Monday Sep 07, 2015

Every Word Counts: Translating the Oracle Applications Cloud User Experience

Loic Le Guisquet. Image by Oracle PR.

"Successfully crossing new frontiers in commerce needs people who understand local preferences as well as global drivers. In addition, technology has also been a great enabler of globalization, so the right balance between people and tech is key to success."

- Loïc Le Guisquet, Oracle President for EMEA and APAC

Oracle's worldwide success is due to a winning combination of smart people with local insight and great globalized technology. The Oracle Applications Cloud experience (UX)—that competitive must-have and differentiator—is also a story of global technology and empathy for people everywhere.

UX provides for the cultural dynamics of how people work, the languages they speak, and local conventions and standards on the job. So, how do we deliver global versions of SaaS? Oracle Applications UX Communications and Outreach's Karen Scipi (@karenscipi) explains:

How We Build for Global Users

Oracle Applications Cloud is currently translated into 23 natural languages, besides U.S. English, using a process that ensures translated versions meet the latest user expectations about language, be it terminology, style, or tone.

Oracle HCM Cloud R10 Optimized for Global Working on YouTube

Global Workforce Optimization with Oracle HCM Cloud Release 10: More than 220 countries or jurisdictions supported.

Oracle Applications Cloud is designed for global use and deployment, leveraging Oracle ADF’s built-in internationalization (i18n) and translatability support to make development and translation easy. For example:

  • Translatable text is stored separately (externalized) from the application code for each language version (called a National Language Support [NLS] version).
  • Externalized text is contained in industry-standard XML Localization Interchange File Format (XLIFF)-based resource bundles, enabling not only safe, fast translation but also easy maintenance on a per language basis.
  • Currency, date, time, characters, reading and writing directions, and other local standards and conventions are automatically built in for developers. Oracle ADF uses the industry-standard i18n support of Oracle Java and Unicode.

In addition:

  • Users can enter and display data in their language of choice, independent of the language of the user interface: relying on what we call multilingual support (or MLS) architecture.
  • The software includes global and country-specific localizations that provide functionality for country- and region-specific statutory regulatory requirements, compliance reporting, local data protection rules, business conventions, organizational structure, payroll, and other real-world necessities for doing business with enterprise software.
  • Users can switch the language of their application session through personalization options.
  • NLS versions can be customized and extended in different languages by using Oracle composer tools to align with to align with their business identity and process. Translated versions too rely on the same architecture as the U.S. version for safe customizations and updates.

How We Translate

During development, the U.S. English source text is pseudo-translated using different language characters (such as symbols, Korean and Arabic characters), "padded" to simulate the longer words of other languages, and then tested with international data by product teams. This enables developers to test for translation and internationalization issues (such as any hard-coded strings still in English, or spacing, alignment, and bi-directional rendering issues) before external translation starts.

Hebrew version of Oracle Sales Cloud Release 8

Internationalized from the get-go: Oracle Sales Cloud in Hebrew (Release 8) shows the built-in bi-directional power of Oracle ADF.

For every target language, the Oracle Worldwide Product Translation Group (WPTG) contracts with professional translators in each country to perform the translation work. Importantly, these in-country translators do not perform literal translations of content but use the choice terms, style, and tone that local Oracle WPTG language specialists specify and that our applications users demand in each country or locale.

Mockup of French R10 Oracle Sales Cloud

Mockup of an Oracle Sales Cloud landing page in French. (Image credit: Laurent Adgie, Oracle Senior Sales Consultant)

NLS versions of Oracle Applications Cloud are made available to customers at the same time as the U.S. English version, released as NLS language packs that contain the translated user interface (UI) text, messages, and embedded help for each language. The secret sauce of this ability to make language versions available at the same time is a combination of Oracle technology and smart people too: translation, in fact, begins as soon as the text is created, and not when it's released! 

And, of course, before the NLS versions of Oracle Applications Cloud are released, Oracle language quality and functional testing teams rigorously test them.

The Language of Choice

Imagine an application that will be used in North America, South America, Europe, and Asia. What words should you choose for the UI?

  • The label Last Name or Surname?
  • The label Social Security Number, Social Insurance Number, or National Identification Number?
  • The MM-DD-YYYY, DD-MM-YYYY, or YYYY-MM-DD date format?

The right word choice for a label in one country, region, or protectorate is not necessarily the right word choice in another. Insight and care is needed in that decision. Language is a critical part of UX and, in the Oracle Applications Cloud UX, all the text you see is written by information development professionals, leaving software developers free to concentrate on building the applications productively and consistently using UX design patterns based on Oracle ADF components.

