In the spring of this year, we spent considerable time brainstorming the user experience strategy for the DotNetNuke platform. Embracing Web 2.0 techniques and making DotNetNuke more visually appealing and contemporary had been on the roadmap for quite some time and we knew that we needed a new user interface paradigm in order to accomplish this goal. And to ensure that end-users received the optimal user experience possible, we also recognized that we needed to enforce consistency and provide formal conventions for web developers and designers. This meant that whatever solution we chose needed to be accessible to everyone and therefore needed to be available as part of our core platform.
We evaluated four different options:
1. Build our own web controls – this would provide an out-of-the-box set of building blocks for developers and designers with a simple licensing / support model. However we are not a web control vendor and have no interest in spending cycles on an area which is not part of our core business.
2. Use Microsoft web controls – developers already have access to these controls through ASP.NET so the licensing / support is well established. However, the Microsoft toolset is rather limited in comparison to other third party alternatives and with Microsoft's recent focus on MVC, web controls do not appear to be a major focus area for them going forward.
3. Use third party open source controls – although rich in functionality, these controls generally lack the support and commitment of an established vendor. Licensing is usually not a problem; however, some enterprise customers are wary of managing too many embedded open source licenses as part of a complete solution.
4. Use third party proprietary controls – this option provides a rich suite of UI controls which is backed by professional vendor support. Unfortunately it is complicated by proprietary licensing issues.
After carefully weighing the pros and cons of each option, we concluded that the fourth option above offered the most value to the DotNetNuke platform - so long as we could overcome the largest impediment of identifying a vendor who was willing to work with us to resolve the licensing challenges.
Well, it turns out we did not have to look too far. Telerik is the leading vendor of development tools and components for the Microsoft .NET platform and Telerik had been a platinum sponsor of the DotNetNuke open source project for the past 4 years. We reached out to the management team at Telerik with a detailed proposal of what we wanted to accomplish and they were highly receptive to the concept of forging a strategic partnership.
Now in business it is always important to consider multiple options, so I should mention that we also took our proposal to a number of the other prominent .NET web control vendors. Each of these vendors also expressed interest in working with us but in the end we felt Telerik was the best candidate, partly because of their superior technology, and partly because they were already an active member of the DotNetNuke open source community.
So why is a strategic partnership interesting to Telerik? It's quite simple, really. This is a channel opportunity. To be the de facto web control toolset of choice in a developer ecosystem representing 750,000 developers and 5 million downloads is a very compelling value proposition. It exposes more developers and designers to the Telerik web controls and creates a cross-selling opportunity for other products in their portfolio.
So what are the details of the Telerik license agreement in simple terms?
- DotNetNuke Community Edition users are only able to develop using RadControls through standard user interface extensions provided in the DotNetNuke platform.
- DotNetNuke Professional Edition customers receive a full development license for Telerik RadControls which allows any number of developers within an organization to develop using the full toolset within DotNetNuke.
In regards to the scenario outlined above, there is actually a significant economic benefit for DotNetNuke Professional Edition customers. Since the Telerik RADControls for ASP.NET AJAX are normally priced at $999 per developer when purchased from Telerik directly, if you are doing DotNetNuke development and you have 2 or more developers in your organization, you can achieve a cost savings on your toolset by purchasing DotNetNuke Professional Edition.
With 5.2 we have only just begun the process of integrating the dyanamic Telerik controls into DotNetNuke. In future releases you can expect significant UI improvements as we take steps to modernize the user experience of the DotNetNuke platform.