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cdandrea  
#1 Posted : Wednesday, December 27, 2017 3:11:45 PM(UTC)
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We've been running on-premises ConnectWise Control since the days of Elsinore (4.2). We're currently at 6.4.15361 and are looking to move up to 6.5. However the recent announcement is a little offputting. While I recognize the warnings against rolling out 6.5 in a production we want to know which extensions are currently safe to have installed during our upgrade from 6.4.

Should we be limiting our installed extensions to those who are authored by "ConnectWise Labs"?
Should we be disabling any extensions that are NOT authored by "ConnectWise Labs" BEFORE updating from 6.4.x to 6.5.x?
Is it the intent of ConnectWise to cripple functionality of those legacy ScreenConnect subscribers (being fecetious)?


The writing seems to be on the wall that long-time, loyal customers may be abandoned.
I like some of the direction CW is taking in the development of CC, but I feel the door is closing on us.
This may be overreaching or paranoia but I'm hopeful it's unwarranted.

Edited by user Wednesday, December 27, 2017 7:09:33 PM(UTC)  | Reason: Not specified

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ebell on 1/17/2018(UTC)
shawnkhall  
#2 Posted : Friday, December 29, 2017 12:48:03 AM(UTC)
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this is nuts. it looks like there will be a dedicated 'hosted' developer framework that allows us to continue to build and run our own extensions on our own instances but they must be reviewed by CC each time before we can put it on our own on-premise setup. this is going to cost me a ton of time when i need to make minor changes to my own extensions.
shawnkhall  
#3 Posted : Friday, December 29, 2017 12:52:45 AM(UTC)
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if they remain as unresponsive to their extensions as they have been in the past - and there's no reason to anticipate anything else - they may as well disable extensions completely.
deecater  
#4 Posted : Friday, December 29, 2017 8:21:18 PM(UTC)
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Hi there! I can help answer some of your questions.

You don’t have to limit your extensions to only those authored by ConnectWise Labs. Extensions published or submitted to our team prior to 6.5 have been whitelisted and should be compatible with 6.5. So you should be good to go with any published extensions you currently have installed.

We definitely aren’t trying to abandon our legacy partners. We love y'all! We’re making this change so that we can make sure that your on-premise instances stay up and running smoothly. With the changes to the extension development process, we’ll be able to review and test each extension to make sure that there aren’t any unforeseen issues that might cause important features or services to not work as intended. We’ll also be able to work closely with you when there is an update that might affect your extension or if you'd like to request for one of our developers to help make changes.

We’re aware that this is a bit different than how we've operated before and will take some getting used to. We hope that by working a bit closer together during the extension development process it’ll actually help save time for you in the end.
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cdandrea on 1/4/2018(UTC)
shawnkhall  
#5 Posted : Saturday, December 30, 2017 7:49:21 AM(UTC)
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Thanks for your response, @deecater

I currently use custom extensions to:

* provide pre-execution commands (in "beta" for a couple days now) to set the path on macOS before executing my command, which isn't possible any other way. If this continues to perform well and without unwanted side effects, I'm planning to expand this to provide 'shortcut'/stub support to dynamically pre-process commands based on an external database so I can use what amounts to short-named recipes to perform extensive command sequences on different operating systems using the same command.

* integrate my client-side batch, bash and vbs command-based notes and customproperty updates which are deeply integrated into my device management routines.

* perform log auditing and billing integration (as of last night).

* change the global layout to remove the god-awful forced detail pane juggling ("Cleaner Columns").

I'm also in the process of writing two other extensions, as well. One provides extended audit automation and bi-directional triggers so my external services can trigger commands to install updates when a new app update is released, and another that allows dynamic CSS changes to better adapt to stylization pushes from CC.

I've also modified published extensions on my local install (and sometimes posted the changes to the forum) in order to correct bugs and add features. For example, the "Download Audit Log as CSV" extension downloads using an absurd filename format. I changed it to use ISO8601 naming conventions.


