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DotNetNuke Page module - Silverlight Edition

Hackathon Header

As part of the DotNetNuke Hackathon at the Capital DotNetNuke User Group on June 16th, I discussed using Silverlight to create rich DotNetNuke modules.  The example that I presented was a work in progress which I’ll be working on during the course of the Hackathon, even as participants are working on their own submissions.  You’ll be able to follow along with my progress over the next few days as I continue to flesh out the module.

The module that I am working on is a Silverlight based replacement for the core Pages module that appears on the Admin menu of a standard DotNetNuke installation.  That module has a very basic UI that makes it difficult to manage a site with dozens or even hundreds of pages.  The postback model used for moving pages in the heirarchy can make page re-organization a long and tedious process.  The goal of the Silverlight module will be to significantly streamline the module and allow for a more intuitive method of re-organizing pages.

When I first tried Silverlight development 2 years ago, I found it a bit difficult to get my head around certain programming idioms.  Using webservices to communicate with the server required the use of an asynchronous calling pattern.  This really takes some getting used to.  For this project I wanted to take advantage of WCF RIA Services which greatly simplifies the communication protocol between the Silverlight client and your server code. 

One of the major issues I have found is that most of the RIA Services documentation assumes you are using Entity Framework for your data access layer.  Since I want to use as much of the existing DotNetNuke DAL as possible, this will pose a bit of a challenge.  There is a pretty steep learning curve for RIA Services, especially if you plan to use your own data-layer, but I believe the benefits more than make up for any deficiencies. 

You can follow my progress here on my blog and on the Codeplex project site.  I’ll be keeping the source code up to date in Codeplex and will release an installable module once I have it sufficiently fleshed out that it actually becomes useable.  You can also find this module through the DotNetNuke Forge where you’ll also be able to find all of the other Hackathon projects at the conclusion of the contest.

Note:  I am not a Silverlight expert.  The code may be very rough in places as I try to get back up to speed on the current state of Silverlight development.


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