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Integrating Active Social with DotNetNuke

by Will Morgenweck on 24 Mar 2011 11:38 AM

Active Social isn’t your typical module.  When you take a closer look at the primary functional areas you will see 12 different modules.  Some of those modules overlap with core modules that already exist.  Some of those modules can also provide enhanced functionality, but don’t follow typical DotNetNuke module behavior.  A good example of this is progressive registration.  Progressive registration provides much better results for new user acquisition.  Anyone that has used Active Social and configured progressive registration knows full well that it isn’t a simple task.  

As I’ve mentioned before, all existing Active Social functionality will be available as part of DotNetNuke Community Edition.  At this time, Active Social integration is planned to be available later this year with DotNetNuke 6.1.  Keep in mind this is subject to change, but I will be blogging on a fairly frequent basis to keep everyone up to date.  

I’m sure some of you would like to know more specifics as to how features will be integrated and what the upgrade procedure will involve.  Our goal is not to just drop Active Social into DotNetNuke and call it a day.  There are many technical aspects that need to be identified, reviewed and evaluated.   There will be some aspects that do not make sense to be integrated.  Instead, we may choose to enhance an existing Core module or expose an API for better integration for third-party developers.  Two items that immediately come to mind where this could apply are Gallery and Events.  I’m not saying that is going to happen, but it is an example of functionality that can be better executed in another module.  

The last thing I want to do is write another blog post that doesn’t help alleviate the uncertainty that some customers have expressed.  I think it is important that we at least provide our customers with a list of items that we are working to address as part of the integration.  Again, we are still working on specifics but the list below represents a high level overview of the key functional areas that will be integrated.  

Registration – Active Social provides an alternative registration process that isn’t currently supported in DotNetNuke.  In addition, the Active Social registration process is template based for easy customization.  We are planning to enhance the current DotNetNuke registration process along with the module to meet these needs.

Login – The DotNetNuke login module supports multiple authentication providers, but is not easily customized.  We are planning to make enhancements to the login module so that it is template based.

Profile – The Active Social Profile view is a template control that allows for various levels of customization.  A more flexible and manageable solution is to leverage the benefit of modules.  This means you will be able to have specific profile view skin and add multiple “profile aware” modules to the page.
  
Members – DotNetNuke doesn't currently provide a mechanism for searching or browsing of members beyond the admin level.  A module will be available for this purpose, but the technical implementation is still being evaluated.

Groups – Since the first release of Active Social there has been confusion regarding the purpose of groups versus roles.  We don’t want this confusion to carry over into the core framework.  We have a solution that will leverage existing capabilities in the framework and also provide the opportunity for extensibility in the future.

Messaging – The Active Social Messaging and Notification systems will be enhanced and replace the current core messaging module.  

Journal/Activity Feed – This is the heart of any social collaboration platform.  This will also be included in the core as an API along with a series of controls for displaying information.  We also realize that it is important that the Journal provide the necessary tools and documentation for greater adoption by third-party developers.    

Obviously I haven’t mentioned every single aspect of Active Social.  That doesn’t mean we have forgotten something or that it is going into DotNetNuke Professional.  We have a lot of work to do over the next few months and we will deliver a great solution.

Next week we will release Active Social 1.9.3 which addresses a few issues that have been identified over the past couple weeks.  We are also planning to have at least one feature release between now and the release of DotNetNuke 6.1.  More details about Active Social 2.0 will be available shortly.    

    23 Comments for Integrating Active Social with DotNetNuke

    Jeff Blanks
    Jeff Blanks
    24 Mar 2011 12:20 PM

    Will AS group funtionality be independent of AF? IE: I do a core upgrade, but I still want to retain my current AF install and retain its current functionality with groups and the journal. Or will AF also need to be updated?

    Thanks for the update!
    Steven Webster
    Steven Webster
    24 Mar 2011 01:21 PM
    www.overlooktechnologies.com
    This means you will be able to have specific profile view skin and add multiple “profile aware” modules to the page.


    Awesome. Are you planning the same for groups?
    Will Morgenweck
    Will Morgenweck
    24 Mar 2011 02:44 PM
    www.activemodules.com
    @Jeff Yes, the new forum module(derived from Active Forums) will be independent. It will work with Active Social just like other third-party modules.

