Sunday Jul 28, 2013

Keep Taking the Tablets. Early Adopter UX Developer Type Wanted

Here's a free "how to" guide from Oracle Applications User Experience published on OTN that will excite designers, developers, and project managers and get them productively building great tablet solutions with enterprise-level methodologies (are you listening ADF EMG [Application Development Framework Enterprise Methodology Group]?).

If you're embarking on a tablet application design project, then start out with our interactive Oracle Applications User Experience Tablet Guide iBook (yes, you need an iPad).


Develop cool optimized tablet solutions to leverage your cloud applications data with Applications UX's resources.

There's a great conversation on the ADF EMG group about this new resource. And we have a request of our ADF development community: If you're a mobile developer on a tablet project, developing for a native O/S or (preferably, natch) with Oracle ADF Mobile or ADF Faces, who wants to evaluate the guide and provide feedback and examples of how you've used it to build solutions, then let us know using the comments. We can feature your work and findings, if you wish.


Oracle Applications User Experience Tablet Guide

Oracle Applications User Experience Tablet Guide: Early adopter developer wanted.

If you must, well there's a PDF version too.

The outreach continues! Watch out for more announcements of events and happenings to enable developers and other stakeholders in the applications development world to build great looking usable apps on mobile and other devices by checking in regularly on the Voice of User Experience (VoX) blog and following along on Twitter at @usableapps.

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

Building Oracle Partner Fusion Apps UI Integrations in the Cloud with UX Patterns & Guidelines

Oracle has a powerful and rich partner ecosystem that offer many value-add solutions for users of our applications. To get the most of integrating these solutions with Fusion and other applications, ISV developers need to go beyond functionality and provide a great UX too. The basis of this UX is a consistent and streamlined navigation and a productivity-based task completion user interface (UI) between applications; one that is as seamless and transparent to the users as possible. This means much more than "look and feel".

By using the Oracle Fusion Applications User Experience Design Patterns and Guidelines developers can now easily provide the same elegant navigation 'touch points' that Fusion applications. No need to sweat over designing new usability solutions! Here is a quick overview of a couple of UI options when integrating Fusion applications and other applications.

Remember to read up on the best toolkit to apply these touchpoints and what your preferred deployment can support, but for Desktop UIs you can get going right away applying these integrations using the Application Composer. Check out the information on extensibility on the Fusion Applications Developer Relations blog.

So, let's assume our UI use case is to integrate a Fusion CRM opportunity with a quote or price configuration solution, and see how we might use the UX design patterns and guidelines when designing UI integrations.

The simplest integration point afford no context for users, so is really a quick solution or one used when there is no context needed, no requirement to exchange data, and there is no specified object being configured. To implement, add a link from the relevant functional area in the global Navigator to the solution concerned. In this case, we have added a link called Quotes under the Sales area.


Global Area Navigator


Fusion Application UI Global Area Navigator

Your key design resource here is the guidance we provide about the applications Navigation Model.

A much better, contextual and object-specific integration would be to leverage a task-based flow and exchange data between Fusion and the other application. You can do this using the tasks area in the UI Shell to create and manage tasks, a page-level button to inititate an action without navigating away, and a tab with an iFramed UI mashup of data showing the results of the data exchange with the other application. In the following screen mockups you can see the Create Quote and Manage Quotes links in the Tasks Pane, the Quote page-level action button and then a tab with Quotes illustrating this kind of UI.


Tasks Pane with Create and Manage Actions


Fusion Application UI Tasks Pane with Manage and Create Links


Page Actions Button and Tab


Fusion Application UI Page Actions Quote Button and Quotes Tab with UI Mashup of Table Data

The key design resources for this higher-level integration are the UX guidelines on the Navigation model, UI Shell template, Tasks Pane, Page Actions, and Work Areas information on tabs.

Typically with such integrations, you can then take this much further and also use saved search and collaboration guidelines too to provide a richer UX. You can find design information about those interactions, and more, on the Oracle Fusion Applications User Experience Design Patterns and Guidelines website.

The Applications UX team is working closely with our ADF and Platform Technology Solutions colleagues to enable partners and customers to build great-looking usable partner integrations for the Desktop and Simplified UIs on-premise and in the cloud, so stay tuned for news and coverage of our outreach workshops and more resources.

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.

Tuesday Apr 02, 2013

UX Design Pattern Spotting with Fusion Mobile Expenses

One of the great things about demoing cool stuff for Oracle Applications User Experience is that you're entering a world of discovery of guess what? Even more cool stuff! I was showing off the Fusion Mobile Expenses app live recently and explaining how our UX Design Patterns make for developer productivity and satisfied users. A developer hand shot up in the audience and asked me to point out which patterns were being invoked as I stepped though the mobile tasks. What a super question and a great demo value-add to include in future!




Fusion Mobile Expenses video on the Usable Apps YouTube channel

You can see the patterns at work easily. Look at the rockin' Fusion Mobile Expenses video, for example, and within one minute you can see a bunch of the publicly available Mobile UX Design Patterns in action. There you have the Springboard Navigation pattern (that screen at about 19 seconds in), the Page Header and the Input Form patterns (at about 40 seconds), and so on.

Shown live, the Fusion Expenses mobile app reveals even more patterns, such as the List pattern, my favorite the Actions pattern, and others.


List and Actions Pattern


List and Actions patterns in use together in Fusion Mobile Expenses.


So, come along to my next UX outing on building great mobile apps with Oracle Applications User Experience reusable design solutions and see the patterns used and explained in context. Don't miss this opportunity by staying tuned to the events and outreach page on the Usable Apps website. I might even start giving out prizes to the audience if you can name the patterns when they come to life in the apps shown!

If you want to read more about using design patterns for mobile apps in business, then head on over to the Vennster blog.

Altogether now: "Taxi! 25 Dollars!

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!

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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