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Tools Everyone Must Use In Offering Effective DotNetNuke (DNN) CMS Development Services
19 February 2015

Tools Everyone Must Use In Offering Effective DotNetNuke (DNN) CMS Development Services


DotNetNuke (DNN) is a open source web content management system based on Microsoft .NET.
DNN was written in VB.NET though the developers has shifted to C# since version 6.0 was released. It is distributed under 'Community Edition MIT' & 'Commercial Proprietary' licenses respectively and they have professional (Evoq content) & enterprise (Evoq Content Enterprise) editions.

DNN uses a three tier architecture with core framework providing support to the basic modules offered by DNN. DNN can be extended using 3rd party modules by adding functionalities with the help of application developers. The look & feel of individual websites can be customized using DNN skins.

On the technical front, DotNetNuke 7 requires Windows Server 2008 or Windows Server 2012, the respective SQL version and IIS 7 & above. DotNetNuke 5 requires IIS 6 and ASP.NET v2.0 up to ASP.NET v4 and supports SQL Server 2005 and 2008 respectively.

So, what are the tools required for DNN developers?

1 - The DNN Platform Itself!

The DNN Platform has a number of features that allows any type of DNN extension to be defined, described, and packaged. In addition to that, the Module Source Editor provides basic source codes & editing functionalities for various modules. For more advanced module editing features you can use the DNN Module Creator which is again an open source module that can be easily accessed and installed from the extensions page from the DNN installation site. DNN Skins are also used for chaning the look & feel of the website & they are available again at the DNN platform.

2 – Microsoft Web Matrix

Web Matrix is a standard Microsoft product that can be downloaded free from the Microsoft Web Application Gallery. Web Matrix provides base-level editing for developers and normal users. Web Matrix provides all the tools you need for building almost any type of DNN extension for a website. 

Some of the key features that Web Matrix offers for developers are as follows: - 

Development Features: - 

  • Web Matrix downloads, installs and configures the latest version of DNN for you just automatically!
  • Web Matrix provides everything you need including a web server, database, and ASP.NET including the new Razor Syntax and Helpers for smooth functioning.
  • Web Matrix uses the same stack as on your desktop (application) development which  you will see on the server that hosts your clients’ website. This process makes going live easy & painless.

Customization Features: -

  • Web Matrix lets you customize your DNN website. The 'Lightweight Editor' makes you more productive with unique features such as color coding and tags.
  • Web Matrix provides also provides editing capabilities for your MS SQL Server database allowing you to modify your schema objects or edit data directly if needed.
  • Web Matrix provides a Search Engine Optimization (SEO) reports that crawls your local site. Web Matrix gives you specific feedback to ensure your site is easily indexed by all the major search engines.

Publishing Capabilities: -

  • Web Matrix makes it easy to publish your site to a hosted server. Web Matrix supports the standard FTP and Secure FTP protocols as well as Microsoft’s WebDeploy protocol.
  • WebDeploy makes publishing even easier by automatically configuring your server first as well as smartly deploying the files that have changed due to any updates. WebDeploy can even sync your development machine with your live site.
  • Web Matrix includes a Hosting Gallery with great offers for hosting on Windows Servers. You can get the best deals for hosting DNN driven websites on Windows Server right through WebMatrix itself!

3 – Microsoft Visual Studio 2012

  • Microsoft Visual Studio is an Integrated Development Environment (IDE) developed by Microsoft & it is used to develop computer programs for MSWindows, web sites, web applications and web services. 
  • Visual Studio includes a code editor 'IntelliSense' which is used for restructuring the codes & completion of the codes automatically. It also includes a debugger which works both as a source-level debugger as well as a machine debugger. Other tools available include a forms for designing GUI applications, websites, classes and databases. Plugins enhance the functionality at almost every level —including adding functionalities for source-control systems (like Subversion) and adding new toolsets like editors and visual designers for domain-specific languages or toolsets for other aspects of the software development. 
  • Visual Studio supports different programming languages and allows the code editor (i.e IntelliSense) and debugger to support (varying degrees) of programming languages. Built-in languages include C, C++ and C++/CLI (via Visual C++), VB.NET (via Visual Basic .NET), C# (via Visual C#), and F#. It also supports for other languages such as M, Python, and Ruby. It also compatible with XML/XSLT, HTML/XHTML, JavaScript and CSS.
  • Microsoft also provides "Express" editions of its Visual Studio at zero cost. 

