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HomeHomeDNN Open Source...DNN Open Source...Using the ForgeUsing the ForgeCall for Suggestions for Improving the DotNetNuke ForgeCall for Suggestions for Improving the DotNetNuke Forge
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2/9/2010 4:09 PM

The DotNetNuke® Forge was intended to be the premier destination for open source collaboration on the DotNetNuke platform. DotNetNuke Corp. uses Microsoft CodePlex® to provide access to a world-class infrastructure for managing open source projects. CodePlex offers advanced tools including a robust source code repository based on Microsoft Team Foundation Server, issue tracking, discussion forums, project wiki, project team management, and free hosting services for project downloads. As Shaun Walker said in his announcement of the Forge in February, 2008, the Forge should be “the destination for developers and designers to manage and distribute their work; systems integrators to find new extensions; and users to see what exciting new functionality is available within the ecosystem.”

In many respects, the partnership between DotNetNuke and CodePlex has met many of those expectations. As of the date of this post, there are some 81 modules, skins and other extensions freely-available through the Forge. However, of these 34 are “core” DotNetNuke projects leaving only 47 “non-core” projects.

A recent search of CodePlex projects by the tags “DotNetNuke” and “DNN” turned up 61 projects that their coordinators created directly in CodePlex but never linked to DotNetNuke through the Forge, thus reducing their exposure to the greater DotNetNuke community. As a member of the DotNetNuke Forge Community Team, I will be contacting the coordinators of each of those projects to invite them to have their DotNetNuke related project linked to the Forge. In doing so, I will also be asking them why they did not seek the greater exposure that a listing in the Forge can provide. Did they have problems with initially creating the project listing in the Forge? Did they create the project listing in the Forge but was there some error in the process that prevented the semi-automatic linkage from taking place? Did they feel that exposure of the project in the Forge would not be of benefit? A wide variety of other open source DotNetNuke extensions are also being offered on individual developer websites. Why are these not listed in the Forge?

The Forge Team has also been charged with the task of developing an improved Forge that would aim to increase usage and usability of the Forge in some or all of the following areas:

Extended Project Information (Metadata) – Enable More Informed Extension Selection

  • Type of Extension – Module, Skin, Skin Object, Language Pack, Provider, Other
  • Area of Application – for example: social networking site, church management, e-commerce
  • Version Number of most recent release
  • Minimum and/or recommended DotNetNuke framework version
  • Name and contact information of project coordinator
  • News/Announcements from the project coordinator
  • Screen shots, links to demo site

Peer Participation – “best” extensions gain greater exposure, “problem” extensions avoided

  • Voting/Rating and download count segregated by type of extension, area of application
  • Reviews
  • Recommended/Not-Recommended Award

Discoverability – Make It Easier To Find Extensions

  • Extensions catalogued by type of extension, area of application, project developer, other tags – multi-field searching
  • Rotator panels of featured extensions –
    • Newly released or updated this day/week/month
    • What’s “hot” this day/week/month
    • Community Team Favorites – Showcased Extension of the Week
  • Top Downloads/Top Rated this day/week/month/all time
  • Web service/API to permit discoverability of extensions from Host-->Extensions page of DNN site

Please note that none of the above improvements have yet been sanctioned by DotNetNuke Corporation nor have begun to be implemented. Now is the time for YOU to offer your comments on the above enhancements and suggestions of what the ideal Forge could offer to both developers and consumers of open source DotNetNuke extensions. Please add your thoughts as posts to this forum thread.

Bill, WESNet Designs
Team Lead - DotNetNuke Gallery Module Project (Not Actively Being Developed)
Extensions Forge Projects . . .
Current: UserExport, ContentDeJour, ePrayer, DNN NewsTicker, By Invitation
Coming Soon: FRBO-For Rent By Owner
New Post
2/9/2010 8:11 PM
I agree fully with both your assessment of the current situation (I think many did not know of the Forge and did not know to send Scott an email if they screwed up when creating the project). I also agree with your proposal on what to do moving forward.

Michael Washington
A Free Open Source DotNetNuke Help Desk Module
New Post
2/18/2010 11:35 PM

I can see how you have a problem with the Forge; I avoid the Forge as much as possible because it looks like too much darn effort to see what it's for...

The visual clutter is preventing first-time visitors from seeing what the Forge can do for them. This visual clutter also prevents returning visitors from seeing what's new and worth reading.

Unfortunately the forge also shares a problem with the rest of the DNN site, having lots of painful 'World-Class Collaborativastic Marketty-diddly-iscious' speak to read.

Fortunately, because no one is currently using the Forge (ouch!) you have freedom to experiment.

So, my suggestions are:

  • Make your copy more concise.
    Heck, you could probably replace the entirety of that revolting intro text with 'Get your links to your new DotNetNuke Extensions HERE!'
  • Think seriously about the amount of advertising/sponsorship on your screen.
    Lots of ads on a page that no one looks at will obviously bring in lots less money than one or two ads on a busy page.
  • Have the DNN Projects Modules in the Forge gallery itself, obviously defaulting to be above third party modules.
    I have have no idea where the third party links go to, and by associating with the DNN modules I will get some  reassurance that this screen isn't just some spammy advertising
  • Make it obvious what is free and what is not
    i.e. what is for casual browsers vs. people with an urgent commercial need for a solution
  • Save screen real estate - have a link to 'Forge FAQs'. 
    As they are 'Read-Only-Once' clutter, you should make the link above the fold and visible on the Navigation menu
  • And seriously? The Forge?
    What does that mean to anyone who doesn't already know what that means? How about 'Extensions' or even 'Modules and Skins and Stuff'.

Sorry that this is such a negative post, but it is very hard to find information on the DNN site as a whole, especially for software designed to share information!

On a more positive note, your proposed changes will be great additions to the Forge, and I am equally interested to see what you remove...


New Post
2/19/2010 8:11 AM

Certainly I would agree with your list of aims. However, since nearly all of them are either already implemented or planned in Snowcovered, wouldn't it make sense to drop the Forge and simply make it easier for individual developers to add free modules to Snowcovered?

My guesses as to a couple of reasons why developers use CodePlex or their own websites but not the Forge would be that they either don't want too much publicity in case it brings too much commitment along with it, or that they want more traffic, link-juice and control than would be the case if they handed over to another site. But I'm sure there are other reasons too!

New Post
2/19/2010 8:53 AM
I agree with Bill's assessment of the current situation. i would like to suggest an additional way to display/filter the listing on Forge. It would be extremely helpful, to be able to filter/sort the listing of modules by the most current (latest) release date, in addition to the current release. It is very difficult to identify that a new/updated module has been released by the author.

HomeHomeDNN Open Source...DNN Open Source...Using the ForgeUsing the ForgeCall for Suggestions for Improving the DotNetNuke ForgeCall for Suggestions for Improving the DotNetNuke Forge

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