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

DNN Hangout - February 2015 - Discussing the DNN 7.4 Release

DNN Hangout - Discussing the DNN 7.4 Release

With DNN 7.4 coming out on our scheduled broadcast of this month’s DNN Hangout, it only made sense for us to switch things around and talk about the release.  There are several nuggets of goodness that the community will enjoy in 7.4.  We spent this entire DNN Hangout talking about what went into the latest DNN release and what it means to you.

A DNN Hangout wouldn’t be a hangout if we weren’t hanging out with at least one guest.  This time, we invited Francesco Rivola from DNN Corp and Brian Dukes of Engage Software.  Francesco is one of the masterminds behind the new workflow API that’s available to all extensions in the community.  He even goes as far as showing up some code samples and gives examples of how we might want to use it for our own extensions.

Want to Be on the Show?

We are always looking for new people to be features on the show.  Please let me know in the comments of via email if you’d like to be on the DNN Hangout.

Next Episode

Jared Shockley was supposed to speak this month, but luckily he was flexible to move his episode to next month.  We can look forward to speaking to Jared next month about DNN and Azure.  He promises to speak to us about how to leverage the various Azure services in your own applications. Tune in on March 4, 2015 at 12:00 PM (PST).

Site of the Month

Unfortunately, I had to join the hangout late this month.  We’ll highlight this again next month.

DNN Hangout

Show Notes

There aren’t a ton of resources this month due to us not following our standard format.  You’ll see that return to normal next month.

DNN Hangout - January 2014 - Beautiful DNN Sites & SaaS in DNN

DNN Hangout with Inno Software (Aaron & Dylan Lopez)

One of my favorite things about the DNN community is meeting new people and learning about what they’re doing with DNN.  I first stumbled across Aaron Lopez a few years ago when he submitted himself for the first DNN Super Fan Contest.  Unfortunately, he didn’t win, but his entry was good enough for me to remember who he was.  Since then, he has been contributing to the DNN community a lot through twitter.  Perhaps other places as well, but that’s where I see him.  One day, he announced a new site that their company released and I couldn’t tell it was DNN.  I had to learn more.  This led to him publishing a blog on the topic and then he and his brother volunteered to come on the show to talk about some of the things they’ve learned with DNN. 

I didn’t know much about Aaron Lopez and his brother Dylan, but we got to know them pretty well for the short time that we interviewed them.  Their story of how they found and then standardized on DNN was pretty interesting.  This was our first time having more than one guest on at once, and it seemed to go pretty well.

Next Episode

Jared Shockley will be talking to us about using DNN with Microsoft Azure.  This should be a cool episode! 

By the way, if you want to be on the show, drop me a line at will.strohl@gmail.com, on twitter @WillStrohl, or in the comments below.

Site of the Month

We didn’t have a website submission to feature in this month’s showcase.  If you want us to showcase your site, please let me know.

DNN Hangout

You’ll find this month’s hangout recording below, with show notes to follow.  Enjoy!

Show Notes

Forge Releases

DNN Store Releases

Top DNN Themes for 2014

  1. Porto Responsive theme by Mandeeps
  2. Responsive Theme 033 by DNNGo
  3. Generic Responsive Theme by Websites Creative
  4. Responsive Theme 029
  5. Responsive Theme 045
  6. EDS Theme Collection & Modules 

Top DNN Modules for 2014

  1. EasyDNNNews
  2. Hotcakes Commerce
  3. EasyDNNGallery
  4. Dynamic Forms by Data Springs
  5. Action Form by DNN Sharp
  6. Data Springs Collection by Data Springs

DNNHangout - December 2014 - Page Templates & How to Streamline Content Setup

DNNHangout: Interview with Aderson Oliveira & Learn about DNN templates

As one of the more prominent producers of DNN video content, it seemed only logical that we should invite Aderson Oliveira of DNNHero to come and speak to us.  He instantly suggested that we speak about templates in DNN and how they can be used to streamline content creation.  As a huge fan of templates myself, I was excited about his presentation immediately.  Not only did he not disappoint, but he covered nearly every aspect on this topic.  So much so, that Joe and I really didn’t have any questions – and neither did our audience!

