Easy Web Application Management Using DotNetNuke

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As the general public becomes savvier regarding computer and internet usage, many Information Technology customers have requested an increased role in managing the day to day operations of their web applications. One vehicle to facilitate this request is a Content Management System (CMS), which provides a role based platform for administrators to, not only, add or update content, but to also implement new features. One such CMS is DotNetNuke (DNN), which describes itself as the Leading Web Content management System and Application Development Platform for Microsoft .Net, or in layman’s terms, DotNetNuke is a prime CMS platform for developers using the .Net Framework.

During 2009, Segue Technologies implemented a DNN 4.9 solution for the United Negro College Fund (UNCF). Segue chose DNN for a host of reasons, but the primary factor was the built in security framework. This framework not only includes stable user administration modules (registration, login, manage users), but also allows administrators to utilize role-based content. In other words, administrators can easily assign certain pages for anonymous users, other pages for registered users, and even more pages for custom roles.

DNN is also ideal for an organization such as UNCF in that a single platform can host multiple web applications, called portals. In this instance, Segue created portals for three programs within UNCF: UNCF Merck Science Initiative (Merck), Institute for Capacity Building (ICB), and Association of UNCF-Merck Fellows (AUMF). In general, the three portals shared similar functionality; but DNN contains enough flexibility to make each web application unique. This uniqueness was accomplished by applying different Skinning, Pages, and Modules.


DNN provides the ability for each portal to maintain a completely different look and feel. This is accomplished by using templates that are simply .Net user controls. Each skin control contains a header, footer, and body section and each of these sections can be sub-divided into smaller pieces. The developer and even content manager can adjust the display by modifying portal specific Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) files.


DNN is completely database driven so that a DNN portal does not need many static aspx pages in order to display a rich user experience. Using the Administration Control Panel, administrators can add any number of pages to the portal and designate which roles are able to view and/or edit that page. For the AUMF portal, almost every page is public facing so there was no need for adjusting the security settings. However, both the Merck and ICB portals contain both public and private pages, which provide a completely different user experience for anonymous and registered users.


DNN utilizes modules in order to display all content and fortunately the platform provides several in the base installation. The most commonly used one is the powerful Text/html module which not only displays simple text or html markup, but can also be engineered to execute javascript or other scripting languages. This module also includes the FCKEditor, a WYSIWYG Rich Text Editor that provides common word processing functionality. Other common – out of the box – functionality includes a Document module, an Events module, a Links module, and a Reports module.

Segue created and implemented several custom modules that enhanced the user experience for each UNCF portal. Both the Merck and ICB portals contain a News and Blog module, which allows users, in designated roles, to post or comment on articles. Each of these modules were based on templates which allowed us to design a different layout for each portal. The Merck site also includes a Photo Gallery module, which allows an administrator to create events and users to upload photos as well as a Private Messages module. This module is a cross between email and chat services in which registered users can communicate with other registered users. Messages are displayed to a logged in user in real time, like a Chat module. However, if a user is offline, any communication to them is preserved in the database and delivered at their next login.


This article described several benefits in utilizing a DNN solution, yet perhaps the greatest benefit that Segue Technologies and UNCF enjoyed was the ability to accelerate the project’s schedule. Since the security framework and content framework were generally available without the need for major customization, Segue developed and deployed three completely new web applications in a couple of months. This was facilitated by the framework’s inherent stability, where many user tasks quickly and painlessly passed quality control. Because of this stability, Segue will add more portals to the existing DNN implementation, as additional UNCF Programs migrate their existing websites over to DNN or ask Segue to generate a completely new web presence.

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