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DotNetNuke Blog 5.0 Beta 2

The release of the DotNetNuke 6.2 Beta 2 was really the first chance users had some insight into what their installs might look like after upgrading to 6.2. In the previous beta of the blog module, the majority of the changes were on the administration side of the module or behind the scenes. In this beta release, the majority of changes are around things content authors and blog readers typically see. So similar to the core beta 2, this module beta 2 will offer blog module users some insight into what they should expect to see in the final release.  Also similar to the core beta 2 is that this is the last chance to test and submit your issues to the project's issue tracker. 


What’s New?

In addition to everything that was done in Beta 1, Beta 2 introduces enhancements as well as many bug fixes with a lot of emphasis on making the module easier to use and tighter integration with the core DotNetNuke framework.

Azure Support
Since the release of DotNetNuke 6.0, a lot of effort has gone into making the core framework as well as third party modules operational using Windows and SQL Azure. Fellow DotNetNuke employee David Rodriguez provided updated SQL scripts (worth mentioning that he has done this for many modules) and also provided me with a place to test the module to ensure my updates continued to install and operate properly in that environment. Future releases of the module will continue to support Azure and any related issues will be treated as high priority bugs.
Ghost Writer & Blogger Permissions
This is the most commonly requested enhancement I have heard personally over the years and the issue tracker at CodePlex also tells the same story. In previous releases, blog authors had to be module editors and blogs had to be created for them (if they were not administrators). It was also difficult to allow 'ghost writing' and even if you found a work around it certainly wasn't ideal.

What has changed in this release is that now there are two additional columns added to the permissions grid available via module settings. The assigned to the "Blogger" permissions will be capable of creating their own blog (only 1), changing their blog settings and authoring and editing all entries in that specific blog. Those assigned to the "Ghost Writer" permissions will be capable of adding entries to any blogs that permit ghost writing (a new per blog setting) as well as editing any entries in those blogs but they will not be capable of creating new blogs. Users who are assigned "Edit" will be capable of doing all of the things mentioned above for all blogs.
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Paging Enhancements
If, like me, you sometimes come to the site and browse through multiple posts from a specific author, you have rather limited options today in terms of how to locate them if you want to see more than the first x results (~10-25 for most sites). Likewise, if you wanted to view multiple posts from a single category or associated with a single tag, it is not an option beyond the first x results. 

Now, all views except the initial list view support simple paging. This includes filtering by tags, categories, specific blogs/authors, as well as any other search results within the module. FYI, this was also a highly requested enhancement.
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UI & UX Overhaul
One of my biggest pet peeves over the years with this module was the experience after first dropping it on a page. The number of modules, the number of settings, the HTML output, etc. Oddly enough, right about the time I was debating last week if I should change this I received a rather amusing email from Will Morgenweck that inspired me to change it up (visit us at Day of DNN Charlotte and we'll tell you). 

The result is now 3 less modules with all of the same functionality exposed in other ways. There is the 'blogger menu' section now located at the top of the module which replaces the old 'new blog' module. The 'recent comments' and 'recent blogs' modules were removed and can be replaced by other functionality in 6.2 (Journal). 

Instead of times being based on blog settings (thanks to Peter Donker) these were offloaded to site user profiles properties for time zone and culture (or a fallback of portal settings for both). While on the subject of profile, author avatars are now rendered in specific blog view (at the top) or at the bottom of a blog entry. 

We also moved away from the table based layout and moved to divs, time was spent cleaning up the CSS, partial rendering was disabled and replaced with client-side code, social sharing widgets moved to top from bottom and scripts and style sheets are being loaded using CDF. 
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What’s Next?

We will continue to stabilize the module. The only changes that will be made besides bug fixes or html tweaks are based on 6.2 journal integration that couldn't be done using the core beta 2. If you are curious about when the module will post a final release, it will be around the time that DotNetNuke posts 6.2 (there may be some delay, but not too long). After release, I plan to follow up with a point release in the not too distant future (depends on how things go). 


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