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DNN 9: Understanding the Persona Bar

Overview

DNN-9Have you ever used an application and found that you loved the user interface? That you actually found the application a pleasure to use? It seems like every year there is a new application or device with a fresh new UI that captures everyone’s attention. A great user experience can elevate an application above its competition.

In 2013 we began work on a project to rethink the DNN administrative experience. The goal of the project was to create an admin UI which was faster and more intuitive for users. The UI needed to be fully isolated from the rest of the site so that the admin design did not interfere with website themes or modules.

The DNN 9 Persona Bar is the third iteration of this admin experience.  The Persona Bar in Evoq Social and subsequently in Evoq Content were limited in scope and sought to work out the kinks in the experience before we rolled it out throughout the entire framework.

What is it?

First and foremost, the Persona Bar is a direct replacement for the existing control panel concept.  The control panel has historically been used to provide tools for managing your site. The control panel allowed users to perform simple tasks without leaving the current page. Many of the tasks in the control panel could be accomplished from dedicated admin pages, however, navigating to those admin pages often required many different page repaints and completely pulled the user out of the page and content centric experience that is the hallmark of DNN.

PB Diagram

The Persona Bar turns the concept of the control panel on its head. The Persona Bar seeks to provide a blazingly fast experience that slides out over the current page and doesn’t cause the user to lose their current context. By creating a super-fast UI, the Persona Bar minimizes the need for shortcuts.

The DNN 9 Persona Bar is a complete framework and container for building administrative tools.  Prior to DNN 9, all of the primary admin UIs were built as a series of modules and pages. With DNN 9, admin tools are now hosted completely within the Persona Bar.  This simplifies page management and provides for a more consistent and pleasant user experience.

One of the benefits of the page based admin approach used in prior DNN versions, was that it was easy for developers to build new admin tools and add them to the Admin or Host menus. The DNN 9 Persona Bar will also make it easy for developers to include new admin tools using the new Persona Bar extension type. Like all DNN extensions, the host administrator can install, uninstall and configure any Persona Bar extension.

Extensions

The DNN control panel has traditionally been injected directly into the page.  This approach works well, but requires additional work to prevent conflicts between control panel styles and JavaScript and the CSS and JavaScript needed by page themes and modules. The Persona Bar avoids these potential conflicts by using an iframe to completely isolate any CSS and JavaScript from the website.  This will significantly reduce testing requirements by the DNN team as well as theme designers and module developers.

Unlike the control panel, the new Persona Bar includes the ability to give any role access to features installed in the Persona Bar. In DNN 9, these roles will be defined in the database.  A future release will include a UI for managing Persona Bar permissions. This role based access provides significant flexibility to Admin tool developers.  Now you can enable fine grained access to admin features by allowing roles access to select portions of an admin tool.

What do you Think?

The DNN 9 Persona Bar represents a major change for the DNN admin experience. The new Persona Bar builds on many of the great features of the current control panel while also addressing many of its shortcomings. What do you think?  Have you tried the DNN 9 nightly builds yet?  If urge you to check them out and let me know what you think of the new Persona Bar.

Bonus: Checkout this recent video by Aderson Oliveira for a quick rundown of the new Persona Bar.

Comments

John Cornelison
Looks great, but I hope the Personna bar can be minimized/hidden when not needed. Could it shrink to a thinner bar until hovered over? I'm thinking about mobile usage scenarios. Keep up the good work!
John Cornelison Sunday, October 23, 2016 12:55 PM (link)
Paul Cooper
I agree with John. A way to minimise or get out the way.
Also after making an edit is pressing ESC the only way to close the EDIT dialog? Why not click Edit again. Why not click outside the EDIT dialog?
I don't see any great advantage apart from you've tidied it up a bit and moved it from the top to the side! Prefer it at the top!
Paul Cooper Sunday, December 18, 2016 3:04 PM (link)
Joe Brinkman
@Paul - The mobile scenario is one that we are working to get implemented. We didn't have time to complete that for the 9.0 release but you can expect to see it in an upcoming major release.
Joe Brinkman Wednesday, December 21, 2016 11:42 AM (link)
John Burrows
I don't know if it's happened yet but we really need a way of turning the persona bar off when not needed. It hinders the mobile and even desktop experience
John Burrows Wednesday, August 30, 2017 10:49 PM (link)
John Burrows
On a general note though I love the way the new persona bar works. It looks clean and stays independent, well done guys
John Burrows Thursday, August 31, 2017 10:26 PM (link)
jschlosser
I am getting used to the persona bar. It would be really nice to be able to hide it, though. One thing I am seeing is with the Vendors link under Manage. We have made good use of this module in the past but now we see two links for this. The first goes to where it always did and shows the current vendors. The second goes to a completely different location and doesn't show any of the vendors. The url includes the portal ID, so I am guessing that each portal can have its own set of vendors or something along those lines. Not finding any documentation about this change. I will keep looking since we all know it is hard to track this stuff down quickly. If this is the way it is supposed to appear, however, we really need different labels for the multiple links.
jschlosser Monday, September 11, 2017 3:09 PM (link)

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