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Question about DotNetNuke and extensibility

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  • User profile image
    Kental

    Hey all, had a question for you.  I'm nothing special as far as web devs go, I have minimal experience with .NET in general, most of it with C# and WinForms, very little with WebForms.  My primary forte is with databases, to a heavy extent, and PHP.

    One of the people I usually subcontract for, a graphics designer, has had DotNetNuke "recommended" to him, saying it's the greatest thing since sliced bread.  I have nothing against CMS systems, myself, but I'm worried about my productivity.  Right now, for us to create a custom site design, he generally does the graphical framework and I do the programming.  We both use Dreamweaver, blah blah... either way, we've never had any problems or conflicts before.

    He's considering the 'DotNetNuke' side of things, because he's thinking it'll increase our productivity with each site we do.  This seems kinda like a fallacious argument to me, because I can't imagine all of the theming that would have to go into making each site look unique, rather than what CMS systems usually look like ("Site in a box", "one size fits all", etc.).

    Has anyone here had a positive experience with DNN?  More importantly, has anyone ever made COMPLETELY custom themes/styles with DNN, and was it particularly easy?

    I have a really hard time believing that customizing each instance of DNN from site to site will be faster than our current 30 hours average per commercial website.

    Yikes... sorry for the novel, just want to make sure the idea's understood Wink

  • User profile image
    ThMoJe

    I'm nothing special as far as web devs go, I have minimal experience with .NET in general, most of it with C# and WinForms, very little with WebForms.  My primary forte is with databases, to a heavy extent, and PHP.

    DotNetNuke is very database driven, so in that sense you will love it, but it will take you a couple of months to become familiar with the framework. Start by reading Professional DotNetNuke 4 and the documentation on module development.
    We both use Dreamweaver, blah blah... either way, we've never had any problems or conflicts before.
    You will need Visual Studio 2005 Express, but its free - and no, you will not gain much productivity by investing in VS Pro or any of the other no-free version. Design, skinning its called in DotNetNuke can still be done in dreamveaver.
    He's considering the 'DotNetNuke' side of things, because he's thinking it'll increase our productivity with each site we do...............I have a really hard time believing that customizing each instance of DNN from site to site will be faster than our current 30 hours average per commercial website.
    How you can make a commercial site in 30 hours beats my imagination, unless what you deliver is actually 5 flat HTML pages with a form that sends an email. But on the other hand the 30 hours, makes me 100% certain that you will be able to provide you customers with much more, no encridible much more, functionality, compared with what you give them today. Smiley

    Anyway, with DNN, over time you will be able to reuse both code and  "design" and concentrate the 30 hours on making the solution customer specific and perfecting it, and extending you portfolio of custom modules with customer specific needs.

    The productivity gains will over time be more on the programming and maintenance side, than on design.

    Also you will have a selling point, as you customers will have access to a large collection of custom modules (add-ons), and a framework that is supported by a large community.

  • User profile image
    Kental

    I already have VS2005 Pro, because like I said, I do a small bit of desktop programming via C#.  However, when I say "Commercial websites", I mean just having custom shopping carts and an integrated payment solution for the site.  Each site generally has the following:

    1) Admin control panel for adding new "products" of some sort, including price, quantity, logos, etc.
    2) Custom shopping cart generally kept in sessions in PHP, sometimes on the database if I need it to be more secure.
    3) Some pay merchant such as USAePay or even PayPal's horrible "Direct Payment" method.  Usually using CuRL and/or openssl.

    When I say commercial site in 30 hours, that's what I'm referring to.  I'm not referring to each site having custom forums and really intense features or anything, just what most every e-commerce site wants: Make products, push em out the door,  ..., profit Wink

    Nonetheless, we'd be abstracting out, essentially, the usage of the DNN and, thus, our customers wouldn't really know it was in use.  They wouldn't benefit from the modules and such that come with it, therefore, because they wouldn't really know they have it.  In addition, we wouldn't even use half of the standard modules, such as blogs and/or forums, because the vast majority of our clients don't want that stuff.  All they want is a basic shopping cart integrated with the look and feel of their site.

    That's the reason I don't think DNN will help us; we don't use its sort of functionality now anyway.

  • User profile image
    ThMoJe

    Ok, I get it.

    And I agree that you will not gain much productivity by adopting DNN, but... I would base my solution on an open source framework like DNN, even if my customers only need a small part of the functionality. By doing so I, I will have a community to discuss issues, if customers outgrow the basic shopping solution,  there is many more advanced solutions availeble.  I am not the only one maintaining and extending the source, user documentation, etc. My customers, will have forums to discuss and receive tips from other user, on how to do things...I could go on and on.

    But the main reason is that i have worked with ecommerce since it was invented, implementing solutions for both garage sale and several fortune 500, and my main lesson learned, is to always base solution on a standard package. If you dont, you will have to learn all the pitfalls your self, and there is more than i can count. If you use a standard package, you will often wonder why things are done in what seems to be an obscure way, but quickly learn that there is a reason why. As an example, when i worked with eCommerce i had a checklist of ways to alter the price of an item in the shopping basket. A lot of them was eliminated with the move from ASP to ASP.NET and the way .NET handles viewstate and session, but I am sure my checklist was far from complete, and new has emerged since i stoped doing eCommerce a couple of years ago. This was just handling shopping basket, the same applies to handling catalogs, orders, payment, shipping, reciepts, inventory, discounts, backorder, ....

    So do you self a favor, base your solution on some standard package or framework. Wether its opensource, java, php, .net or something else. And if you want opensource and .NET, DNN is without any doubt in my mind the best solution for a portal with Ecommerce.

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