Q1 2021

This release, the first major one in over 3 years, includes significant behind-the-scenes changes designed to ultimately improve reliability, flexibility, scalability and integration, as well as more visible changes to the front-end of Partners which includes a completely new authentication and registration system.

New authentication and registration system

The login and registration process has been rebuilt from scratch, improving security, ease of use, flexibility and implementing the latest authentication protocol standards.

New UI

A completely new interface, implemented using the latest accessibility and usability practices, is offered in several languages including:

  • English
  • French
  • Spanish
  • German
  • Chinese

Note that this new design is radically different to the previous version of Partners, and your user base should be forewarned of the change to avoid concern or confusion.

Branding/customisation of the new interface design is currently limited to logos and some content (Terms of Use, Privacy Policy, and Help). This will be extended as the new look is implemented in the other areas of Partners over the coming releases.

Improved registration

Step 1 of the new registration process

A streamlined registration process can get new users up and running in less time than before. Using the new ‘Registration invites’ facility, users can register via a one-time link to bypass the need to enter the details of a referring user within your organisation. Even without an invitation link, the top referrers are listed for easy selection, including their avatar or photo (where available). The details of other users can still be entered manually if they are not in the top referrers list.

When a referrer and approval is required, referrers are automatically sent a notification seeking their approval of the potential new user. They can approve or reject a registration request directly through Partners, rather than the helpdesk or nominated individual having to seek approval manually. Final approval remains with selected trusted users within Partners.

2-factor authentication

This is an optional feature which may not be enabled in your installation of Partners

2-factor authentication can be enabled on a per-user basis, improving the security of Partners accounts. When enabled, in addition to a username and password, users must also enter a code when authenticating. Currently Partners only supports SMS delivery for these codes, but other technologies are planned for future releases.

Change of passwords & email addresses

Change of email address and password are now entirely self-service. It is also possible to retrieve usernames where forgotten. Administrators no longer have access to reset passwords. Similarly, accounts can only be created by users themselves, to minimise the exposure of personal data.

New login notifications

An example of a ‘New device’ notification email

Users are automatically notified of logins from new devices and browsers to further enhance security, helping users to identify potential breaches of their accounts.

Modern authentication standards

This is an optional feature which may not be enabled in your installation of Partners

Single Sign-On now supports OpenID Connect/OAuth in addition to SAML2 and WS-Federation. Such federated authentication also no longer happens through an intermediary service, improving reliability and simplifying configuration.

Additionally, Partners can be configured to allow authentication using Microsoft or Google identity services.

Sliding user expiration

In addition to fixed-date expiry of users, sliding expiration can be enabled on a per-user basis. If sliding expiration is enabled, a user’s account is extended each time that they login. This allows unused accounts to be detected and automatically disabled, while removing the irritation of having to request an extension periodically.

For accounts where a fixed expiry date is used, an extension can be requested after expiry for re-applying for account approval during the first login attempt after expiry.

Avatar upload

Avatars can now be cropped in-browser when uploading through the new self-service account administration interface.

Password complexity enforcement

Password security is enforced through a new algorithm which uses various complexity calculations to determine if a chosen password has the appropriate strength for your system. For example, it treats passwords that contain (English) dictionary words as weak.

Visual indication of password strength

This differs greatly from the previous simple requirement to have a mix of letters, numbers and symbols.

The minimum score may need adjusting after deployment of the release to best suit your specific security needs and user base.

Power BI Connector

This is an optional feature which may not be enabled in your installation of Partners

Replacing the proprietary reporting/analytics facility in Partners, the Power BI Connector affords you with a whole new level of reporting capability. With appropriate the appropriate permissions, users can drill down into the low-level data within Partners, providing nearly unlimited flexibility of the reports that can be created.

The Connector works with Microsoft Power BI Desktop, currently only available for Windows.

OData endpoints are available for use with other systems which support OData with OAuth authentication.

Increased upload limits

Files up to 5TB can now be uploaded, increased from the previous limit of 5GB. This increased upload limit is available on assets and in My Cloud.

Please note that while large files can be uploaded, and those original files will be available for download, technical limitations may prevent previews or conversions of very large files from being created.

New ‘My Cloud’

The personal storage area known as ‘My Cloud’ has been completely rebuilt to offer a more responsive and friendlier interface.

The re-built My Cloud interface now supports folders

Files can now be organised into folders, and moved around as needed.

There is a much shorter wait for files to be processed after having been uploaded than previously.

Sharing files with people who aren’t registered on Partners is now even easier, immediately generating a link that you can distribute without relying on Partners to send an email. The same applies to Upload Invites.

You can also share entire folders rather than just individual files.

Search suggestions

The ‘Site wide search’ text box at the top each page in Partners now features search suggestions, based on best guesses against the assets in your Partners installation.

Short URLs for lightboxes

In the same way that short links for assets can be shared, lightboxes can now be linked to using a short URL.

Sharing a lightbox with someone who isn’t a registered user of Partners no longer sends an email. Instead, you can share this short URL with them through whichever medium you prefer.

New APIs

This is an optional feature which may not be enabled in your installation of Partners

The APIs exposed by Partners allow you to integrate your business’ custom-developed systems with Partners.

A new version of the Partners APIs offers authentication using OAuth, and provides both read and write access to the majority of data within Partners. The following APIs are available in this release:

  • Data
  • Events
  • Configuration
  • Collections
  • Search
  • Publishing
  • Reporting

The Data, Collections, Search, Publishing and Configuration APIs are described using OpenAPI (Swagger) documents. This means that tools such as Swagger Codegen can be used to automatically generate API clients for these APIs.

Strongly-typed .NET Standard client libraries, supporting OAuth/OpenID Connect, are available for all APIs except Reporting in the NuGet.org repository. Developer documentation for the APIs is available online.

ReDoc allows a developer to browse the available API endpoints

The Reporting API offers OData endpoints for reporting systems. The Data API also supports OData for some operations, allowing efficient querying of data.

The Events API offers real-time access into the event bus behind Partners, using Microsoft’s SignalR technology.

User Permissions

There is an improved level of control from the Partners admin interface over certain permissions.

Referrers

One of these controls is whether an individual can refer new users.

If a user is granted the ability to refer users, they are able to issue ‘Registration Invites’. An invite is a single-use link that automatically completes the referrer’s details during the registration process. Additionally, the top 12 referrers (by total number of registrations) are listed in the registration process to ease the registration process for applicants who have not used a registration invite link. The avatar (photo), their first initial, surname, department and organisation are shown during the registration process.

Referrers will automatically receive an email notification when someone has registered and named them as a referrer, without using a registration invite link. They must then approve (or reject) the new registrant through Partners. If a registration invite link is used, it is assumed that the referrer has already approved the new registration, so no further manual approval is required by the referrer.

Referrer approval precedes final approval, for which a separate permission of ‘Can approve users’ must be granted. This behaviour remains the same as before this release.

Public Sharing of Files

This is an optional feature which may not be enabled in your installation of Partners

The ability to publicly share otherwise restricted-access files is now split between My Cloud and the public sharing of asset files using the ‘Share publicly’ feature.

Both are controlled using Permits. Sharing of asset files is controllable per asset type. Sharing of My Cloud files is controlled through the System Permissions interface.

IE11 deprecated

Support for IE11 is no longer be guaranteed, although we will try to provide a basic equivalent interface where it is feasible to do so. Anyone still using IE11 should migrate to a modern browser such as Edge, Chrome, Firefox or Safari. IE11 support will be completely withdrawn in a future release.