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Sitefinity 3.6 beta this week

by Ivan Osmak
So, I am writing a blog post triumphantly announcing Sitefinity 3.6 beta this week, as if we have not promised to release the official release tomorrow. Yeah, among other things, I am in charge of spin here at Sitefinity team. Play along with me on this and leave few of those “Great!”, “Awsome!” comments below.


Now seriously, we have promised to ship Sitefinity 3.6 official release tomorrow, but unfortunately we won’t be able to do so. The reason for the delay is a rather cool improvement that we have decided to include in this release (and didn’t plan on it when we’ve announced the date). We thought that we will be able to compensate for additional improvement with several weekends in the office; alas our calculations didn’t work out. Nevertheless, the improvement that Sitefinity 3.6 brings is of such a magnitude that we think you will turn your blind eye on this one.


What are the improvements?


There are four major improvements that we are introducing in Sitefinity 3.6:
  • All templates are now embedded as resources in assemblies, which means that we will not override your templates anymore with new releases. There is a simple configuration file (GUI coming in 4.0) which allows you to map certain controls to use external  templates (your modified templates). So, you still have all the flexibility of controlling every single aspect of Sitefinity, while we solved the problem with overwriting with every new release.
  • Completely reworked backend architecture - With our preliminary estimations we have managed to simplify creation of new modules to the extent that you should be able to develop a new module now in less than half of time it used to take. This improvement is the “big one” and it is the major cause of this small delay. Namely, we have to really make sure that Sitefinity is 100% backward compatible with modules built on previous architecture and we need to document this new architecture (kind of useless if we don’t). There was an idea to release without this and do it on time, but it would break our developer hearts to do so, so we kind of fought the management and squeeze this one in.
  • Dynamic links - The lack of this feature generated some genuine anger (deservedly so, I’d say) with the community and we simply couldn’t make another release without taking care of this. Some of you probably know where our office is :).
  • Hierarchical categories – the smallest of all improvements, but yet the one which lack of caused a lot of pain to our community.


Why beta?


Well, as I have outlined only the major improvements of 3.6 you can see that there are “some changes”. We really do not want to repeat some of the mistakes we’ve done in the past and we want to make sure that this release is 100% backward compatible, in respect to some rather tectonic changes.


While we know that you are paying for Sitefinity and it is really not your job to test our software, I can hardly emphasize enough how much it would mean to us if you give us your feedback on the beta (once out) and report any issues you may run into. We’ll give our best and most to provide you with a tool that will truly allow you to “deliver more than expected”.


I hope that we have not interfered too much with your plans. We are all looking forward to make your life yet simpler with the new release of Sitefinity.


Leave a comment
  1. Brian Jan 19, 2009
    This sounds "great"!

    I dont mind waiting for these features.  What are dynamic links?
  2. Ivan Jan 19, 2009
    Hi Brian,
    thanks for understanding (and the "great!").
    Dynamic links are feature which prevent broken links when inserted in editor. Let's say you are writing a blog post and want to link to one of your pages. Now, if you decide to change the url of that page later, the link you've inserted in blog post will be automatically updated as well.
  3. id rather not say Jan 19, 2009
    while i'm glad of some of the changes you've decided to include, i'm a littled annoyed at the late notice of this

    We reworked our schedule around this release, and held off building sites, with a mad rush when the new version was out as we thought a stable release was worth the wait

    now it seems we'll not have the "stable release" and invariably 3.6 will have bugs when released

    historically, each version has had its issues, and there was no real "stable version" to go for, which seems to be the trend again.

    Dont get me wrong, i think you guys are great and the product is fantastic, but i'm not the only one who wanted a rock solid product, so in my opinion, it was the wrong decision/communication was too little too late        

  4. Ivan Jan 19, 2009
    @ id rather not say
    First of all I'd like to apologize for the inconvenience we have caused to you and, yes, it is a short notice. We have really tried our best to make it till 20th and I assure you that the delay won't be long. We fully understand that our planning and releasing invariably affects your own planning and business decisions. We are constantly seeking to meet several different needs we need to satisfy (new features, keep bugs at minimum, backward compatibility, performance optimizations...) and the focus of each release will invariably leave some of our clients disappointed. We are employing new ideas and process continuously trying to meet all these criteria and ultimately help you fulfill your goals with Sitefinity. 
    The decision to release beta first is directly related to our intent to release a really solid version. We have greatly simplified and refactored the backend of Sitefinity which will not only make it simpler to build modules and extend existing ones, but will also make product more solid since there is far more less code now to be tested.
    Once again, my sincere apologies, for the short notice - we will try really hard to get the official (solid rock) release out as soon as possible.

