The days of quickly building a Web application by marking up a few HTML pages are long gone. Now applications rely on backend data source and integrated security, and users expect powerful interfaces. The open source DotNetNuke framework allows you to create a powerful Web application using an out-of-the-box solution.

Find out what you get with DotNetNuke

DotNetNuke was originally developed as a content management system, but it has quickly evolved into a base for any type of Web application. Here’s an idea of what you can expect with this framework:


DotNetNuke includes loads of features to build a robust application. A sampling of features via some of its basic modules include: Login, Announcements, Banners, Blog, Contacts, Discussion, Documents, News feeds, XML/XSL, Links, Image, and Text/HTML. These modules allow you to meet most application needs, as well as quickly add features to a site to meet user requirements. Modules are added to a site and edited via a Web-based management interface; this interface is used to work with all DotNetNuke features.

DotNetNuke includes a robust security architecture. The built-in security administration pages provide full control over who can view and edit resources. You may choose to have a public area available to any user, as well as secure areas that are only available to certain users.
You may control a DotNetNuke-based site’s look and feel through skins; you can easily change a site’s appearance by changing skins when necessary. Anyone who can create HTML may create a skin. A granular level of control is available where you may fine tune individual modules through CSS style sheets.
The daily monitoring of a Web application cannot be ignored. DotNetNuke provides event logging, so a snapshot of site activity and/or problems is readily available.

Extend the framework

The DotNetNuke platform is fully extensible. Modules provide you with the ability to extend DotNetNuke’s functionality. DotNetNuke provides a pluggable framework that can be expanded by the development of modules; you can develop these modules with any .NET language.

You may choose to develop a custom module to fill a need. In addition, there are plenty of third-party modules available. The DotNetNuke Marketplace provides a central location for finding third-party add-ons available for purchase; you may also want to search online for free add-ons.

Test drive DotNetNuke

You can test drive a DotNetNuke installation. All you have to do is create an online demo account using a site name, description, username/password, and so forth. Once the demo site is created, you’ll receive an e-mail confirmation, and then you may use the various features of the site to get a better feel for DotNetNuke. (Note: I found the demo site feature to be a bit slow, so you may want to keep this in mind before your test drive.)

Get DotNetNuke

The DotNetNuke software is free to use and distribute according to their BSD license. The current version is 4.8.0.

When working with new software, it can be confusing to determine what you need to install or download. As the DotNetNuke site describes, the downloads fall into one of the following categories:

  • Source Package: This includes everything, along with the full application source code.
  • Starter Kit Package: This includes files required to work with DotNetNuke within Visual Web Developer Express or Visual Studio 2005.
  • Install Package: This includes files required for a run-time deployment to a Web server.
  • Upgrade Package: This is available when upgrading from a previous version. This download has the files needed for an upgrade.
  • Documentation Package: This download, which includes all product documentation, is a good place to start. The documentation is impressive for an open source offering. It is available as a set of PDFs, and it provides details on everything from installation and setup to developing your own modules.

It’s simple to install DotNetNuke if you follow the instructions included with the download. You can be up and running in less than an hour depending on your configuration. In addition, there are various hosting companies that provide DotNetNuke support, so you don’t have to worry about installation, setup, and maintenance.

Save time with DotNetNuke

Building a Web application from the ground up is a time-consuming endeavor. DotNetNuke is a mature product with a large installed base and good support. It may not have everything you need out of the box, but it a good starting point. The modularized architecture allows you to use what you need and to take advantage of third-party add-ons or build your own.

Share your experiences

The idea of providing everything necessary to deliver a full-featured Web application is not new. In fact, the DotNetNuke name lends itself to open source offerings like PHP-Nuke and PostNuke that came before it. A great aspect of the open source approach to providing such a solution is the amount of testing done by the community.

I am working with my first Web application built using DotNetNuke; I’m sure I will learn a great deal along the way. If you have used DotNetNuke, I would like to hear about your feedback about what you liked and/or didn’t like about it.

Tony Patton began his professional career as an application developer earning Java, VB, Lotus, and XML certifications to bolster his knowledge.


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