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Contributions and Dependencies

By Shaun Walker on 4/22/2015
( Excerpt from Professional DNN7 Open Source .NET CMS Platform - WROX Press - May 2015 - ISBN: 978-1-118-85084-8 )

Following the success of DotNetNuke 2.0, we focused on improving the stability and quality of the application. Many production issues were discovered after the release that we would have never anticipated during internal testing. As a platform becomes more extensible, people find ingenious new ways to apply it, which often produces unexpected results. We also integrated some key Roadmap enhancements that were developed in isolation by Core Team members. These enhancements were quite advanced and added a whole new level of professional features to the DotNetNuke code base, transforming it into a viable enterprise application framework.

It was during this time that Dan Caron single-handedly made a significant impact on the project. Based on his experience with other enterprise applications, he proceeded to add integrated exception handling and event logging to DotNetNuke. This provided stability and “auditability” — two major factors in most professional software products. He also added a complex, multi-threaded scheduler to the application. The scheduler was not just a static implementation like I had seen in other ASP.NET projects, but rather it was fully configurable via an administrative user interface. This powerful new feature could be used to run background housekeeping jobs as well as long-running tasks. With this in place, the extensibility of the application improved yet again.

An interesting concern that came to our attention at this time was related to our dependence on external components. To provide the most powerful application, we had leveraged a number of rich third-party controls for their expert functionality. Because each of these controls was available under its own open source license, they seemed to be a good fit for the DotNetNuke project. But the fact is there are some major risks to consider. Some open source licenses are viral in nature and have the potential to alter the license of the application they are combined with. In addition, there is nothing that prevents third parties from changing their licensing policy at any time. If this situation occurs, then it is possible that all users of the application who reference the control could be in violation of the new license terms. That's a fairly significant issue and certainly not something that can be taken lightly. 

Based on this knowledge, we quickly came up with a strategy that was aimed at minimizing our dependency on third-party components. We constructed a policy whereby we would always focus on building the functionality ourselves before considering an external control. And in the cases where a component was too elaborate to replicate, we would use a provider model, much like we had in the database layer, to abstract the application from the control in such a way that it would allow for a plug-in replacement. This strategy protected the community from external license changes and also provided some additional extensibility for the application.

With the great publicity on the www.asp.net web site following the VS Live! event and the consistent release of powerful new enhancements, the spring of 2004 brought a lot of traffic to the dotnetnuke.com community web site. At this point, the site was poorly organized and sparse on content due to a lack of dedicated effort and focus. Patrick Santry had been on the Core Team since its inception and his experience with building Community web sites became very valuable at this time. We managed to make some fairly major changes to improve the site, but I soon realized that some dedicated resources would be required to accomplish our goals. Without the funding to secure such resources, our plans had to unfortunately be put on hold.

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Shaun Walker has 25+ years professional experience in architecting and implementing enterprise software solutions for private and public organizations. Shaun is the original creator of DotNetNuke, a Web Application Framework for ASP.NET which spawned the largest and most successful Open Source community project native to the Microsoft platform.  Based on his significant community contributions he has been recognized as a Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) as well as an ASPInsider for over consecutive 10 years. He was recognized by Business In Vancouver in 2011 as a leading entrepreneur in their Forty Under 40 business awards, was a founding member of the Board of Directors of the Outercurve Foundation, and is currently the Chairman of the Advisory Council for Microsoft's .NET Foundation. Shaun is currently a Practice Area Partner at Arrow Digital specializing in Innovation Technology.

 

Shaun Walker
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 DNN is the most widely deployed open source .NET web content management platform that allows you to design, build, and manage feature-rich websites, web applications, and social communities.

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