DotNetNuke Do-Over: CMS Update Fixes Bugs in Version 5.4

DotNetNuke Corp. released an interim version of its Web content management framework last month to support Microsoft's ASP.NET 4, which shipped as part of the .NET Framework 4 and Visual Studio 2010 release on April 12. But developers who tested DNN 5.4 reported serious bugs, a problem that also occurred with the previous release, 5.3.

Last week, DotNetNuke released version 5.4.1, which addressed some of the significant issues.

The company's open source framework, DotNetNuke, is a multi-tenant Web platform that runs on the Windows stack with IIS and SQL Server. Other databases are also supported. An open API enables customization and third-party add-ons. According to the company, more than 500,000 Web sites worldwide are run on the open source platform, which was originally written on ASP.NET 1.0 as a project sponsored by Microsoft.

DotNetNuke Professional 5.4 and the Elite Edition—the open source community version remains the core of the higher-end commercial platforms—offers full support for ASP.NET 4, enhanced localization, and folksonomy (free-form tagging), which is an extension of the taxonomy introduced in Version 5.3. Several features from the Professional Edition were ported back to the Community product in this release, including a Ribbon Bar control panel introduced in Version 5.2 and the Telerik rich text editor, added in late 2009.

Since it was first developed the DotNetNuke framework has been updated in tandem with Microsoft's ASP.NET to resolve any compatibility issues. "There were five or six issues that we identified that had compatibility problems with ASP.NET 4," said Shaun Walker, DotNetNuke co-founder and chief architect. "We worked with the [Microsoft] Web Platform and Tools team to deal with those issues in a way that we could support ASP.NET 4 and continue to support ASP.NET 3.5 because we know, based on past experience, that it is 12 to 18 months before many of our users will look to upgrade to ASP.NET 4." The backward compatibility prohibited DotNetNuke from taking advantage of new features in ASP.NET 4, according to Walker.

QA Issues

DotNetNuke got 5.4 out a week after ASP.NET 4 was released to the Web, but some developers ran into significant issues when they tested the technology. Company co-founder Joe Brinkman apologized for the buggy release.

"While we try to do a good job in testing our releases, our recent efforts for 5.3 and 5.4 have fallen short of the mark," he said in an DNN blog that outlined the changes in Version 5.4.1. "We are currently working with a small team of commercial module developers and the core team to put a better public beta testing process in place that will help augment our own internal testing. Ultimately, community testing is the only testing that truly scales and we have struggled with how to effectively use the community even while keeping to a tight release schedule."

Craig Hubbard, a DNN developer with TechnicaOne Business Solutions in Australia, indicated that he was happy with DotNetNuke's quick response to the reported issues. He commented on Brinkman's blog:

"5.4.1 has passed our testing for both new installs and upgrades and we have rolled it out to production today. All issues that we had been finding from 5.3.x to 5.4.0 have been resolved."

Rapid Growth

DotNetNuke has ramped up its release schedule in the last year. The company introduced commercial versions of the open source project in February 2009 with features aimed at high performance enterprise-level sites and Web farms. When 5.4 launched in April, DotNetNuke chief executive Navin Nagiah reported close to 500 commercial customers.

DotNetNuke Professional 5.4 adds document management capabilities based on intellectual property acquired from Xepient Solutions, developers of Open-DocumentLibrary, which is built on DotNetNuke. The new library supports document check-in, check-out, rollback, editing, versioning, reporting, user access controls and synchronization with other document libraries.

"This is a mature solution that is being used by over 4,000 customers worldwide," explained Nagiah. "In the SMB segment, it makes our solution more complete in that they use DotNetNuke for the public facing Web site, for intranet or extranet, but also use it for managing their documents.

"For the enterprise-class organization, we still think SharePoint is the way to go," he said. "They use DotNetNuke as the front-end and they use SharePoint as the repository at the backend and that’s where we still need to build integration points between DotNetNuke and SharePoint."

"That's on our roadmap for the future," said Walker, "so that you can leverage your assets that you are managing in your SharePoint within your DotNetNuke site."

DotNetNuke is the largest open source project for .NET, based in part on the size of its ecosystem, according to Nagiah. "We are the largest and most successful open source project in the Microsoft ecosystem in terms of downloads, installs, number of people who make a livelihood off our platform and so on." About six months ago, the company launched a partner program for resellers, and today the company has 80 commercial partners.

Last August, DotNetNuke acquired, the online marketplace for its extensions (skins and modules). Merged with DotNetNuke's online marketplace, today contains more than 8,000 add-ons, ranging in price from $50 to $200, according to Nagiah.

Easier access to add-ons from within the platform is on the DotNetNuke roadmap. "When you are in the browser and you are in your Web site and you are an administrator, the system essentially looks at the different versions of the add-ons that you have and in a very custom way shows you the add-ons that are most relevant to you," explained Nagiah.

DotNetNuke 5.4.1 is available now in the Professional and Community Editions from the company's Web site. The platform supports Visual Studio 2010 and earlier versions, as well free tooling such as Visual Web Developer and SQL Server Express.

Today, the company announced that it will offer a new training program based on materials--webinars and onsite education--provided by longtime partner Engage Software. Master trainer Chris Hammond has joined DotNetNuke as the Director of Training in charge of the new program.

About the Author

Kathleen Richards is the editor of and executive editor of Visual Studio Magazine.

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