There is certainly a plethora of garbage blog posts regarding the drawbacks and issues with DotNetNuke. While some moronic SEO is happy counting there website visits, I’m here to give you an objective list of issues you should know about if you are considering using DotNetNuke for you website or as a platform for your next web application project.
I’ve been a DotNetNuke user since its beta, nearly 2 decades ago. It used to be my go-to CMS. I’ve used it for easily 20 or more projects. Some of these projects having over well 20k hours of development hours just for the initial release, not including maintenance. I used to absolutely LOVE DNN. It made me look like a hero for most of the projects I used it for, cutting down development time and providing a solid foundation to build upon.
These days however, my perspective is 180 degrees from where it once was. Would I go as far as to say “DNN SUCKS”? Maybe (…ok, probably), but depends on what you need a CMS for. The ONLY reason DNN maintains any marketshare is because its really the only mature CMS written on Microsoft’s .Net Framework. There is Umbraco and Orchard, but I’ve leave that discussion for another day. So, with that, here are the top few things you should know about DNN.
#1 DotNetNuke in NOT an true CMS!
Yup, and I said it with a straight face. Simple fact: you can’t manage custom content types in DNN. It doesn’t even begin to have that ability. Sure, you can add-on some module or do custom development work, but “Ain’t nobody got time for dat”.
You literally need to add a third party paid-for module to even have half way decent blog functionality. So we talking about a CMS that can’t produce a blog that doesn’t look like crap out of the box; WHAT-THE-F$%# ???
#2 Good Luck Tweaking the Admin UI
..Or anything else in the core for that matter. DNN is super inflexible. If you don’t like how the permissions work, too bad. If you don’t like how the page management works, too bad. If you want to customize the content approval work flow, too bad.
You see, in DNN every module is isolated. MODULES CANNOT MODIFY OR EXTEND THE CORE. I can’t stress just how terrible this is. Sadly, I didn’t realize this until after getting familiar with other CMS’s many years later like WordPress and Drupal.
#3 Zero Inovation
I took about a 5 year break from DNN and only started working on it again because I was hired at a company that maintains a large number of DNN sites. So I left off at version 5, and came back to DNN at version 9. What changed? In short, nothing worth mentioning.
DNN seems to change things from version to version for the sake of changing thing, but not necessarily making them better. Moving the admin bar from the top to the left side from version 8 to 9 is a perfect example. Why DNN, why? Its not at all better, just different. In fact, in my opinion, its actually worse. Instead of making the system more flexible and extending the core features, the DNN teams seem hell bent on reinventing the wheel, over and over again, year after year.
#4 Unpolished, Buggy
Given the time DNN has had to perfect their product, they have not done so. If you let your session expire while on an admin page and come back 20+ minutes later and try to submit the form, you’ll get a general error (or just a blank screen) without any indication that your session has expired. This is just shameful, you should be automatically redirected to a login page or better yet, have an extended session like nearly every other CMS on the planet – Annoying, Sad, Shocking!
The drag and drop features while editing a page is clunky and the icons and other UI element seems to shift as modules are moved from container to container. I could go on and on regarding this point, but I think you get the point, so on to my next rant.
#5 Webforms … Still … OMG!
If reasons 1-4 didn’t hit a chord for you, this one should. Even if your not a developer how can you invest in a CMS where the core product remains stuck in a terrible technology that was fully obsoleted in 2009. They’ve had over a decade to upgrade away from this terrible, sluggish technology yet haven’t done so.
This kind of goes hand and hand with #3, The DNN team just doesn’t seem to have much internal love for their own child. On another note, DNN has become very commercialized over the last several years. There was never really a strong sense of community or “giving” as we see with Drupal and other major open source projects. Just tons of money seekers (aka third party module developers) trying to take advantages of DNN’s lack of capabilities. Side note: most of the modules are pretty crappy. There are a few gems in the DNN store, but they are few and far between.