DotNetNuke (DNN) — A CMS For True Extensibility

DotNetNuke (DNN) — A CMS for True Extensibility


June 29, 2020


In a fast-digitizing world, with rapidly-multiplying “options” available to consumers, their expectations change every moment, so to say. To stay in the profits, thus, it’s crucial that brands keep pace, and more importantly, adapt. Today, the customers’ experience — both in terms of functionality and design — is a crucial determinant of a brand’s success. It’s not only essential for the brand image but is also directly related to revenues.

According to PWC, for 86% of customers, a higher price is not an issue if offered a superior experience. On the other hand, bad consumer experience is likely to drive away nearly 88% of a website’s audience. In this context, while 73% of businesses are investing for a competitive edge over their peers, 62% of them are investing to adequately meet changing demands.

Now, comes the obvious question: how to adapt? One way, probably the most effective, is to ensure optimum extensibility for your web platforms, especially your CMS. In this regard, DotNetNuke or the DNN platform is a robust solution available to developers. This article explains why and how, it’s probably the only available CMS that is truly extensible.

Defining Extensibility & DotNetNuke CMS

To meet changing demands, brands need to constantly add, alter, and upgrade their website’s features and functionalities. Broadly put, extensibility is the practice of making this feasible. Here, new features can simply be added as “extensions” to the website’s foundational structure which, in turn, mostly remains unchanged. For clarity, consider a house and how we can make additions to it, part by part.

Written in Microsoft ASP.NET, DotNetNuke is a two-part platform – the Content Management System (CMS) and the open-source framework (Application Program Interface or API) for developing intuitive and custom web applications. Introduced in 2006, DotNetNuke is designed to offer maximum extensibility and comes with 20,000+ extensions which include modules, themes, or other components.

Using DNN, web developers can leverage existing tools or create fully customized solutions for an application’s appearance and functionality. Moreover, applications developed using DNN integrate seamlessly with legacy systems, as well as cloud-based infrastructures.

The Extensibility Toolkit — Why Do People Choose DNN?

As such, it’s indisputable that variety is a better choice than quantity. Yet, the best thing is to have both combined and that’s what DNN’s extensibility toolkit, as we would like to call it, offers. Not only does it have many extensions, but they are also of several types.

Some of the broad categories of extensions available in DNN are as follows:

  • A JavaScript library that allows the use and integration of JavaScript platforms such as Angular, React and so on.
  • Provider extensions, which include functionalities such as authentication, user control, database, navigation and so on.
  • Scheduler extensions which enable developers to create pre-scheduled items or actions for the website.
  • Earlier known as “skins”, the theme extension gives developers a nuanced control and customizability over the website.
  • Container extensions to specifically customize the appearance of selective sections or “modules” on the website.

Needless to say, these are only some of the available types. Now, technicalities apart, the biggest practical benefit of DNN is its perfect balance between usability and power. As Kurt Holliday of the Pittsburg University points out, “DNN gives editors a straightforward, simple approach to managing content. Ease-of-use for the average editor does not come with a trade-off of being weak for the IT team. In short, it is the CMS sweet spot of capabilities and ease of use.”

Thus, by combining extensibility with ease of action, DNN opens wider avenues for modern businesses, while simultaneously reducing their costs. Further, it significantly simplifies their web infrastructures, making them leaner and more agile.

DotNetNuke & Other CMS — A Comparison

Before concluding, let’s briefly look at how DNN compares with the other existing CMS platforms, especially WordPress. As such, the two are fundamentally different: while the latter uses PHP and MYSQL, the former is based on .NET and SQL. Yet, they also have similarities: both have WYSIWYG content editors.

None the less, one of the biggest advantages that DNN has over others is that it integrates several administrative features with the content editor. This makes the creation and the editing process much faster and hassle-free — in WordPress, you have to constantly move between the dashboard and the editor.

In general, for small/medium business processes, and for blogging, WordPress is well-suited. Yet, in a broader spectrum, the platform is limited, especially with regard to control over extensibility. WordPress also has several “plugins” but doesn’t have a DNN-like open API. Consequently, most WP plugins are only as customizable as the original developer allows.

That said, let’s conclude with Walt Brannon’s (New Orleans University) experience. He says, “With more than 200 websites, we needed a lot of flexibility and DNN delivered. It has the ability to create sites and site domains, quickly and easily. From a systems point of view, this makes it a clear winner over other CMS platforms”. In all, DNN is a truly modern CMS well-suited for the fast-changing world with cutthroat competition. Furthermore, it fosters personalization: the need of the hour.

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