Welcome to "The Mighty Blog"

Will StrohlWelcome to the personal website of Will Strohl, technologist, speaker, and Director of Product Development at Hotcakes Commerce.  Will is a published author and regularly speaks at user groups, code camps, and other events across the country.  In this website, you will find resources from the events and the personal blog of Will Strohl.

My Recent Blog Entries

DNNHangout – October 2014 – Cool Skinning Tricks for DNN Featuring Tracy Wittenkeller

Tracy Wittenkeller of T-Worx in DNN Community Hangout

We’ve just gotten done with the October episode of DNNHangout – this time featuring longtime DNN community member and skin designer, Tracy Wittenkeller.  You may or may not have heard of Tracy, but he’s the man behind the team that brings you T-Worx and DNN Magazine.  Chance are that you’ve already used or purchase one of his skins at some point.  Tracy walks us through some new and exciting techniques that his company is applying to their new skins to help use contemporary design techniques, while at the same time making the content editing experience accessible to the average content editor.  From what we could see, he’s taken this a long way to fill in that gap and by using a lot of existing DNN features!

You’ll always be able to see our upcoming DNNHangouts on the DNN Software Community Events page.  The next two shows include:

And now for this month’s featured guest, simply play the video below.

Show Notes:

Reset the Passwords for All Users in a DNN Site

WillStrohl.com DNN Logo Code Background

I don’t know if you deal with as many websites as I do, but I’ve been dealing with other peoples DNN sites since I first began dabbling with it over a decade ago.  (Boy, does that make me feel old!)  Restoring the website from someone else’s environment to test, troubleshoot, and fix an issue isn’t a major issue as long as you have some experience with IIS, SQL Server, and Windows.  However, the testing you need to do often requires access to multiple accounts.  This is the problem.  Duplicating those accounts is either non-trivial, or time consuming.  So why not just reset all of their passwords?

A tool I used to use a lot in the past is the LetMeIn ASPX page by Evotiva.  It allows you to quickly create a new host user.  From there, you have access to everything except for other user accounts.  Depending on the type of client, customers, and privacy laws in your area, this is a good thing.  However, if you are able to, it’s a convenient thing to be able to use the very user accounts that are having the issues while performing your troubleshooting.  This is where my tip comes in to play.

First, The Red Tape

Now, before I go any further, it would be an absolute best practice to have and you’d be irresponsible if you didn’t have a formal policy to protect yourself and the clients you’re providing services to.  Have a clear understanding of how you accept sites, how you maintain them, and when you destroy your copies of them.  If you’re in support, I’d suggest destroying your backups as soon as your client confirms that their issue is solved.  The rule of thumb here, don’t keep copies.  Destroy them at your earliest convenience.  That being said, I am not a lawyer either, so you’ll want to review your policies and the laws in your region.

Resetting the Passwords for All Users

The context of this DNN tip is to allow you access to literally impersonate the users on a DNN site.  If the number of users is low, I’d suggest leaving this article now to use my DNN Demo Skin Objects.  Seriously, they’re pretty cool.  You should check them out.

Ideally, it would be convenient if you knew all of the passwords of the users on the site, but we won’t and we shouldn’t.  Instead, we’ll change every password for every user to “password” using the ASPX file below.  All you have to do is create an ASPX file in the root of the site, paste this code into it, and then view it in a web browser of your choice.  From there, it’s a single click to reset all of the passwords to “password.”

WARNING!!!  Never do this on a production site for any reason or put this file on a production server, anywhere.  Also, it should only be used for LEGAL and ETHICAL purposes. 

The code below does the meat of the work for you, but you can just download the file by clicking the button below and save yourself some time.

Download Password Reset ASPX File for DNN

    private int PortalId
    {
        get
        {
            return PortalController.GetCurrentPortalSettings().PortalId;
        }
    }

    protected void ProcessUsers(object sender, EventArgs e)
    {
        try
        {
            IterateThroughUsers();
        }
        catch (Exception ex)
        {
            Exceptions.ProcessModuleLoadException(this, ex, true);
        }
    }

    private void IterateThroughUsers()
    {
        var sb = new StringBuilder();
        var totalRecords = 0;

        sb.Append("

Updating Superusers

"); var superUsers = UserController.GetUsers(false, true, Null.NullInteger); UpdateUserInfo(superUsers, ref sb); sb.Append("

