Wednesday, June 04, 2008

The One vs. The Collective (Developing from Scratch vs Using a Portal)

So my wife is starting a guild in Age of Conan. So I'm jazzed about creating the guild website. So, in my usual way, I just jump right into things. This is a great way to learn, but experience has finally taught me that this isn't the best way to get things done. So I decide to take a peak at existing guilds, and kind of do a feature comparison of what they have and get some ideas of what I should include.

In the process, I found some great looking guild sites with lots of features. I noticed a few of them where using SMF, tinyportal, and joomla. Just for the heck of it I downloaded SMF from here-

So far I haven't delved into PHP development (but I respect PHP a lot and toy with messing with LAMP every so often. Anyway, I was pleasantly surprised to get a base install of the SMF forum up in about 10 minutes on my Host's Windows 2003 Server. Hats off to the developers who made SMF, great job.

But then I started looking at how to extend SMF and make it more portal like. I went to these spots for starters-

Everything looked very doable, but I started to realize I would need to dive into PHP a little bit to pull off what I wanted to accomplish. Plus I was a little worried about not having the full functionality SMF + others available to me because I'm running IIS. Plus the box is managed by my hosting provider, and I was worried about having to need admin rights on the box, so regardless of if all these concerns where legit or not, I decided to take a peak at some .Net based portals.

I checked out rainbow portal here-

It looked good, but then I seem to remember that my hosting solution might offer built in support for .Net nuke. So I did some research, and wa-la, dotnetnuke is awesome! I watched a quick video and I was sold. So the guild will go dotnetnuke.

In a way I'm sad. I think the open source - LAMP crowd have made some great free portal software. But for now my tie to M$ and my hosting provider being windows based, plus their built in support for dotnetnuke pushed me that way.

But back to my original concept. It seems like the internet and its various technologies have been out long enough now so that we are starting to see various frameworks and projects gel together. These projects are actively developed by a lot of bright people. I think I'm finally starting to get that unless you are developing an application for a very specific need, you are cheating yourself and your customers if you don't take advantage of portals that have been built, used, modified, and expanded on by hundreds of smart people like you or me. So, from now on my first step in development is to check out what others have done, what tech they used, and how and if I can use what they have done before specking out something myself.

I know many of you probably shaking your have been doing this for years (part of the due diligence cycle). I'm slow, but I think I get it now. And not just because of my portal search. All the various javascript frameworks and such have also brought me to this conclusion.

Oh well, better late then never.


Well, dotnetnuke might be all that, if you can get the thing running. I used by web host's "automated install" option. It did something, but there are errors all over the place. Plus there is ZERO documentation on my web host's site, or if there is it is in such an obscure location that I can't find it...sigh.

So I download the dotnetnuke starter pack. Something installed, but nothing new shows up in either vs 2005 pro or visual studio 2008 visual studio expess.

Let's contrast that to SMF...which I got up and running in 10 minutes.

Who knows, I might be doing something wrong, something is f'ed up with the latest dotnetnuke installation, I don't know. I'll give it another shot tomorrow and spend about an hour more on it, if that doesn't work dotnetnuke is fired and I'll look for something else.

It has to freaken work.


Chris said...

DNN can be a tad complex to get up and running the first time, but once you're familiar with .Net applications it can be quite simple. Feel free to shoot me an email or post in the forums if you need some assistance

infocyde said...

Thanks Chris. Don't get me wrong, I've seen the videos of DNN once it is installed and up and running, and it is an awesome portal package. I will give things another shot maybe tonight, got side tracked this weekend. Thanks for your generous offer to answer questions with the install. I assume you are a busy man so I'll hit the forums first if I have continued problems. I got as far as getting the automated install page up and working, but it died on the SQL scripts install. That might be a problem with my SQL Server 2005 dev and express setups on my box though, it most likely isn't DNN's fault. I'll update this post with how things go.