DotNetNuke (news, site), an open source Microsoft.Net web content management provider, offers both a community and professional version of their solution. The professional version contains some features and functionality not available in the community version, features designed for the enterprise.

The latest version of DotNetNuke Professional hits the streets today. Get the scoop on what's new in the Web CMS.

A Framework and a CMS

DotNetNuke started off as a web framework for building applications and has slowly grown into a web content management system.


DotNetNuke Architecture

It's built on the Microsoft stack, including ASP.NET 2.0, IIS 6 and up, Windows Server 2003-2008, SQL Server 2000 and up. It's also a solution that can be installed and run on the desktop. The Web CMS can also run on ASP.NET 3 and 3.5, but doesn't take advantage of any new features those versions offer.

DotNetNuke claims ease of use, with an interface built using AJAX and Web 2.0 technologies, the flexibility to support multiple websites and brand them differently. They also have a large module developer community offering a number of add-on capabilities in addition to those offered out of the box -- visit the DotNetNuke Marketplace to see the wide array of add-ons available.

What's New in 5.1?

In their report The Web Content Management Report 2009, CMSWatch says that DotNetNuke is lacking in some critical functionality for a web content management system. That was based on version 4.9. The new 5.1 Professional version changes that view to some degree with the addition of a number of key content management features:

  • Workflow: The community version of DotNetNuke contains basic workflow functionality. The professional version builds on that offering the well-known three step workflow and the ability to create custom workflow with any number of states and reviewers.
  • Versioning: An unlimited number of versions of content is now supported as well. There is a defined limit for versions at which the oldest ones are deleted.
  • Permissions: Permissions can be set at the page, folder and module level for granular security rights.
  • Analytics: Support for advanced Google Analytics is now available in the Web CMS, offering segmentation on visitor type, landing page, role and referrer.


DotNetNuke 5.1 Permissions

Scalability and Enterprise Support

The DotNetNuke 5.1 Professional Edition also has a number of improvements in terms of scalability and enterprise level support. These include a new distributed caching provider that supports DotNetNuke websites on web farms and a file integrity checking mechanism that regularly checks files in the installation, reporting inconsistencies that could affect performance.


DotNetNuke Web Farm Caching

The Professional version also includes network-based Health Monitoring capabilities, pinging your website on a regular basis to both ensure it is up and running and that the site stays in server memory longer.

Finally, there is a vulnerability database that cross references product versions, assisting in identifying potential issues.

Strong Support for Professional Edition

The Professional version of DotNetNuke, which costs US$1,999 per instance, is a fully supported and tested and verified version of the Web CMS. There is email notification of security patches and product updates, access to full product documentation, an online Knowledge base, unlimited support and Product copyright indemnification.

A Good Web CMS, A Better Web Framework

There are a number of improvements in this release of DotNetNuke. Many of them should help bring it up on par with other web content management systems such as Sitecore and Ektron -- in terms of offering basic web content administration functionality. Functionality like workflow and versioning are core requirements for any Web CMS today.

DotNetNuke's strengths appear to lie more in its web framework and its ability to create additional functionality that doesn't come out of the box. If you look at their statistics, you see there is a thriving community for the open source solution and a great potential for a number of paid Professional subscriptions for those wanting more security and stability.

According to DotNetNuke, there have been over 6 million downloads of the solution and the number is growing by 100k daily. Of these, there are roughly 400k production websites (a combination of Community and Professional editions) and their community has over 700,000 members. Those are good numbers to go by.

In addition, DotNetNuke is the second most popular download on the Microsoft Web Platform Installer -- behind Umbraco Web CMS.

If you like the idea of an open source content management system and Microsoft is your choice of technology stacks, DotNetNuke Professional should be on your list of solutions to consider. Download the community edition and try it out, keeping mind that there is some functionality you won't be able to test until you go Pro.