Updating Normal Users

"); var normalUsers = UserController.GetUsers(PortalId, -1, -1, ref totalRecords, true, false); UpdateUserInfo(normalUsers, ref sb); plcUserLog.Controls.Add(new LiteralControl(sb.ToString())); } private void UpdateUserInfo(ArrayList users, ref StringBuilder sb) { foreach (var user in users) { // convert the user object to UserInfo var oUser = (UserInfo)user; // update the password // REQUIRES: Change the enablePasswordRetrieval attribute to True in the web.config // for newer versions of DNN, use this: //MembershipProvider.Instance().ResetAndChangePassword(oUser, "password"); var success = DotNetNuke.Security.Membership.MembershipProvider.Instance().ChangePassword(oUser, string.Empty, "password"); sb.AppendFormat( success ? "
{0} {1} ({2}) updated with a new password.
" : "
{0} {1} ({2}) NOT UPDATED!
", oUser.FirstName, oUser.LastName, oUser.Username); // save the user UserController.UpdateUser(PortalId, oUser, false); } }

Introducing the DNN Training Working Group

Participate with DNN

It’s been a LONG time since I began and last updated the “participate” blog series.  A lot of things have changed since then.  I am at a new company.  Shaun Walker moved on tooJoe Brinkman is now leading communityCharles Nurse took over as the Chief Architect.  The DNN core is now much more open for contributions, and so many more changes.  Regardless to your personal opinions, there is a bright future for DNN.  Part of this is the introduction of working groups, one of which is the Training working group that I am leading – and I need your help.  Nay…  The COMMUNITY needs your help!

What is the Training Working Group?

Instead of rewriting it, here it is in Joe Brinkman’s own words:

The training group is responsible for developing and coordinating educational events and content for the community including community webinars, virtual conferences and platform documentation. This group will also work where possible with various community organizations like DNN-Connect and DNNCon to ensure we are providing valuable educational events and content throughout the year and to help avoid scheduling conflicts between the various events.

There are a few focuses that are very high on my priority list.  They include:

  • Maintaining and growing community events overall
  • Recruiting event coordinators & scheduling more DNNCon events (DNN-Connect is in good hands already)
  • Recruiting more speakers for DNNHangout
  • Getting more DNN documentation and videos generated & added to the DNN wiki and blog
  • Plan a virtual DNN conference for next spring
  • Plan a resurgence for DNN user groups (will likely include some development)

The Current Team

As of right now, the team is small.  It includes Jay Mathis, Chris Hammond, and myself – but there is room for you too!

How Can You Help?

If you are reading this, you already qualify to be able to help us out.  We have a growing backlog of tasks that need to be taken care of.  We need people of all skill sets…  Designers, administrators, technical writers, bloggers, and yes – developers too.  Even if you can only commit to a single task every month, your participation will be most welcome.  

We might have meetings from time to time, but they won’t be regularly held and they won’t be mandatory.

What Do You Do Next?

If you are interested – even as a proofreader – please just leave a comment about what you want to do and we’ll get  you started.  I would like to match you up with any area that you are passionate about and let you loose on it.

DNNHangout–September 2014–Peter Donker Introduces Us to the Blog Module

DNNHangout Featuring Peter Donker

Joe Brinkman and I have begun hosting a monthly show called DNNHangout.  In each episode we will talk to you about recent DNN news, events, and anything else that might be useful to the DNN community.  We also will be talking to and showcasing a speaker that will present an interesting topic that you can apply on your own DNN site. 

Yesterday was the first of the DNNHangout series.  You can think of a hangout as a cross between a video podcast and a conference session.  While the next few hangouts are not posted yet, you’ll be able to find the upcoming hangouts in the events section on the DNN website.  Tracy Wittenkeller (T-Worx) will be showing us some cool skinning tricks on October 2, and Daniel Mettler (2sic) will be joining us from Switzerland to talk to us about DNN administration November 4.

The show we had yesterday was not without challenges and we knew there would be some kinks to work out too.  Joe was fighting with his webcam until minutes before the broadcast, and I was literally running through the door from a client meeting.  Also, I was speaking WAY TOO FAST.  I’ll work on that for you. 

We would love your feedback about the show and how we can improve it for you.  Feel free to leave your feedback in the comments below or on the youtube video page. 

Here’s what we need from you for future episodes:

  • Showcase examples of a DNN site that you’d like for us to highlight
  • A speaker for December

With no further delay, here is yesterday’s DNNHangout… Enjoy!

Links to articles and items we spoke about during the hangout:

Easily Embed a Google Hangout on Your Website

Google Hangouts

If you’re not sure what a Google Hangout is, well…  You’ve been under a rock for a while.  Simply put, this is a very easy and web-based way to talk to someone face-to-face, from any nearly web-based device that has a web browser.  You can do this one-on-one like with Skype, or you can use this for more of a public webinar kind of use case.  It’s part of the whole Google+ suite of features.  Even if you’re not actively using Google+, this feature is pretty sweet.  It’s amazing what they’re able to enable you to do with a web browser!  If you’re doing the latter, you might want to read on…

It’s been a long while since I’ve released a NEW module into the DNN community – maybe at least a year ago since my last release.  It’s been even longer since I’ve blogged here, and I am sorry for that.  But as I said on twitter the other night, I’m back! I’ve had some modules go out into the wild that you might not have heard of, including a couple for user groups as proof of concepts, and even an update to the Media Module in February.  (Do a search for “user group labs” for the others on codeplex.)

