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Developing Intranets with DotNetNuke

Looking back at 10 years of intranet development with the most widely used .NET CMS

  • DotNetNuke
  • Intranet

Intranets are a cornerstone of business communications and productivity and DotNetNuke (DNN) has long been a popular choice of platform for development. DNN remains the the most widely used content management system and portal development framework for the Microsoft .NET platform.

In this article, I look back on some personal experiences in developing DNN intranets, including how the Blueprint team recently helped global infrastructure and public services giant Amey use DNN to deliver an intranet for 21,000 users.

Almost 10 years ago to the day, I began researching the use of DNN for intranet development. It was 2004 and I was working for Manchester University. We had initially explored the possibility of Lotus Notes (then in R5) as our platform choice. The main stumbling block with Lotus Notes was its limited capability for enterprise integration with our predominantly Microsoft stack. We had numerous SQL Server based business applications and we needed a platform that would allow us to web-enable these systems robustly and with a minimum of fuss and third party dependencies. We had a trial of IBM WebSphere Portal, but (luckily) avoided this pitfall. We needed to find a reliable but agile framework within which to develop a manageable portfolio of web applications to meet the demands of the business. Thankfully, in the end, we found DotNetNuke.

DNN helped us to standardise the development of our web applications and provided a content management system that allowed us to delegate content update tasks to non-technical departmental content editors. The standardisation was helpful for our development team as it meant that code could be better tested and reused. Content editors found DNN generally easy to use and enjoyed the freedom to manage their own content without waiting for IT support.

Much has changed in 10 years. Fast-forward to the present day and innovations like social intranets and cloud collaboration tools have gone far beyond basic convenience and utility towards fundamentally changing the way we work. In 2012, I was contacted by Amey who were seeking consultancy, development and support services for their DNN intranet. Amey had been using DNN for several years and, in common with my experiences, had found it to be a reliable platform for integrating enterprise applications and delivering internal communications. Following the acquisition of Enterprise Plc in April 2013, the Amey intranet required a complete redesign and rebuild. Blueprint worked with Amey to deliver the new system using the latest version of DotNetNuke and latest technology standards.

Whatever the future the future holds, it seems certain that Microsoft .NET technology will remain the de facto standard for intranet development within most larger organisations.