Peter Donker may be one of the busiest members of the DNN Community: Not only is he the developer of a popular module on the DNN Store and the coordinator of the most downloaded extension on the Forge (DNN Blog), he is also a member of the Architecture and Internationalization teams and a frequent contributor to the Platform. Just take a look at the contributions he made to 7.4:
- Fixed deletion bug in folder provider
- Fixed issue in WebAPI which improperly altered language
- Fixed issue where the wrong methods were used to obtain
- Fixed issue with culture constructor
- Fixed issue with DNN List Edit control
- Fixed issue with DNNEditList
- Fixed issues with multilanguage support in Site Settings
- Fixed null reference issue with mobile cookies
- Improved the country and region controls
- Improvements to the email username enhancement
- Refactored portalcontroller to separate localization code
- Refactored portalsettings class to improve
- Refactored the event log for better exception management
Keep reading to learn more about this valuable member of our community!
Tell us a little about yourself (personal, professional, whatever you'd like to share).
I live and work in a chalet at the very top of the Jura Mountains in Western Switzerland. With a dish I have a great connection to a mast 20 km away that permits me to work from home. It is in this inspiring environment that I work on my commercial product: Document Exchange, and on the countless related DNN projects.
Quite a few will know me from my role in the DNN Community. Currently I am the president of the DNN Connect Association, which I set up together with Philipp Becker and Vicenç Masanas to provide a non-profit vehicle for the community. I also sit on the DNN Steering Committee, the DNN Architecture team and the DNN Internationalization team. This means that more often than not I'll be behind my screen wearing a headset in one or another DNN meeting at 10 o'clock at night. But given that I think watching TV is a total waste of time, this serves me quite well.
During the day time is divided between coding and family. I have a 12 year old daughter and a 2 year old son, and the liberty that comes with working your own hours is something I have come to cherish. I'd delve a bit more into my hobbies and sports, but since a serious paragliding accident in 2013, I've had to slow down my sportive activities. I don't consider myself a dare devil, but I do enjoy the occasional adrenaline rush to make me feel alive and take my mind of all things .net.
One of the great things about the DNN Community is that we have members all over the world. Where are you located?
Neuchâtel, Switzerland, where the watches are made
What's one thing most DNN Community members wouldn't know about you?
There's not a whole lot the community doesn't know about me ;-).
Describe your professional (and/or personal) experience relating to DNN. How long have you been using DNN? How did you get started?
I got into this business more or less by accident. I've always been a geek and back at the turn of the century (makes it sound dramatically long ago, doesn't it?) I really got into ASP and data driven websites using a simple Access database. But this was all purely hobby as I was working as a consultant for a research institute. Then Microsoft launched .net, but I never found the time to really look into this until 2002 when I moved from my native Holland to Switzerland to join my wife to be. Without a job, I had lots of time. And as I put the word out that I could make intranet solutions (something that is pretty location independent) I stumbled on DotNetNuke.
Everything fell into place for me after I released my first "serious" commercial module in 2004 on Snowcovered: Document Exchange, at the time very much modeled after the software we were using at the research institute I worked earlier. Since then I've sunk countless hours not just in the product but also the DNN project itself. I went to events, volunteered for speaking and created lots of open source things (e.g. the DNN Blog module). That helped propel me forward through the community ranks. My philosophy is that you need to approach this as a communal effort. If we all sit back and do nothing, this ship will sink.
What resources were most helpful to you as you got started, or when you have questions?
At the beginning the forums were very helpful. You quickly got in touch with the experts in the domain. And quite soon I was helping out others.
Are there any cool projects you are working on that you would like to share a little about?
Where to begin? The most important project I'm working on right now is the DNN Connect 2015 conference in Southern France. It is almost sold out, and if I look at the list of attendees I get this warm and fuzzy feeling that it's going to be an awesome event.
Then I have been working on several modules recently to explore various alternatives to module development in the near future. Notably Angular and MVC are getting all the press lately. Obviously the exciting thing here is to mix those technologies with some others you don't wish to lose (DNN, Razor, etc).
Next to this there is a lot going on behind the scenes regarding DNN neXt. I.e. the "overhaul" of the current platform to a platform that would run on asp.net vNext (and hence without web forms). This is a task of epic proportions and it means we are reexamining many aspects of the core API.
In your opinion, what are some "must have" modules and themes (from the Forge, Store, etc.) that you would recommend for DNN sites?
I don't believe in generic "must haves". I've worked on numerous sites, but the category and budget for the site basically decides what is a "must have”. So for my paragliding club site the events module is crucial for instance. But my own document management tool is just a "nice to have”. My own module finds its way to intranet and extranet sites of small and medium businesses, non-profits and government. There is some overlap in these, but certainly document management is a must have for that category of site.
Together with Timo Breumelhof I also work on a public website of a large architectural office in The Netherlands (www.mecanoo.nl). Understandably, for them News Articles are very important. I can see how that is a "must have" for any professional public website.
What advice would you give someone who is new to DNN?
Go to the events if you really want to create a business out of this. There is no alternative to sitting down and having a beer with one of the "gurus". And there's plenty of business that gets done there, too.
What is the best part about working with DNN?
The community. There are many good, honest people in our community. And many are in the same boat as me. Independent, working from home and raising a family. I find this creates a very strong bond.
What do you think are the most important trends in website design/development? Are there any blogs or resources you read on a regular basis to keep up with current trends and technology?
Probably the best known guru from our neck of the woods is Scott Hanselman. He sources a never ending stream of new developments in the Microsoft world. But for more general web design trends there are too many sources to name. OK, one: Smashing Magazine.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
Yes. I am always on the lookout for those with what I call "the right stuff". There is a flow of people into and out of our community. And I particularly warm to those that come in and show a willingness to shoulder some of the work that goes on to keep this community alive. We all have businesses to run and mouths to feed, but without the platform a lot of us would be out of business. Having the right stuff for me is realizing the platform is not your "right" but your "obligation". To paraphrase Kennedy: "Ask not what DNN can do for you, ask what you can do for DNN". For now, DNN Corp shoulders the lion's share of coding. But DNN Connect was born out of the realization that this may not last. And that if we wanted a platform "for the masses", we need to take charge and show we can do our part.
Open Source is written by people like myself during work hours and over weekends because we love what we do, not because we get paid to do it. And this can be frustrating work as there are many voices and opinions. What we need is a healthy influx of people with excellent skills in coding, design and education (blogging, etc.).