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Peter's blog on DNN-Connect

DNN Connect 2015 – it’s a wrap

I'm staring at my monitor with empty editor window open trying to come up with words to describe what has just happened. 3 days of being caught in some kind of whirlwind. Smiles and hugs, presentations, discussions, eating and drinking. And more discussions. And more drinking. And more discussions. And lots of laughing. And then it all slowly evaporates and we each make our way home. How to write down something that remotely approaches the experiences of those 3 days? Here's an attempt.

Poster Sessions

There is some confusion about the poster sessions we will have at DNN Connect 2015. I’ll try to elaborate on what we had in mind for this part of the conference. The idea was borne out of the fact that we wanted to cut back on the “product presentation” sessions we normally have in the conference. Many of you have great projects you are working on and traditionally our conference has been a vehicle to present those projects to your peers. But this year there is a lot to talk about regarding the technological changes at Microsoft and around DNN. So we’re going to experiment with a different format.

DNN Connect 2015 Program

We are thrilled to announce the program for DNN Connect 2015. This year we have taken a more active approach to content and have attempted to drive it with focus on two main themes: DNN 8 and neXt/asp.net vNext and mobile. There is a lot of noise around the changes that are happening at asp.net and DNN. Basically asp.net is being rewritten from the ground up and we can expect that some features that DNN uses will no longer be available to us. In part these changes are informed by “the mobile era” that we can ill afford to ignore. To make sense of all this we are very excited that Microsoft have agreed to send a speaker from their own asp.net team and we will welcome Eilon Lipton in our midst for this event. Together with DNN’s chief architect Charles Nurse you will have access to the very people that are shaping these changes.

Yet Another Showcase (YAS)

Over the past few days I’ve put together a module that implements yet another showcase. “Showcase”, here is similar to what the “Forge” does on the official DNN site. Why would I do this? Good question. What provoked it initially, was the upcoming DNN Connect 2015 conference and my desire to allow people to “showcase” their work/ideas. What I had in mind was what we dubbed “poster sessions”. Basically the ability to put up a poster on a wall in a predetermined format. Now we could just say: OK people, “you can bring an A2 poster to the event and we’ll put it up” but then we’re going to get all kinds of formats (some have more time and creativity in this respect than others). So to level the playing field I was thinking: what if we had a database that could flow into a PDF template?

The cook, the chief, my life and my code

This analogy jumped into my mind the other day. As a (DNN module) developer I feel somewhat like a cook. A cook, taking various ingredients and combining them into something hopefully very tasty. A cook, because we use other people’s work to create our own unique work. It is not just using .net and DNN as a platform that I’m talking about. Here I was thinking about the myriad of libraries and programming paradigms that I’ve used over the years.

Improved event logging in DNN 7.4

Everyone who has opened up the event log in DNN has undoubtedly been struck by the fact that there is a lot of information there. The event log is like a huge bin into which the platform and modules can drop anything they wish to log. To help you navigate the flood of information we use color coding and filters. This will allow you to answer questions like “User X had an error when they went to page Y. What happened?” You’d probably want to know when user X had this experience as the log is basically just a chronological list of events. But the event log is not able to answer the question “Who else had this error?” and “Is this error recurring often?” The event log was simply not designed to answer those questions. To address this, I’ve made a few changes to the framework which I’ll elaborate on.

The Trek of the Wildebeest

Developers are migratory, herding animals. As new programming techniques, languages and paradigms emerge, we flock to new pastures and we eat and we eat and we eat … If you are in the DNN eco system you are led by Microsoft and DNN Corp. Meaning: if one of the two decides that we should do things differently, chances are you’ll move along with the rest. But as we move on we leave behind existing projects and customers. Generally they move a lot slower. Hands up those who still know someone on Windows XP! End users are not part of this herd. They live in a parallel universe from ours.

New! List Localization in DNN 7.3.3

With version 7.3.3 of the DNN Platform a new “localization feature” has been implemented: list localization. Lists are a core platform feature whereby users can maintain lists that other bits of software can maintain. There are several lists that come out-of-the-box when you install DNN (see “Lists” table in SQL). The most visible ones are countries and regions. But there are also currencies and frequencies, plus a whole bunch of lists that tell DNN how to run things (i.e. they allow us to configure particular bits). The new feature means that what you will see in the front end of DNN can adapt to the language of the user viewing it.

The DNN Corp Reshuffle: What to make of it?

August 13th, 2014. I woke up in an alternate reality this morning. The reality where Shaun Walker was no longer with DNN Corp. It must have been all of 5 minutes between his resignation being made public and a message popping up on my iPad as I was preparing to go to bed. "It happened", it read. "It" being something the sender and I had discussed earlier as something that might happen in the near future. The third founder to leave the Corp and without doubt the most famous of all of them. And within an hour the interwebs were firing up with discussions about what this would mean for "us". Us, the DNN community that is. What do we make of this? At times like these I feel like we're Kremlin watchers. "Hey, so-and-so's now on the left instead of the right of the supreme leader at the parade. Did he get demoted?" So Shaun signs out with a short goodbye. And Joe posts a somewhat more elaborate post on how he intends to fill his shoes (Joe is now the o ...

Strong typing your settings

This is something of a pet peeve for me. And whenever I get myself involved in an open source project in DNN, it is one of the first things I’d tackle. The issue I’m referring to, here, is how to properly code settings that are serialized to storage (SQL). So settings are commonly retrieved as a hashtable or dictionary of key/value pairs that are both of a string type. These lists get stored in SQL typically in tables with the “Settings” suffix. I.e. ModuleSettings, PortalSettings, TabModuleSettings, etc. And often modules implement their own settings table because the framework hard wires ModuleSettings to … modules. So if you need portal-scoped settings for your module, you’ll need to create your own table. The old blog module (pre version 6) used to do this, for instance.

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