Keeping up with DotNetNuke and DNN module upgrades
It can be a full time job!
We have been waiting for the DotNetNuke Blog module to be released into production so that we could upgrade. We had been running v4.1.1 of that module and there were some, shall we say, “known issues” that we were dealing with. When v5.0 became official, I wanted to get it installed and hopefully fix some of those “known issues”.
Ok, the first dependency that you quickly find out is that you have to be running DotNetNuke v6.2.0 or later to be able to install the new v5.0 Blog module. Well we were running v6.1.4 so we weren’t too far back, but still, there can be some “challenges” going from a v6.1.x environment to v6.2.x so that was something to keep in mind. When I say “challenges” I mostly mean older skins that just won’t work properly in the new environment, we have a fairly recent skin called “ColorLayer DNN Skin” by WebSitesCreative so I thought we might be ok to upgrade.
Upgrading DotNetNuke - Now we use PowerDNN for our hosting and I can’t say enough good things about the folks over at PowerDNN. The tools that they have developed around DotNetNuke make things like backup / restore, environment clone, and upgrades super simple and if you are putting off or fighting with a DotNetNuke upgrade then either contact PowerDNN for assistance or you can contact us directly as we would be happy to help you with your DotNetNuke conversions/upgrades.
Sorry, slipped into sales mode there, back to my story - I went into the PowerDNN control panel, created a new test environment for our website through Plesk and cloned the existing site into the test environment in just a few minutes. Now I was in a position to try things and not worry about breaking my production environment. First step - upgrade DotNetNuke to the latest release v6.2.3. I have to say here that upgrades have been getting cleaner and cleaner so nice job DotNetNuke folks! Once I tested out our stuff to make sure that everything was in working order, I then download the DotNetNuke Blog Module v5.0 off of CodePlex and ran the install. It was clean, so I thought, all right now we are getting somewhere. Well that is where the wheels came off, things didn’t convert clean, and we lost our Tags and our Categories on our posts. We had over 100 blog entries so this wasn’t going to be an easy clean up job. After looking at the new settings, trying a few things, burning an hour of time, I finally got fed up with the module and decided to just be done with the DotNetNuke Blog Module all together. If I was going to have to recreate the blog posts anyway, why would I continue to fight with this module.
The reason for my frustration with the Blog Module is that I have recently been working with the EasyDNNNews Module from EasyDNNSolutions.
I have installed and used this module several times on the last few website projects that we have built and I like several things about this module. One it works; Two when I have had a couple of Minor issues Damir from EasyDNNSolutions has gotten back to me quickly and helped me correct the things I saw. Sometimes it was me, sometimes there was new code provided, but either way it was quick and professional and kept me moving forward.
So here I was at a crossroad: I could purge the Blog module from my site and start over with a clean install of it, or move to the EasyDNNNews module. It took all of about 10 seconds for me to throw in the towel on the Blog module and begin the conversion to the new EasyDNNNews module. I spent about 4-5 hours getting everything installed, configured the way I wanted and even created a custom theme for my website based on the NewsOne theme that is provided with the module. I also installed the EasyDNNGallery module so that I could control the presentation of images within my news stores even better. That is another great thing about these modules, EasyDNNNews, EasyDNNGallery and EasyDNNRotator all work great together so that really makes adding/updating and maintaining information on our website even easier.
If you are a DotNetNuke System Integrator like Sprocket Websites and you haven’t worked with these modules on behalf of your clients you are doing them a disservice. They are great and really make things easy to use for the non-DotNetNuke-ers out there.
So, after a few hours of configuration and a couple more porting over our stories, we had everything ready to go and I went back to PowerDNN made a couple of configuration changes in the environment and our test website became our production website and we were up and running.