Thursday Nov 21, 2013

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. 


Monday Apr 23, 2012

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

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.

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.

Sunday Feb 12, 2012

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.

Bidirectional Support in EBS
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.

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

Links

Search

Archives
« April 2014
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
  
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
28
29
30
   
       
Today