A common question that has been raised repeatedly within the ecosystem in recent months is in regards to the status of the Telerik RAD Controls distributed within DNN. Now that the DNN 7.3 release has been made available it makes sense to clarify the current situation...
In 2009 DNN Corp established an OEM relationship with Telerik to offer their entire suite of RAD Controls in all DNN product editions ( not just the RAD Editor but ALL controls in their suite ). In 2013 we revisited the agreement and determined that it no longer made business sense to continue with the OEM relationship. This was based on the declining usage of the RAD Controls within the DNN ecosystem in favor of newer light-weight client-side open source options. So we negotiated a termination which would allow us to continue to ship the RAD Controls with all product editions ( ie. so that existing users and developers would not be affected ) and still continue to offer the same rights to the RAD Controls within DNN ( ie. an unlimited number of developer seats within an organization for those who purchase a commercial DNN license ). However we would no longer have access to the latest updates of the RAD Controls from Telerik.
We did not expect this to be an issue as the RAD Controls are a very mature suite of controls and are therefore very reliable - in fact during the entire relationship with Telerik I am not sure if we ever submitted a trouble ticket to their support services. However, browsers have been on a very aggressive release cadence lately and this eventually resulted in compatibility issues within the RAD Controls for some of the newer browser variants. Since we are no longer getting updates to the RAD Controls, we needed a way to address this problem. After weighing the options we determined the best solution was to assume maintenance of the RAD Controls ourselves.
We came to this conclusion because there are MANY controls in the RAD Controls suite and the amount of effort to find open source equivalents for all of them is huge. In addition, if we only focus on a single control - the RAD Editor - it is still a large amount of work to replace it with an open source equivalent. This is because the RAD Editor had many capabilities beyond the editor itself - it has image managers, document managers, and hyperlink managers - all of which require integration with the DNN security model. In addition there are a variety of customization features in the RAD Editor for changing the toolbar buttons or personalizing it by role. To replicate all of this functionality in another editor requires significant development and QA effort.
In order to maintain the RAD Controls ourselves, we needed some additional rights - specifically we needed the ability to distribute a modified version of the RAD Controls ( this is not something that Telerik allows as part of their standard license agreement ). So we worked with Telerik to create a custom agreement which would allow us to serve our users but still protected Telerik from the business risks they needed to mitigate. This took quite a few months to accomplish, and then we had to deal with the technical issues of fixing the browser compatibility issues and figuring out how to strongly name the assembly so that it would be compatible with earlier versions of the RAD Controls that developers may have compiled against. We are now satisfied that we have a solution to this problem – a solution that allowed us to distribute a patched version of the RAD Controls in DNN 7.3, and a solution which allows us to efficiently address our customer’s needs in the future.
Internally we are using less and less RAD Controls functionality within our products - but it is not a trivial amount of effort to replace every admin combobox, treeview, grid, etc... which is currently utilizing the advanced Telerik control functionality. So we are tackling this opportunistically as we improve the platform and as we fix bugs. But even if we eventually remove all references to Telerik from DNN, we will still need to continue to ship RAD Controls for an extended period because we know that many organizations have utilized these controls in their custom solutions.
In regards to people who have purchased licenses directly from Telerik, nothing has really changed. In the past there was no guarantee the DNN would ship with the latest version provided by Telerik. Very often there were newer version of RAD Controls available to Telerik customers well before we would integrate and ship them in DNN - this is one of the benefits of being a Telerik customer. So there was always the theoretical chance of incompatibility; however from a practical perspective Telerik has generally done a good job of keeping their products backwards compatible - so the number of issues has been very low.