Wednesday Feb 23, 2011

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.
upk_template_es.png
Spanish localization template sample

upk_template_jp.png
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.

Wednesday Feb 02, 2011

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.

Monday Jan 31, 2011

Global User Experience Research: Mobile

A shout out to the usableapps.oracle.com blog article Going Native to Understand Mobile Workers. Oracle is a global company and with all that revenue coming from outside the US, international usability research is essential.

So, read up about how the Applications User Experience team went about this important user-centered ethnographic research. Personalization is king in the mobile space. Going native is a great way to uncover exactly what users want as they work and use their mobile devices, but you need to do it worldwide!

About

Oracle applications global user experience (UX): Culture, localization, internationalization, language, personalization, more. For globally-savvy UX people, so that it all fits together for Oracle's worldwide customers.

Audience: Enterprise applications translation and localization topics for the user experience professional (designers, engineers, developers, researchers)!
Profile

Ultan Ó Broin. Director, Global Applications User Experience, Oracle Corporation. On Twitter: @localization

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