AspDotNetStorefront 9.5 – Exploring the new release
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I recently had the opportunity to set up a brand new eCommerce store with AspDotNetStorefront Version 9.5 (released in January 2015) and have the following review. Please note that some of these features may have been available in versions before 9.5, but they were new to me.
Stuff that I like (love?)
- Admin site user interface- Just WOW! By far my favorite enhancement of the release, I can’t help but start here… The older versions of Admin were a bit clunky and “old school” visually and technologically. The new UI is much sleeker and easier to navigate. New thought has been given to terminology as well, so things are easier to find if you really don’t know where to start (“Settings” instead of “Appconfig Parameters” – hurray!). Another particular favorite of mine is the “Quick Adds” option on product detail pages. Previously, if you forgot to add a manufacturer (a required field) before entering a new product, you had to stop, save the product with another manufacturer, go add the manufacturer, go back to the product and revise the manufacturer selection. Now the “Quick Add” feature allows you to complete these steps in one pop-up screen – yes!
- Responsive skin– Skin 3 that’s included out-of-the-box is responsive and, upon preliminary but not thorough review (yet), it holds up quite well on tablets and phones. A far superior option to the older “mobile site” offered in previous versions (and apparently still supported in 9.5).
- Help interface– Previous versions are documented in the online manual at http://manual.aspdotnetstorefront.com/, which is packed with useful information that I use daily when working on a new AspDotNetStorefront implementation. I was terrified to lose such a valuable resource, but my fears were for nothing, as the new version uses a different and superior help interface which is cleaner and easier to navigate and search. The inclusion of Print, Bookmark and Email links are particularly useful.
Stuff that’s now included
I was delighted to find that the following great features that at one point were “add-ons” and required additional purchase, are now included with the purchase of 9.5 and Year-Round Benefits (annual support and upgrade coverage):
- Smart Mini Cart
- Smart One Page Checkout
- Natively Responsive Skin
Stuff that has gone away
According to the 9.5 release notes, the following features are no longer available in 9.5. This is important to note for clients using these features in previous versions, as custom coding may be required to continue to use these features after upgrading to 9.5:
During the build of AspDotNetStorefront 9.5, a positive decision was made to remove features that, for a number of reasons, were not felt to be right for inclusion. Reasons varied, and largely covered performance hits, legacy architecture and feature overlap.
Our primary focus in 2015 is to deliver software that helps attract traffic, and we are delivering services (like 500+) that support the ‘more traffic’ initiative. After all, we say, what use are more ecommerce features on a store that rarely gets visited? We would sooner be building a cart that helps make sales, than a cart that just wants more bells and whistles than the next guy.
These are the omitted features:
- Google Checkout
- Component Art
- Recently Viewed Products
- Gift Registry
- File-based entity/product descriptions
- Line Item Notes on Orders
- Show In Product Browser (for entities)
- Stop/Start Dates (for products)
- Cardinal MyECheck Payment Method
- Spec files
- Swatch Images
- Mailing Manager
- NoScript field (for products)
- Topic Mapping (topics can still be filtered by stores via Store Mappings page)
- Customers who bought X also bought Y
- Payment Express
- Pinnacle Payments
- SecureNet (v2)
The following additional features are also mentioned in the release notes, but I didn’t have an opportunity to review them for this post. From the descriptions, they appear to be great for SEO, administration and performance and I look forward to playing with them in the near future.
- Added support for Google Tag Manager
- Continued work on Rich Snippets (Schema.org)
- DotFeed connector embedded natively
- Tightly coupled feed from store to Google’s merchant center
- Now supports Google Universal Analytics (analytics.js)
- New ‘bulk’ actions allowing volume data throughput
- AspDotNetStorefront now natively runs on .NET 4.5 Framework
- All remaining ntext database fields converted to nvarchar(max)
- Redundant files and images removed
If you are interested in my previous reviews and articles about AspDotNetStorefront, please feel free to browse!