I just came back from the AspDotNetStorefront Developer Conference, along with Guidance CTO, Jon Provisor. This year’s conference, held in Las Vegas, was filled with announcements, including the launch of version 9 of AspDotNetStorefront, which they have called Ashland. AspDotNetStorefront executives unveiled the product map for Ashland at the conference, which proved this was a major release for the platform and a critical foundation for their Enterprise-level support. Guidance is proud to be AspDotNetStorefront’s first Enterprise-level partner.
Here are some of the key highlights of Ashland:
- 1. Master Pages
Ashland finally supports the .NET master page and theme approach for website skinning. Skin base has been deprecated, but the XML Package is still fully supported. This change allows any .NET developer to easily skin the eCommerce site without having to know XSLT language, like in previous versions of AspDotNetStorefront.
This move not only leverages master page and themes better, but it also allows for easier integration with AJAX toolkit and the creation of custom user controls. This makes the development of the site much more streamlined and faster.
- 2. Enterprise Modules
This is a certainly a big, significant move for AspDotNetStorefront. With Ashland, they’ve established what has been called ERP Synchronization Specification or ERPS, which combines the use of WSI (the Web Service API they’ve made available since version 7.1) and the "in Process" add-in model. The Add-In model leverages standardized contracts that allow developers to extend and develop "add-ins" to enhance AspDotNetStorefront’s core functionalities.
Here’s a list of available contracts (which can be extended):
- Payment gateway
- Shipping methods and rates calculation
- Order fulfillment
- Tax Rates
- Order Options
- XSLT Extension
All of these create new possibilities to extend AspDotNetStorefront without touching the core source code of the software. These also allow developer communities to share and/or develop custom add-ins that can be reused by other developers.
- 3. Support for Multi Stores
With Ashland, you can now create and manage multiple stores within the AspDotNetStorefront installation. Each store can have its own look and feel (skin), product subsets (through product mapping), shipping method, and even payment method. However, all stores will share the same product and variants database, order database and admin interface.
This feature is perfectly suited for companies that want to "launch" micro sites or subsidiary sites where all order processing needs to funnel through one system. However, this is not to be confused with a "mall" solution, where a company hosts multiple eCommerce sites under a single installation.
- 4. Other notable enhancements
- Configurable URL rewrites
- User-configurable error handling
- Revised shopping cart logic
- Versioned topic
- Page-level role based security
- 5. PA-DSS certification
The platform’s PCI compliance will be replaced with a new certification called PA-DSS. AspDotNetStorefront takes payment security standards very seriously, and as such, Ashland will undergo the full PA-DSS certification process as well as an independent security review. This will guarantee that all future AspDotNetStorefront-built eCommerce sites will meet the industry standard for payment security regulation.
The scheduled release date of Ashland is August 31st, 2009. The pricing should not be too different from the current version except for the multi-stores functionality, which they have yet to determine the licensing model for it.
But that’s not all for AspDotNetStorefront. Ashland may be the next version, but they are already started working on the next enhancement list which will be included on the next version of AspDotNetStorefront (code name "Vegas"). Here are some of the key features that are planned to be included in Vegas:
- Multi Payment support
- RMA generation
- Invoicing capabilities
- Order Archival
- Enhanced back order support
- Line Item order transaction
- Iterative (faceted) navigation and search capabilities
- Advanced phone order
- VAT inclusive pricing
- User-defined entities
- Fully localized admin site
- Integrated blog engine
- Mobile capabilities
- Admin redesign
The expected release date for Vegas is end of December 2009.
Taking a look at both Ashland and Vegas, we are very excited to the platform maturing and growing at the same time. The feature sets are fully updated and reflect the ever-changing needs of eCommerce websites and online stores. Kudos to the development team of AspDotNetStorefront! We are looking forward to working with both Ashland and Vegas.