In short, templates in DNN allow you to create reusable content to help create new content on the same or other sites.  This feature is quite useful.  Probably the only scenario we didn’t talk about was one that I ran into recently with a website.  I was given a site backup to put onto a production server.  Unfortunately, the production server was SQL Server version 2008, and I had a 2012 backup.  You may already know this yourself, but for those that don’t, you can’t do anything with this.  You are stuck unless you have the ability to upgrade the production server.  So, what I did instead was this…

  1. Restored the site backup locally on my computer. 
  2. Created a site template.
  3. Created a fresh installation on the production server.
  4. Ensured that the production server had all of the same extensions (and versions).
  5. Used the Admin > Site Wizard feature to apply the original site.

You see… I used the site template feature as a tool to migrate a brand new website! 

Anyhow, we got to know Aderson pretty well.  We began the interview with a tutorial on how to say his name, and found out how he found DNN.  From there, we went into DNNHero and got the low-down on what the future holds for this great resource.  See for yourself, with the show notes below.

Presentation: DNN Database Tips and Tricks

Hotcakes Commerce Presents: DNN Database Tips & Tricks

If you’re arriving to this blog for the first time, you may not know that I’ve been working with DNN nearly since it was released.  That’s well over 10 years of managing DNN sites of various sizes, purposes, and deployments.  This experience has ranged from businesses that run on the platform, to running subsets of an organizations web properties on it, and more.  During my consulting days, I saw all kinds of DNN sites.  This wide range of challenges has resulted in learning a large number of things – including how to leverage SQL Server to solve problems in a creative way.  That’s what this session was about.

One could spend all day long discussion this topic, but I only had about an hour.  So, I chose the following topics in this area:

  • Clear Space – How to reduce the amount of space that some tables take up in your database.
  • Change DBO Role Owner – Sometimes, you can’t use a desired username in your database because it is the same as where it came from.
  • Change or Replace Themes – There are cases when you need to either fix skin assignments from administrators, or roll out a new theme.
  • Database Object Sizes – Running a query to determine what database objects are too large.
  • Take Over a Site Locally – Automating the task of preparing an inherited site to be used in support or development environments.

We also had time to delve into another topic…  Wiping out the entire database using SQL scripts, instead of deleting the database and creating a new one.  This has come in handy for me when managing a DNN site in shared hosting environments on multiple occasions.

David Poindexter recorded the meeting, so keep an eye on the @QCDUG twitter account if you want to watch it.  I am sure they’ll make an announcement when it’s ready.  In the meantime, the slide deck and SQL scripts we went over a linked below.  Enjoy!

Download the Presentation

Download the SQL Scripts

DNNCon Presentation: Easily Build Customized E-Commerce in DNN Featuring Hotcakes Commerce

Hotcakes Commerce Swag at DNNCon 2014

The past few weeks have been a blur for us here at Hotcakes Commerce for quite a few reasons… We were highly involved at DNNCon Palm Beach 2014. This is the third consecutive DNN event that we’ve sponsored and attended. We not only sponsored this time, but we also co-organized, provided a training track, presented 2 sessions, and emceed the event. It’s always great to participate with the DNN community and this time we took it to a whole new level.

A General Wrap Up

Overall, the trend seems to continue. DNNCon Palm Beach 2014 was the most fun and successful one yet. Registration and attendance records were yet again broken. Half the attendees raised their hands when asked if this was their first DNNCon event. Sponsorship was at an all-time high both in terms of donations, as well as vendors in booths at the event itself. There were attendees from as far away as Nigeria and Singapore. Place of Hope had a higher donation than last year. Let’s also not forget that there were also more rum cakes at this DNNCon than ever before! (Thanks to Clint Patterson’s amazing mother!)

Place of Hope Charity gets a donation

If you attended, you definitely felt the vibe and had a great time – from the ice cream social, to the closing ceremony prizes – it was a great time had by all and we got to learn a lot at the same time.

Our Session

I gave a session about Hotcakes to show just how easy it is to begin building an e-commerce website with our product. We can’t say that enough… We make things easy. For everyone. This isn’t very true both within and outside of the DNN ecosystem.

