Thursday Nov 21, 2013

Dress Code 2.0: Wearables

It used to be that enterprises had this thing called a dress code to "inform" employees about what they could and couldn't wear in work. That's all changed these days, largely.

But now, enterprises need to react to what technology their employees will wear when working. Enterprises are about to take advantage of how the latest trend in technology, "wearables", will transform work and make workers smarter and enable them to complete their tasks more easily.


http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/7/76/Google_Glass_detail.jpg/640px-Google_Glass_detail.jpg

The term "wearables" itself, for me, is too broad. We also have the Quantified Self arrivistes, and talk of "little data" or "the personal API" to contend with, so I'd prefer to think of wearables, in the enterprise context, as another optimized UI, part of an overall user experience.

Wearable technology, this way, might be best analyzed as being for a certain set of users to do certain tasks using certain devices. Using cloud-based data as the source of truth, all can be exchanged between other users and devices, meeting business objectives by solving business problems in an efficient, effective, and satisfying way (that's called "usability", folks).

We are past the fad stage, and real business cases are being identified (as this Wall Street Journal article, "Wearable Gadgets Transform How Companies Do Business" points out). Putting together the opportunities for integration of applications at the consumer level and those business services appearing, we can see an emergent technology and user experience roadmap for workers to be even more productive.

This is a fascinating area, and ironically IMO, again it seems that the enterprise offers more potential for realistic value-adds and faster adoption for wearables than the personal space does. Admittedly, it can be as hard to separate personal and work technologies from each other these days as it is to separate your work clothes from leisure wear, but does that really matter?

Talk of wearables is still dominated by a narrow range of devices, namely Google Glass and various smart watches, and most usage we see and hear about is of a healthcare, sporting, fitness, or just exploratory and fun nature.

However, thinking about wearables from a problem-solving perspective and taking in disparate technologies and use cases from the personal, enterprise, startup and open-source world is a more fruitful exploration, I think. And, we need to think beyond glasses and watches too, and think about what services, APIs, sensors, OpenCV (Open Source Computer Vision), voice, and more, can offer with integration and interconnectivity in the cloud.

The Oracle Applications User Experience team is up on the wearables technology and enterprise potential, so stay tuned. We've already shown off some early use cases in the CRM space for Google Glass, but there is a lot more coming.

We will bring a whole new dimension to the notion of "dress code" in work. Your participation and insight as Oracle customers and partners, and as users of our applications, has an open invitation, as always, to inform our innovations.

Exciting times.

Read more about wearables and the Applications User Experience team on Misha Vaughan's (@mishavaughan) VOX Blog.

Thursday Oct 31, 2013

UK Pilot Event: Fusion Applications Release 8 Simplified UI: Extensibility & Customization of User Experience

Oracle partner with the credentials to go? Interested? Of course you are! But read on to understand the what, why, where, and the who of this event to ensure that this great opportunity is the right fit for you before signing up. There will be some demand for this one, so hurry!

What: A one-day workshop where Applications User Experience will preview the proposed content for communicating the user experience (UX) tool kit intended for the next release of Oracle's Cloud Applications. We will walk through the content, explain our approach and tell you about our activities for communicating to partners and customers how to customize and extend their Release 8 user experiences for Oracle's Sales and HCM Cloud Applications with composers and the Oracle Application Development Framework toolkit.

When and Where: Dec. 11, 2013 @ Oracle UK in Thames Valley Park. Again: This event is held in person in the UK. So ensure you can travel if you sign up!

Why: We are responding to Oracle partner interest about extending and customizing Simplified UIs for Release 7, and we will be use the upcoming release as our springboard for getting a powerful productivity and satisfaction message out to the Oracle ADF enterprise methodology development community, Fusion customer implementation and tailoring teams and to our Oracle partner ecosystem.

This event will also be an opportunity for attendees to give Oracle feedback on the approach too, ensuring our messaging and resources meets your business needs or if there is something else needed to get up and running fast!

Who: The ideal participants for this workshop are those involved in system implementation roles for HCM and Sales Cloud Applications Release 8, as well as seasoned ADF developers who have been developing, tailoring and integrating solutions for Oracle Fusion Applications generally. But hey, if you have more "niche" applications use cases in these areas, we're listening to you too (but contact us first - details below). And yes, yes, yes Cloud is part of the discussion!

How to Register: Use this URL: http://bit.ly/UXEXTUK13

If you have questions, then send them along right away to misha.vaughan@oracle.com.

Deadline: Please RSVP by November 8, 2013.

Thursday Oct 03, 2013

Why Be Shy About Applications User Experience? Be Shameless like @ultan

Utterly shameless piece of self-promotion by way of a great video made by the Oracle Technology Network (OTN) team: Me talking about the how's and why's of user experience and my work in Oracle, hopefully communicated in a way that developers and builders of great-looking usable apps will relate to!