My understanding is that I will no longer be able to use *any* of these the second I upgrade to 6.5, since their current state is not 'approved' by CW. The ability to roll my own extensions is one of the primary reasons I selected ScreenConnect. It's simply unacceptable that this ability would be removed or forced through a filter where I would need to allow my code to be reviewed by any external third party, even CW. If I wanted a limiting/hosted solution, I would have chosen one. I did not select an on-premise installation with the ability to create my own modifications just so those modifications could later be disabled or have to get through the VERY LONG DELAY imposed by the CW extension approval process. You see, I've been there, and it took over a month to get a single extension approved - and over 3 weeks before it was even acknowledged. My understanding is that this means I'll have to go through this entire process every time I make even a minor change to my extension. Obviously, from the list above, you can imagine I wouldn't want to have to wait a month to have each code change approved.

It would be better if this enforcement policy were based on a setting in web.config we could disable, or (better yet) a whitelist mechanism were made available to enable us to identify the extension GUIDs that can bypass enforcement so we can continue to develop new extensions and *maintain* our existing extensions without what amounts to review by Congress.
thanks 1 user thanked shawnkhall for this useful post.
cdandrea on 1/4/2018(UTC)
powellap  
#6 Posted : Saturday, December 30, 2017 5:48:09 PM(UTC)
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@shawnkhall +1
SoCo_Systems  
#7 Posted : Monday, January 1, 2018 2:32:39 PM(UTC)
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@shawnkhall +1
cdandrea  
#8 Posted : Thursday, January 4, 2018 1:45:22 PM(UTC)
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Originally Posted by: deecater Go to Quoted Post
You don’t have to limit your extensions to only those authored by ConnectWise Labs. Extensions published or submitted to our team prior to 6.5 have been whitelisted and should be compatible with 6.5. So you should be good to go with any published extensions you currently have installed...


Thank you for this clarification on concerns with existing third-party extensions in place prior to the 6.5 release. I gather this considers full release of 6.5 and not the pre-release or debug versions? For example, if any new extensions creep up from now until then, we should be able to safely activate those extension and there is an expectation that problems won't arise?

Unlike shawnkhall, we've don't a minimal amount of the extension development. For folks like him, I can definitely appreciate the concern. Having worked with various app approval processes in the past, it can become frustrating to be reliant on a third-party for a quick code change.

shawnkhall  
#9 Posted : Thursday, January 4, 2018 2:05:17 PM(UTC)
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@cdandrea - @deecater didn't say that extensions that exist prior to the release of 6.5 would be okay, they said that extensions that were published (by CW) or submitted (to CW) would be okay. I read that statement as, If you have not shared your extension directly with CW it's not going to continue working.
number_one  
#10 Posted : Tuesday, January 9, 2018 11:24:08 PM(UTC)
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I echo @shawnkhall's concerns a hundredfold. There is no reason to force custom private extensions to go through an approval process if they are only going to be used by the author in a private environment. I get having some type of approval process for extensions to appear in the marketplace--that's fine and of course makes sense. But taking away the ability for a user to easily test and deploy their own extensions for their own on-premise server is flat out crazy.

Honestly, ConnectWise has no business even meddling in that situation, and it really starts to give the impression that ConnectWise is trying to deprecate the on-premise product (something that was explicitly denied during the ConnectWise acquisition, during the push of the hosted solution, and during the big license cost increase for new software purchases).

@deecater If you really love the "legacy partners" and those that have been with ScreenConnect for a long time, PLEASE, PLEASE allow for private extensions that aren't going to be published in a marketplace to work for on-premise installs without requiring a cumbersome approval process, and please don't take other steps either that make life harder for those of us that have on-premise servers. We really love ScreenConnect for all the flexibility it has provided over the years and want it to stay that way.

