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OpenX Ad Server 2.8.1

Just before the weekend, version 2.8.1 of the OpenX Ad Server was released. This new release is mostly about bug fixes, a fix for a pretty serious security problem, and a few nice improvements.

The functional changes in version 2.8.1 of OpenX Ad Server focus on the integration with OpenX Market:

* There is a new screen in the ‘Inventory’ tab, called ‘OpenX Market Quickstart‘. It allows traffickers to set multiple campaigns to use OpenX Market in one pass, while at the same time setting a floor price for all of them or even a separate floor price for each individual campaigns. This new feature will be welcomed by users managing many campaigns, because it makes it so much easier to start using OpenX Market.
* Also new is an ‘Ad Quality Tool‘. This screen provides an overview of ads that were served through OpenX Market onto any of the websites, even allowing the user to stop some ads from showing up again (for instance to prevent competitor ads from being displayed on a site).
* It is now possible to link more than one OpenX Ad Server installation to OpenX Market. This is particularly useful for publishers that have more than one OpenX installation, or perhaps an OpenX Hosted account in addition to a self-hosted OpenX Ad Server.

It is no surprise that the new features and improvements all have to do with OpenX Market. That is, after all, the major force in the OpenX business model, and making it easy for publishers to start using OpenX Market or use it more often is a smart move.
Bug fixes

Version 2.8.0 was the first release of the 2.8 branch. It was bound to have some bugs in it, even after pretty long and intense beta testing. So a bug fix release was needed, and that is what version 2.8.1 is also about. The release notes have all the details. A big problem in version 2.8.0 that has now been fixed would allow any user to log in as an administrator.
Upgrading from an earlier version

The release of version 2.8.1 was my cue to try upgrading an existing v2.8.0 system to this newer version. There is a set of upgrade instructions on the OpenX website.

I was particularly interested to find out how the plugins would be upgraded, since that is something new to version 2.8 and I had no experience upgrading them. It turns out the developers have built a pretty neat trick for that. During the upgrade procedure, you get to specify the folder path of the previous installation, and the upgrade wizard will look at all the plug ins it finds there. It will then check for any upgrades available on the OpenX website and finally it initializes each plug-in in the upgraded installation. All of this is completely automated and it worked like a charm. Well done!
Should you upgrade?

I think if you run OpenX 2.8.0 on your own site or server, an upgrade is a must, if only because of that security problem that was fixed. This new version 2.8.1 was also the first that presented not a single problem when upgrading an older v2.6.5 system. I still recommend doing a proper test upgrade on a copy, but this new version 2.8.1 looks like it’s ready for the world!

I do have one bit of criticism: I’m personally not a huge fan of releasing an upgrade just before the weekend. As with any upgrade, there will always be people that run into problems upgrading, and they will have a harder time finding support during the weekend than in the middle of the week.

When OpenX Hosted was announced last year, many people feared this would result in less attention for the downloadable edition. It turns out that it is actually the other way around. OpenX Hosted is currently still running on version 2.7.30-beta. So hosting OpenX on your own server has the benefit of being able to run a newer version than using OpenX Hosted.

OpenX Ad Server version 2.8.1 can now be downloaded from the OpenX website.

Or Download Link Here

I’m going to start experimenting with upgrading larger OpenX installation to this new release. If anything interesting comes up, you can be sure I will write about on this blog.

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