URLs are a critical component of any web site. Combined with the visual design and information architecture, URLs are the public interface through which all content must be consumed – whether it is by visitors using standard web browsers, search engine crawlers or robots, or developers utilizing web service APIs. URLs are essential to marketing campaigns, search engine optimization, web traffic analysis, content discoverability, and providing an optimal experience to end users and customers. As a result, fine-grained control and management of URLs is essential to the commercial success of any web site.
One of the fundamental pillars of the DotNetNuke platform has always been its rich extensibility model. And while Modules and Skins are by far the most common extensibility options, we also allow some of the more fundamental platform behaviors to be customized as well. To accomplish this, we rely on an architecture pattern which is now quite popular in the Microsoft developer ecosystem, known as the “provider model”. The provider model allows developers to create alternate implementations for specific types of core framework functionality which is deeply integrated with the system to provide a seamless experience to end users.
When it comes to URLs, we realized in the very early stages of the project that the ability to customize the format and processing rules for URLs was a very important customer requirement. As a result, we included a provider model that enabled developers to plug-in their own custom implementations for URL management. Over the years we took advantage of this provider model ourselves to introduce new URL providers that allowed us to stay abreast of industry trends, migrate to modern human-friendly URL formats, and provide better support for search engine optimization. And while the investments we made in URL providers did provide additional value to our users, there was still a significant opportunity for third parties to create more robust commercial URL providers that were focused on satisfying a broader set of customer URL requirements.
The vendor which established itself as the market leader in URL management over the past 3-4 years is iFinity Software. iFinity is based in Australia and was founded in 2005 by Bruce Chapman, a seasoned entrepreneur, software developer, and speaker, who is also a well respected member of the DotNetNuke community. iFinity’s flagship commercial product is Url Master, a comprehensive URL rewriting/routing solution specifically designed and optimized for the DotNetNuke platform. It allows customers to customize the format of their URLs to make them more friendly and intuitive, more usable for marketing campaigns, and better optimized for search engines. It allows multiple URLs to be defined per page, a feature that is critical for marketing campaigns, A/B testing, information architecture adjustments, and content migration. It manages the complex challenges of search engine indexing including dealing with duplicate content, page rank security, content refreshes, and canonical links. It also handles broken links and moved or deleted pages elegantly and provides mechanisms to help minimize visitor bounce rate.
iFinity had experienced a substantial level of commercial success with its Url Master module, acquiring a very large and diverse customer base over the years. It prided itself on high quality products and exceptional customer support, which allowed the company to build a very favorable reputation within the DotNetNuke community. As a sole entrepreneur, Bruce Chapman was always looking for new opportunities to grow from both a financial and professional development perspective. Ultimately his motivation to open a dialog with DotNetNuke Corporation came out of a desire to provide input and guidance on a large scale software product with the ability to make a substantial impact on the world.
The first discussions occurred at the DNN World conference in November, 2011 in Orlando, Florida. The engagement process following the event was slow and steady. DotNetNuke Corporation had gained some valuable experience from prior acquisitions and we wanted to make sure that we considered all relevant factors in trying to construct a deal which was win/win for all parties involved. I do have to give Bruce a lot of credit for his patience and perseverance over the past year, as I am sure many times it must have felt like the process had stalled or gone cold. Ultimately, we did our due diligence and came to the conclusion that the intellectual property was a good fit and the timing was right to proceed with this strategic acquisition. Our Board of Directors gave the final blessing but I would like to thank our CEO, Navin Nagiah, and our CFO, Lee McGrath, for doing the bulk of the heavy lifting on this deal.
So with that being said, I am very excited today to make the public announcement that DotNetNuke Corporation has officially acquired iFinity Software. In addition to the valuable intellectual property we receive as part of this deal, I am also very excited that Bruce Chapman has joined our team as a Product Manager. Bruce brings with him a depth of domain knowledge in URL management and search engine optimization, as well as real world experience in developing and supporting commercial DotNetNuke extensions and customers.
In regards to the integration strategy for Url Master, as well as the wide array of other products formerly developed and marketed by iFinity, I encourage you to read the personal announcement from Bruce Chapman as well as the detailed FAQ posted on our website. This acquisition will significantly improve the value proposition of the commercial editions of DotNetNuke, while at the same time providing some key benefits for the core platform in terms of market relevance. The current plan is to release the integrated functionality as part of DotNetNuke 7.1 which will be available in Q2 2013.
Please join me in congratulating Bruce Chapman and welcoming him to our team!