Again, I have no problems with whatever approval process you want for extensions that are going to appear in a public marketplace, but we really don't want an Apple-type app store as the ONLY way to get extensions installed. That would cripple many on-premise installs and stifle the innovation around this great product.
shawnkhall  
#11 Posted : Wednesday, January 10, 2018 6:11:20 AM(UTC)
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maybe it's just me, but your post content isn't showing up, @number_one
number_one  
#12 Posted : Wednesday, January 10, 2018 6:14:13 AM(UTC)
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Originally Posted by: shawnkhall Go to Quoted Post
maybe it's just me, but your post content isn't showing up, @number_one

That's odd, it's showing for me even if I'm logged out of my account. Can you try a different browser?
shawnkhall  
#13 Posted : Wednesday, January 10, 2018 10:33:51 PM(UTC)
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what a trip. somehow the 'show/hide post' had been toggled for all your posts. i dug through the source and fond a display:none in the inline CSS.

...and every time i reload the page it re-hides your content again.

Edited by user Wednesday, January 10, 2018 10:35:15 PM(UTC)  | Reason: follow-up

shawnkhall  
#14 Posted : Friday, January 12, 2018 8:15:22 PM(UTC)
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and now we're actually seeing this cause problems for CW-hosted installs:
http://forum.screenconne...49_ZOHO-Chat-Widget.aspx
number_one  
#15 Posted : Friday, January 12, 2018 8:35:09 PM(UTC)
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@deecater Please respond to my earlier post or bring in other ConnectWise staff to participate in this conversation. This is a very serious issue that needs resolving if ConnectWise intends to meet existing long-standing customers with the care they deserve.

The issues regarding security with extensions are completely different depending on whether you are talking about public marketplace extensions or private self-authored extensions and it doesn't make sense to conflate the two.

I have no problem with having to go through an approval process for the public marketplace to have an extension listed there, but it makes no sense to require digital signatures for private self-authored extensions. That introduces a world of pain for private extension authors.

In fact, it actually is bad for public extension authors too in terms of testing and development. No matter what kind of program you have set up for test instances it will always be harder for developers to test out extensions before publishing them if they have to jump through all these hoops, which in turn will seriously hurt productivity. The only time approvals and digital signatures should come into play is when actually publishing an extension to the marketplace.

Honestly this really feels like a knee-jerk reaction from Connectwise trying to control the extension market out of fear some competitor will somehow add something to the extension marketplace they don't like. Look at this post: http://forum.screenconne...ote-Desktop-Manager.aspx

I don't really care if ConnectWise polices the public marketplace, but please don't continue with this policy of blocking private extensions that don't go through an official approval process.
bnx2014  
#16 Posted : Monday, January 15, 2018 10:49:40 AM(UTC)
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I have no extensions of my own, but I wonder if it would be possible to have the system accept a single local code-signing certificate which would allow locally developed extensions to be used. This could even be done by having ConnectWise approve the certificate, but once approved anything with that certificate would be accepted at the location. This maintains the integrity, stops rogue extensions, but allows people to have their own custom code working. Just a thought...
deecater  
#17 Posted : Monday, January 15, 2018 2:52:21 PM(UTC)
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Originally Posted by: number_one Go to Quoted Post
@deecater Please respond to my earlier post or bring in other ConnectWise staff to participate in this conversation. This is a very serious issue that needs resolving if ConnectWise intends to meet existing long-standing customers with the care they deserve.

The issues regarding security with extensions are completely different depending on whether you are talking about public marketplace extensions or private self-authored extensions and it doesn't make sense to conflate the two.

I have no problem with having to go through an approval process for the public marketplace to have an extension listed there, but it makes no sense to require digital signatures for private self-authored extensions. That introduces a world of pain for private extension authors.



Hi!

I understand this is a change. The reason we are making this change is because it helps us to support partners better. It's a bit more challenging to support partners when they call in with issues if they are running extensions we are unfamiliar with. By working closer together during the extension development process, we can mitigate potential issues and resolve future support tickets much quicker.

