessary during translation, for example Microsoft Visio VSD format. If using Adobe PhotoShop, supply the translation team with the PSD layers along with the final output format for comparison (PNG, JPG, or whatever). If you've sample data shown in a spreadsheet or database table then provide the source files so the data can be localized easily too. Avoid placing screen shots in documents. Use a tool like Oracle's User Productivity Kit  to easily recapture translated screens and to automatically translate UI widget names and actions. You might investigate the possibilities offered by SVG and XLIFF in the hope of making savings for graphics translation. Investing effort in transforming files to SVG, XLIFF, or any other XML format is not worth it relative to the cost of doing graphics the old way in my opinion (say where the cost is probably less than 5% of total translation cost). Defining and enforcing translatable elements in SVG is a pain and if a graphic requires redrawing after translation, then SVG is not worth it. Suck it up.Do you have any other guidelines for designers working in the enterprise applications space? Find the comments.(Incidentally, after I wrote this, I looked up my article in Multilingual Computing and Technology Volume 9, Issue 5 called Creating Easily Localizable Graphics  published in August, 1998. Still seems quite sensible!)

Continuing my series on translatability for UX professionals in the enterprise applications space, let's look at graphics. The essence of designing a global graphic is simple: aim to create an image...

user experience

Translation and Localization Resources for UX Designers

Here is a handy list of translation and localization-related resources for user experience professionals. Following some basic guidelines will help you design an easily translatable user experience. Most of the references here are for web pages or software. Fundamentally, remember your designs will be consumed globally, and never divorce the design process from the development or deployment effort that goes into bringing your designs to life in code.Designers, ask yourself today: Do you know how the text you are using in your designs is delivered to the customer, even in English? Key areas that UX designers always seen to fall foul of, in the enterprise applications space anyway, are: Terminology that is impossible to translate (jargon, multiple modifiers, gerunds) or is used inconsistently. Poorly written, verbose text (really, just write well in English, no special considerations). String construction (concatenation of parts, assembled dynamically). This seems particularly problematic in search or calendar user interfaces. Days, weeks, months, and years are gender dependent in some languages. Thus, we have the composite messaging and positioning  issue (my favorite): Hard-coded fonts, small font sizes, or character formatting or casing that doesn't work globally. Format that is not separate from content.  Restricted real estate not allowing for text expansion in translation. Forcing formatting with breaks, and hard-coding alphabetical sorting in one language. Graphics that do not work for bi-di languages (because they indicate directionality and can't flip) or contain embedded text. The problems of culturally offensive icons are well known by now in the enterprise applications space, though there are some dangers, such as the use of flags to indicate languages, for example. Resources W3C Internationalization Techniques: Authoring HTML & CSS Global By Design Insert Title Here : Variables in Interface Language Prose: Internationalisation Localizing Your Application and Geopolitical-Ready and Localized Text Guidelines (Microsoft)Internationalization (Facebook) Doc and help considerations I can deal with later.

Here is a handy list of translation and localization-related resources for user experience professionals. Following some basic guidelines will help you design an easily translatable user experience. Mos...

localization

Where Next for Google Translate? And What of Information Quality?

Fascinating article in the UK Guardian newspaper called "Can Google break the computer language barrier?"In the article, Andreas Zollman, who works on Google Translate, comments that the quality of Google Translate's output relative to the amount of data required to create that output is clearly now falling foul of the law of diminishing returns. He says: "Each doubling of the amount of translated data input led to about a 0.5% improvement in the quality of the output," he suggests, but the doublings are not infinite. "We are now at this limit where there isn't that much more data in the world that we can use," he admits. "So now it is much more important again to add on different approaches and rules-based models."The Translation Guy has a further discussion on this, called "Google Translate is Finished". He says:  "And there aren't that many doublings left, if any. I can't say how much text Google has assimilated into their machine translation databases, but it's been reported that they have scanned about 11% of all printed content ever published. So double that, and double it again, and once more, shoveling all that into the translation hopper, and pretty soon you get the sum of all human knowledge, which means a whopping 1.5% improvement in the quality of the engines when everything has been analyzed. That's what we've got to look forward to, at best, since Google spiders regularly surf the Web, which in its vastness dwarfs all previously published content. So to all intents and purposes, the statistical machine translation tools of Google are done. Outstanding job, Googlers. Thanks." Surprisingly, all this analysis hasn't raised that much comment from the fans of machine translation (MT), or its detractors either for that matter. Perhaps, it's the season of goodwill?What is clear to me, however, of course is that Google Translate isn't really finished (in any sense of the word). I am sure Google will investigate and come up with new rule-based translation models to enhance what they have already and that will also scale effectively where others didn't. So too, will they harness human input and guidance, which really is the way to go in training MT in the right quality direction.But that aside, what does it say about the quality of the data that is being used for statistical machine translation in the first place? From the Guardian article it's clear that a huge human-translated corpus drove the gains for Google Translate and now what's left is the dregs of badly translated and poorly created source materials that just can't deliver quality translations. There's a message about information quality there, surely.In the enterprise applications space, where we have some control over content this whole debate reinforces the relationship between information quality at source and translation efficiency, regardless of the technology used to do the translation. But as more automation comes to the fore, that information quality is even more critical if you want anything approaching a scalable solution.This is important for user experience professionals. Issues like user generated content translation, multilingual personalization, and scalable language quality are central to a superior global UX; it's a competitive issue we cannot ignore.

Fascinating article in the UK Guardian newspaper called "Can Google break the computer language barrier?"In the article, Andreas Zollman, who works on Google Translate, comments that the quality of...