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DNN Forge Gets A Facelift

Since announcing a strategic partnership with Microsoft's site  in February 2008, the DNN Forge has been the primary source for all open source extensions in the DNN ecosystem. The DNN Forge has been enhanced in a variety of ways over the years so that it delivers a good experience to both developers who want to make their extensions available to the community, and to consumers who are looking for high quality open source extensions.

Although the relationship with Codeplex continues to serve us well, other open source repositories have become very popular in the software developer community in recent years... especially GitHub. As an organization we migrated the DNN Platform to Github last year and we have been accepting pull requests from the community ever since. In addition, we have seen that many DNN developers are now embracing Github for their projects which has a created a demand for better integration in the DNN Forge.

One of the biggest pain points of the previous DNN Forge service was related to the workflow for registering new extensions. Since the service was tightly coupled with Codeplex there was a very specific series of steps you needed to follow in order to successfully register your project. If you deviated from these steps in any way you would end up in a situation where you would have to contact DNN Corp for manual intervention to complete the process. This was not a good user experience and resulted in a lot of extra frustration and headaches for the developer, DNN Corp, and Codeplex.

I am happy to announce that we recently deployed a new set of improvements to the DNN Forge which are focused on simplifying and making the service more flexible for members of our community. The new enhancements provide a simplified workflow for registering extensions, more control over the ongoing management of extensions, and better integration with Github.

The process for registering an extension has never been easier. Once you are logged in with your DNN user account, you can select the "Create your Extension" link on the DNN Forge page and you will be presented with a simple form. The only required fields are the Title, Extension URL, Recent Extension Version, and Recent Release Date. The Extension URL is the web address of the page where your open source project is hosted. Currently we support only Codeplex and Github as "official" repositories so the URL you enter must relate to those services. Please note that if your project is currently hosted on Codeplex and you want to migrate to GitHub you now have the ability to change your Extension URL to the new location.

In terms of maintaining an existing DNN Forge project, it is now possible to manage all of the information directly through the DNN Forge itself ( in the past many of the fields needed to be managed on Codeplex and then synchronized ). You can tag your project with keywords that allow it to be discovered more easily using the filter capability. You can also manage your project Team members including both Coordinators and Contributors. Team members can be easily added and removed, and ownership of a project can be passed from one member to another.

We are no longer keeping track of every release of an extension through the Forge - only the most recent release. The Recent Release File URL field can be used to provide a link to a downloadable extension package and it is important to note that it is possible for your Extension URL to be related to GitHub whereas your Recent Release File URL to be on Codeplex ( this is the approach we use for the DNN Platform ).

The main view of the DNN Forge has been modified to focus on the community member responsible for each open source extension. A photo of the Coordinator will be displayed to the left of each extension in the main project listing view and the name of the Coordinator will also be identified. We are doing this because we feel that community members who provide and maintain open source extensions deserve to be recognized and appreciated for their efforts.

Integration with Codeplex is still occurring behind the scenes. Our friends at Microsoft exposed a new web service that allows us to retrieve the number of downloads for each project hosted on their website. The download counts are updated daily. We will soon be adding integration with GitHub as well so that we can display similar download statistics for GitHub projects.

We hope that these recent changes to the DNN Forge provide a great deal of value to the DNN ecosystem. I want to thank Saran Shanmugam for his assistance in implementing and deploying these recent changes.


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