DotNetNuke is a content management system available for use on Windows web hosting services. DNN is based on ASP.NET and can be used with either a Microsoft Access or Microsoft SQL Server database, meaning that the application will only be fully functional when used in Windows web hosting environments. What makes DNN different from other CMS systems is that there is a community edition that can be used by anyone for free, but for businesses and larger websites who are looking to get more out of a CMS then there are also professional editions available that will come with additional features and will be accompanied by full support from the software vendor.
To download DNN, you should point your web browser towards www.dotnetnuke.com. From there you should select the “Download” button that is located at the top of the page.
You will then be presented with the following download and installation options:
- Microsoft Web Platform Installer – if you are a server administrator and have access to your Windows VPS server or Windows dedicated server via Remote Desktop then the Web Platform installer will provide you with a simpler installation path
- Install package – this is the more traditional method through which you will download the files required, upload them to your web server and then will run the web-based installation wizard
- Source code package – if you wish to make changes to the core of the application, you should choose his package as you will be able to modify the source code of DNN as you wish.
For the purpose of this tutorial we are going to use the “install” package. Once you have clicked the “Install Package” button, you will be taken to an external download website where your download will begin automatically.
Once you have downloaded and uncompressed the files, you should be left with a directory structure similar to the one below.
Beginning the Installation Process
Prior to uploading the DotNetNuke files to your web space, you will need to setup a Microsoft SQL Server database that you can use with the application through your web hosting control panel. You will then need to correct the connection string in your web.config file so that the installation wizard is able to establish a connection to your database.
Once you have corrected the connection string and uploaded the contents of the download to your web space, you should setup the following permissions on your virtual directory:
- IIS user – this user account should be granted read, write and modify permissions on the virtual directory that DotNetNuke is located in
- ASP.NET network user – this user account should be granted full control over the virtual directory.
Once you have corrected the permissions, you should navigate to the directory that you have placed DNN in through your web browser. You should be presented with the following installation page:
There are three different installation options to choose from:
- Custom – if you wish to customize your DNN installation then you should select this option as it will provide you with more options for the duration of the installation
- Typical – if you want to use the “standard” configuration options used by a majority of users then this is the right choice for you
- Auto – if you don’t want to muck around with the installations options and simply wish to install the application as quickly as possible then you should select this option.
For the purposes of this tutorial we will select the “Typical” option.
The wizard will then check that you have the correct permissions set on the directory that DNN is located in.
If you don’t have the correct permissions set, the installation wizard will provide you with instructions on how to solve this.
Next, you will need to setup the database connection so that the database can be populated with the relevant configuration information.
You will need to enter the following data:
- File or database – you can choose to attach the existing database file, or if you wish to use a separate Microsoft SQL Server database then you will also be provided with this option
- Server – this is the server on which your Microsoft SQL Server database is going to be hosted, usually the local server
- Database – this is the name of the database that you wish to use
- Database login credentials – you will also need to supply the username and password of the Microsoft SQL Server database user that you wish to use with the database.
Once you have completed the form, click “Next” and the database installation scripts will be run for you.
Once the database scripts have completed, you should click the “Next” button; you will then be taken to a page where you can setup the main admin user account for your website.
You will need to enter the following information to continue:
- First name and last name – you should associate your own name with this account as you are likely to be the webmaster of the site
- Username – you should set this to something applicable such as “host” or “admin”
- Email address – it is important for you to associate an email address with this account in case you happen to forget your password.
You should also configure the SMTP server settings so that the application can send out emails.
It is now time to setup the main options for your DotNetNuke website, including the name of your site, so that you can begin to customize the installation.
It is recommended that you enter the following data to aid with the completion of the installation:
- Full name – this is going to be associated with the admin account which will be used to manage the main website, unlike the super user account which is more important for the management of the technical aspects of the application
- Username and password – these will also be associated with the admin account
- Portal title – this is what you want the name of your website to be, for example it could be your business name if you are developing a business site
- Template – if you are yet to develop your own design for DNN, you can choose to use a pre-built template.
Once you have completed the form and click “Next”, you should then proceed to click “Start Building Your New Site”. From there you will be taken to your new website.
In conclusion, DNN is a highly functional ASP.NET CMS that will provide Windows web developers with a reliable platform on which they can develop scalable websites that will be able to stand the test of time.