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Building an Internet Portal (for Free!) with DotNetNuke

Save hours of valuable development time building corporate or departmental Web portals with DotNetNuke—a free, ASP.NET-based, open source, extendable, content management portal based on the IBuySpy Solution Kit.


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lose your eyes and imagine a utopian world where client and/or department Web sites are easily deployed and the responsibility for content creation and modification is turned over to the administrators of the site.

Imagine site administrators creating new content pages consisting of pre-built content types like announcements, contacts, discussions, events, FAQs, news feeds, feedback forms, and even custom-developed content types. Continue imagining them creating new menu options and even adding new users and administering the security rights of users. Sound good? Now imagine all this available for free as an open-source Visual Studio .NET project. Sounding even better? Welcome to the DotNetNuke content management portal!

Overview
DotNetNuke, affectionately known as DNN, is an open source (VB.NET), ASP.NET-based, content management system used to create easy-to-use, updatable, customizable, and secure content management portals for Internet and intranet use. Each site can support multiple portals so there are host-level options and portal-level options. A DNN Administrator user has total control of the portal-level options including membership, security, and content.

Make sure you change the password for the admin and host accounts before you take your site to the Internet unless you want strangers to have the ability to administer your portal!
DNN is an extension of the IBuySpy Portal Solution Kit (IBS) that Microsoft released in January 2002. The development community adopted IBS as an essential reference for creating ASP.NET applications. IBS included ten basic user modules and four administration modules for building data-driven intranet and Internet portal applications. DNN (formerly known as the IBuySpy Workshop) is the result of many hours of work by Shaun Walker of Perpetual Motion Interactive Systems, Inc. (www.perpetualmotion.ca).

This article will focus on DNN v1.0.10d, which is the version available as I'm writing this article. Shaun and the DNN Core Team plan to release the much-anticipated DNN v2.0 in early 2004. Does that mean that this article contains outdated content? No. I have begun working with v2.0 and the major changes lie in DNN 2.0's ability to apply skins to the user interface and the way DNN 2.0 handles data in custom modules, both of which are topics for a future article. That still leaves plenty of material to cover that will apply to DNN 1.x and DNN 2.0.

Before you continue reading, take a minute or two to visit a couple of sites created with DNN to give you and idea of the type of application / portals you can create with DNN (see Table 1).

A few of the benefits to building your next site with DNN include the ability to specify content that expires on a chosen date, multi-browser support, role-based security to control user access to Web site content, the ability to develop custom modules, and oh yeah, it's FREE!!

Table 1: DotNetNuke example sites.

URL

Description



www.dotnetnuke.com

Official Web site for DotNetNuke

www.takenote.com

Web site for TakeNote Technologies (author's Web site)

www.dnnskins.com

Web site dedicated to skins for DNN 2.0

cafednn.yodamon.com

Web site for Café DotNetNuke

www.dnnfaq.com

Web site for DotNetNuke FAQs





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