Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Telerik Extensions for MVC Unofficial FAQs, Part II

After we released the first preview of our new UI Extensions for ASP.NET MVC in August, there were naturally many questions surrounding the release. Why is Telerik building MVC Extensions? What does this mean for WebForms? Are the Extensions for MVC really open source? To help address some of the burning questions, I created a complete list of answers in Part 1 of my "Unofficial FAQs" for MVC. Many of those answers remain valid today with the release of Q3 2009, but there are some new questions that I'm starting to see asked multiple times.

So, it's time for Part 2 of the Unofficial FAQs. In this post, I'll try to provide answers to many of the new questions surrounding Telerik's updated release of the Extensions for ASP.NET MVC and hopefully help curb the rumor mill. If you have an unanswered question, send it to me on Twitter (@toddanglin) and I'll update this post.
Q: What's new in this release of the Extensions for ASP.NET MVC?
The Q3 2009 release marks the introduction of the first Telerik UI Extensions for ASP.NET MVC. In our CTP, we introduced the core framework (the server-side fluent API) that the new Extensions are built on, but we did not introduce any Telerik crafted UI rendering. This release builds on the work of the CTP and ships four new UI Extensions for MVC: Grid, TabStrip, Menu, and PanelBar. You can see all of the new Extensions in action in the online demos.
Q: What does the "beta" tag mean on this release?
If you remember the transition for the RadControls for ASP.NET to the RadControls for ASP.NET AJAX ("Prometheus"), you may remember that we kept the beta tag on the suite until our transition was complete. The beta tag in this case implies that the suite is not final. The controls in the suite are not beta quality. They are tested, production-ready UI components.
We will likely keep the beta tag on the suite for at least the next one or two releases. Once we have added more UI Extensions to the suite and it represents a more complete LOB toolbox offering, we'll remove the beta tag. Of course, these are open source controls, so you can always modify the current versions if you find some bug or issue you want changed during our "beta" period.
Q: What happened to the jQueryUI wrappers?
As we outlined in our CTP FAQs, the jQueryUI wrappers were merely proofs of concept, a way for us to show-off the more important server-side fluent API without building our own rendering. The jQueryUI wrapper source remains on CodePlex and we encourage the community to pick-up and extend the wrappers if they are valuable to MVC projects. Going forward, Telerik will not be actively updating or supporting the jQueryUI wrappers.
Q: Are the Extensions still open source?
Definitely! Keeping the UI Extensions for ASP.NET MVC open source has always been a primary goal for our project. We know that the MVC community thrives on open source projects and software, so as a good .NET citizen we wanted to ensure our time saving UI Extensions were freely available to this community. With the Q1 2010 release, the Telerik Extensions will ship under a dual licensing model:
  • GPLv2 - This is a very popular and common open source license (I've seen some stats that say 70% of OSS is GPL licensed). It allows you to freely use the Telerik Extensions for ASP.NET MVC in any project. The only restriction is that you cannot redistribute software that uses GPL code under a more restrictive license (like a "proprietary" license). For that, we offer a...
  • Commercial License - The commercial license provides you (today) with at least two very important benefits: 1) it grants you access to Telerik's legendary support, and 2) it gives you a legal (and lawyer pleasing) way to use the Telerik Extensions in proprietary, redistributed software.
Q: Why did you go with the GPL license vs. alternatives like MIT or LGPL?
We spent a long time evaluating all open source license alternatives. We had many lengthy internal discussions, and at the end of the day we settled on the GPL for a few key reasons:
  • GPL is a popular and widely used open source license (Linux is licensed under the GPL) that many businesses already know how to understand (read: the lawyers have already approved the GPL)
  • GPL has a good "philosophy." It basically says, if you want to use our generosity to build software, all we require is that you pay it forward (i.e. keep your software free). If you instead want to make money off of your software, then we are now in a commercial relationship, and we simply ask that you pay us for our work just as you expect to be paid for your proprietary software.