Google Hangout for DNN

If you’re reading this and not using DNN, sorry.  But this is an open source module, so if you’re a developer, you can take a look at the source for this module (and many of my others) on github.  You’ll be able to see this module in action next week though for a live DNN webinar with

Peter Donker (T|B|L), Joe Brinkman (T|B|L), and myself.  You can follow our twitter feeds to get those details as soon as they’re available.

“Hey Will.  Why should I build a module for this?  Google Hangouts has an embed code.  I can just copy and paste it.”

If you are asking yourself that, you’re absolutely right, and there’s nothing to prevent you from doing that.  However, having a module to manage this gives you the benefit of structured content, ability to delegate management of Hangouts to non-technical people, and there are more features and purposes planned for this module that will be announced later.

DNN Hangout Features

This is a first release, so there is going to of course be a minimal number of features, and they include:

  • Quickly add a Google Hangout via copy/paste
  • Template available to change how the module is displayed to users
  • Show start date/time and duration for future/past Hangouts

For those of you that are developers, here is a feature list for you!

  • Uses content items for the DAL
  • Uses DNN token replace
  • Uses PortalSecurity for user input filtering

This version 01.00.00 release has the following minimum requirements.

  • DNN version 07.02.00 or newer
  • SQL Server 2005 or newer
  • Microsoft.Net version 4.0 or newer

How do I use DNN hangout? 

Today, the features are simple…  You create a hangout in Google Hangout.  It can be a regular hangout, but what this module is really meant for is On Air Hangouts.  These are the kind of hangouts where you would be broadcasting an even to the public. 

Next, you copy the hangout URL, video ID, or embed code.  This module will accept them all and magically grab the information it needs from you.  Go into the module’s edit view to manage those settings.

Choose to edit the DNN Hangout Module

Once you see the edit view, add the relevant information, including the Google Hangout information you copied earlier.

Edit the DNN Hangout Module settings

You even have some sample Google Hangout addresses to test and compare with to make sure you’re adding the right information.  As long as you add the right address, it will be parsed and the video ID will be the only thing that remains once you save.

DNN Hangout module settings (bottom half)

Now that you have the right information in place, you can save your new hangout and you’ll see it immediately on the page.

Google Hangout with default template in DNN

This is probably not how you want your hangout to be displayed on you site.  Don’t worry…  You’re covered with the module settings.  Just update the default template with your own HTML and use the placeholder tokens to add the hangout information in the places of the HTML that you want.  Once you save it, your changes will be reflected on the page.  You should know that this module also supports DNN tokens, so feel free to add things like user personalization if you want.

DNN Hangout module settings - template

DNN Hangout Downloads

If you want to try out the DNN Hangout Module, all you have to do is download it and install it like any other module.  You’ll find a link below.

Download DNN Hangout

Are You the 2013 DNN Super Fan?

DNN Super Fan 2012 Winner: Clint Patterson

It has been over two years since the first DNN Super Fan was crowned.  The DNN Super Fan contest has become a very fun event that a lot of the community looks forward to.  A handful of folks submit themselves as being the most passionate fans of DNN by creating a contest entry and then the community votes for their favorite.  This regularly results in a lot of fun “marketing” done by the entrants and voters as they try to bribe others in the community for their votes.  Year three of the DNN Super Fan contest starts now and anyone can win!

Are You Asking Yourself Am I a “Super” Fan?

If you have ever attended a user group, DNNCon, DNN World, created an open source extension, helped someone in the forums or exchange, or even simply said the words, “I love DNN!” you might be this years DNN Super Fan!  Seriously… If you’re reading this blog and have gotten this far, you’re already qualified.  You love DNN and now is your chance to be rewarded for being named the DNN Super Fan for 2013.

This year we have a slight different way to participate in the DNN Super Fan contest and that is by telling everyone else out there why you love DNN.  It’s literally that simple!

Contest Entries

The entry for being a DNN Super Fan contest contestant simply needs to be a short video of you in some way telling people why you love DNN.  The video needs to be 60 seconds or less – no exceptions!  What you say and do in the video, what tools and resources you use, and everything else is up to you.  All you have to do is keep it family-friendly.

You can host your video entries anywhere you’d like, such as Vine, Instagram, Vimeo, Flickr, or YouTube.  However, you will be required to send your video file to us as well.  We’ll make arrangements to send large files as needed. 