Let's take a look at some of the key features offered by Microsoft Visual Studio 2012: - 

  • It has improved syntax coloring, various user-defined  & default colors for C++ syntax such as macros, enumerations, typenames & functions.
  • It offers reference highlighting & symbol highlighting features. 
  • Code snippets are included in 'IntelliSense' so as to automatically generate relevant codes based on the user defined parameters & custom code snippets.
  • Source codes of Visual Studio 2012 consists of approximately 50 million lines of codes to be precise.Visual Studio templetes can be downloaded & customized in DNN by following the steps mentioned at the URL here.

What are the other tools used in DNN development in addition to the above?

1 - Adobe Dreamweaver

  • Adobe Dreamweaver is a popular web development tool developed by Adobe Systems. Adobe Dreamweaver is available for Apple OS X and for Windows. Adobe's releases of Dreamweaver after version 8.0 have been more compliant with W3C standards
  • Recent versions have improved the support services offered for Web technologies, server-side scripting languages and frameworks such as CSS, JavaScript, ASP & PHP.
  • Adobe Dreamweaver has two types of applications - 'Design View' & 'Code Editor'. 
  • The 'Design View' facilitates rapid layout design and code generation as it allows users to create and manipulate the layout of HTML design. Dreamweaver acts as all in one browser for previewing developed webpages in the program's own preview pane in addition to allowing content to be open in locally installed browsers. It offers transfer and synchronization features with the ability to find and replace lines of text or code by search terms. It also has a template feature that allows sharing codes & layout to developers.
  • The 'Code Editor' has standard features such as syntax highlighting, code completion, and code collapsing as well as more sophisticated features such as real-time syntax checking and code introspection for generating code hints to assist the developers in writing the codes.
  • Dreamweaver, like any other HTML editor, edits files locally then uploads them to the remote web server using FTP, SFTP, or WebDAV.

2 – Microsoft Expressions Web

  • Microsoft Expression Web, is an integrated HTML editor and web design software product developed by Microsoft which is available free of charge from Microsoft. It is a  component of (the previously discontinued version) Expression Studio.
  • Expression Web can design and develop web pages through XML, CSS 2.1, ASP.NET or ASP.NET AJAX, XML, XSLT, PHP and JavaScript. 
  • Expression Web 4 requires .NET Framework and Silverlight framework to install and run Expression Web & it uses its own rendering engine which is different from Internet Explorer's Trident engine.

Any graphic development tools DNN developers can use?

1 - Adobe Photoshop & Adobe FireWorks

  • Adobe Photoshop is a graphics & image editor developed and published by Adobe Systems & supports MS Windows and Apple OS X operating systems. Photoshop supports vast graphic file formats & uses its own PSD and PSB file formats & has very limited abilities to edits texts. 

  • The Adobe Photoshop consists of additional softwares such as Image Ready, Fireworks, Bridge,  Device Central and RAW Camera  & they are termed as 'Photoshop Family'!

 Any other benefits DNN developers have? 

  • DNN has over 800,000 members & developers who share their ideas & the tools they use for smoother & faster implementation of DNN projects at an online event called CodePlex. Developers can be part of the event & get more ideas for them to execute their projects.

The DNN CMS development space is fast caching up & developers need to offer innovative DotNetNuke CMS development services to enterprises around the world. There is a greater need  for developers to convince enterprises by explaining them the benefits of (hassel-free) DNN CMS developement, hosting & maintainence services. This would help application developers & service providers to bag big ticket projects from enterprises globally.

(Image:- dnnsoftware)


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