It has been 4 weeks since our last CTP release. The DotNetNuke development team has been working hard and it definitely shows in this latest release. CTP 3 includes major improvements to features spotlighted in previous CTPs but also includes some new features as well. We are making good progress on 6.0 which is scheduled for a mid-summer release, but we still have a few features to finish up and quite a few places that need some UI cleanup, but I think you’ll see that this release is definitely making huge strides in terms of stability and polish.
We continue to get a lot of great feedback from the community on the previous CTPs. Don’t assume that what you see in the CTP is how things will work in the final release. We are spending a lot of time trying out different designs and implementations to get community feedback on particular features. Often, it is only when using a feature in a more realistic environment will you find the limitations of a design or implementation. I encourage you to take a few minutes to try out the new CTP and join the conversation. With your help we can make DotNetNuke 6.0 a truly great release.
While CTP 2 included support for popup windows, we weren’t happy with that initial implementation and quickly swapped it out with a jQuery UI based approach which we felt was more contemporary and easier to style. Like the rest of our Admin makeover, the popup uses a neutral color palette that allows it to look right at home in any website. The popups in this release continue to use a fixed size which we expect to correct during the Beta releases. Our plan is to allow developers to provide sizing information in their webcontrols which will be used to size the popup. In many cases, the default size is sufficient, but there are some scenarios (like the login control) where it makes more sense to have a more tailored appearance. Look for these changes and a few others to be included in the upcoming betas.
The Control Panel has a new look and a new behavior in CTP 3. In the default skin, the control panel will dock itself to the top of the page and remain visible while scrolling down the page. If you don’t care for the docked behavior, you can pin the control panel to a pre-defined position in the page as defined by the skin. This feature is not quite complete and still needs to remember the pinned state so that the user’s preference is maintained throughout the site.
We have also changed the expand/collapse behavior and allowed the control panel to respond to your mouse so that it automatically gets out of your way when you are not actively using it. If you need to use the control panel, just move your mouse over it and it will expand to provide you access to the full control panel.
In order to provide the new behaviors and to allow existing skins to continue working as they were originally designed, we have added a new Skin Object. Now skin designers have the choice of using the previous convention based approach, which will display a control panel with the the 5.x behaviors, or using the new CONTROLPANEL skin object which includes the ability to explicitly set the control panel behavior.
As you may have noticed in the previous CTPs, the Admin and Host pages were hidden so that they didn’t show up on the main menu. Using the links in the control panel, you could navigate to the admin and host pages which displayed icons for all of the sub-pages in the admin and host menus. This change enabled designers to create designs which don’t have to account for extra menu space for the admin and host menus.
CTP 3 incorporates the new DDR Menu along with a special mega-menu template so that now you can access the menus directly from the control panel. This is the first visual indication that DotNetNuke will ship with a new menu control. The admin and host menus are styled using the neutral admin palette used throughout the 6.0 design.
CTP2 introduced the new form patterns that will be guiding our efforts on the 6.0 UI update. In CTP 3 we continued to refine the form pattern and to implement them in a lot more locations. We continue to tweak the style and still have quite a few screens left to complete but we expect to have almost the entire application converted by the time we release our first beta. You should expect to find a few rendering errors here and there, but the overall UI is really starting to shine. Between now and the final release we’ll be able to focus on just cleaning things up and really making the little tweaks that are needed to make the UI really shine.
Late last fall, Philipp Becker contributed the DNN 5 RadEditorProvider for inclusion in the core. In CTP 3 we have incorporated the new provider as the standard HTML Editor provider. We still have some work to perform to get this ready for the final release, but we think this will be a huge improvement over the previous provider. The new provider includes complete control over the configuration of the editor and will allow you to define custom configurations for different roles or even different pages within your site. Do you want to restrict what toolbars your content editors have access to, or do you want to provide special toolbars for use in your Forums? With the new provider, both of these scenarios are fully supported.
DotNetNuke has long supported jQuery in the core framework. With the release of CTP 3, jQuery UI shares the spotlight as a first class citizen in the core framework. CTP 3 makes extensive use of jQuery UI and even includes a new management interface and API for controlling when jQuery UI is loaded and which version to use. If you want to use the new admin styles and behaviors in your own modules, you can use a new core API to ensure that the appropriate CSS and JS is loaded on your behalf.
You can find links to the latest CTP downloads on the Beta Downloads page. Once you have downloaded the latest package and kicked the tires, then jump into the Beta Forums and leave some feedback.