DotNetNuke, provider of the eponymous .NET-based open source content management platform, has made some dramatic improvements in the latest version of the product, DotNetNuke 6, released July 25. As a DotNetNuke (DNN) user (DevProConnections.com and other Penton IT & Dev Group websites run on DNN), I was impressed by what I saw of the product's new features for CMS managers and users, in a demo given by Shaun Walker, co-founder and CTO for DotNetNuke.
A Revamped UI
Walker's quick demo provided a sampling of the most noticeable changes in DotNetNuke 6, which affect the UI appearance and end-user CMS administration tools. "The admin menu is much cleaner. And instead of the old-school flyout menu, the admin panels now use mega-menus," said Walker.
I immediately noticed the difference in the CMS administration interface. The mega-menus are easier to follow and navigate than the admin panels in the previous version of DotNetNuke. Even better, they allow you to access admin functions, such as the content editors and page and site admin tools, in a modal dialog box, so that you enter content or make changes with the current web page still in view.
DotNetNuke 6 Actions menu
Mitch Bishop, DotNetNuke CMO, said that DotNetNuke 6 has "a whole new look and feel. We put the vast majority of effort [in the new release] into giving a facelift to the customer interface to make it easier for developers and content managers." The UI overhaul is part of the base DotNetNuke platform, so all editions of DotNetNuke 6—Community, Professional, and Enterprise—incorporate the skin, mega-menus, and other UI changes.
C# Rewrite, Online Store Access, Cloud API
DotNetNuke 6 includes a number of other significant changes. A key change for developers is that the platform has been rewritten in C#, a change that many DotNetNuke developers have requested, Bishop said. The code rewrite has improved the product's performance, according to Walker. "We did performance analysis and tuning and found that the DotNetNuke 6 platform is faster than any of the DotNetNuke 5 versions."
Another important change for developers is that DotNetNuke now directly connects to Snowcovered.com, the DotNetNuke online store offering more than 10,000 application extensions (modules and skins). Having direct access to Snowcovered.com will provide an "iTunes [Store] experience" for DotNetNuke developers, said Bishop.
All three DotNetNuke 6 editions also include a new API for Platform as a Service cloud hosting, letting you host a DotNetNuke website via Windows Azure.
Commercial Edition Enhancements: Cloud Storage, eCommerce, SharePoint Connector
Rounding out the enhancements in DotNetNuke 6 are several new additions in the Professional and Enterprise Editions. Both editions now allow integration of cloud storage services—Windows Azure Storage and Amazon S3—into DotNetNuke websites, by providing a file storage API that lets you incorporate folders for cloud file storage into a website. Additionally, a new eCommerce module is available with the Professional and Enterprise Editions.
Finally, the DotNetNuke Enterprise Edition includes a Microsoft SharePoint Connector, which enables documents from a SharePoint site to be published securely on a DotNetNuke public website. "Our customers were asking for the ability to publish documents in controlled way from SharePoint to a public-facing website, extranet, or intranet," said Bishop. "The connector allows you to manage that publishing and the business rules around it, so you can point to which documents you want published and when through a job scheduler."
You can find more information about DotNetNuke 6, download the free Community Edition or a 30-day trial of the Professional Edition, or access a demo and other online resources on the DotNetNuke website.