Another year flew by. I usually do a Top 10 list at the end of the year, but I was too swamped with family obligations to finish the post in December. But fear not, here is our Top 10 list of accomplishments for 2016!
- Launched ASP.NET Core Hosting
Years in the making, what was to be ASP.NET 5 was renamed and launched as ASP.NET Core 1.0 in June 2016. And of course, we made ASP.NET Core Hosting available on our Windows 2012 platform. ASP.NET Core is a complete rewrite, a modular framework distributed via NuGet packages that supports side-by-side app versioning. It’s also cross-platform (Windows, Linux, Mac).
- Launched SQL 2016 Hosting
2016 also saw the release of the newest Microsoft SQL Server 2016. With new enhancements like stretch databases and temporal tables, we wanted to make it available to our customers as quickly as we could. And so SQL 2016 was launched in both the US and UK data centers!
- Launched SpamExperts Email Inbox Filtering and Inbox Archiving Solutions
We’ve evaluated many spam filtering solutions over the years, and we finally found a partner who provided a good spam filter product at a very cost-effective rate. Most professional spam filter services charge per email box which gets pricey. With SpamExperts we can provide filtering on a per domain basis. Through SpamExperts, we provide Inbox Filtering, a premium spam filter solution with a feature-rich management portal, and Inbox Archiving, a service that will store a backup of your clean incoming emails in encrypted format and in the cloud. Check it out.
- Launched PHP 7 Hosting
Yes, we are a Windows hosting shop, but we keep up to date with PHP too. We launched support for PHP 7 and PHP 5.6.
- Kept pace with ASP.NET Updates
Installing a new framework on the server is just a start. It’s also important to keep up to date its updates and with Microsoft’s rapid release cadence, this can be a challenge. But we are up to the task and we’ve updated our Windows 2012 platform with ASP.NET Core 1.1. In addition, even with all the fanfare with the release of ASP.NET Core, the truth is that ASP.NET Core is not yet at feature parity with ASP.NET 4.x. So we understand that not everyone is going to go all-in with bleeding edge frameworks. So we made sure to continue to update our .NET 4.x frameworks. We are now at ASP.NET 4.6.1 on our Windows 2012 hosting platform.
- Kept pace with Team Foundation Server Updates
Setting and forgetting is not good enough. We also keep up to date with Team Foundation Server updates too. For example, we updated TFS 2015 with Update 3 and introduced new features such as Work Item Deletion and Team Project Creation/Deletion.
- Launched Free Website Migration
With all our experience in migrating sites away from Windows 2003, and knowing that the pain of moving could stop people from migrating from their current host – even when they perform poorly – we introduced free site migration services. Sign up and then let us know that you want migration assistance. You can sit back and relax while we do all the heavy lifting to move your website.
- Continued with Enhancements at Everleap.com
I’d be remiss not to mention the enhancements we launched over at our Cloud Hosting solution at Everleap.com. We launched both Shared SQL 2016 and Managed SQL 2016. We introduced WebJobs and Auto Heal on the Everleap SSD Reserved Cloud Servers. We launched support for multiple versions of node.js, added PHP 7 support, and added our Cloud Backup solution too.
- Renewed our Microsoft Gold Certification
For the 11th year in a row, we renewed our Microsoft Gold Certification status. This is a significant investment of resources and time, but we feel that this status is a differentiator and shows our commitment to staying on top of Microsoft technologies.
- Attained Privacy Shield Certification
The former EU Safe Harbor framework was struck down in a EU court, so the US and EU went to work to negotiate a new framework. In July 2016, a new “Privacy Shield” framework was approved. The Department of Commerce started accepting certifications in August 2016. We worked with our partner, Truste, to help get us certified and we were able to achieve Privacy Shield certification.
So that’s the Top 10 for 2016. As we look forward, we’ve been planning for 2017 and there are a lot of things brewing. We will keep making enhancements to our hosting services, and if you have any suggestions or feedback, please let us know.
We wish you a very happy new year!
The Privacy Shield framework replaces the former Safe Harbor framework. The Privacy Shield framework was approved in July 2016 and the U.S. Department of Commerce started accepting certifications for Privacy Shield in August 2016.
