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DNN Community Blog

The Community Blog is a personal opinion of community members and by no means the official standpoint of DNN Corp or DNN Platform. This is a place to express personal thoughts about DNNPlatform, the community and its ecosystem. Do you have useful information that you would like to share with the DNN Community in a featured article or blog? If so, please contact .

The use of the Community Blog is covered by our Community Blog Guidelines - please read before commenting or posting.

Installing DNN

Before we can actually develop a DNN module we need to have a DNN site! Go figure right? This blog entry will walk through the process of installing DNN. I remember when I first started learning some of this stuff it quickly became overwhelming. I mean you had to figure out how to work with new softwares, learn new programming languages, and install DNN just to be at a point where you can develop a module. It did seem like a lot, but after you do it a few times it becomes second nature so if you are feeling overwhelmed don’t worry it will pass with repetition and time. Plus there’s a large community of people who have traveled the same road we’re on and they don’t mind helping… as a matter of fact many of them want to help you so don’t be shy if you have questions along the way.

Update (3/9/2016) - David Poindexter of nvisionative has created a tool to make installing DNN ultra simple. If you don't want to manually install, this tool will make it easier for you. Download it at

At first when I researched and was trying to figure out what “installing” DNN meant I didn’t know what I would really be installing. Was it an .exe file, does it install itself, is there some sort of wizard, what was I supposed to actually install? After a while I figured out that the DNN install package is a zip file that you can download. So while we’re talking about it let’s look at where we can find this file. Some of you may have already guessed it, but the same CodePlex site where I referenced some sample modules in a previous blog is the same location where we can download the DNN Platform. So go ahead and venture over to and click the big purple button on the right, the “Download” button. The DNN install file will download to your local computer.

DNN on Codeplex

Though, before we proceed with installing DNN it may be helpful to know, at a high level, how our site works given some of the softwares and environmental requirements mentioned in the previous blog entry. After a while it can all become a blur so let’s try to add some clarity. The image below visually lays out how the pieces work together. 

DNN, IIS, Site Files, & SQL Server

When an end user browses to your DNN site’s URL your domain name points/routes the request to the server on which your site is hosted. Then IIS will kick into action. IIS then serves up the appropriate content and in order to do that it interacts with your DNN site files and database. Your DNN site files, which include module code, often interact with and retrieve data from the database. If needed, data from the database will be loaded and then pushed back out to the browser/end user. This is at a high level, but generally speaking this is how it works. Now that you have the DNN install file and a high level understanding of how the pieces work together we are ready to proceed.

Installing DNN
Installing DNN is pretty straight forward, but if you don't handle the details you can easily get tripped up. In order to install DNN we are going to follow a few steps:

  1. Download the install file (we already did that)
  2. Create a folder for our site
  3. Ensure permissions are correctly configured for this folder
  4. Extract the install zip file into the folder we just created
  5. Create the database for our site in SQL Server & configure User Mapping / Security
  6. Ensure that IIS is properly installed
  7. Create our site in IIS
  8. Modify our “Hosts” file
  9. Access our site’s URL
  10. Walk through the Install Wizard

The video below walks through these steps

If you've reached this point and were able to successfully install DNN then congratulations! You've made it to another milestone. Take a breath and celebrate knowing that the fun has just begun. Also, let me know you made it this far… Tweet to me and let me know that you successfully installed DNN.

Go to the Next Blog Entry: "The Tasks Module Overview"



Amanda Thomas
Sorry, I am having so many problems getting set up.

I have ensured IIS is installed. (I am on Windows Server 2008 R2 so the steps I took to ensure that were a little different from your video.)

I am getting this error in Visual Studio when trying to create the new project:

"The Web Application Project RCUtest is configured to use IIS. To access local IIS Web sites, you must run Visual Studio in the context of an administrator account. For more information, press F1."

I AM logged into the server as an administrator. Any ideas?
Amanda Thomas Friday, October 17, 2014 12:16 PM (link)
Clinton Patterson
Great point! When first starting Visual Studio, right click on it and "Run as Administrator"
Clinton Patterson Friday, October 17, 2014 1:09 PM (link)
Kyle Hagel
Great lesson over morning coffee. I always get messed up configuring the database for the site in SQL Server & configure User Mapping / Security. Ugh! Anyway, taking your Admin Training at DNNCon - I need it.
Kyle Hagel Saturday, October 25, 2014 10:32 AM (link)
James Brown
Link to the series introducton

Link to the previous Blog:
James Brown Monday, June 15, 2015 11:30 AM (link)

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