Once we receive your file and approve the content, not only are you part of the contest, but you will also be awarded 100 community points to help boost your ranking in the DNN Community!

If you want some ideas for your own video, take a look at what some of the employees at DNN Corp cooked up!

Believe it or not, the videos above only took a couple of hours to create.  Imagine what you could create if you spent an hour of so more!

Grand Prize Winner

You probably have noticed that DNN recently refreshed its brand including a shiny new logo.  The old logo was one that we who love DNN have done a lot of things with since we loved it so much.  It’s been the subject matter for fake tattoos, real tattoos (ask @ErikVB) , cakes, bowls, and more.  Years ago when Nik Kalyani was helping create the old logo, he imagined it as if it were to be one day created as a 3-dimensional object.  As you can see below, that dream came true in the DNN Corp offices, and numerous people stopped by to have their pictures with it.  If you haven’t seen it before, check it out below…

DotNetNuke Logo on the Wall

Yes. The logo is real.  However, since the brand refresh, the new DNN logo is on the wall.  That means that we need to find a new home for the old logo, and that home could be YOURS!  That’s right, the winner of this years DNN Super Fan contest will win the 3D logo from DNN Corp headquarters!  You know you want it!  They’ve had to hide it from us because we’re already fighting over it here…  (True story.)

Will Power: Fighting for the DNN Logo

Second and third place will get a nice prize too, but I can’t stop thinking about having that logo mounted in my house!

How to Enter

Entering the contest is easy.  You simply need to send an email to superfan@dnnsoftware.com.  Be sure to include the details below.  Incomplete details may result in your entry not being accepted.

  • Your DNNSoftware.com website username
  • Your first and last name
  • Your video entry file (either as an attachment or a link to download the actual video file)

It doesn’t get any more simple than that…  We’ll be accepting entries through October 1, 2013 and voting will commence shortly after.

The winners will be announced at DNNCon Palm Beach on October 19, 2013.

Now tell us all about why you love DNN and win!

Official DNN Training at DNNCon Palm Beach 2013 this October

Official DNN Training at DNNCon Palm Beach 2013

The most common issues and questions that I come across on a daily basis are very often a result of not knowing the DNN Platform as well as it could be known.  Like with any tool, the better you know it, how to manipulate it, the best techniques behind it, and so on… The better that you will be at using that tool.  The faster you will be at accomplishing tasks with the right solution.  Every solution is only as good as the people that run it.  This is your opportunity to walk away with the critical knowledge that is foundational to you being the best DNN resource that you can be – and have a blast with others in the DNN community at the same time.

DNNCon Conference Schedule

DNN Training

This year’s Official DNN Training event occurs the day before DNNCon on October 18, 2013.  There are still a couple of seats left for the free DNN on the Water event for those of you that register for training now!

The training event this year is focusing on fundamentals and best practices to help ensure that you leave being the most productive and knowledgeable DNN person in your organization.  We want you to leave being a confident DNN expert!

We have the best DNN trainers coming to West Palm Beach to instruct you in the 3 critical areas of DNN expertise: development, design, and content administration. 

Site & Content Administration

This is a perfect session for you if you’re not a designer or a developer.  If you’re a content editor or someone that runs the site as an Admin or Host (Superuser), you’re the perfect person to attend this class.  This class not only will teach you the techniques to be more productive, but you’ll also walk away with confidence in the areas below and more!

  1. Best practices for installation & upgrades
  2. Configure for performance fast
  3. Saving time with templates, modules, and skins
  4. Best practices for managing content

Development

Development in DNN is just ASP.Net if you’re not aware.  Therefore, this course is designed to help you become a more effective DNN developer.  You definitely need to walk in with basic ASP.Net development knowledge.

Here are just a couple of the benefits of this course:

  1. Basics of DNN Architecture
  2. Best practices of your development environment
  3. How to save time writing code
  4. Form patterns and data access

Skinning (Design)

Designers using DNN only need to know how to do static designs.  If you have prior “template” or design experience with other platforms, you’ll be one step ahead of the game.  That being said, you just need to be proficient in HTML and CSS.  However, at the end of the day, you’ll know:

  1. Flexibility of design & branding on your site
  2. Best practices for skinning fast
  3. Integrating with DNN features
  4. Integrating third party libraries

See you there… Hopefully at DNN on the Water first!

Register for DNN Training at DNNCon

Participate in DNN By Asking and Answering Questions

This is the second post in a series of blog posts that will focus on ways that you can participate in DNN in some way.  Participation is incredibly important.  Without it, any community will suffer, and an open source community like ours knows this all too well if you look at the history of open source.  After all, what good is any project if no one is using it.  Luckily, we have had the luxury of millions of users, nearly a million production sites, over a thousand eco-system vendors & system integrators, and more.  We have thrived more than most.  However, like I stated before, there are a ton of ways for you to participate.  If you’re new to DNN, this post will help you help others by answering questions.

