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Automated Module Packaging for DotNetNuke

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  • 4/7/2015



Automated Module Packaging for DotNetNuke

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After you've started doing module development for DotNetNuke you will likely want to figure out how to get your modules packaged up and deployable so that you can install them on another DotNetNuke installation.

Visual Studio 2012 Project Templates

If you use the DotNetNuke Project Template tool for Visual Studio 2012 available in the Visual Studio Gallery you do not need to configure the MSBuild Community Tasks project. For more about the Visual Studio 2012 templates visit this wiki page.

Using MSBuild for Automated Packaging

If you are using the latest module project templates from Christoc's Template page you'll find that NAnt is no longer included in the project, MSBuild tools are. To utilize the MSBuild scripts you will need to install the MSBuild Community Tasks prior to creating your project.

After you have your project created you can simply switch to Release mode in Visual Studio and then compile. The project will take over from there. Example video -> Task Manager solution overview and installation

An alternative to MSBuild is NAnt, which was included in previous versions of Christoc's template

What is NAnt?

NAnt is an open source .NET build tool that can be found by visiting ^ You can do a lot of cool things with NAnt and the C# template linked to above utilizes a NAnt build script to package the module with both a SOURCE and an INSTALL package for deployment.

Installing NAnt

The installation of NAnt is pretty straight forward. Here are the steps for getting it setup for use within my module development template.

Download the BINARY ZIP of the 0.90 release of NAnt from

testing against the 0.91 Alpha1 release had some failures DO NOT USE 0.91 ALPHA1.
Extract the contents of this ZIP file, this will create a local folder with the same file name

Navigate into the extracted folder until you find a BIN folder, navigate into that BIN folder and copy all of the contents of the folder

Go to your C: drive and create a folder called NANT, within this NANT folder paste what you copied in STEP 3

Now that you have the NAnt files placed we can configure Visual Studio to add NAnt to the external tools menu. To do this you will open up Visual Studio, go to the Tools menu and click on External Tools option, that will bring up a window.

Click on Add and put the information in for nant, here’s a screenshot of what information you should define.

Using NAnt to automate your module packaging

So now that you have NAnt setup within Visual Studio here comes the easy part. If you have created a project using my template the rest is really easy. You can simply open that project, and do a build within Visual Studio. You must do a build in VS first, because this creates the DLL that Nant is going to use for assembly name and version info. Once you’ve done the manual build you can then choose the Tools menu in Visual Studio and choose the nant menu item.

This will cause NAnt to do a release-compile and package your module! When that happens, you should see something similar to the following in your output window.


If you have a “Build Succeeded” message there than you are all set, NAnt has compiled and packaged your module into a folder called package, in the root of your project. You won’t see this folder in Visual Studio, but if you go to the file system, wherever your project is located, you should see the folder.


Inside of that folder you should find two ZIP files, one for the INSTALL package and one for the SOURCE package.


Installing your newly packaged module

So now you have two ZIP files one called INSTALL and one called SOURCE. What do you do with these? Well the install package is just that, a ZIP file that you can use to install your DotNetNuke module onto a DNN web site, it can be any other DNN website, or the website you are currently doing your development on. The source package can also be used to install the module, the difference between the two is that one will install the source code for the module, the other will not.

A few important things to remember about these packages you’ve now created. Because of the way the project is setup, it compiles against whatever version of DNN you have in your development environment, you will not be able to install the module on an older version of DNN without first recompiling the module, though you will be able to install it on a newer version of DotNetNuke. Another thing to remember, the project template that I released last week is for a basic module but that module doesn’t have any functionality built into it. There are three ASCX files, some language resource files, CSS, and a few other random bits included, but none of those bits actually do anything until you add some functionality.

That’s where standard ASP.NET development comes into play. You can add labels, buttons, and various other controls to the ASCX files to start making them actually perform a function. In future blog posts I will demonstrate some simple modules that have been developed using this template to get you a better understanding of more aspects of DotNetNuke Module Development.
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