The Visual Evolution of Citrix

As the digital landscape has continued to evolve over the last decade web sites have become more and more visually appealing. The various web portals of Citrix over the years serve as a prime example of how quickly visual styles have advanced in recent years, which is why my presentation (SYN321) was selected as a Synergy breakout topic.

The Many Faces of Web Interfaces from Citrix

Less than a decade ago users were greeted by a very basic interface with minimal visual appeal. The Web Interface 4 web front-end was built upon the leftovers of the XPS portal.

Web Interface 4; circa 2007

The entire web front-end (including the XML broker) was the result of  2001 acquisition by Citrix of Sequoia Software, so most of the style in this build was inherited.

The only graphics on the landing page were the Citrix ‘red-dot’ logo, a rudimentary ‘help’ icon, another icon that obviously represents an XML-based web portal. The color scheme was a simple white background, with way too much white space, featuring grey banners and black text. This design was par for the course back in those days, but would look quite out of place in today’s web environment.

By the release of Web Interface 5, Citrix decided to update the theme to the inverse of the previous portal, replacing the white background with black, with white text, and blue accents:

 

Web Interface 5 Theme; Still the default on NetScaler

Surprisingly, this is the style that the NetScaler Gateway still uses out of the box, which is several iterations older than the current default StoreFront theme.

While the Black & Blue look and feel was a good step in the right direction, it was still pretty boring. It had just as much blank space that was now filled by a depressing void of color, though it the nifty carbon fiber hints were a nice touch.

The black & blue theme was soon replaced with a much more visually appealing theme in the last and final (v5.4) release of the Web Interface portal:

 

Web Interface 5.4

The background is split between a subtle gradient and a ‘Citrix gray’ foundation. With the login box adorned with hi-tech imagery, and high color reflections and drop shadow effects were used to impart a shiny-happy look & feel, this portal exhibited a much more refined taste. Oh, and don’t forget the HDX  logo  at the bottom. After all, HDX makes EVERYTHING better.. especially web portals (and marketing budgets)! 😉

Enter StoreFront and the Sea of Green

StoreFront was released, it was clear that someone in the marketing department at Citrix fell asleep listening to The Beatles, and had a dream about green bubbles, likely from a journey into the Sea of Green (bubbles) that’s still present in StoreFront 2.5:

Bubbles bubbles everywhere!

Whether or not green bubbles are your thing, the point of my session is to give attendees the tools and resources necessary to deliver a visually consistent web portal that securely connects users to their desktops & applications, anytime, anywhere.

At the end of my session, audience members should be able to take a default deployment from looking confused:

Default Themes for NetScaler Gateway & StoreFront

To looking consistent, and a little less green (it’s not easy being green):

 

Symphony Themed NetScaler Gateway with a Customized StoreFront landing page

Secure the Store

As much as visual themes and standards have evolved over the years, so have the threats posed by those with malicious intent. This session will also talk about the importance of using SSL encryption to properly secure a NetScaler Gateway <> StoreFront deployment, and cover some of the gotchas of doing so, as well as the potential vulnerabilities if you don’t.

Thanks for reading, and I look forward to a good turnout at Synergy 2014!

Kenny Baldwin is CCIA certified consultant who formerly served as an Escalation Engineer at Citrix. He’s currently working on the NetScaler team at a leading financial services firm in New York City while living in his home town of Atlanta Ga. Kenny presented at TechEdge 2011, and has since published several publicly available troubleshooting tools for XenDesktop (Site Checker, SiteDiag, Farm Changer). Having contributed numerous TechNotes to the Citrix KnowledgeBase, he now shares his experiences with Citrix products on his blog, and follows those in the know on Twitter.

Citrix invited the author of this blog post to present at Citrix Synergy 2014 and to participate in a related contest.  The author received an entry into the contest for submitting this Blog.