This does help to address the security issues you mentioned, but ultimately our goal is to be able to support you better and partner with you to ensure that your instances are running as smoothly as possible.

I want to make sure I address all of your concerns. We can continue by email if you have specific questions about how this might affect how you work. This is important feedback as we work towards a solution that works best for everyone. Please email pm@screenconnect.com.
evputten  
#18 Posted : Monday, January 15, 2018 3:48:28 PM(UTC)
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Hi Deecater and others.

How about a different option ?

A development option that allows to run your own code, but if you want support you have to turn it off, this ensures the problem is not in your own delevoped code and should make the support department's life much easier.
(Turning the option off will disable all non signed extensions)

And I would agree that you should not be allow to run cloned paid for marketplace extensions even in development mode.

This would get rid of all our complaints for your and our issue with the new implementation.

You could even make it so that the development option is only given after having signed the necessary waiver forms.

Kind regards,
Erik
shawnkhall  
#19 Posted : Monday, January 15, 2018 11:48:49 PM(UTC)
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my fear is that screenconnect/control, which i have relied on for the extension capabilities to automate so much of my business, will no longer be a viable solution for me once 6.5 is released. it's directly tied into my billing, logging, automation, inventory and more - and losing these abilities would make it "just another remote support solution."

i'm not willing to share some of this code since it exposes the inner workings of my business, sometimes usernames and passwords, trigger URLs, and plenty of other information that would be useless for the rest of the world, but could increase the risk of my own business data should it be shared with a third party -- even connectwise. microsoft, google and adobe have each been hacked in the past, so it's safe to assume that anything I share with CW would be eventually exposed as well.

the email follow-up to my request to be added to the "approved" extension development environment (18 days ago) has been ignored, so at the moment there is literally no way that i could even get my existing code approved to be able to test it in 6.5 beta, even if i went thru the labor of rewriting all of my extensions so they used the Settings feature to separate my sensitive information from the core extension. 18 days is a *lifetime* in iterative development, so i believe i am completely justified in my belief that the CW extension approval process is going to cause me a ton of problems.

i'm also concerned that CW doesn't appear to want to participate in this discussion on their own forum. they've suggested we email them a couple times, but my first email (to register) went completely unanswered so i doubt we'll get resolution that way. i am paying for the annual license
deecater  
#20 Posted : Tuesday, January 16, 2018 7:31:29 PM(UTC)
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Originally Posted by: shawnkhall Go to Quoted Post

the email follow-up to my request to be added to the "approved" extension development environment (18 days ago) has been ignored, so at the moment there is literally no way that i could even get my existing code approved to be able to test it in 6.5 beta


I'm sorry for the frustration this has caused you. Usually we respond to requests for developer licenses in less than 24 hours. We can get you set up right away with a development environment.

Please sign up for a trial of ConnectWise Control here: https://www.connectwise.com/resources/trial/connectwise-control-trial. Once you've finished setting up your trial, please send your instance URL and ID to pm@screenconnect.com and we'll get you set up.

As for the concern with sharing your code with sensitive information, it's possible to create an extension that's an integrator for your custom software. Once we get you set up we can work with you to determine the best way to address your specific concerns.

Thanks.
shawnkhall  
#21 Posted : Sunday, January 21, 2018 8:59:01 PM(UTC)
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In Chrome, the account creation process stalls after submitting my contact information with nothing but a ConnectWise logo in the center of spinning dots. I've left it for half an hour to see if maybe it would eventually resolve on its own. It won't.

If the goal here is to alleviate my concerns by demonstrating how easy it is to be able to get up and running on the hosted solution so I can get my extensions approved for my own use: you're failing. I had to eventually use IE to successfully sign up. Eewwwww.
deecater  
#22 Posted : Monday, January 22, 2018 2:28:02 PM(UTC)
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shawnkhall, just checked and learned as of around 8:00 am this morning you received a developer license. Is there anything else I can help you with?
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