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DotNetNuke 5.4 Cookbook: My First Contribution to a DNN Book

I am not really a youngster and wrote my first technical book in University – but with my small talent for foreign languages, I somehow managed contributing to technical forums (still asking the gods of the English language’s forgiveness and keeping online translation services as my best friends), but I never envisioned myself contributing to a book in another language.

Early this year I got contacted by a manager from Packt Publishing, asking whether I would be willing to contribute to their new DNN book by John K. Murphy as a technical reviewer. Although I had never heard the name of the author before (and really don't have too much free time), I was curious, how it works, and agreed. During the following weeks, I got a number of chapters for review from the editor.

The original name of the project was "DotNetNuke 5.1 Cookbook", but I added a number of corrections and suggestions to adopt it to latest version and sent it back. This happened chapter by chapter, week by week, while I was travelling to the U.S. for the Microsoft MVP Summit in February, all spring, when I was organizing the European Day of DotNetNuke in Paris, 13 chapters in total - all the curious what would happen, because I never had any contact with the author himself.

DotNetNuke 5.4 CookbookAfterwards I got sent it again for a second round, but was too busy and went on vacations (to Northern Portugal), which distracted me from reviewing the current version. The more interested I was when I got the final book, which reached me a few weeks ago. And in fact, I am impressed. Not only the name has been updated, the book really focuses on latest changes and is the most up to date reference for DotNetNuke atm. 13 is not a bad number of chapters - John succeeds in dealing with nearly every aspect of using (administrating) and developing extensions for DotNetNuke.

It starts, without any extensive foreword and history, directly with installation and configuration – and finally, I really like the cookbook style: each chapter consists of a handful of receipts, each one dealing with a small task, which is easy to follow in about half an hour; “Quick answers to common problems” is not only a marketing message, but really drove, hove this book was written. My advice for newbies: setup your own local test site and follow all steps. After installation of the framework (using Microsoft Web Platform Installer) and extensions, users, roles and pages are configured on the site, providing proper insight of the security model used by DNN. A number of bundled modules are presented – not with all details of course, but sufficient to understand, how the modules work and where to look for additional details (which may be changed in subsequent versions – but this is the misery of all static documentation…).

Most of the following chapters deal with development of extensions: In easy steps the creation and packaging of a custom module is demonstrated (source code can be downloaded from the publisher’s web site). This is followed by a number of advanced techniques, including use of AJAX, JQuery and Telerik controls, adding hydration and other interfaces, implementing security  – and in a whole chapter even covers localization support - which is very unusual for American writers, from my experience ;) .

Other chapters are dedicated to demonstrating, how to develop other important extensions, i.e. creating skins and containers - and even, how you utilize DNN widgets or create your own ones.

In summary, I am impressed by this book – kudos to John K. Murphy (while I am still a little bit proud of my own contribution). I would be glad if you like it as well - and, of course, to get your feedback.


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