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Fusion Applications: The User Experience


As I mentioned in my previous blog article, the User Interface in Fusion Applications has been completely re-designed after extensive research in Oracle’s Usability Labs. During my recent week at TVP attending the Pre-GA Validation Workshops, we were able to visit Oracle’s only UK-based Usability Lab. One thing that particularly fascinated me was the very high tech equipment used to monitor eye movement around a screen. This helps the Analyst to determine whether a page design is easy to use, whether information is simple to find and whether there are any aspects to the page that are distracting. It’s comforting to know that Oracle have spent thousands of hours testing Fusion Apps in this way to ensure that we get the best experience and are therefore more productive.

The UI Shell

So, how has all this research manifested itself in the application? Well, the “UI Shell” is what the design people are calling the general layout of the Fusion Apps screen. The UI Shell splits the screens into four areas:

Global Area

The Global Area is a narrow strip across the full width of the top of the screen. This is effectively the title and menu bar for the application. As well as being able to access the navigation menu, you can also access the tagging functionality, federated search, preferences, personalisations and, most importantly, help. One major change from E-Business Suite is that we do not have “Respsonsibilties” any more - we have “Roles”, which are much more job-oriented. Also, we no longer have to “swap hats” to perform a different task – from the Navigator you can see all Work Areas that you have access to as a result of the Roles that you have.

Regional Area

Once you have chosen to work in a specific Work Area, the Regional Area shows you a list of Tasks that you can perform in this area. You can also access quick create links, a more focused search, direct links to relevant reports (no more Submit Request Screen!) and Activity Guides. The Regional Area can “collapse” into the side of the screen so that you can have more space in the Local Area.

Local Area

The Local Area is where all the real work happens, where you create your transactions, maintain data and so on. This is also where you will see the various items of “Embedded Business Intelligence”, small contextual charts designed to help you make decisions more effectively. These are similar to the charts that you get in EBS Project Management, but these are much more interactive, with most of them supporting drill-down and other actions. This BI is kept up-to-date in near real-time; I believe that it leverages the power of the Essbase component of Fusion Middleware.

Contextual Area

Like the Regional Area,  the Contextual Area can “collapse” into the side of the screen and does so automatically, if there’s nothing to show in it. This area is used to show further analytics, summaries, derived or computed information and notes. All this extra information is there to help you work more effectively. You no longer have to dive down through several screens to find the information that you’re looking for.

Help System

The Help System is very different from EBS. When installing Fusion Apps, out of the box you will be accessing a web-hosted online Help, but you can also install this same Help repository locally if preferred. There is a lot more help available within the transactional pages that display in the Local Area; various floating “tool-tip” style help items are available in most places. Once you navigate to the Help system for real, the experience is much more like searching in Google. You still have the option to navigate the Help by Business Process or Functional Area, but I think that the powerful search functionality will be enough for most people. Oracle have also taken advantage of their UPK product to produce instructional videos for certain activities. As you’d expect, the Help is fully customisable and extensible.


Hopefully, this has given you a quick flavour of what is to come in Fusion Applications. Initially I found the User Interface a little daunting – there is an awful lot more information on the screen at once. However, by the end of the week, I was very comfortable with the new UI and knew where to expect things to be. Please feel free to ask me any questions via the Comments and I will answer the best I can.

30 Nov, 2009 by

Fusion Applications

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