Over the last month the DNN team has been hard at work on DNN 8. DNN 8 is a big release with a lot of bug fixes, improvements and new features. Many of the DNN 8 changes involve improving the platform architecture to make it easier to maintain as well as providing greater control to users on what features get installed. We are also working to make it easier to extend DNN in new and interesting ways. In previous CTPs we introduced new module types, added additional security options for Web Services, started the process of separating admin functions into standalone modules, and introduced a brand new content management option. CTP 4 is focused on three main features: 1) OAuth server support 2) CKEditor as the default HTML Editor 3) Separation of admin modules.
One of DNNs strengths has been its broad extensibility options. In previous years, that extensibility has almost always required your code to run in the context of the DNN application. With the introduction of the Web Service Framework, DNN provided the basic building blocks for creating rich AJAX based modules. The initial framework lacked a security model which could be extended beyond the server. If you wanted to write mobile apps or external web apps that interacted with your DNN web services, you would need to first create your own security layer for your web services. With DNN 8 CTP 4, we are introducing OAuth server support in the platform. This will allow you to decorate your web service methods with a simple OAuthAuthorize attribute that will authorize users using the new OAuth framework.
Over the past decade DNN has had many different HTML editors available for the platform including: FreeTextBox, CKEditor (formerly FCKEditor) and the Telerik RadEditor. We have consistently tried to provide users with a great rich text editing experience to make it easier for our users to edit content. As we work to decouple Telerik controls from the platform we needed a new editor to replace the aging version of Telerik RadEditor which currently ships in DNN. In DNN 7.4.1 and 7.4.2 we shipped a new CKEditorProvider as an optional extension. In CTP 4 we are finally making this the default editing experience and have made RadEditor an optional extension. We still have some cleanup work to do for the CKEditor and the configuration tools, but think that the CKEditor provides an improved experience over the RadEditor. Since the CKEditor is Open Source, we no longer have to worry about licensing restrictions for such a critical platform component.
CTP 4 will see the addition of 6 new admin modules with even more on the way in the next CTP. One of our major initiatives in DNN 8 is to give administrators greater control over what features are installed and potentially to allow DNN to be installed with a minimal Admin UI. This will make it easier for people to build custom solutions on DNN without surfacing admin features which may not make sense for the target audience. We will also use this opportunity to move some outdated features to the forge which will help shrink the memory footprint of the platform.
CTP 4 also includes more than 40 additional bug fixes and minor enhancements over CTP 3. The really good news is that if you are already running CTP 3, you can do an in place upgrade to CTP 4. We spent quite a bit of time to add this capability into CTP 3 and would be interested to hear your experience with such an important feature.
I am happy to announce that DNN 8.0.0 CTP 4 is now available for download. Please take some time to try it out and give us some feedback. Like with CTP 3, you will be able to upgrade from CTP 4 to any later CTPs or betas as well as to the final release build.
UPDATE: I forgot a very important change that was included in this CTP. Beginning with CTP 4, DNN is once again a Web Application Project thanks to the hard work of Oliver Hine. This means that the core platform is now a compiled application. We are still working through how this change impacts our build process so you might see a stray .cs file in the install package, or a resource file that is missing. Your help in identifying these and other issues is greatly appreciated.