OK, so it’s officially been out for a few months now, but I’ve not had a chance to play with it until now. I’ve been setting up some WI demo sites at my current customer, one on 5.2 (their current production version), and one on the new 5.4 platform. We’re trying to do an initial apples-apples comparo from two perspectives: the technical side and the end-user experience. Here’s my first impressions and opinions:
1. Installation and site configuration are pretty much identical. 5.4 continues the role-based installation introduced with 5.3 and is very straightforward and simple.
2. The new look-and feel of the site theme is (to me) more visually appealing and consistent with Citrix branding that the end-user is used to, making it less of a drastic change that the carbon-fiber theme was when it was introduced. However, because it is so dramatically different, I am sure that in larger deployments the new look and feel will have to be re-sold to management and fully vetted before it gets deployed. I’ve already heard this complaint from many customers who hated the carbon fiber theme but deployed it out of necessity, and now have to change the whole look of the site again with this version. Maybe it’s not so much of a jump for those who used the “white theme” for Web Interface, but because of the different layout, many customizations and branding will have to be re-done upon moving to 5.4.
3. Where’s the “Messages” tab? I don’t know if my installs are buggy, but it appears that WI 5.4 has lost the out-of-the-box customizable message screen? That was an often-used feature in many sites I built for customers – if it is customizable in this version, it definitely doesn’t look easy (meaning the option to do it in the “Content” customization area of the Web Site Appearance customizer is gone).
4. Overall, site performance seems pretty quick out of the gate. I have not had to employ any webinterface.conf or registry hacks to get rid of CRL checks or IE branding policies, etc. to improve loading time of the site or its Java components. Logon page loads quickly and cleanly the first time.
5. You can now set default values at WI for more bandwidth-related settings than before to optimize the site performance for users.
There’s some other new features such as session sharing for VM-Hosted Apps, and multiple XenDesktop instances in the Desktops tab, and better smartcard authentication for those doing it through the CAG.
All in all, I quite like the new look and feel of 5.4 and once I can get familiar with customizing this version a little better, I will post some of the helpful hints and tricks I have documented for quickly customizing and branding the new layout… Stay tuned!