Why Answer a Question?

At the time of the writing of this blog post, we are sitting in a pretty wonderful place in terms of the number of and quality of the resources that we have available to us.  We have online help, wiki, video library, community exchange, user/superuser manuals, white papers, web seminars, YouTube channel, and more.  When I first lucked upon DNN, there was only forums (on two different sites) and the blog.  This made learning about DNN primarily a try it and break it kind of proposition.  For some, this is still the way to go, but the average user now has so much more at their fingertips to work with.  Could any of it be done better?  Sure.  That will always be the case for any site.

My point here is that people need help.  Even you.  None of us were born with the answers.  Questions are being asked.  There are plenty of folks that still need someone else to give them a bit of information that they don’t have currently.  Part of a community is knowledge sharing.  Our community has always been better at that than most.  This is what made me fall in love with the DNN community years ago!  People were participating so much and so often!

When I first was getting acquainted with DNN, I barely had my own answers – much less answers for other people.  Lucky for me though, I had a job with a certain amount of built-in down time that allowed me to play with DNN a lot.  In an effort to become as versed as possible with it, I regularly would find questions in the forums that hadn’t yet been responded to.  If I already knew the answer, great.  However, most of the time I didn’t.  I would spin up a test site (if needed) and try what they were trying to do.  Once I’d find the answer, I would relay it back to the community in the forum thread. 

This did two things for me...

First, it forced me to learn an incredible amount of ways that DNN could be used.  The architecture and extensibility for creative uses of DNN started to become second nature.  This allowed me to say “yes” to pretty much anything in meetings when someone asked if our website could do something. 

Second, I began to meet and interact with people all over the world.  I helped people.  There was a certain amount of satisfaction in giving back, but there was also the fact that I built some very meaningful and lasting friendships with numerous people in the DNN community.  There’s no two ways about it. 

This kind of participation is what got me to where I am today.  Who knows what opportunities it might bring to you tomorrow!

These days, another reason to answer to questions is to earn points in the community.  Over time, you will end up competing with others in the community, earning reputation, and more.  (More to come on that later…)

Can I Ask a Question?

Of course you can, silly!  It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been using DNN.  Everyone needs help sometime.  If there is something that you would like to ask someone about, there’s now two main ways to participate with questions.

Ask in the DNN forums.  Forums were never really meant to be a question and answer kind of discussion.  At least, that’s not how they’ve ever been built.  However, some questions require a little back-and-forth troubleshooting.  If you think your question requires a conversation to solve, then the DNN forums are a perfect place for it.

If you have a question that you feel can be answered in a single shot, then community exchange is a perfect fit for you!  This area is designed to allow you to ask a question in a way that ends up building a power knowledge base – but it is also addictive to those that want to answer questions because they are incented to get you the right answer the first time and before anyone else does!

Tell Everyone About Your Question

Regardless to which way you participate with your question, I would highly suggest tweeting your question as well to get people’s eyes on it.  Just be sure to hashtag your tweet with #DotNetNuke and #DNN

How Can I Answer Questions?

Anyone can answer a question.  You don’t have to know the answer right away either – but that’s awesome if you do.  Half the fun might be figuring out what the answer might be. 

One of the things I made sure of is to have a test DNN site ready to go when I found an interesting question that I wanted to answer.  Then, I would try to find a solution without worrying about breaking a development or production site.  Mike van der Meulen has made this easy for everyone.  He participated by building a nifty DNN desktop installer!  He aptly called it MakeDNNSite.  These days, I keep it handy with it pinned on my task bar.

MakeDNNSite Pinned on My Taskbar

There’s no rules around where and how you answer questions.  Just do your best to put forth the best answer.  And don’t be afraid if your answer doesn’t work.  No two DNN sites are alike.  Oftentimes, there are several potential fixes for the same problem.  And if your fix is missing something, the person asking will let you know.  This will allow you to hone in on the right answer eventually – or even better – it might push them just enough to discover the answer on their own.

Answer as many questions as you can and help vote up answers if you’re in community exchange.  This will help others determine the right answer.  The more you interact with community exchange, the more capabilities you’ll unlock as well. 

The DNN forums work pretty much just like any other forum out there.  However, you do also earn community points for contributing new threads and for replying to posts.

Participate In DNN Through Social Media

Participate: Take part.

This is going to be the first of a series of blog posts introducing you to ways that you can participate in some way with DNN.  You don’t need to be technical, a programmer, or a graphic designer to participate.  You can be ANYONE.  Participation is the cornerstone to any community and our community is larger than most.  Our community is also geared around open source software, giving us numerous ways to participate.  Since the ways to participate have become so broad even over the last couple of years, I thought it might be worth pointing them all out for those of you that might like to do so.

