Thursday Mar 28, 2013

Showtime! FUSE and Friends at OBUG Connect 2013

Just back from Oracle Benelux User Group's (OBUG) Connect 2013 where, together with Jeffrey Pease, Oracle Applications Labs VP, we demoed “FUSE”. FUSE is an internal name really, one that got away and has stuck; but make no mistake, it was Oracle Fusion Applications that we showed!

FUSE is a browser-based, cross-device, simplified and lightweight UX for self-service, casual and frequently performed tasks. Built using Oracle ADF, rendered in HTML5 with CSS3, and leveraging cloud infrastructure, this UI is optimized for navigation and action, action, action.

Jeffrey with the new face of Oracle Fusion Applications (HCM) on iPad

Jeffrey with the new face of Oracle Fusion Applications on iPad, projected live onto the big screen.
Ultan at the controls. (photo: Ultan O'Broin)

Intuitive, intelligent, and integrated with other Fusion UI optimizations, what the audience saw was a UX informed by COIT and BYOD trends, and designed to meet the high expectations about modern apps that our users communicate to us. It was awe-inspiring to see the sleek UX put through its paces on an iPad and projected onto the huge movie screen at Connect 2013’s Kinepolis cinema center location.

So, watch out for news of this new face of Fusion Applications coming to events and browsers near you.

iPads and Apps in Your Hands

Jeffrey also demoed the fantastic mobile analytic apps for sales leaders called Mobilytics, live in the session too. So, in about 45 mins, we showed off four demos on iPad, MacBook Air, and Chromebook, did some Q & A, and let the audience come up and play with apps on the tablet. A very lively and interactive session. No PowerPoint karaoke there!

Jeffrey wows with mobile sales cloud analytics

Jeffrey wows with Mobilytics, live from his iPad. (photo: Ultan O'Broin)

Mobile UX Design Patterns are in Business

Later in the day, along with Fusion User Experience Advocate (FXA) Lonneke Dikmans (@lonnekedikmans) of Vennster, we presented on Mobile UX Design Patterns. We called out how these design patterns enabled productive building of apps by customers and partners which combined with the security and code-once model of Mobile ADF make this the perfect solution for enterprise apps deployment. You can read more about our presentation on the Vennster blog.

The OBUG Connect conference in 2013 was a great event. Don’t miss it next year and watch out for more events from OBUG (@OBUG_ORG) too, an organization that continues to go from strength to strength. Bring your popcorn.

Shout-outs for Oracle UX Design Patterns

Here come some Oracle partner blogs about publicly-available Oracle UX design patterns. Each explains why and how customers and partners are taking to Oracle's free usability resources to help build modern enterprise apps' UIs, just like Oracle does. So, if you need advocacy for UX design patterns in your development team, well, these blogs are a great start.

Application developers can be more productive by using these reusable common solutions to usability head scratchers with their Oracle toolkit (Oracle ADF, MDS, SOA, and so on), that same toolkit enables smart architectural decisions and business decisions to be made about data assets too. There is continued ROI for your Oracle apps investment as you develop and customize solutions and as users demand more, and different, ways of working. You can improve existing apps usability, extend new Fusion implementations UX, and develop stunning mobile UIs, as UX securely pivots through the cloud using services and APIs, with optimized UIs reflects the context of different users' roles, tasks, and how they work.

The first blog (actually in two parts) is via ORCLVille from Fusion User Experience Advocate (FXA) Floyd Teter (@fteter) of EiS Technologies. Featuring Oracle ADF Essentials, ADF functional patterns and Oracle Applications UX Direct, Floyd starts with a taster of how these resources can bring a great UI to life.


UI designed with ADF Essentials and functional patterns

UI designed with ADF Essentials, ADF functional patterns, and UX Direct guidance

Floyd then reveals some more to whet our appetite for what he will fully reveal at Collaborate 13.

The second is a more technical one from myself on the Usable Apps blog about partner Innowave Technology's approach of using UI abstraction, services, and Fusion desktop UX design patterns to cut time and cost for an EBS solution while delivering a compelling UX that can be easily extended in future. Some great quotes from FXA Basheer Khan, CEO, there if any C-level execs need convincing about the UX design pattern proposition!

The third is from Vennster managing partner, Lonneke Dikmans (@lonnekedikmans), also an FXA and co-author of a great book on making SOA simple too. Lonneke writes about going mobile in business, using UX design patterns, the role of services, and the underlying design need of understanding the nature of how mobile users work with apps. I presented with Lonneke at OBUG Connect 2013 on the subject where she also demoed the mobile design patterns themselves.

