I’m going to put down a couple of thoughts here that I have when working in the space of DNN doing a huge range of job types and finding that each project is quite different.
Some people get annoyed because I can’t deliver a project in 3 days. Others think I’m too expensive, take to long, spend too much time deliberating on what modules to use, don’t want to release sites/builds unless I think they will be satisfactory for them for at least several months – if not a year or more.
Sometimes I cop some angry people who say – You said it was going to be released this week.. (um by that I mean the DNN builds which I don’t have any control over the time frames).
But you know what – when I get complaints from people and tell them – OK then move back to a build that is reliable, they never want to go there.. they all want to be on the latest and greatest.
I know on my sites, with my clients, when I turn out a project, it’s virtually the last I have to hear of it until we upgrade. I don’t have clients tinkering around with modules, adding stuff they’ll never use, have never tested or experienced, nor do I have much comeback on the full sites and portals I deliver to clients or IT departments, where we’ve built the sites on my server, detached or backed up and delivered completely rolled out portals, with content, skins, modules all prepurchased and embedded into the site, including customised web.config, installation of the latest modules, that I’ve tested first to make sure my clients don’t have the problems.
But it takes hours.. hours and hours and hours for me to get it right and I’m not the only one. At times I speak to some of the most advanced DNN developers who also get stuck on some details, or have to go back an revisit their work.
I generally customise all my portal installations. I remove modules that I don’t want before they are installed, and do local and test builds before making up my special super duper portal that I’ll use for a few months and that’s when it’s faster to deploy.
June, July and August for me were horrible months for DNN, I, along with many others fell behind in work, not only waiting for builds, but testing them, finding that things we thought worked, in fact did not, yet many clients I work think that by putting pressure on me that it’s going to make me work faster.. Even when you try to evaluate how long a job will take, how much customisation there requires, everyone wants the latest build or, in this particular last few months, it has been rocky. Downloads not behaving like they should, security issues, portals not being able to be replicated, the small things that make speedy deployment of a site virtually impossible.
Having said all that you might think that it must be risky to take DNN on in business sense, or why would anyone do this if it’s so much trouble.
The answer is simple.. At the end of the day, when the sites are working and handed over to clients, they are able to manage it easily, without headaches and love working on their websites. While I’ve still got a few technical problems on my site. (at the moment we’re extending the application pools since the traffic is forcing a few too many worker app resets) in general, DNN is getting better and better.
I’m now busy working on my master build, with the thoughts in mind that DNN 4.3.6 or whatever they call it – will be one of fixes and polishing. I thought this 4.3.5 build was great, it’s solved alot of small but annoying problems, and yes, there is always going to be ongoing issues with DNN, if you don’t like it, get over it, or pay someone to iron out the bugs.. or.. wait.. and understand and accept that either way DotNetNuke.. might be easy but it’s not fast.. and when it is fast.. it wasn’t easy to get there.
I have to say that we’re in for a good ride with DNN in the next few months, and like every challenging build – some people drop off, others hang on, plenty still whinge and whine about it.. but because our clients love it so much, we still step foward and push forward with projects.
Here are a few small tips I can give you from my point of view when it comes to setting up and managing your websites.
For personal sites
- Establish your time frame – If it’s honestly got to be 1 month, then check for the last good known build.
- Establish what you need it to do (that will help you decide what modules you need to put in)
- Do not fall for new modules that sound great, but haven’t been on prior builds unless you are prepared to suffer the consequences of teething problems from that developer.
- Do the old fashioned thing of laying out your hierarchy of menus and pages on paper (yes I do that)
For commercial sites
- Don’t get sucked into thinking that you can wait for the next build if client projects are time critical. I am starting to tell clients now that if it’s time critical – work with the last known version of DNN. Fortunately – we’ve worn the worst of the DNN 4 release – we’re talking nearly 10 months since it’s release – I could be wrong but I believe it’s about that.
- If you are selling DNN don’t offer the world until you know what the world has to offer you. Learn about DNN. If you think it’s a cash cow.. you’re wrong.. you’ll burn people along the way if you don’t spend some time learning about DNN so you can offer good solutions.
- Understand that researching and testing modules and investing in them is part and parcel of providing a good solid solution. I’ve spent virtually all the money I’ve earnt over the last few years on upgrading my servers (DNN is hungry) buying modules (good, bad and ugly – and I have a list of them I wouldn’t even give away) and learning what this product does, and staff. Most of my money now goes into staff, local staff, who understand DNN, not some cheap developer house from a third world country to fatten my own pockets, but working with young and talented people who have something to offer and will have a name.
- If you’re going to sell it.. use it.. don’t sell it if you can’t use it or have no one in your company who can.
If you’ve inherited a site and the developer has gone AWOL, then set up some test pages and start exploring and seeing what you can do with it.
I have a strong vision of what I’d like to be doing with DNN in the next three years – I’ve already invested more than three years of my time and life, virtually every waking hour I’ve had, and often seven days per week learning, fixing, and working in the DNN space and I believe it’s got a great future.
Every release of DNN sees us with more people coming online. The rate of growth of DNN is simply amazing. I’m excited by it and I guess that’s what keeps my inspiration when at times I think OMG this is going to be the end of me.
I’ll get off my bandwagon for now and get these sites that I’ve been trying to get out the door for the last 3 – 4 weeks out in the next few days – as they all get updated to DNN 4.3.5 and I think it will be smooth sailing for the next few months.
If you’re a newcomer.. it’s a great time to be here.