With businesses clamoring for the ability to manage complex content repositories and community interactions over the Web, the prospect of creating custom solutions from scratch is becoming increasingly unpalatable. Developers are instead opting to leave content management's often gory implementational details to an enterprise content management system, using the time and effort saved to customize and extend these systems for the business' specific needs. Over much of the last decade, millions of .NET-oriented organizations around the globe have turned to DotNetNuke for their content management needs.
Its origins intertwined with the 2002 ASP.NET 1.0 release, DotNetNuke has since become one of the world's most popular .NET oriented open source projects, and by far the most popular .NET-driven content management solution. Capable of being immediately deployed upon installation makes DotNetNuke an ideal choice for small organizations seeking a solution requiring little overhead, yet its ability to scale and extensible architecture prove it an attractive choice for global corporations such as Midas, Pier 1 Imports, and Marriott. Read on to learn more about what DotNetNuke has to offer.
Figure 1. The Pier 1 Imports website sells hundreds of home products
Key DotNetNuke Features
In addition to the key features one has come to expect of an enterprise-level content management solution, DotNetNuke excels in several crucial areas. Recognizing that most website's share a common set of requirements in regards to managing content such as images, video, and news, DotNetNuke provides a turnkey solution for quickly and easily building a website capable of managing the most typical content formats. At the same time, recognizing that users often need to go beyond this common set of requirements, DotNetNuke helps organizations fine tune their sites to specific needs by providing an extensible architecture which allows the platform to be extended in myriad ways. This ability has prompted the release of thousands of extensions capable of managing and publishing content such as calendars, advertising, maps, help desk tickets, and much more.
If like me you're similarly design challenged, DotNetNuke makes it easy to update the site layout and design using any of the thousands of third-party themes available both for free and commercially. Browse the more than 2,300 skins showcased at the DotNetNuke modules repository Snowcovered for an idea of what's possible.
The global reach of Microsoft's .NET technology hasn't been lost on DotNetNuke, with users around the world having contributed more than 40 language packs to the project.
DotNetNuke Product Versions
The DotNetNuke project is fostered by the DotNetNuke Corporation, a San Mateo, California-based company founded by project creator Shaun Walker and several other well-known DotNetNuke community members. Like other successful open source-oriented companies, DotNetNuke Corporation embraces a hybrid business model, offering several versions of its flagship product:
- DotNetNuke Community Edition: Released under an MIT license, DotNetNuke Community Edition is the product's open source version. This version includes all of the core content management features, in addition to support for Google Analytics and change auditing.
- DotNetNuke Professional Edition: The Professional Edition is DotNetNuke Corporation's entry level commercial DotnetNuke version, greatly expanding the features and support options made available through the Community Edition. Feature highlights include advanced content workflow capabilities, several caching solutions, security and health monitoring, and e-mail support.
- DotNetNuke Elite Edition: For users seeking more substantive support services, the Elite Edition offers everything found in the Professional Edition, in addition to phone support, installation and upgrade assistance, and access to proprietary module source code.
- DotNetNuke Elite Premier Edition: According to the DotNetNuke Corporation website, the Elite Premier Edition doesn't appear to offer any exclusive features or support options; rather it's intended for customers seeking a certain level of legal protection against product and copyright lawsuits which have occasionally reared their ugly head in the software industry.
Unfortunately, no pricing information is made available through the DotNetNuke website for the Professional, Elite, and Elite Premier editions, meaning you'll need to contact the company to learn more.
The Future of DotNetNuke
Proving that longterm success in the software industry often hinges on one's ability to change with the times, the DotNetNuke development team has been going through a rather significant transformation in recent months. In 2009 the team moved to a monthly release schedule in an effort to provide customers with much more rigorous and regular stream of project updates and bug fixes. You can learn more about these efforts in a blog post written by DotNetNuke Corporation co-founder Joe Brinkman.
Version 5.3.0 is slated for release in March, 2010, and will include several new features including the ability to more effectively manage sitemaps and taxonomies, and wrappers for several popular Telerik controls. You can download the 5.3.0 beta release at the project's CodePlex website.
A demonstration version of DotNetNuke which allows you to build an example website is available through DotNetNuke.com. Unfortunately the demo site is not available on demand, requiring you to complete a brief contact form. After completing the form, a link to your demo site will be provided within 24-48 hours.
Of course, there's nothing preventing you from simply downloading and installing the latest version of the community edition! Head on over to the DotNetNuke CodePlex Project Website to download a copy. There you can also browse 30 related open source projects capable of extending DotNetNuke in a variety of interesting ways, such as DotNetNuke Blog, which integrates a suite of blogging features into a DotNetNuke website. Also consider checking out SnowCovered and the DotNetNuke Forge, which together provide links to additional modules, skins, and other extensions.
DotNetNuke is a rare software project possessing both a storied past and a bright future, driven by a development team who seems as excited about the project today as they were when it was founded almost a decade ago. If you're a .NET developer in search of a powerful content management solution, I'd suggest you begin your exploration at the DotNetNuke website. as it may be the first and last stop in your voyage. If you've already deployed a DotNetNuke-powered website, tell me about it in the comments!