Mobile Device Detection and Redirection Improvements Coming Soon
With mobile device usage expected to eclipse traditional desktop usage by 2015, companies worldwide are looking for ways to adapt and to provide personalized, relevant experiences to site visitors on all types of devices. In response to this market demand, in November 2011 we introduced an exciting new platform capability as part of DotNetNuke 6.1 - mobile device detection and redirection management. This announcement was made at our annual user conference, DNN World, and it generated a ton of excitement within our ecosystem.
Device detection provides the ability to determine the type and characteristics of a device being used to browse a website. Once the device is identified, it is possible to make intelligent decisions to provide an optimized experience to the site visitor. This could be as simple as redirecting visitors to an optimized landing page or mobile-optimized site, or it could involve more sophisticated adaptive rendering or responsive design where the website customizes the content being served based on device characteristics.
Device detection is made possible by a Device Description Repository (DDR) which is basically a database of all known devices that provide connectivity to the Internet. In DotNetNuke 6.1 we included a DDR known as WURFL which at the time was available under a compatible open source license. However in the months since, the founders of WURFL decided to change its licensing model, which meant that we were forced to find an alternative. We evaluated a variety of solutions and ultimately concluded that the DDR offering from 51Degrees.mobi provided the highest quality device information while at the same time providing the flexibility to accommodate our business needs.
51Degrees.mobi is based in the United Kingdom and has over 25 years management expertise in developing and managing mobile web services. Their services are used by thousands of websites and currently support over 170 million device visits every month. Through strategic relationships with device manufacturers and other mobile data providers, they are able to maintain an extensive database of device and mobile browser characteristics. 51Degrees.mobi has distributed an open source version of its Lite device data and APIs on Codeplex.com for the past 2 years.
In the upcoming DotNetNuke 6.1.5 release, we will be delivering a fully integrated DDR solution based on 51Degrees.mobi. As part of this integration there are some exciting new features which will be available to both Community Edition and Professional Edition users of the platform.
All editions of the DotNetNuke platform will now have a Device Detection Management feature available on the Host menu. This feature provides information about the Device Detection Repository, including which version of the data is currently installed and the number of properties supported.
Community Edition users will have the 51Degrees.mobi Lite device data installed by default. The Lite data provides access to some basic device properties such as whether or not the device is a mobile device, and the screen resolution in terms of width and height in pixels. The Lite data is expected to be updated quarterly, with the latest public version available on Codeplex.com distributed with Community Edition on an ongoing basis.
In order to take advantage of the upgraded device detection capabilities, the Site Redirection Management feature originally introduced in DotNetNuke 6.1 has been back-ported from Professional Edition to Community Edition. This feature is available on the Admin menu and allows you to create redirection rules that route devices to landing pages or mobile-optimized sites.
Community Edition users will also have the ability to upgrade their Lite device data to the Premium data option. They can do so by browsing to the product listing on the DotNetNuke Store and purchasing a license key. The Premium data will be available for $360 per instance per year ( the same subscription licensing model as is used in the DotNetNuke Professional Edition product ). Once the license is activated, the customer will have access to over 100 device properties with real-time updates of the device data downloaded automatically from the 51Degrees.mobi service.
DotNetNuke Professional Edition customers will also get access to the 51Degrees.mobi Premium data at no extra charge ( a $360 value per year ). This includes access to all device properties and the automatic updates, which are critical for any business which is serious about providing an optimized mobile experience. For example, the usage of tablet devices has really exploded over the past year and the Premium device data includes an IsTablet property which allows customers to identify and optimize the experience for tablet users.
One item I should also note is that if Community Edition users of DotNetNuke 6.1 were utilizing some of the more obscure device properties through the API, it is possible that the device detection logic will no longer behave as expected. This is because the Lite data only contains a minimal set of device properties as compared to the WURFL data we were distributing previously. In order to correct this issue, you will need to upgrade to the Premium data.
I am the Co-Founder and CTO for DotNetNuke Corporation. I am also the original creator of DotNetNuke, the most successful open source project native to the Microsoft platform. I have 20 years professional experience in architecting and implementing large-scale software solutions for private and public organizations. I am a frequent speaker at conferences and a contributing author to a variety of DotNetNuke publications including the WROX Press book titled Professional DotNetNuke 5 - Open Source Web Application Framework. I was a founding member of the Board of Directors for the OuterCurve Foundation, a non-profit organization created by Microsoft whose goal is to enable the exchange of code and understanding among software companies and open source communities.