Dot Net Nuke Content Management System Reviewed (not to be confused with Duke Nukem)

DotNetNuke (DNN) is an open-source CMS using Microsoft .NET technology and MS SQL database that claims to offer no limits on design (called skins), great security, membership options which are all manageable through browser-based tools. In their Professional Edition, they have a view called layout where the customer can view the modules (content areas) on the page and move them to different areas of the page. We thought this was a really cool added bonus feature (very similar to what Blogger.com offers within their layout view as a blogging platform). They allow you to translate your site into any language, and they also have native support always available to help with any questions.


Best Features
  • Feature-Rich: customized through simple, browser-based tools (called modules)
  • Leading-Edge: technologies like ASP.NET, Visual Studio, SQL Server, Windows Server, and IIS
  • Flexible: supports multiple web sites from a single application
  • Localized: Multi-language localization to easily translate
Additional Features
  • Easy to Install
  • Easy to Use
  • Recognized
Flaws
A few drawbacks others have noted:
  • It is rather intense to implement (interesting, considering they suggest one of its benefits as 'easy to install')
  • The application takes up a lot of server resources
  • Figuring it all out has a steep learning curve (typical for most CMS, but I wouldn't advise anyone to start on the web with DNN)
  • Documentation that hasn’t been updated for almost three years
Cost
DotNetNuke offers three editions: community, professional, and enterprise. The community edition is free, while the other two have special features that you do have to pay for. DotNetNuke asks you to contact them for more details and pricing. sales@dnncorp.com or (650) 288 - 3150. I did a little digging and contacted DotNetNuke, they did give me a price for the Professional Edition, which is $2,500 for one year. This package offers a commercial license, optimized for business-critical applications and online support from DotNetNuke Corp.

Duke Nukem NOT related to Dot Net Nuke
Sample Sites that use DotNetNuke
Summary
Overall, we think DotNetNuke is a good, open-source, Windows CMS. Here is an awesome blog from The Accidental Geek about getting started with DotNetNuke or take a tour (PDF).

On a separate note, I did contact DotNetNuke to ask if they had a live demo, like Umbraco and ExpressionEngine, that allowed the customer to see what the inside of system looks like and how it works. The response was that I could either install and set up a trail, or I could watch this webinar (which is over 50 minutes long). Although the video is not the greatest marketing piece or attractive sales pitch, I learned about some features that were not advertised on their site.
  • A Recycled Files folder, which contains pages and modules that have been deleted
  • Built in Google Analytics Feature
  • Workflow Management, example: content that needs to be approved before publishing
  • Mobile phone compatible, as far as they have seen
  • Controllable meta-data

I also asked them if they could answer a few questions for us, but they gave back vague answers which was disappointing.  I told them I was posting a blog about it, so I decided to show the exact questions and answers below.
  1. What specifically makes your system better than other CMS system available?
    DNN rep: It is very extensible, very widely deployed around the world and we have a large marketplace of third party extensions, snowcovered.com.
  2. How would you rate the learning curve for setting up and configuring a site with DotNetNuke?
    DNN rep: Not too bad, after DNN is installed, it is geared for the Non-Technical user.
    [ Some of the users linked above thought otherwise. ]
  3. What are the most common complaints that you receive about the software?
    DNN rep: Don't know.
  4. Can you provide some of the best or most well-known companies or websites using the software?
    DNN rep: I have attached a PowerPoint slide with some URLs.
    [ I listed a few of these above. ]
  5. What are your most well-received modules?
    DNN rep: They are all well received.
    [ With very little review, we identified one of their coolest features in our first statement above! Seems odd they couldn't brag about a few things... 'Everything is perfect and wonderful' is a very lame response. ]
I again or if anyone else could help to get more specific answers, especially on the "don't know" response, but received nothing more than a series of questions back to me about when I was going to purchase. In the end, if I were ready to purchase a new CMS, I would not go with them over Umbraco or Expression Engine simply based on these non-useful replies.

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