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DNN and Telerik RAD Controls

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.


Mike Ryckman
Thanks Shaun... this is really helpful.

So, to clarify, should developers still feel comfortable using the controls in the DotNetNuke.UI.Web.WebControls namespace? Are those going to be gradually converted into open alternatives and away from the Telerik code? Or, are those being gradually retired? If so, is there a plan to integrate that kind of functionality directly into DNN? I mean... is there some new group of DNN-specific controls we'll be able to use?

Mike Ryckman Thursday, June 12, 2014 1:04 AM (link)
If I understand correctly DNN is basically forking telerik RAD controls? So that basically means that as a 3rd party module developer with a telerik license I cannot use the latest telerik version with DNN anymore?
rudgr Thursday, June 12, 2014 2:53 AM (link)
Shaun Walker
@Mike - Yes developers should still feel comfortable using the controls in the DotNetNuke.UI.Web.WebControls namespace. We are not converting them or retiring them and we will continue to distribute the RAD Controls with all editions of DNN. We have been creating some new custom controls in recent releases for functions such as page selection, folder selection, file selection, etc... and developers can choose to utilize these controls in their own custom modules at their own discretion.
Shaun Walker Thursday, June 12, 2014 4:54 PM (link)
Shaun Walker
@rudgr - The RAD Controls we ship within DNN has always been a custom version that Telerik provided specifically to us ( ie. it contained some custom licensing so that the controls could only be used within a DNN site ). DNN Corp has now taken responsibility for maintaining our custom version of the RAD Controls. We will only be dealing with browser compatibility issues and will not be adding any enhancements or breaking binary compatibility. If a module developer has purchased their own license to the Telerik RAD Controls then they can choose to use the latest release from Telerik. They simply need to copy the assemblies into the /bin and update the appropriate section of web.config. This is exactly the same process that customers of Telerik followed in the past if they wanted to use newer versions ( as DNN was often one release behind Telerik in terms of the RAD Controls we distributed ).
Shaun Walker Thursday, June 12, 2014 5:05 PM (link)
@shaun: great, thanks!
rudgr Friday, June 13, 2014 9:50 AM (link)
Jay Mathis
@Shawn - for the outside custom developers, it would be very helpful to have a developers "recommended" toolkit or guide to controls that are available with the DNN namespace. Obviously, every case is different, but having some guidance on UX and/or controls would go a long way to helping standardize on a common look and feel and make third party modules feel more like cohesive integrated extension to DNN rather than a hap hazard bolt-on as has been the case.

Something along the lines of http:\\ This used to be a great resource, but it hasn't been updated or maintained since v6x and is very out of date. Currently, the only way to discover the new goodies in each release is to just dig into the code and try to figure out how the engineering team did something. That is basically how us old-timers learned DNN way back in the day, but the codebase is so much larger now, that is becoming much more difficult, especially for new comers. DNN could do a much better job of promoting the good work they are doing and education the community on how to leverage these tools.

I'll volunteer to lead the education effort if I can get some direction myself.
Jay Mathis Friday, June 13, 2014 11:38 AM (link)
Mike Ryckman
@Sean - thanks for your explanation - that helps. One quick follow-up, though... If we update the Telerik dll ourselves, do we risk creating bugs because it's different than what the DNN controls expect?
Mike Ryckman Wednesday, June 25, 2014 12:26 PM (link)
Shaun Walker
@Mike - if you have a license that you have purchased from Telerik that allows you to use a newer version of the RAD Controls then you can update the DLL in your installation. It is possible that some compatibility issues may be introduced; however, Telerik has traditionally done a very good job at maintaining compatibility between versions. And by using the new DLL you may also get access to some additional functionality added by Telerik - which may be useful to your business.
Shaun Walker Wednesday, June 25, 2014 1:07 PM (link)
Is there a version of Telerik I should install when using DNN 8.0.4? Where can it be found?
Tom Tuesday, December 27, 2016 3:12 PM (link)
I'm looking at a problem in my DNN 8.0,4 (test) upgrade. Some of the Admin dropdowns (Add New Page >>Parent Page and others) just spin endlessly when I attempt to select a page. I'm looking for the solution to this and was told it could be related to Telerik, but I didn't get any specific instructions. Anyone familiar with this issue?
Tom Wednesday, January 4, 2017 7:17 PM (link)

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