I first gave everyone an overview of what Hotcakes is and why it exists. I then spoke about how we’re not just another vendor. We are a real company, with a real team, and our only focus is e-commerce. From there, I dove into how easy designers can customize the look and feel of Hotcakes using contemporary web standards. We had a ton of great questions, so we didn’t complete the final demo, but I think we got the point across.

You’ll find our presentation below, and a video of this presentation should be available on the DNNCon website in another week or two.

Download the Presentation | Free Trial of Hotcakes

Thank You

As a company and a product, we of course participate with one of the goals being to market ourselves and maybe get a few sales out of it at the same time. This is the same for all sponsors.

We just want to thank the overwhelming number of people that were doing our job for us. We definitely felt the love. Not only did we hear people talking about us in general, but Tony Carter (Carter Solutions) gave a great session that included Hotcakes, and Cassidi Brickner (10 Pound Gorilla) gave a session that was almost exclusively about Hotcakes. DNN Corp co-founder and VP of Technology gave us a few plugs during the keynote. The bottom line is this…

We very much appreciate the support you all have provided to us as we make e-commerce something you can do again in DNN. We are very excited to continue to make you proud and even take it to the next level next year.

This blog post is cross-posted from Hotcakes Commerce.

DNNCon Presentation – Flexible Project Setup for Teams and Complicated Applications

Flexible Project Set-Up for Teams and Complicated Applications

One of the sessions I presented at DNNCon Palm Beach 2014 was greatly inspired by all of you.  During my years consulting and then into my time training large companies at DNN Corp, I kept getting a common question, “how do I do this with large/enterprise teams?”  It’s way too easy to try and walk them through doing all of the hard work of trying work around the single-developer project architecture that you’re used to seeing in videos and wiki articles – but that’s not the answer they’re looking for.  If you have a complicated project and/or a team of 2 or more people working on code that’s all supposed to work together, there has to be a far simpler solution – and there is!

When you’re working with teams and/or have a requirement for a more flexible project set-up, you’re in luck.  DNN has had the tools that you need included with its source for quite some time.  With a bit of creativity, you too can put all of your projects into a single solution and never even think of checking in your website.  Oh yeah, we know you’ve done it.  No need for that mess anymore.

If you attended my training session the Friday before DNNCon, then you were lucky enough to build this together with me, hands-on!

The slide deck from my presentation is below.  A download link to an empty solution and a PDF version of the slide deck follow.

Download the Sample Solution | Download the PDF of the slide deck

A huge thanks goes out to Joe Brinkman.  Without his help, I wouldn’t have figured this all out on my own.

DNNHangout – November 2014 – Beautiful Content and Apps Featuring Daniel Mettler

Daniel Mettler of 2sic

I had the pleasure of meeting Daniel Mettler in Italy this past June.  He is quite easily one of the most interesting people I have ever met.  Once we began broadcasting the DNN Hangout shows, I could not wait to schedule Daniel for an interview, and while we had to wait for a while, Daniel did not disappoint with his interview and presentation.  He even performed his demo on his live 2 Sexy Content website.  During his interview, we learned about how 2sic became a company, killing pigs, spear fishing – oh, and we spoke about DNN as well! 

Featured Site of the Month

The featured site of the month this episode was Travel Gurus.  We actually planned to present them last month, but sadly we forgot to do so.  Travel Gurus has a great looking website and I was able to see them making great use of DNN extensions such as EasyDNNRotator and EasyDNNNews.


If you have a great looking DNN site, let us know in the comments below and maybe we’ll choose to highlight your site next month!

DNN Hangout

At this point, please enjoy the DNN Hangout and the show notes just below the video.  Also, we apologize for the sound quality.  As mentioned during the show, we had internet challenges since all of us were broadcasting from remote locations.

Show Notes

Here are some of the topics and extensions we discussed during the show.

As always, thank you for viewing and please let us know if you want to be part of the hangout, have any suggestions, or have a site that you want us to feature.  Just leave a comment below.

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
            return PortalController.GetCurrentPortalSettings().PortalId;

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

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


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.

My Twitter Updates

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