Update (May 2013)
And the story continues, with those ever-design conscious Danes adding to the advocacy! Here's another FXA, Sten Vesterli @stenvesterli of Scott/Tiger A/S on how to be productive when designing apps, by way of a nice anecdote from home: Smart People Use UX Design Patterns. From the same country I heard a great report about how one ADF development partner had used our UX design patterns in a response to a Request for Proposal (RFP) to win a deal by emphasizing how consistency and best practices implemented in a design ensured great usability and rapid onboarding of users across the organization. Bear that in mind the next time you're out to win business!

And Floyd Teter has just attended a great hands-on ADF and UX workshop in Oracle HQ and has an awesome post called UX ADF Design Patterns - Connect The Dots that says it all about developer productivity (see that 75% figure!).

So, check out these great endorsements for the Oracle UX resources and insights shared with partners, customers and development community. If you have your own story, then send it to me using the comments. And, watch out for more design pattern and usability best practice outreach to the development community too!

If Leonardo Did UX: Great SXSWi Insight on Sketching

No, not DiCaprio, the other one: Leonardo da Vinci. Just love this Slideshared preso and audio called Design Like Da Vinci by Brian K. Sullivan (@BrianKSullivan), delivered at SXSWi 2013.



Oracle Apps UX uses Leonardo and his sketching methodology as an example in our wireframing outreach to customers and partners too, but the SXSWi delivery is really something special. Check out what Brian has to say about how to ideate and sketch, on getting buy-in, and deal with office politics along the way too. Great tips!

What we can learn from Leonardo is easily applicable to the UX design process and how we sketch out wireframes. You can see how. You can only be astounded by the sheer volume, quality and range of sketching that the master did, and why.

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.

Lightweight Simplicity Gets You Hooked: Fishing and Fusion

I’m a fishing nut. Started in the mid-70s using very light tackle, I immediately caught lots of fish from the rocks at the end of my street in Dublin. I’ve been hooked ever since, and fished all over the world, and bought far more angling equipment than I needed or used (making me a “tackle tart”, as we call it). I loved that little rod, 5 foot long, fiber glass them days, with a cork handle. I still have it.

So, I’m delighted to see LRF (or Light Rock Fishing) emerge as a genre in its own right in the last few years. Influenced by fishing from kayaks, the sporting and environmental values of catch and release policies, U.S. bassing, and the technology and aesthetics of Japanese and French spinning and baitcasting rod design, LRF with its shorter, ultra lightweight rods (carbon these days), braided lines, funky colorful lures, and the marvels of small-scale precision reel engineering, has really taken off in Europe. Some of the Japanese LRF rods in particular, are really beautiful, total Ninja stuff. LRF gives you one hell of a bigger kick out of catching the same species fish that you did before. But the kit is more deadly, yet powerful too. Some huge fish have been landed on LRF gear.

Fishing from the rocks at Hook Head, Ireland

Dawn LRFing it at Hook Head, County Wexford, Ireland. (photo: Ultan O'Broin)

Like with LRF, there’s an emotional pull in just wanting to use great and simple tools and technology that can be hard to explain. We’re inspired by something beyond functionality that aligns with positive feelings. How many of us, of a certain age, feel that we did our best writing on the Apple Mac Plus or 512K in college, for example? We come across outstanding examples of really great user experiences in the most unlikely of places too. A recent encounter with Emirates ICE inflight entertainment system had me so engaged that I interrupted the movies a few times to explore the system itself a bit more!

ICE Inflight system UI

ICE Inflight system UI on the Dubai-Dublin Emirates flight. (photo: Ultan O'Broin)

For me, this pull is all about smart design aimed at solving different levels of needs. It lets you meet the immediate little challenge by focusing on the essence of what you really need to do intuitively and intelligently, sure. But it’s also the invitation to do more, to a world of discoverability, to explore how you can make something really work for you in a satisfying, yet surprising way. You can push it, and yourself. And yet, you know that there is some awesome physics and thought behind the design that will let you accomplish out of the ordinary stuff if you need to.

That FUSE is the new face of Oracle Fusion Applications fits into this paradigm perfectly. Beautiful design, intuitive, intelligent, the lightweight FUSE UI is optimized for navigation and action, and guess what? It's also integrated with other optimized Fusion Applications experiences too, pivoting through the cloud. So when the whale of a task comes along there’s the power of the Fusion desktop UI version at hand to land that biggie, for example.

The new face of Fusion Applications on MacBook Air

The new face of Oracle Fusion Applications on Apple MacBook Air.

I’m all LRF now. It's a return to simple basics, to the excitement and discovery of being a kid fishing again. I’m done with the swinging of an 8oz weight off the end of a 13-foot beach casting rod so that it lands 150 yards away, though I’ll keep the big gun rods stored safely for when the fishing situation suits. I’m all FUSE now too, but I know another optimized experience is at my fingertips too should continuing my work need it.

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.

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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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