The new Beta release is comencing. This part of a release phase I enjoy the best: the new features we planned for the release are rolling down from the assembly line each and every day. Pretty much an Xmas for a guy like me. The Beta 3 release aims two targets. Firstly we are planning to achieve a level of readyness able to serve a pruduction installation and as such is ready to be used in a commercial project. Secondly we are adding a couple of new features and modules that are a must in a real word portal building scenario. I'll be pleased to share the list of new features as the date of the next Beta is set.
Two particularly interesting pieces of this weeks goodies are the Package installer and the XSLT rendering support in the Sense/Net 6.0 portlets.
The Package Installer as its name implies let's you pack your portal modul solution in an installable unit and upon installation deploys the items the new module requires. As we and hopefuly the community releases new functionality the Package Installer will be an essential tool in submitting and deploying reusable portal modules.
The Package Installer supports the following portal building items (bricks):
Content Views (ascx files)
Content Handlers (classes inside an assembly)
Content Type Definitions
Portlets (classes inside and assembly)
SQL state changers (sql scripts :))
and conventional portal content like files, folders and content meta files
The cool thing is that there is a number of way to create a package. If you are a VS2008 developer you can embed the deployable content in an assembly, place some attributes to define what to install and there you go. If you need more control, you can subclass the PackageInstaller class and override the necessary functions. Should you be someone not entirely living inside the VS2008 you can create packages from mere file system files and zipping them up into a file will be just as good provided you dont need the control over the installation process.
XSLT rendering support
Beyond default ASCX based view rendering XSLT can be used to handle complex display scenarios. Here you code the raw html output with the excellent capabilities of the XSLT language to transform XML data into custom html.
The Sense/Net 6.0 factory built modules will support custom XSLT transformations as views by providing the serialized xml version of the data returned by the portlet logic. XSLT transformations can be uploaded as simple files to the portal and later be used as conventional Content Views. Custom portlets can support XSLT rendering by overriding the PortletBase.GetModel() or the SerializeModel() functions.