Open source only benefits you and everyone else if someone participates.  If you have ever read, downloaded, shared, or otherwise interacted with any DotNetNuke content before don’t forget the most important thing…  Someone before you participated in the community to help you answer that question, learn about an issue, or figure out how to create something.  Without your participation, the community will never be as great as it could be!

Finally, it’s worth noting that participation in an open source community is incredibly rewarding.  You will undoubtedly meet people that you never thought you would.  You will build long lasting relationships with people across various borders and bodies of water.  Many of these relationships will end up being lucrative for you at some point as well.  I wouldn’t be able to write this blog post and you most certainly wouldn’t be reading it had I not been a direct recipient of those rewards due to my participation.  This is why I made this the topic of my keynote speech in the last Southern Fried DNN conference.

Participate. It’s simple. Easy. Fun.

Participate is a great word.  It simply means to “take part.”  At least that’s what Google told me when I did a search for the term.  Take part is itself pretty ambiguous.  We take part in all kinds of things everyday.  We tell our co-workers about the latest movie.  We bring friends to our favorite restaurants or bars.  We throw weekend gatherings with food (and hopefully delicious BBQ).  We put together baby showers, bachelor(ette), and birthday parties.  We might even make a dessert for the office.  There are all kinds of things that require anything from minimal effort to a full blown loss of productivity.  Remember that last retweet or the last time you updated your resume?  Sometimes we can participate in something simply by clicking. 

Social Media

The first method of participation that I want to focus on is social media.  No matter who you are, it’s in your face and even if you run away from it – you just can’t seem to avoid it.  It’s everywhere.  You see it in commercials, videos, flyers, conferences, your drink cups, billboards, and it’s even built in to pretty much every smart phone these days.  It’s now deeply woven into the society that most of us live in.  #Hashtags are even being used in messenger apps, emails, and text messages, even though they have no function or other use being there.  It’s become just one more way that we communicate – another form of communication if you will.  It’s our new “LOL.” 

Participate Through Social Media

There’s numerous social networks and most of us use them for varying purposes and have different audiences on each of then.  A great example is the obvious one – Facebook.  Nearly everyone seems to be on it these days, but most of us keep only our close friends and family on it and stray away from mixing business with pleasure so to speak.  This form of participation is not meant to ask you to do anything you’re not comfortable with.  Quite the opposite, actually. 

Share where and how you want to…  I am going to go through a few of the more popular social networks in North America, but these tips should translate to your respective region of the World as well if you don’t live in “the states.” 

Facebook, Twitter, and Google+

If you see anything cool or noteworthy about DNN, feel free to pass it along to your followers on the social networks that you feel would appreciate it.  If you see someone else share something that resonates with you, re-share their post or update.  If you need help and prefer to ask for it in one of these places, go ahead and ask a question.  You’ll get an answer, I’m sure.  If you know the answer, there’s no reason why you can’t chime in and respond with your answer as well.

The easiest thing you could possible do though is like the post.  It’s just a click, and you just participated!

When using Twitter and Google+, be sure to hashtag #DotNetNuke, #DNN, #CMS, or #DNNSocial as appropriate.

On Facebook, it’s not as easy to tag content, but you can write on the DotNetNuke Facebook page

YouTube or Vimeo

Creating videos is something that pretty much anyone can do these days.  Whether you’re using a commercial or free screen capture utility, anyone can record their screen and create useful DNN videos for the community.  You don’t have to create a live action commercial – but it would be cool if you did.  Even a 5 minute video showing how you did something cool, reconfigured your site, or anything else will definitely be appreciated by a community member just like you.  In fact, I’d argue that any videos longer than 5 minutes shouldn’t be made these days anyway.

You don’t have to be a video wiz to participate with videos either.  Like, share, or comment on the videos.  Let people know that you liked them or give them feedback on what you want.

If you want to create your own videos, here are a few free and paid tools that can help you.

Blogs

If you see a blog post that has helped you with DNN or you think will help someone else, share it on any social network that you want.  More importantly, leave a comment.  As a blogger myself, it’s always rewarding to see a comment made on something I wrote.  After all, writing a blog post takes time.  We bloggers accept comments on our posts as a form of currency.  The more comments we have, the more we feel rewarded for that time we spent writing instead of doing something else.

That was all of the easy stuff… But there’s always room for more bloggers to write about DNN.  No topic is too simple.  Everyone has a voice and perspective that someone else in our massive community would appreciate.  Create a blog and write something!

There are so many blogging tools and options out there.  This is not an endorsement at all, but here are just a couple of many.  Try them for yourself.

Discover some new DNN blogs:

You could also add your own blog to the DNN Community Blogs above. 

