What is my approach for a new project?

About Me

Hans has a small - Dutch - company. His core business is to help small companies in using IT as an enabler for their core business. So IT should be helping and not a restriction. My rules:

  • I want to focus on a few products. Because there are thousand of IT solutions, I only want to work with products I know more than 80% of the functions and possibilities. I can not know every CMS. Because than too much time of my business leaks away to maintain all that knowledge. So I chose DNN (starting with DNN 4.9 in 2008)
  • Sometimes I create solutions by myself (f.i. a website or a database), and sometimes I hire a developer. Therefore I need to know what's going on in IT-business. So my knowledge about IT should be up-to-date, and that's why I'm always looking to every new module in the DNN store to know what's on the market.

I am not a developer. But I can translate business requirements into solutions. I will go a step forward: I will challenge my clients with their needs, so I can provide the best fit for their company.

About My Project

  • This project is about an intranet, used by a small organization with a few workers at the office and a few workers abroad. Their needs are:
  • having an online responsive solution to share day-by-day used information:
  • documents
  • media (like photo's, powerpoints, logo's, etc)
  • sharing news
  • filling in their timesheets for different projects

About the realisation

Normally i try to use the core modules for creating a website. I think I don't have to explain why, but for sure: if I use the core modules, there is almost no chance for having issues doing an upgrade of DNN.

But if I have to go to 3rd party modules, I will choose according to the following rules:

  • sourcecode is available (although I don't want to change it, just for safety reasons)
  • try to stay with one vendor (if I need multiple modules and they are from the same vendor than the chance for issues is less than when using modules from multiple vendors)
  •  check if the module is templatable and localizable


For this solution I needed a few specific modules:

News module

I choose to work with the Ventrian News Article module. It is a module with an easy way to template the layout, but also has two satellite modules to show the latest news f.i. Because the client has two types of employees (they have their own news categories) I can easy show the latest news per category for each type of employee.

Forum module

For the forum, there are a very small number of modules I know. Most of them are old. I looked arround and asked some of my collegues at about their favorite module, and there came one answer: Active Forum. The module installed very easy and you can get the layout very similar to the rest of your site.

User management module

Because normally I don't use the admin role for my clients (because I think the user interface is too complicated for a normal user), I was looking for a module where a user can create users, add users to a role and update the profile. There are some commercial modules for this kind of features but there is one module which contains not only the function of creating users etc. but also has a templatable layout. I'm really impressed by this  Usermanagement module, and it is created by one of the founders of DNN-Connect! So I know it will be DNN proof!

Timesheet module

The timesheet function contains a few parts: a user must select a specific project and a specific task on a specific date to add some hours. Those items should be stored so my client can download them and use it for management information etc. So I wanted to create a form with a few dropdowns and a button to store the data. I wanted to show the 10 latest added items to the user, and for my client I needed a function to add new projects and tasks. I have used two modules from the same vendor for that, and they can work together:  ActionForm and ActionGrid from DNNSharp. These modules are easy to use and have a lot of flexibility. The form module has a dropdown of projects (therefore I created a table in my database with projects), and via the Gridmodule, my client can maintain the available projects. The grid module is also used for showing all the entries of all users.

Documents management module

The last module is the complex one. They want to share documents, mail documents directly from the site, and the documents should have an easy to find overview. In the Store, there are a lot of documents modules (to share files) but almost everyone does not have the capability to mail the file (instead of mailing a link). Mailing a file is necessary because the intranet is only for registered users, and sending a file to an external email address will give an error when the receiver of the link is not a user. So there was one big module left that has these functions: Document Exchange, again from one of the members of DNN-Connect. (a very productive DNN group!)


I created all the functions I needed and all without programming or changing any code! Only by configuring and templating the modules. Choosing four stable and solid vendors was the best choice. Sometimes I needed some support, just to find the place to configure something. All of the vendors above reacted quickly and helped.

Some images of the timesheetmodule (sorry for the Dutch text on the pictures) :


Leave your comment
11/26/2014 11:37 AM
Good article!  I like your pragmatic approach to putting a DNN solution together.  Thanks for sharing.<br /><br />See Ya!<br />Van