By Ultan O'Broin Oracle UX-Oracle Paas4SaaS-Oracle on Jul 04, 2016
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.