Wiki

Did you know that there is a wiki on the DNN site?  It’s full of so much DNN information.  There is something for everyone too.  You can read more about various content editing features and administrative functions.  You can of course even learn more about creating skins (designs) for DNN or various types of extensions.  But how can you participate?

Once again, you can share the wiki article you found on any of the social networks.  You could even blog about the article.  However, we are always looking for more content.  Remember that you have a voice.  Feel free to edit an existing wiki article or write a new one

Instagram and Flickr

It doesn’t matter if you have DNN swag to show off, if you’re at a user group or conference, or if you’re literally taking pictures of a cool looking DNN site.  Feel free to share here as well.  Just be sure to tag DNN or DotNetNuke.  The rest of the community loves to get insight into the various events and things that others are doing.  Remember, not everyone has the luxury of going to DNN World, Day of DotNetNuke, user group meetings, or other community events. 

Foursquare

Not everyone can check in at the DNN corporate office, DNN engineering office, or our office in Amsterdam.  Although, we’d surely love to meet you.  However, you may be visiting a user group meeting or attending any number of other DNN events.  If you are, feel free to check in to that event.  For example, a few of us were checking in at the last Day of DotNetNuke, called Southern Fried DNN.  If the user group or event venue doesn’t exist, create the venue.  It only takes a moment.  Foursquare has apps built for pretty much every smart phone.

Google Hangout, Justin.tv, Skype, and UStream

The final area I’ll talk about is probably the most interactive.  There are a number of streaming services out there that allow you to live chat over a web cam or stream an event.  It doesn’t matter if you’re streaming a user group meeting, DNN session at a code camp or conference, or if you’re simply doing a video chat room.  You can be an attendee or host the video chat and interact with other community members.  It could be your own virtual user group meeting of sorts.  Those that attend would definitely appreciate it, even if it lasted for 10 minutes. 

You don’t have to be an expert on anything to do this either.  The tools make it simple to start and the people that attend make it valuable.  Just make sure you spread the word that you’re doing this before and during the broadcast on the social networks that you use. 

Participation is Empowering!

In closing, I just want to tell you that you don’t have to shoot for the stars.  Start small.  Try out one or two things and see how you like it.  If you don’t, try another one.  You have a voice and your voice empowers the community and the community will return that back to you.  It’s a cyclical thing.  We all feed off of each other and we get out of it what we put into it.  At the end of the day, someone helped you out.  Why not pay it forward and help someone else out in return?  The more we each do this, the better, bigger, and more exciting our community will be.  It all starts with you!

Southern Fried DNN 2013 Recap

Southern Fried DNN 2013

You should already be aware, but there is an incredibly active and vibrant user group in Charlotte, North Carolina called Queen City DotNetNuke User Group or QCDUG.  These folks were also the masterminds behind the Day of DotNetNuke Charlotte last year.  When they agreed to do another event this year, I couldn’t even tell you how excited I was because last year was so awesome!  These gentlemen sure did not disappoint when they organized and held their second event, this time branded in a fun way as Southern Fried DNN!  What a great way to participate in our community!

Before I get through any of the run-down, I want to first thank the organizers for their amazing super-human efforts at making sure Southern Fried DNN was a success.  Allen Foster, Robb Bryn, Fred Ellise, Ryan Moore, and Clint Patterson all worked day and night when their day jobs weren’t in the way.  Their families need to be thanked too, because these gentlemen had plenty of family hours dedicated to organizing the event and all of its details. 

Also to be thanked are the event sponsors.  We need speakers (who deserved to be thanked as well since they pay their own way and donate their time and expertise) and attendees, but there would be no place to hold the event, nothing to eat, and none of the fun or cool things to be had if it were not for the sponsors.  Please take a moment and visit and thank each of the sponsors if you can.

Another special thanks goes to the folks that travelled from far and wide…  We had attendees from as far as Australia and Peru!

Training

If organizing a full-day event wasn’t enough, the organizers decide to throw in a full day of community based training that focused onboarding people that are new to DotNetNukeRobb Bryn appeared to lead the charge in doing all of the logistics, including creating and managing over 50 virtual machines in Windows Azure!  A staggering achievement of participation that is nothing short of impressive!

Training appeared to go off without a hitch, with a group of excellent seasoned DNN instructors that included: Cassidi Brickner of 10 Pound Gorilla, Scott Wilkinson of DotNetNuclear, Mitchel Sellers of Iowa Computer Gurus, Ralph Williams of Arrow Consulting & Design, and Joseph Craig of Patapsco Research Group.  Each of these instructors really have become pillars in the DNN community through their participation and subject matter experts, so it is no wonder that all of the 50+ training attendees unanimously loved the training event!