I was honored to be part of this tour and being asked spread the development and technical aspects of using UX Design Pattern and Guidelines message in person to customers, partners and developers in six countries.





Ultan Ó Broin - User Experience - Oracle OTN TOUR America Latina

The video was made during the Mexican part of the OTN Latinoamérica Tour of 2013.

A complete gallery of great videos from the different countries visited on the tour; featuring members of the local user groups and OTN rockstars is available too. Check them out! Looking at the gallery alone really conveys a tremendous sense of range, depth, diversity, as well as the flexibility of Oracle technology users worldwide. Plus there are some real characters in there. Some of them even speaking English (next year I promise to deliver in Spanish)!

Kudos to the OTN team for the production work and to all the local user groups.

Wednesday Aug 28, 2013

Shout-out for ADF EMG Sunday at Oracle OpenWorld 2013

Developers of enterprise apps using Oracle ADF and UX design patterns and expertise take note. One that should not be missed: This year's ADF EMG (Application Development Framework Enterprise Methodology Group) day at Oracle OpenWorld 2013 is on Sunday 22-September-2013, organized in conjunction with the folks from ODTUG (full announcement). More on Chris Muir's (@chrismuir) One Size Doesn't Fit All blog too.

Chris Muir at ADF Architecture Class


Chris Muir of Oracle ADF team. Get the latest on ADF on his One Size Doesn't Fit All blog.

Always a great learning, sharing and relationship-building event, preceded by a social event the day before (Saturday), here's this year's line up (all listed in the OOW13 content catalog):


  • 8:00 AM: Oracle ADF Task Flows Beyond the 10-Minute Demo [UGF7001]: Eugene Fedorenko and John King
  • 9:15 AM: Oracle on Your Browser or Phone: Design Patterns for Web and Mobile Oracle ADF Applications [UGF9898]: Floyd Teter and Lonneke Dikmans (Floyd and Lonneke are both Fusion User Experience Advocates [FXAs.])
  • 10:30 AM: ADF Performance Tuning War Stories [UGF2737]: Stephen Johnson and Frank Houweling
  • 11:45 AM: Top 10 Web App Vulnerabilities, and Securing Them with ADF [UGF9900]: Brian Huff (also an FXA)
  • 2:15 PM: Worst Practices When Developing an ADF Application [UGF9860]: Paco van der Linden and Wilfred van der Deijl
  • 3:30 PM: WebCenter and ADF - Responsive and Adaptive Design for Desktop, Mobile & Tablet [UGF9908]: John Sim (a total tech rockstar)

I will be there too, happy to answer any questions and to champion the cause of UX design patterns and guidance used to build great enterprise cloud apps for the desktop or mobile devices with ADF. Seek me out!

Don't forget, these sessions are just part of a great Oracle ADF presence at Oracle OpenWorld 2013. Needless to say, I encourage you to hit all those Apps UX sessions and our usability lab sessions onsite too!

Saturday Jun 29, 2013

Loose Coupling and UX Patterns for Applications Integrations

image of train coupling, creative commons licensed from wikipedia

I love that software architecture phrase loose coupling. There’s even a whole book about it. And, if you’re involved in enterprise methodology you’ll know just know important loose coupling is to the smart development of applications integrations too.

Whether you are integrating offerings from the Oracle partner ecosystem with Fusion apps or applications coexistence scenarios, loose coupling enables the development of scalable, reliable, flexible solutions, with no second-guessing of technology.

Another great book Enterprise Integration Patterns: Designing, Building, and Deploying Messaging Solutions tells us about loose coupling benefits of reducing the assumptions that integration parties (components, applications, services, programs, users) make about each other when they exchange information. Eliminating assumptions applies to UI development too. The days of assuming it’s enough to hard code a UI to software code with linking libraries running on a desktop PC in the office are over.

The book predates PaaS development and SaaS deployments, and was written when web services and APIs were emerging. Yet it calls out how using middleware as an assumptions-dissolving technology “glue" is central to applications integration. Realizing integration design through a set of middleware messaging patterns (messaging in the sense of asynchronously communicating data) that enable developers to meet the typical business requirements of enterprises requiring integrated functionality is very Fusion-like.

User experience developers can benefit from the loose coupling approach too. User expectations and work styles change all the time, and development is now about integrating SaaS through PaaS.

Cloud computing offers a virtual pivot where a single source of truth (customer or employee data, for example) can be experienced through UIs (desktop, simplified, or mobile) that are optimized for the user's context of a varying world of work. Smart enterprise applications developers, partners, and customers use design patterns for user experience integration benefits too.

The Oracle Applications UX design patterns (and supporting guidelines) enable loose coupling of the optimized UI requirements from the application logic and hooks. Developers can get on with the job of creating integrations through web services, APIs and SOA without having to figure out design problems about how UIs should work. Adding the already user proven UX design patterns (and supporting guidelines to your toolkit means ADF and other developers can easily offer much more than just functionality and be super productive too. Great looking application integration touchpoints can be built with our design patterns and guidelines too for a seamless applications UX.

