Will "the Mighty" Strohl

Social Networking DNN Module Suites: 300-Level Comparison

There are two well-known module suites for the DotNetNuke® web application framework.  First, there is the SmartSocial offering by Smart-Thinker, and then there’s the Active Social offering by Active Modules.  We are going to briefly compare the two right now.

Before I begin, please know that I have not been compensated in any way, and do not have any affiliation with either module suite, or their respective owner(s).

Smart-Thinker: SmartSocial

Smart-Thinker is a company and website run solely by Rodney Joyce, who is also known for PokerDIY.com.  In fact, his modules were originally written for his poker site.  He released these modules to the public as a commercial product.  At this time, I do not remember the price for the individual modules, but they each had to be purchased separately.  Now they are all offered for free, and are open source.  This is very important to me for any module.  I love having source code to build, and implement custom business logic into.

I was happy to find that these modules are built to work on DotNetNuke® version 4.06.02 and higher.  This is no longer an issue for me, but the site I was considering putting the modules on was running that version at the time.  It has since been upgraded. 

Upon installing the modules, I had no issues at all.  There were no errors on the installation log, or in the Event Viewer.  I am the type of person that, when it comes to modules, I do not like reading the documentation until after I have tried to run the module and explored its features and settings.  This presented a HUGE problem with this module suite.  Why?  Well, once installed, this module suite becomes a 21 installed modules, or module views.  When you look at the list of modules to choose from in your module drop down list, it is overwhelming to say the least.

Smart-Thinker: Module Listing

I don’t know about you, but my time is worth money.  Every moment that I do not spend working on some that is going to give me a quick turn around is wasted time, and wasted money.  I tried dropping one of the modules on to the page, and gave up.  I went on the Smart-Thinker website to look for documentation, and didn’t find anything.  Instead, I found a document that was put together by a Smart-Thinker customer.  While it was a great document, it did not help me get through the set-up of the module suite any faster.

I ended up giving up on this module suite after a while.  It is simply too difficult to get all of the modules on pages where they need to be.

Active Modules: Active Social

Unlike SmartSocial, Active Social was very easy to install and configure, and it is not free at $$$.  However, they do have a very well-written document that gets you started with the suite.  From my testing, I do not think I would have really needed it.  Once you figure out the key to their “views” that are switched in the module settings, the rest is easy.  I did use the documentation though.  It was written in a way that was easy to understand, and easily followed for those who are like me and are always in a rush.  Following the documentation, I literally had a social site up and running within 30 minutes.

The Active Social suite already has most of the feature that any social network implementation would need.  I did find a few bugs and reported them immediately.  They were not show stoppers by any means though.  The suite has many points of customization, allowing you to easily change the way the module suite works for your visitors, and quite possibly making two different sites function completely differently.

I have met Will Morgenweck at the Day of DotNetNuke® not long ago.  Will impressed me when I spoke to him about his module suite.  His current road map is aggressive, and it has all of the features that I was looking for that I didn’t find during my demo.  Everything that I am looking for should be in the module suite in the next 2 months.

The Bottom Line

If you want a high-quality module suite for your online social network, and you have time to waste, the SmartSocial module suite can do the job.  If you want a social networking website and time is precious to you, then Active Social is for you.  Sure, you’ll spend a little money buying the module suite, but at least you will have a fast, reliable, and stable module.

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