Leaving DotNetNuke (DNN)…

DotNetNuke (DNN) is a popular open source content management system written in ASP.NET with Microsoft SQL Server as the back-end. I’ve been using it for a number of years on sites of mine like davemackey.net. I’ve been a fan of DNN for a number of years for a few reasons.:

  • Open Source – I’m always a fan of open source projects, not just b/c I like a free lunch as much as the next guy but also because it allows for the project to continue on beyond the lifespan of a given individual or company.
  • ASP.NET – Its only been within the last several years I’ve really begun messing around with LAMP, and for the longest time I loved ASP and then ASP.NET. Now I’ve been swung to the dark side recently, though I still find Microsoft‘s development tools to be leagues beyond the open source competition (for speed of development) and still prefer developing in a VB.NET-like syntax to C#, PHP, etc. But, this habit must die…b/c everyone else is going LAMP.
  • Simplicity – Compared to Joomla or Drupal, DNN is a breeze. Within minutes of installing the application you can have a full featured site up and running.

That said, I’m now leaving the DNN community (I’ll get to what I’m moving to in a few moments). Here are the simple reasons why:

  • Cost – While DNN itself is open source, the Microsoft ecosystem as a whole is much more oriented around cost-based. This especially holds true for the DNN third-party ecosystem of modules and skins. Both of these would have some commercial items in a similar LAMP based project, but there would be loads of free modules/skins. Not so of the DNN ecosystem.
  • Development – Feature development in DNN seems to go at a much slower pace than equivalent open source projects (though this may change with the venture capital infusion DNN recently received). One significant example is the forums module which has been without an update for well over a year and has several show-stopping bugs in the current production version.
  • Openness – While DNN is an OSS project, the sharing of news about what is happening internally as far as development as well as the ability to get the latest snapshot download to run on the bleeding edge is extremely limited.

So what am I moving to? Good question. Its not Drupal or Joomla. I find both of these overly convoluted (here come the haters). Instead I’m moving to WordPress. WordPress while initially designed as a blogging platform has extended itself significantly to include most functionality that a user could want from a CMS in the core install. Thousands of free extensions make up for whatever WordPress lacks at its core. The development pace is rapid and even minor versions include massive updates (e.g. 2.7 is awesome!). The skins/modules are free, free, free and if one module isn’t receiving development there are dozens others that are.

That said, I’m not abandoning DNN completely just yet. It works well enough for davemackey.net, ocddave.com, and a few other sites. At this juncture the cost to move them over to WordPress (in time and energy) is greater than the lost features (since these are essentially static content sites, they aren’t missing out on much). I plan to in the future – as the need arises.

4 Replies to “Leaving DotNetNuke (DNN)…”

  1. Nice post, I definitely agree with your “development” and “openness” comments, I’ve shared the same feeling on those for a while now.

  2. These are well crafted thoughts on DotNetNuke. Well done. We have a slightly different point of view. As developers of solutions around DNN (Mostly Module Developers) we have years invested in the making of over 23 modules. (sold at: http://www.interactivewebs.com)

    We look at DNN more as Web Operating System in place of a feature packed free web solution. While we totally agree that the features offered in the free modules that ship with DNN are some of the worst examples of current modules available. There is a strong and robust list of module to do just about anything you want.

    For this reason we feel that DNN is the Professional web masters best friend. With a solid basis, and a number of reasonably priced modules, there is almost nothing you can’t do for a client with DNN.

    We agree that information flow is beyond terrible. And that the community around DNN is almost dead since it was made into a corporation.

    As for Word Press (that we use on our blog because it ROCKS for blog technology), we found that technology is much better suited to the low cost/free website end of town. It has a place and a community, but does not deliver business functionality the same way DNN does.

    Also, it is not asp.net and while php has a place, our future is in technologies like Silverlight and Microsoft Office integration with web technologies like CRM etc. Mixing Microsoft and PHP websites is a mistake.

    1. David,
      Thanks for the feedback. I’ve come to agree with your thoughts on WordPress – at this juncture it still isn’t quite the full-fledged system for larger sites seeking a CMS. That said, I do see Drupal, Joomla, etc. as significant alternatives to DNN…Telligent’s CommunityServer also had potential until they changed licensing schemes. One which I am especially interested in right now but haven’t had a chance to mess around with is done by my friend Dave Burke (formerly of Telligent) and called Sueetie.
      I don’t like PHP much – would much rather do .NET – but DNN just wasn’t good enough…especially when you have WordPress and Drupal (the two I’m largely using now) offering not only a good framework but also excellent modules for free (I’m not arguing against premium modules – I’ve bought my share…).
      Dave.

  3. I like WordPress too. However I dont think that it is always the best solution, especially for larger websites.
    For me I think the main thing is to be technology agnostic, so to speak, and focus on getting the outcomes that the client needs, not the technology used to deliver them.

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