We are committed to protecting the privacy of our customers, and achieving Privacy Shield certification is one of the ways we demonstrate that commitment.
We’ve updated our ASP.NET hosting platform to ASP.NET Core 1.0.1. Even though the framework is deployed along with your app now, the ASP.NET Core 1.0.1 update required some server side updates. The .NET Core 1.0.1. update is a patch version and does not include any new features, but we thought it important to test and update our servers since there are some security updates and since Microsoft considers this a Long Term Support (LTS) update, so we wouldn’t be able to get Microsoft support without running the latest LTS updates.
If you are using ASP.NET Core, 1.0, you don’t need to do anything for your application to use .NET Core 1.0.1. It’ll roll-forward to .NET Core 1.0.1 by default. But note that the roll-forward policy only applies to patch versions.
If you encounter any issues, please contact our Technical Support team.
In July 2011, Microsoft launched an initiative to help accelerate building Line-of-Business applications with Visual Studio LightSwitch – a stand-alone product that integrated with Visual Studio 2010. The promise of LightSwitch was to provide experienced developers, those with little experience, and non-developer business stakeholders with a faster way to build business applications.
LightSwitch could be used to create Silverlight, HTML 5 or SharePoint applications for the web or for the desktop. In subsequent releases, instead of a stand-alone product, Microsoft included LightSwitch tooling with Visual Studio 2012 and beyond. Today, LightSwitch is available with the latest release of Visual Studio 2015.
However, with all the focus on ASP.NET 5 (now ASP.NET Core) over the past couple years, there has been very little discussion about LightSwitch. In fact the last post on the LightSwitch blog was made back in 2014.
That is, until Oct 14, 2016.
That’s when Microsoft announced that Visual Studio 2015 will be the last version of Visual Studio to include the LightSwitch tooling. Microsoft will continue to support existing LightSwitch apps with critical bug fixes and security updates in accordance to the Microsoft Product Support Lifecycle. (Mainstream support for Visual Studio 2015 ends October 13, 2020.)
I did not personally use LightSwitch, but some of our staff did, in order to create some tools for analyzing marketing data. In our use case, LightSwitch was useful for non-developer staff to create quick applications. While LightSwitch was not central to our system development efforts, I thought it useful in certain circumstances, and I could understand how a community of LightSwitch power-users could evolve around this tooling. Which would explain some of the passionate comments on the recent LightSwitch announcement.
With the deprecation of Silverlight, Expression, WebMatrix, and now LightSwitch, you can see Microsoft trying to shed itself of their older technologies, no doubt to focus on their new cross-platform tooling for cloud environments. If you are invested in any older Microsoft technologies, it is important to keep tabs on the Microsoft development team blogs, and you should take note of any long periods of silence. And although it will eat up resources, it’s best to invest in learning about and making transitions to newer modern development stacks and tools when you can.
At DiscountASP.NET, we try to provide you with a long runway. We can still support older technologies like Silverlight and sites developed with Expression, WebMatrix and LightSwitch. And you know we keep up to date with the latest technologies like ASP.NET Core hosting. We strive to provide a platform where you can confidently run your legacy apps while working on modernizing your development efforts.
Our Windows hosting service is a subscription business. And as much as I hate to admit it, we do have customers cancel service. I know it’s hard to believe but it’s true. All kidding aside, part of running any subscription service is dealing with churn.
At the end of the day, we want your online presence to be successful. We hope that our hosting solution can contribute to your success, but if it doesn’t work for you, we understand. We certainly don’t want to hold anyone hostage in an undesirable or unworkable situation.
That’s why we make it easy to submit a cancellation request – right from your account Control Panel.
I’m sure you have experienced other subscription services that make it extremely difficult to cancel services. They force you to call during specific hours (never in your time zone), then go through a series of automated phone menus, punching in all sorts of information. When you finally get to speak to someone, you have to confirm or repeat information, provide answers to security questions and sometimes even justify your reasons for leaving! The whole process is painful, and the representative’s job is to convince you to keep your account active, not to help you cancel it.