  5. Andrei Jan 20, 2009
    Ivan Hi,
    So can I have the BETA version to play with now?
  6. Ivan Jan 20, 2009
    @ Andrei,

    we will release Sitefinity 3.6 beta by the end of this week. The documentation will not be completly ready at that moment, but I'll write few blog posts over the weekend to point you in a right direction - so you can play :).
  7. Mikael Jan 20, 2009
    Thank you for the exciting news. I rather have a wait and a better product. However I must say I do not have schedule pressure from clients.

    What I would like to stress is the importance of good documentation. I remember years ago when Telerik's RadControl documentation was atrocious. I pointed out the issue and somehow something happened and it changed dramatically, and today the docs and live examples and support are very good.

    With being a SiteFinity newcomer, I must say that I find the documentation poor from a programmers point of view. It is hard for me to grasp and utilize all the possibilities SiteFinity offers to programmers for customization and extention. I think you make your goodproduct appear much less capable than it is. Many possibilities I only hear about when I read forum posts or blogs.

    It is not only frustrating for me, but also I have to bother product support a lot for all kinds of questions which should, or could, easily be covered by good docs.

    regards, Mikael
  8. Joseph Jan 20, 2009
    Say it ain't so... We pushed our production schedule back so that we could build modules using the revised methods but I'm out of time. Guess we're going old school.
  9. steve'o Jan 20, 2009
    All good things are worth waiting for !!!
    ...and never rush a developer!

    Please let me know when beta is released as we are eager to load test this version. 
    Thank you !!!
  10. Bill Tammen Jan 20, 2009
    Where does this place the v.4.0 release on the time line now?
  11. Shannon Dunn Jan 22, 2009
    I too was waiting for 3.6 but only because we need to get .NET 3.5 to work. I just found out a few hours ago why my WFC library was not integrating with my Site Finity site we are building, and that was the reason...old libraries in the BIN folder. We NEED this as our site depends on WFC for backend work.

    My question to you Ivan is, if I were to go to the Beta version of 3.6, what would the transition be to go to the final release of 3.6? I used to use Ektron where a point release was like trying to stick your head in a garden hose...much less a beta. Can I get an idea of what it would take?

    Second, is there a way I can get the 3.5 version of .NET to work correctly in the current product?

    Hey these features look great and I am pumped to see them as we are about to do some major module work to create a job board, and more.

    Keep up the good work guys!
  12. Markus Jan 22, 2009
    My question would be if you could install 4.0 over a 3.6 or if 4.0 would need a whole new installation and stuff.

    The reason for asking this questin is that I have a big project comming up and sure would like to use 4.0 on it. But for time reasons i might not stall the client for another 4 month.

    Regards Markus

  13. Ivan Jan 22, 2009
    once again, we are really sorry for the inconvenience. Transition from 3.6 beta to 3.6 ought to be efortless - you are most likely looking at overwriting the .dll files (the good news is that we are heading into that direction, so pretty soon, every upgrade will consist of only changing the .dll files - with the new configuration manager coming... ups, probably should mention that just yet :) ).
    I am not entirely sure what are the problems with Sitefinity on .NET 3.5, since telerik.com is running Sitefinity 3.5 SP2 on .NET 3.5 and we had no issues. Please contact the support with some more details and we'll set it up here and investigate.
    Our goal is to keep each version 100% backward compatible, however sometimes this is impossible. I do not want to say that 4.0 will not be backward compatible, nor will I claim that it is going to 100% backward compatible. The scheduled changes are pretty big - but we do have a plan how to make it all backward compatible. Most probably, you will not be able to take advantage of the new performance optimizations that will happen with 4.0, but your old modules and controls should work exactly the same way as in 3.5/3.6. Though, we may come up with a way to overhaul it all together... We'll have several releases of 4.0 including the CTP (and some other surprises when it comes to business processes), which makes us confident that we will be able to make transition extremely smooth.

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