Clark Ruhland and Will Strohl at Southern Fried DNN 2013

If you missed training, not only did you miss leapfrogging yourself into a new state of DNN knowledge, but you also missed the chance of winning a free year of unlimited online training.  The lucky winner of this prize was Clark Ruhland of the City of Salem – who happens to be a Professional Edition subscriber.

Keynote

The keynote speech was given by yours truly… Something that I had never before done.  For some very odd reason, I didn’t get nervous about it at all.  It is several days later now and I still don’t know how to feel about it just yet.  I have seen numerous keynotes at this point of my life and they all have been different and had their own spin and style on this kind of prestigious presentation.  Being a self-proclaimed presentation expert myself, I took this responsibility seriously from day one.  So much so that it did rob me of some community networking time that I normally enjoy at this kind of events.

Will Strohl giving the keynote speech at Southern Fried DNN 2013

I decided to re-focus the keynote towards the community.  You see, we have literally over a million people in the DotNetNuke community.  This is awesome, but where’s all of the activity?  There are more than enough downloads for example, but it seems that the only time most people pop-up is when they want support.  But where’s their new forge projects, new skins, blogs, forum posts, user groups, and other activity?  Probably about 98-99% of the ecosystem use and benefit from the Community Edition of DNN – which is perfectly fine.  However, if we are to thrive as a community and ecosystem, we need more than just downloads and a commercial product.  We need the community to participate.

In the keynote, I gave numerous examples of how participate can take place, including: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, forums, blog, create videos, create projects, join/run a user group, speak at user groups & code camps, update the wiki, or recruit another community member.  You don’t need to be a programmer to participate.  You just need to find out where you can help.  It can be to help an open source DNN project get documentation or make it pretty.  Find your niche and participate how ever much you can – even if it’s 10 minutes here and there.  Heck, you could just be taking pictures at events for everyone if that’s what you like to do.  :)

Sessions

Lunch at Southern Fried DNN 2013 (with Chris Hammond photo bombing)There were 25 sessions in total by 18 speakers.  The sessions ranged from simple administration and general web practices to some very advanced topics, but there were also some fun ones such as Chris Paterra’s Sharks with Laser Beams where he demonstrated how he built an interactive game on DNN Social that allows website visitors to participate in the game to earn points and achievements such as badged using the Gaming Mechanics API.  He even took it a step further and wrote a quick game that emulated the whack a mole concept using DotNetNuke founder Shaun Walker as the mole! 

Lunch

What can I say about lunch, but that it was delicious!  I was told by some people that the meal was better than some of the area restaurants.  We had some delicious fried chicken, corn, corn bread, green beans, mashed potatoes and gravy, cole slaw, and hot sauce!  And who can forget the sweet tea (or was it syrup)?  Hehehe…

Ignite Sessions

Ever since the organizers introduced Ignite to the DNN community last year, it has become an incredible hit… And something I hope to become a staple at all DNN events in the future.  Ignite sessions are 5 minute presentations where the speaker needs to be concise and quick to get an idea across to the audience.  Like last year, Ignite was hosted again by Gifford Watkins and the speakers that participated in Ignite this year included: Cara Pluff of Applied Innovations, Dan Thyer of Logical Advantage, and Jeff Hardy of PowerDNN.

DNN MVP’s

When it comes to participation in the DNN community, one of the ways you can get rewarded is by being nominated and voted in as a DNN MVP.  There were 11 new MVP’s announced by DNN Corp Community Director and co-founder, Scott Willhite.  Those that were in attendance include: Allen Foster, Gifford Watkins, Robb Bryn, and Chris Hammond.  While two of these folks are co-organizers of this event, all inductees are more than deserving of this prestigious title and I thank all of you for your participation in the DNN community.  Congrats to all of the MVP’s!

Scott Willhite with: Allen Foster, Gifford Watkins, Robb Bryn, and Chris Hammond

DNN After Dark

I’ve said it many times before, the DNN community is my family and this family loves to party!  Er, I mean network.  Hahaha… 

The best things I have seen come from any community event seem to all come from the networking aspect of the event, and DNN After Dark is all about networking.  There’s a ton of connections and opportunities that seem to spring up over a beverage and plate of food.  This year the organizers figured, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”  So DNN After Dark was held at Whiskey River again where we enjoyed Carolina style BBQ, drinks, and mechanical bull riding, all sponsored by PowerDNN

Whether you’re a trainer, organizer, speaker, or attendee, I can think of no better picture to sum up the event…  Here’s Clint Patterson enjoying a nap at the after party…  Until next time!  See my next blog post to find out about the next event!

Clint Patterson relishing the fact that Day of DotNetNuke is over!

Additional Southern Fried Articles

Here are some other re-caps and information about the event that I saw while writing my own.  Check them out!

My Twitter Updates

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