We don’t employ those Kind of tactics. Mainly because it’s just not cool, but also because the last thing we want to be – even if you’re on your way out – is annoying. We don’t want anyone to have a bad experience associated with DiscountASP.NET.
However, if you do ever cancel service with us, we have one “ask” – and that is to let us know why you canceled. We ask the question not to pry or invade your privacy, but for feedback in order to help improve our service.
If you sold your business or got a new web developer who prefers another host, let us know. If you just hated the service or Control Panel or the way some feature worked, tell us. We can take it! Maybe you just outgrew what we offer, or decided to change your technology stack. Let us know. That’s valuable information to us.
We continuously review the reasons given when people cancel and the information is passed along to our product and operations teams, who use the feedback to help inform our product pipeline and customer support training. Getting feedback from you is really valuable and it helps us to prioritize what we work on or develop.
We realize that if you are leaving you may be thinking, “Hey, I’m leaving, why should I care about helping you?” Well, look at it this way: we are an independent hosting company. We aren’t just another brand name in a huge conglomerate, or a line item for an investment firm. It’s important that independent companies like DiscountASP.NET continue to thrive. It keeps the big conglomerates and the fly-by-night “hosts” honest. And it provides you with a more personal alternative to the giant corporate hosts when you want it.
That’s good for you as a consumer, having that choice, and it’s good for us, for obvious reasons. 😉
And while we’re on the subject, feel free to give us your feedback even if you have no intention of leaving! We love to hear it, and it helps for all the reasons we’ve talked about here.
As you may or may not know, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) struck down the EU Safe Harbor framework back in October 2015. The Safe Harbor agreement was originally reached in 2000, and provided a framework to allow US-based companies to transfer EU citizens’ data to the USA if the company met EU standards for privacy protection.
Since 2010, DiscountASP.NET has maintained US-EU Safe Harbor certification, working with our privacy management solutions partner, TRUSTe. We chose to invest in attaining Safe Harbor status because we host customers from all over the world and we wanted to make sure that our EU customers are confident that we are following EU privacy standards. We believe it’s a differentiator and shows our commitment to protecting your privacy.
Naturally, we were very concerned when the Safe Harbor framework was ruled invalid. After the ruling came out we reached out to TRUSTe to get guidance, and they informed us that US and EU teams were negotiating a new privacy framework. It took a while, but in July 2016, the new framework was approved with a new name, Privacy Shield. On August 1, 2016, the U.S. Department of Commerce started accepting certifications under the new Privacy Shield framework.
We hope that our efforts here demonstrate our commitment to privacy protection.
Microsoft introduced WebMatrix as a free and lightweight IDE for web developers back in 2011. During the 2011 //BUILD conference, Microsoft introduced WebMatrix v2 beta. I remember that, because I was there too – on stage to announce our free WebMatrix v2 beta hosting sandbox.
I personally thought WebMatrix was a useful tool (when you didn’t have Visual Studio or didn’t want to install Visual Studio). Whenever I was on a computer or laptop that didn’t have Visual Studio and I needed to do some website work or show someone something on their laptop, I usually ended up installing WebMatrix.
But all good things must come to an end.
In early August, in the Microsoft IIS.NET WebMatrix forum, it was announced that there will be no more future development work on WebMatrix. So the last version is 3.0 and there will be no more updates and no more bug fixes. Since Microsoft introduced Visual Studio Code – a new free cross-platform IDE, they are pushing developers to transition to that tool now.
At DiscountASP.NET and Everleap, we support WebDeploy and will continue to host sites developed with WebMatrix, but for developers who rely on WebMatrix, you will need to make the transition to a new tool in the near future.
It’s installed and available right now on all of the IIS8 servers. If you want to use Core but your site is on an IIS7 server, we can migrate you to IIS8. Just let us know.
The only known issue at the moment is deployment only works into your root directory. We’ve let Microsoft know that there’s an issue deploying to a subdirectory, and we expect that they’ll fix that in a future release.
We’ll be publishing some posts soon on developing with ASP.NET Core 1.0. Stay tuned.