Our focus on language design—choosing accurate words and specialized terms and pairing them with a naturally conversational voice and tone—and providing descriptions and context for translators and customizers alike-also enables easy translation. Translated versions of application user interface pages are ultimately only as accurate, clear, and understandable as their source pages.

In a future blog post we'll explore how PaaS4SaaS partners and developers using the Oracle Applications Cloud Simplified UX Rapid Development Kit can choose words for their simplified UIs that will resonate with the user’s world and optimize the overall experience.

For More Information

For insights into language design and translation considerations for Oracle Applications Cloud and user interfaces in general, see the Oracle Not Lost in Translation blog and Blogos.

Saturday Nov 16, 2013

Visual Design for Any Enterprise UI with ODTUG: UX Questions Answered

The Oracle Development Tools User Group (ODTUG) webinar on the Visual Design for any Enterprise UI was a great success with nearly 150 participants signed up. The Oracle Applications User Experience team is delivering a series of webinars through ODTUG on building great-looking, usable apps, and the visual design subject, along the one coming up on wireframing, is always a crowd puller. The visual design webinar is branding-centric, a fun subject, topical, and something we can all relate to, so it's a great way to learn how to make a great enterprise UI for your customers and clients. 

You can read more about the webinar content on the Usable Apps blog, but it is always fresh, this time updated to include insights on Facebook colors, the Yahoo! logo, those Apple iOS7 icons, and measuring usability and visual design. Applications user experience is all about being modern and compelling, and if it's hot in UX, and relevant to enterprise UX enablement, we're on it!


Oracle ADF 12c Data Visualization Sunburst Component

There was a lively question and answer session at the end of the webinar.  Athough the answer to any UX question that looks for a "yes" or "no" answer is, of course, "it depends" (hat tip: Jakob Nielsen), here's a sample:

Q: Should your designs always follow a color paradigm of a logo for say, some company?

A: Don't copy or steal, but inform yourself of branding and visual design best practices and then apply them to your enterprise UI's requirements. Adapt the best practices to communicate your key messages and to quickly "hook" the user. Before rollout, do some usability testing with representative users, and when you're live, measure the usability, and respond to feedback. Using smart coding techniques means you can make changes in a centralized, scalable way. A conservative approach is best. 

Q: Have you read the book by Edward Tufte on the visualization of quantitative information?

A: His book, The Visual Display of Quantitative Information is a great resource. Visualization of information is a vital UX requirement in the enterprise. You can find more information visualization guidance for free from the Oracle Applications UX team with the OBIEE Dashboard design patterns and guidelines and the Oracle Endeca UI Design Pattern Library. The Oracle ADF DVT components enable developers to be productive when building data visualization solutions.

Q: How does this (guidance) change for numeric data? For instance, can we apply these techniques to spreadsheets?

A: You can adapt these techniques for spreadsheets, yes. Lay out your information logically, use headings to organize and padding for readability, show the information in locale or common formats your users will understand, and don't overload the spreadsheet with lots of garish colors. A small number of primary colors, supported by a legend and made accessible, is best. Use readable, conservative font faces and allow users to change the viewing size if necessary. For faster access and breadth of information, consider graphs and charts visualizations with action components to then drill down into spreadsheets. Remember, Oracle ADF provides for the integration of Microsoft Excel workbooks and to detach and view application tables in Excel-like ways, too.

Q: If you are design phobic but your usability is good, should you hire?

A: If you must prioritize, then invest in a designer for icons (especially for mobile devices). Being smart with coding and leveraging technology to help you with color changes, font fallback solutions (using a centralized CSS) and so on, testing with common browsers, along with the other points covered in the webinar, make for development scale and productivity. However, as icons and graphics will most likely be binary files (let's not go there with SVG), bringing in designer expertise once-off is worth it. Remember, that its's usable websites that users consider beautiful - not the other way around - and well-designed iconography contributes to productivity and that all-important positive impression that users form rapidly. Icons are communication devices, central to your UX and the emotional engagement with your brand, so hiring a qualified artist is a wise investment to make if you can (investing in a copywriter is smart too).

Great questions! A copy of the presentation and the webinar recording is available to ODTUG members. You can ask your own questions by attending such webinars and engaging with our other outreach and events. Follow @usableapps on Twitter and the VOX blog for news of upcoming opportunities.


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