One of Oracle’s partners, Innowave Technology, used loose coupling architecture and our UX design patterns to create an integration for a customer that was scalable, cost effective, fast to develop and kept users productive while paving a roadmap for customers to keep pace with the latest UX designs over time. Innowave President and CEO Basheer Khan, a Fusion User Experience Advocate, explains how to do it on the Usable Apps blog.

Sunday May 12, 2013

Unsaved Changes: Oracle ADF Functional Patterns and Best Practices Shout-out

One UX question that seems comes up now and then with ADF apps is how to handle when users navigate away from an application page that has unsaved or uncommitted changes on it. This might happen when users decide to navigate to another location to look something up without opening a new tab, or when they use the browser back button to try go back to a previous step in a task.

Now, it is not an unreasonable these days that users would want to navigate using the back button. But this consumerized IT expectation is not something that our ADF apps can accommodate. A combined productivity hit and the high value of enterprise data means that users need to be warned of the implications of navigating using the browser back button or loading a new page, if they continue.

There is another UX implication should users choose to use the back button. Because of how our task flows are constructed they will be taken back to the last URL, which is not necessarily the last step in their task flow if the URL hasn't changed within the flow. So there is an unpredictable outcome to where users will be taken within the application.

Using the backspace key can have the same result as using the browser back button, because it most browsers the backspace key is mapped to the back button.

One handy way to warn users about unsaved and uncommitted changes on navigating away from their page is to use the af:document tag's uncommittedDataWarning property. This is explained, along with use cases, and other great patterns on on the Oracle Application Development Framework Functional UI Patterns & Best Practices website.

Shay Shmeltzer also has a great video of how the unsaved or uncommitted changes warning is implemented on his blog.



What ADF is providing here is a hook into a warning message which comes from the browser, not from ADF itself, so the phrasing of the message in the dialog box is not something developers can control. So, although users can informed of about unsaved changes being lost should they continue, the unexpectation navigation issue is not mentioned (this is something being worked on by Applications UX).

Check out the implementation of the unsaved and uncommitted data warning and the other ADF functional patterns and best practices on the site too. This is a great resource for productive development used along with the ADF Faces Rich Client User Interface Guidelines and Oracle Fusion Applications UX design patterns.

Wednesday Mar 27, 2013

Don’t Sweat Them UIs: Cloud Makes Them All Part of the Service

For me, the most powerful UX pivot point that the cloud platform offers developers is flexibility and scalability to build optimized and contextual solutions, reflecting how users' roles, tasks, goals, environments, and devices--their context of use, if you like--can vary. With Platform as a Service (PaaS) or cloud development, the old client-server assumptive days of developers writing UIs on top of each operating system and then making calls to static and dynamic link libraries are gone. Instead, with the cloud, developers use services and APIs, Lego-like, and use such integrations to assemble contextual applications. This difference is explained far more eloquently, and expanded on, in this Engine Yard Cloud Out Loud podcast.

So, what do we mean by optimized and contextual UIs? Well, think about how you might use LinkedIn, for example. A power update to your LinkedIn profile such as adding abstracts for latest publications or completing your profile might be done on your PC using the LinkedIn website. Browsing through your contacts, groups or news features might be done with swipe gestures on the LinkedIn app on your tablet. Accepting a LinkedIn invitation to connect via email can be done on your smart phone with a few taps and you can see updates at a glance too.

Different UIs, different context of use

LinkedIn Different UIs, different context of use. All optimized. (photo: Ultan O'Broin)

We don’t have to think about these different LinkedIn usage scenarios devices. We just do it because the interactions have been understood and designed for. We know they all rotate around our profile's details as the source of truth. We perform the different tasks on different devices intuitively, as our context demands. That's the whole point of a great UX, I guess, commonsense ways of ensuring users don't have to think! Same principle applies to enterprise applications, really.

For developers, this offers great opportunities too to enable great UX from the Cloud by relying on APIs and service oriented architecture. By using integrated UI services and leveraging design guidance such as UX design patterns and guidelines and not sweating about writing new UIs from scratch for every device, developers and partners can spend more time on issues such as security, performance, integration, scalability, speed, all the stuff that's critical to business, while anticipating changes in UX that will come for sure. For customers, such cloud-based enablement means continued ROIs by using existing data while extending the UX of existing apps and providing new experiences too to make users even more productive.

Credit for LinkedIn analogy to Jeffrey Pease.

About

Oracle applications user experience (UX) assistance. UX and development outreach of all sorts to the apps community, helping to design and deliver usable apps.

Profile

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

See my other Oracle blog about product globalization too: Not Lost in Translation

Interests: User experience (UX), user centered design, design patterns, tailoring, BYOD, dev relations, language quality, mobile apps, Oracle FMW and ADF, and a lot more.

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