  • GPL is the most community friendly open source license in that it ensures the "intent" of open source developers is respected. That is, open source licenses are for open source developers. If you are a commercial developer, you need a commercial license.
Other OSS licenses like LGPL and MIT are good and definitely more liberal, but they can more easily be abused. Our goal is to support the OSS community with free software, and continue to provide well supported, commercial software to commercial developers.
Q: I still don't get the GPL. Is my software "infected" or not if I use the Extensions?
The best way to understand the impact of GPL on your software is to follow this simple decision tree:
  1. Do you plan to redistribute your software? -->NO: GPL will have no impact on your software -->YES: ====>Commercial? GPL is not ideal. Purchase a Telerik Commercial license. ====>Open source? GPL is fine as long as your OSS license is compatible.
Q: Is the commercial license for the Extensions part of my Premium Collection?
Yes! So, if you're a Premium Collection subscriber, you don't have to worry about the GPL vs. Commerical license question. You've already got a commercial license (when it's introduced in Q1), so feel free to use the Telerik Extensions wherever you need them.
Q: Why would I buy the commercial license? How much is it on its own?
As we've outlined above, the commercial license is for commercial software first and foremost. There are other reasons you may want to buy a license, though, such as:
  • Access to Telerik's premium support
  • Access to Major Release and Service Pack builds (OSS project will only receive Major release builds)
  • Ability to use Extensions in closed-source/proprietary projects
Pricing will be set in Q1 2010, but it will likely be on par with the other UI suite licenses.
Q: Is the standalone commercial license available with Q3?
Since we only have four controls in this release, we have decided to wait for the Q1 2010 release before offering a standalone (i.e. not part of the Premium Collection) license for MVC.
Q: So, there is no commercial license in Q3? What is the "Beta Go-Live" license?
Correct, the Q1 2010 release will be the first to ship with the commercial standalone license. In Q3, the Extensions ship as both GPLv2 and "Beta Go-Live." The Beta Go-Live license allows you to use the Extensions in your project while you wait for the Q1 2010 release.
Q: Is the source available for the latest release?
Yes. The full source for the Telerik Extensions ships with every download. You can find the source in the Source > Telerik.Web.Mvc folder. The Q3 2009 are also available on CodePlex if you prefer to download from that location.
Q: Do you ship any themes with the Telerik Extensions?
Definitely. We have prepared 13 common skins for all UI Extensions that have been designed to closely match the skins of the RadControls for ASP.NET AJAX. The AJAX and MVC controls do not share skins, but we have created skins with the same names and look-and-feel so that you can easily build "hybrid" applications that leverage the best of MVC and WebForms.
Q: What version of the ASP.NET MVC framework to the Extensions require?
The current Extensions target the officially release ASP.NET MVC v1 framework. That means you need .NET 3.5 and ASP.NET MVC 1.0 to use the Telerik Extensions. We are already experimenting with the ASP.NET MVC 2 betas, and we plan to target that framework after it is released by Microsoft.
Q: Is there an installer for the Q3 2009 MVC release?
There is no installer for the Telerik Extensions in Q3. The download is a simple ZIP archive that contains all required assemblies, documentation, examples, and source. To work with the Telerik Extensions in Visual Studio, simply add the DLLs to your project and follow the guidance in the docs for configuring your MVC web.config file.
We do plan to ship a simple installer by Q1 2010, but for Q3 we wanted to focus our efforts on the completeness and quality of the shipping UI Extensions (primarily, Grid).
Q: What's next for the Telerik Extensions for ASP.NET MVC?
Now that we have released our first four UI components, we will continue to build on this progress to ship a more complete LOB toolbox for MVC in Q1 and Q2 2010. First-up will be a focus on delivering editing support in the Grid, which will also force us to address a number of controls required to serve as column editors (such as date pickers, calendars, input controls, etc.). Plans for Q1 and Q2 are still being discussed, though, so make sure you share your feedback on the Telerik MVC forums! Your feedback will have a huge impact on our direction for the next release.