Oracle Usable Apps | Applications User Experience Simplicity, mobility, extensibility
   
 
Oracle Applications Cloud
 
Making the Complex Simple: Extensibility and Customization in the Oracle Applications Cloud

 

Georgia Price

Author: Georgia Price, Oracle Applications User Experience
March 25, 2014



 
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The challenge of enabling customers to easily extend and customize delivered applications is one that few software companies are willing to tackle. But it’s one that Oracle commits itself to.

That’s because easy extensibility aligns with the overall Oracle Applications Cloud’s user experience strategy of simplification.

“When it comes to extensibility, we are following the same paradigm of simplicity that we use when building the product,” said Greg Nerpouni, senior product manager for the Oracle Applications User Experience team. “We look at use cases to find the extensibility features that are of greatest value to our users, and then we empower them to do these things.”

Oracle Applications Cloud Release 8 provides numerous ways to easily extend, customize, and integrate its applications—no major IT project needed—all while preserving the user experience delivered in the original applications.

“We make every effort to ensure that our applications can be customized and extended as simply and directly as possible, whether customers are in the public cloud or the private cloud, without disrupting the user experience,” said Tim Dubois, architect on the Oracle Applications User Experience team.

Oracle’s extensibility options allow business system analysts, or anyone granted appropriate privileges, to tweak what comes out of the box easily using browser-based tools, and then to migrate the changes from staging environments to production. Business systems analysts are those who often make decisions for their companies around business processes, task flows, and branding, but who may not be a part of their IT departments.

Extensibility and customization highlights

According to Nerpouni and Dubois, some of the top extensibility and customization features in the Oracle Applications Cloud include the ability to easily perform these tasks:

  • Rebrand the delivered user interfaces to include a unique company logo.
  • Customize the availability, order, and names of the functional areas within the Oracle Applications Cloud user interface and the pages within these areas.
  • Make page-by-page customizations, such as hiding or showing fields, adding new fields, making fields required, and moving fields around on a page.
  • Add buttons or links within the user interface that let the user punch out to existing third-party tools and applications, such as benefit provider websites and Google Maps.
  • Customize user interface text.

Rebranding and customizing user interfaces

It takes business system analysts only a few clicks at runtime to easily rebrand their delivered user interfaces and customize them to fit their corporate-wide brand, Nerpouni said.

In Release 8 of Oracle Sales Cloud and Oracle Human Capital Management Cloud (Oracle HCM Cloud), a business system analyst who has been granted administrative privileges can select and apply one of six user interface themes or customize these themes to include a unique company logo and watermark. The business system analyst can also change the style and shape of buttons and menus by selecting from several predefined options and can add unique company news and announcements to the announcement portion of the home page.

For example, Dubois said, “A business system analyst in Oracle HCM Cloud can change announcement text to denote upcoming benefits enrollment or embed a YouTube video about upcoming training.”

A business system analyst can embed a YouTube video in the announcements portion of the simplified user interface home page.

Customizations like these can be made within the Settings functional area.

Settings on the Appearance page affect the look of the user interface.

Here are the six user interface themes that are available for customization. Notice the customizable announcements section on the left side of the home page.

These six simplified user interface themes are delivered when the applications ship.

In the Oracle Sales Cloud and Oracle HCM Cloud user interfaces, users can access the various functional areas of the applications by clicking icon buttons that appear in the springboard on the home page and above most pages.

Functional areas are located in the springboard on the home page and above most pages.

In Release 8, business system analysts can use the Structure page in the Settings functional area to customize the availability, order, and names of these functional areas and the pages within these areas.

The structure of the user interface can be customized easily, using drag-and-drop functionality.

Business system analysts can reorganize the order in which the functional areas and pages appear in the user interface by simply dragging and dropping them around the Structure page. Renaming functional areas or pages is as easy as typing over existing names.

Make page-by-page customizations

Dubois said business system analysts can use Oracle Composer to modify pages in several ways in available layers of the Oracle Applications Cloud:

  • Change page layout.
  • Move objects on a page.
  • Change the display of an object, such as expanding or collapsing an object, hiding or showing objects, reordering columns, rearranging fields, and updating fonts and colors.
  • Change field labels.
  • Make selected fields required.

Integrate seamlessly with existing applications

Integrating an Oracle cloud application with existing, third-party tools and applications is a real concern of partners and customers. The ability to add buttons or links to pages within the user interface that let users punch out to these existing applications goes a long way toward addressing this concern, Nerpouni said.

“For example, a business system analyst in Oracle Sales Cloud can add a link or button on the Opportunity page to open Google Maps with location information passed using Groovy script, which allows for directions and interactivity,” Dubois said. “Within HCM Cloud, you can add a link or button from the Benefits page to punch out to a benefits provider website.”

Google Maps can be launched from a link within the user interface.

Customizing user interface text

To enable customers to modify the text within and across applications to better suit their company cultures and corporate language style, Oracle Applications Cloud provides a new user interface text editor. This tool provides find-and-replace functionality that lets business system analysts customize the text that appears throughout.

Instead of editing each page, the tool searches for text (both words and phrases) that appears on all pages in the user interface (for example, object labels and attribute labels, buttons, headers, titles, and menu items) and in messages (for example, error, informational, and warning messages).

“This tool is useful when searching across applications for a particular term that you want to swap out with another term,” Nerpouni said. For example, a business system analyst can search for all instances of the term worker in an application and replace those instances with the term employee.

To read more about extensibility and other features delivered in Oracle Applications Cloud Release 8, see the list of related links above.


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