Two years ago, we began a discussion in the community about how to move the DNN platform forward. Microsoft was hard at work on ASP.Net vNext, which was later renamed to ASP.Net Core. At the time, I made the case for DNN making a radical departure from the Web Forms architecture that is the foundation of DNN today. That new platform, DNN neXt, would have been built on .Net Core and would have benefited from much of the work the ASP.Net team was doing to modernize and cleanup .Net.
Unfortunately, the more we looked at the challenge, the more we realized there was no way to get to the new platform without massive disruption to the current ecosystem. Some users would be stuck on the existing platform with no path forward. We also realized that the vision for .Net Core would not be fully realized in v1.0 and that significant APIs would be missing from the platform for an indeterminate amount of time. As work on DNN 8 continued it became obvious that DNN neXt was going to take a major engineering effort beyond what was first envisioned.
Laying the Foundation
With these problems in mind we decided to take a step back and re-analyze the problem. First and foremost, we had a few goals that we wanted to accomplish for the platform:
• Reconstruct DNN to minimize our reliance on Web Forms architecture
• Provide developers the freedom to use a variety of frameworks
• Protect customers’ existing investments in DNN
• Provide a fully supported upgrade path for everyone
While DNN neXt would have removed the reliance on Web Forms, it would have done so at the expense of our existing customers. We could definitely do better.
DNN 8 was a major breakthrough for the DNN platform. DNN developers were finally able to leverage the ASP.Net MVC framework to create modern DNN apps. In addition, DNN 8 introduced the concept of SPA modules which utilized a modern client side development approach to building modules for DNN. With these changes, developers were able to freely mix-and-match Web Forms, MVC and SPA based development on the same page, and even within a single module.
DNN 9 represents the next step on our journey towards creating a more modern platform and further minimizing our use of Web Forms. I am happy to announce that by the end of 2016, DNN will introduce DNN 9 with a brand new administrative experience that replaces the dated Web Forms based admin and host modules that we use today.
In DNN 9, we’ll be moving the Evoq Persona Bar concept to the DNN platform and completely rebuilding the control panel, admin and host modules to use this new framework. Stay tuned for future blogs where we’ll dive into the Persona Bar and admin experiences in detail and show how DNN 9 changes the way you think about building modern websites and web applications with DNN.