Free DotNetNuke Modules: Part 1

I’ve been a fan of DotNetNuke for several years, but I haven’t had many opportunities to use it in the real world until recently. As I run into different business needs, I often face the eternal question about DotNetNuke modules: “Should I built it or buy it?” True, there are a lot of great modules available for sale, but there are also a surprising number of free modules available. I intend to catalog some of my favorites through this series.

When looking for a DotNetNuke module, most people start at SnowCovered.com which is the official DotNetNuke Marketplace. This is the most common place to find modules available for purchase. However, it occurred to me that if you go to their Modules category and sort by price, there are a number of modules listed for $0.00. If you click this link, you’ll see that the first 3-4 pages of results include dozens of free modules.

Another popular place to look is the DotNetNuke Forge which has a mix of free open-source modules and commercial modules for sale. It also provides downloads for official DotNetNuke projects that are not included in the main DNN installation process. On the main Forge screen, click the “Filter By” drop-down and select “Core DotNetNuke Projects” then click “Go” to search. You can also find Core Project updates on the New Releases page (note: you may need to register or log in to see the module downloads).

There are quite a number of open-source DotNetNuke projects available on CodePlex. Beware that these projects are in various stages of development, so unless you’re a developer willing to do some of your own quality assurance, I would stick to popular projects that have an active development community. If a project hasn’t been updated in a year, you should probably find an alternative.

In addition to these well-known freebie sources, there are quite a number of free modules and upgrades available from individual developers and companies. Following are a handful of my current favorites:

  • Advanced Control Panel – by Oliver Hine. This is a replacement for the standard DotNetNuke control panel. It is a great step forward in ease of use for non-technical site administrators. The author also published several other free modules including a photo gallery, weather, file upload, Google Analytics enhanced tracking, and an enhanced permissions/workflow for content editing.
  • Friendly URL Provider – by iFinity. While DotNetNuke did incorporate “friendly URLs” some time ago, this free module produces much shorter and cleaner URLs than the standard DNN provider. It even supports “extensionless” URLs and 301 redirects for non-friendly URLs. The author also sells the iFinity URL Master module for greater fine-tuning.
  • NB_Store – on CodePlex. In my experience, the official DotNetNuke Store module has been clunky and flaky (and it caused my portal to be painfully slow until I manually deleted the module). NB_Store is a nice open-source alternative.
  • DNN Menu – by DNN Garden. This is a search-engine friendly alternative to the default SolPartMenu and DNNMenu. There are commercial alternatives (like Snapsis Menu) but free is hard to beat.
  • Amazon S3 Folders Provider – by Brandon Haynes. This is a file storage/retrieval provider using Amazon S3 to store files remotely. It adds remote storage to the regular file management of DotNetNuke and essentially allows websites to have unlimited file storage.
  • DNN SiteMap Module – by Derek Trauger. This module displays a real-time HTML site map which is useful both for end users and search engines to find relevant content.

That’s nowhere near comprehensive, but it’s a good start. I’ll add more articles as I discover more noteworthy freebie modules. Please use the comments area to suggest your own favorite free DotNetNuke modules (no commercial advertisements, please). Happy coding!

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Microsoft Announces Continued Support for LINQ-to-SQL

I got my weekly MSDN Flash email today and saw an article titled “Top Ten Questions to Microsoft on Data.” I was pleasantly surprised to read the following:

Question #3: Where does Microsoft stand on LINQ to SQL?

Answer: We would like to be very transparent with our customers about our intentions for future innovation with respect to LINQ to SQL and the Entity Framework.

In .NET 4.0, we continue to invest in both technologies. Within LINQ to SQL, we made a number of performance and usability enhancements, as well as updates to the class designer and code generation. Within the Entity Framework, we listened to a great deal to customer feedback and responded with significant investments including better foreign key support, T4 code generation, and POCO support.

Moving forward, Microsoft is committing to supporting both technologies as important parts of the .NET Framework, adding new features that meet customer requirements. We do, however, expect that the bulk of our overall investment will be in the Entity Framework, as this framework is built around the Entity Data Model (EDM). EDM represents a key strategic direction for Microsoft that spans many of our products, including SQL Server, .NET, and Visual Studio. EDM-based tools, languages and frameworks are important technologies that enable our customers and partners to increase productivity across the development lifecycle and enable better integration across applications and data sources.

This is great news for fans of LINQ-to-SQL and PLINQO. There has been much debate over Microsoft’s “official” stance on L2S and it’s nice to see something definitive. I was personally concerned for a while, but my reservations have been put at ease.

If you’re still unsure about using LINQ-to-SQL, please check out my other articles on PLINQO. I’ve tried a slew of OR/M systems (NHibernate, ActiveRecord, NetTiers, Wilson OR Mapper, Table Adapters) and I still find PLINQO to be my best option in most cases. Happy coding!

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