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.

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.

Friday Jun 22, 2012

Oracle Fusion Apps Functional UI Design Patterns Available For Devs Worldwide

The Oracle Fusion Applications user experience design patterns are published! These new, reusable usability solutions and best-practices, which will join the Oracle dashboard patterns and guidelines that are already available online, are used by Oracle to artfully bring to life a new standard in the user experience, or UX, of enterprise applications. Now, the Oracle applications development community can benefit from the science behind the Oracle Fusion Applications user experience, too.


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The design patterns are based on Oracle ADF components and easily implemented in Oracle JDeveloper.

These Oracle Fusion Applications UX Design Patterns, or blueprints, enable Oracle applications developers and system implementers everywhere to leverage professional usability insight when:


  • tailoring an Oracle Fusion application,
  • creating coexistence solutions that existing users will be delighted with, thus enabling graceful user transitions to Oracle Fusion Applications down the road, or
  • designing exciting, new, highly usable applications in the cloud or on-premise.

Based on the Oracle Application Development Framework (ADF) components, the Oracle Fusion Applications patterns and guidelines are proven with real users and in the Applications UX usability labs, so you can get right to work coding productivity-enhancing designs that provide an advantage for your entire business.

What’s the best way to get started? We’ve made that easy, too. The Design Filter Tool (DeFT) selects the best pattern for your user type and task. Simply adapt your selection for your own task flow and content, and you’re on your way to a really great applications user experience.

More Oracle applications design patterns and training are coming your way in the future. To provide feedback on the sets that are currently available, let me know in the comments!.

Monday Sep 19, 2011

Squirting is a Software Experience? Mind Your Language, Please

The language used in an application's user interface (UI) is a critical aspect of the user experience (UX), bit one often overlook. Des Traynor (@destraynor) brought this importance artfully to life at Refresh Dublin in his presentation on the Language of Interfaces. Well worth checking out, Des emphasized how language choice determines user action and engagement, with the simple choice of text for a button label or placeholder for status update making all the difference.

In Oracle Fusion Applications, for example, there's a big difference between the button labels Save, Submit, or Done, and the action that they imply to take on a page. Save implies an intermediate state during data object or process creation that the user will return to later before the task can be finalized. Submit is a final action, committing an object to the database or handing off a process, thus ending the task. Done is generally used to conclude the user review of a read-only page, closing it.

Save and Submit buttons together on a page


Google Wave's choice of Done however (as pointed out by Des) didn't help much with the puzzling concept of what anyone was expected to do with a wave to begin with. Language alone isn't going to save a rubbish UX.

Google Wave UI Done button


Des used some great examples from social media to as examples. Compare the language and action implied of the Facebook friend with the LinkedIn contact or the contact categorizations of Google+'s circles. Determining the action should shift from a third-person to first person paradigm led Facebook to change its status update text to What's on your mind? Twitter switched from What are you doing? to What's happening?

US English Twitter and Facebook status placeholder text

Not every natural language follows the English direction however. What's up with that? And, what about the challenges offered by crowdsourced language (as in the Dutch version of Twitter)? Facebook's community translation feature, as I pointed out before, is as much a user engagement strategy as a way of obtaining translated UIs (but not help) very quickly for the local market.

French and Dutch Twitter status placeholder text

French and German Facebook Status Placeholder Text

This choice of evolving or action-intended words can be a challenge for controlling the action globally. My old friend Frank Dietz in Multilingual magazine tells of the challenge of finding German translations for gaming concepts (buff, debuff, kiting, toon hop, and so on) for example, having to rely on transcreation, Denglisch, or the English term itself.


What the presentation didn't cover was how the language in the UI drives the creation of language around the intended action within the user community too. Unfriend, for example, appeared nowhere in the Facebook UI, but is a well-established word now. ReTweeting (or RTing) was a term and concept that came from the Twitter community, before it was codified. Personalization features that allow users to control the language or add their own are critical UX features too, particularly in the mobile space.

Apple iOS5 shortcut personalization feature

As for the choice of squirting to convey the sharing of music in Microsoft Zune (see Des's presentation), well, nobody over the age of five should be squirting anything at anybody, should they? What were they thinking? And yet,they're back with internet charms...


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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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