Over the last 6 weeks, the DotNetNuke team has been hard at work preparing for our first Beta release of DotNetNuke 6. The DotNetNuke 6 Beta does not include a lot of new functionality but does include significant refinements of the features we had previously highlighted during our CTPs. Even as we were putting the finishing touches on the beta release, the team has been actively out promoting the upcoming launch and demoing DotNetNuke 6 at every opportunity. We have used these opportunities to get feedback from the community and have incorporated some of the suggestions into this release.
We are now in the final stretch of preparing for the DotNetNuke 6 launch towards the end of July. During this time we’ll be actively working to close out all of the major and showstopping bugs and addressing as many minor issues as we have time for. If you have not been actively testing during the CTPs, I would definitely encourage you to take some time and test your modules, skins and existing installations with the beta. Install your modules and skins and make sure everything is working. Try a test upgrade of your website in a staging environment so that when 6.0 launches you know exactly what to expect.
Below are some of the significant enhancements which have been incorporated since the last CTP.
As I outlined in DotNetNuke 6: Refining the User Interface, the popup windows have gone through a lot of refinement. Now popup windows include the ability to resize the window, maximize the popup to full-screen and move the window around the screen as you wish. Module developers also will have the ability to specify a preferred size for the any popup window which is displayed for their modules.
Like popups, the control panel has undergone drastic changes for the Beta. The panel pages have been incorporated with the host and admin menu and utilize the new DDRMenu. The new control panel style minimizes the footprint of the control panel while still providing easy access to all of the existing features. We have also reorganized the control panel so that functions are more logically grouped and so that duplicate functionality is removed. When logged in as a content editor, the control panel and all of its capabilities are just a mouse hover away. This significantly reduces the amount of scrolling you need to do on the page and removes unnecessary clicks to get to common actions on the control panel.
Finally, the control panel will stay pinned to the top of the browser window regardless of how far down the page you scroll. Now you can always see what mode you are in and quickly change it without having to scroll back to the top of the page.
The form pattern represents our initial effort to standardize the appearance of our administrative screens. The beta release does not make any drastic changes over the last beta but does refine the look in many subtle ways. Form tooltips can now be pinned, repositioned and unpinned. This will allow you to keep useful tooltips open and out of your way while filling out the form. This is especially useful where the tooltip contains detailed information about allowable values for a field. Now you won’t have to keep hovering your mouse over the help icon to figure out the rules for creating a new password. Just pin the tooltip open and fill out the form.
Module Action Menu
One of the major initiatives of DotNetNuke 6 was to try and standardize the appearance and behavior of administrative functions. We have come to realize that in some cases we had given skin designers control over some of the administrative functions which resulted in user confusion. It was quite common for the module action menu to appear in different locations in the container and for the menu to look substantially different from how it appeared in documentation. Skin designers were also forced to use different tricks or hacks to get the menu to appear in the upper left corner of the module.
In DotNetNuke 6 we have deprecated the use of the module action menu control. Any action menu that exists will be suppressed and a standard menu using the new mega-menu styling will be injected. The new menu is hidden by default, but as the user hovers their mouse over a module, a “manage” button will appear and provide access to the module action menu. As the user moves their mouse around the page, the manage button will appear as a ghosted image which only becomes fully visible when the user stops moving their mouse. After using the new menus for a couple of weeks, I have come to appreciate the simplicity of the new system which doesn’t consume screen real-estate until I am ready to use it. I certainly will appreciate not having to explain to new users that the little black down arrow is actually a menu.
These are just a few of the changes you will see in DotNetNuke 6 Beta 1. You can download the Beta from the Beta Testing page on DotNetNuke.com. After having shown the new system to hundreds of DotNetNuke users, we know that most people love the new look and behavior. I encourage you to take some time and play around with the new version and let us know what you think. I would ask though that you really spend some time using the new system before providing your feedback. We know that for some users, all of the changes in DotNetNuke 6 may be a little too much. People are naturally opposed to change and although some of these changes are quite drastic, we find that they really do provide a much better experience for most of our users.
If after giving the system a try and really trying to understand the reasoning for the new changes you still want to give some feedback please remember to do so in a constructive manner. If you don’t like something, give use some reasons why you don’t like it and how we might change it to make it better. Also keep in mind that not everyone is going to agree on the best approach or design. The feature that you love may not be appreciated by others. The feature that you think could use some significant change may be exactly what another user is looking for. So keep in mind that your suggested enhancements may make sense to you, but others may have a different opinion about the usefulness of your feedback.
As always, remember that this is still beta software. It is not recommended for running on production sites and there is no guaranteed upgrade path to the final release. We recommend that you only use this release in a staging or test environment to avoid the loss of data should an installation or upgrade go awry.