Ektron and WURFL
What does this mean for my site?
Episerver (and the former Ektron) has recently ceased including WURFL - a device detection library - with the Ektron product line, which was previously included as a complimentary add-on. Before you proceed, please read the official statement and instructions on the Ektron Customer Portal.
When Ektron first introduced device detection in Ektron CMS version 8.02 in 2010, WURFL was a free and open-source add-on. Companies also were still cranking out "adaptive" sites as a best practice - developing separate templates for desktop versus mobile sites. At the time, it seemed obvious to offer this complimentary add-on available with the Ektron product.
WURFL is now commercial. In addition, our customers have, over the last several years, been going through re-designs to make their sites responsive rather than adaptive - using one set of templates to accommodate all devices. In effect, most customers today, particularly those who've adopted modern design philosophies like Responsive Web Design and Progressive Enhancement aren't even using the WURFL integration we provided so long ago.
In order to focus our resources into more impactful enhancements to our software, we decided to allow our WURFL license to expire and by extension stop distributing WURFL as part of a complimentary add-on to the Ektron product line.
If you think you may be one of the minority who is still using it, read on!
What on Earth is WURFL?
WURFL (Wireless Universal Remote Resource File), now owned, licensed, and hosted by Scientiamobile, Inc., is a library of data about mobile device types and their capabilities. When the server receives a request from a browser on any device, the browser also sends what's called a User Agent (UA). The UA is used by WURFL to identify the device making the request and can tell the server other useful information such as whether the device supports Flash. This is known as Device Detection.
Why should I use Device Detection?
Some companies still serve up a mobile or desktop version of their site. Device Detection is how they know whether the visitor is on their smartphone, tablet or laptop.
Even in more modern, responsive designs, Device Detection can play a part in optimizing what you send to the browser. For example, you might use Device Detection to make changes to the navigation on mobile versus desktop or eliminate unnecessary features entirely from the mobile experience. This combination of responsive design and server-side device detection is known as RESS.
Is Ektron/Episerver removing files from my site?
Not at this time. We're only issuing notices to our customers that we are ceasing the distribution and licensed use of the once-complimentary WURFL add-on, and that customers have a couple of options moving forward:
- If your site does not rely on WURFL, simply remove the files and you're done!
- If your site does rely on WURFL for device detection, contract to license the software with Scientiamobile, Inc., the owners of WURFL, in order to continue to use the software legally.
- If your site does rely on WURFL, but you'd like to work with another vendor, we've provided source code for an integration to an alternative open-source solution that you or your implementation partner can use as a basis for an integration with 51Degrees Lite option (default example with no licensing cost) or another device-detection solution.
Any new software downloads of the Ektron product will no longer include the WURFL files as an add-on from our own installation.
Will this break my site?
It's not a guarantee, but should you follow best practices, it is extremely unlikely to have an effect. Today most sites have been redesigned to be responsive, not adaptive. This will impact you only if:
- You are still serving up device-specific templates using Ektron's built-in device detection and configurations.
- Your site is implemented to change some or all of the content or layout depending on the device type or class using Ektron's device detection or via direct use of the WURFL API (Responsive Design with Server-Side components, or RESS).
- You are relying on our Adaptive Images feature to serve optimized images based on incoming device. Note that this is different from our Responsive Images feature.
It will temporarily impact Responsive Images and an update is being developed that will address this issue. We expect this cumulative update (resolving case #23798, for those keeping track) will be available prior to the April 3 deadline.
This does not impact Responsive Design integrations with PageBuilder or most other areas of the Ektron product.
Can I test this first?
Of course - that's what development environments are for!
In your development environment, simply follow the official instructions to disable device detection and remove the files without deleting them by moving them out of your Ektron site and into another folder, such as the server's Desktop.
Then refresh the site. We recommend fully testing the site as well as verifying it against your authoring or production instances to make sure everything is working correctly. If not, then you can either license WURFL and reinstall the files (reverse the procedure linked above), create a solution using another device detection vendor (as we have suggested 51Degrees), or modify the code to remove the dependency on WURFL.
If everything checks out, then you can proceed to remove the files from other environments.
If you don't have an implementation partner, we're happy to help you find the right one for your business. Just contact your Account Manager or email anyone at Episerver for guidance. A great partner can help you determine whether you're using WURFL and, if so, help you get the most out of it. They also can guide you through updating your website with more modern techniques that don't rely on WURFL or similar software. We also have a dedicated Expert Services team who can assist you in matters like this.