    @Steven that is one of the items being discussed.
    Cliff Hammock
    Cliff Hammock
    24 Mar 2011 03:21 PM

    Thanks for the update Will. I am not able to wait for the integration to launch my site. I have too much invested to put it on hold. So I am most interested in to learn more about AS 2.0 so that I can decide if it will be the version that I should plan to use as my launch version. In general, will AS 2.0 be to tie up loose ends and issues with the current model, or will you be moving towards the integration already? I look forward to the follow up blog to learn more.
    Greg Brown
    Greg Brown
    24 Mar 2011 03:38 PM

    Thanks for the clarifications and updates Will!!
    Steven Webster
    Steven Webster
    25 Mar 2011 12:31 PM
    www.overlooktechnologies.com
    Steven that is one of the items being discussed.


    Good, would it help if I begged? The idea of opening up group access through roles means there are so many more possibilities than before for integration, features, etc. Perhaps leveraging more of the core concepts from tabs, skins, modules etc. I keep thinking about Ning and how you can create anything, skin it, add tabs, features, etc. Conceptually with ideas like this it could finally be possible within ADD/AS. Just add portal alias support at the group level....too much? T
    pmille
    pmille
    25 Mar 2011 01:14 PM

    Hi everyone - pls let me know if there's a better place to post this. We are considering using AS for our site and from what I've read it will become part of the core some point in 2011. We've completed a fair amount of work on our site - and waiting until the fall may not be feasible. How likely is it that a licensed, off the shelf AS module purchased this month would be compatible with the version integrated into DNN? In other words, if we launched our business on the community edition with AS enterprise...and later wanted to purchase DNN Pro after the AS integration - are there measures being taken to protect this upgrade path?
    SilverSurfer
    SilverSurfer
    27 Mar 2011 02:03 PM

    Will, for me as a customer the issue isn't about how Active Social will integrate into the core. It's that Active Social will one day have some features that will not be part of CE, but will be part of PE.

    Which means in order to use them, we will have to pay for PE. That is my #1 concern. It's about starting a site with a piece of software that you believe will cost you around X dollars per year, but then ends up costing you a lot more. I'm sure you can agree that $99 per year is a lot less than $2,500 per year.

    This is the unknown many of us are faced with right now which is affecting whether we want to now use AS for our sites.

    For me personally I'm more interested in knowing what parts of AS will be in PE, but not in CE, not the other way around. And how DNN plans on profiting from the purchase of your company, because that will effect how the development of the software takes place.

    It stands to reason that in order to recoup their investment, they will have to develop a lot of stuff that will end up costing more than it currently does, and that has a direct effect on us.

    BTW In regards to this I notice that you can't even get the prices of the various DNN versions these days without filling out an inquiry form on their site. I personally don't like this approach because it seems to lack transparency.
    Will Morgenweck
    Will Morgenweck
    28 Mar 2011 09:28 AM
    www.activemodules.com
    @pmille Very good questions. We are making sure that every customer has an upgrade path. There is no reason not start using Active Social now. If you do choose Active Social Enterprise, not only will you receive support now, but you will also have access to support for the upgrade process.

    Will Morgenweck
    Will Morgenweck
    28 Mar 2011 09:38 AM
    www.activemodules.com
    @SilverSurfer
    Will, for me as a customer the issue isn't about how Active Social will integrate into the core. It's that Active Social will one day have some features that will not be part of CE, but will be part of PE.

    Which means in order to use them, we will have to pay for PE. That is my #1 concern. It's about starting a site with a piece of software that you believe will cost you around X dollars per year, but then ends up costing you a lot more. I'm sure you can agree that $99 per year is a lot less than $2,500 per year.

    This is the unknown many of us are faced with right now which is affecting whether we want to now use AS for our sites.

    I'm not sure how else I can address this concern. As I've stated in previous posts, nothing is planned for PE at this time. All Active Social functionality is going into the core framework. Yes, at some point we may come up with a new feature that is only going into DNN PE, but nothing is planned at this time.

    For me personally I'm more interested in knowing what parts of AS will be in PE, but not in CE, not the other way around. And how DNN plans on profiting from the purchase of your company, because that will effect how the development of the software takes place.

    Again, in regard to Active Social, everything that we have will be in CE.

    It stands to reason that in order to recoup their investment, they will have to develop a lot of stuff that will end up costing more than it currently does, and that has a direct effect on us.

    One thing that helped with my decision about this acquisition was that DNN Corp wasn't looking at how they could recoup their investment. They looked at this acquisition as an investment in the core platform. Competing platforms had a lot of the features that Active Social provides. DNN Corp needed to build these features in house, which would take time or acquire existing IP and get to market faster. This was an acquisition to boost the entire platform.
    elindydotcom
    elindydotcom
    28 Mar 2011 11:01 AM

    Will:

    Thanks very much for the above post. That makes me feel a LOT better about investing in AS development and purchasing new AS enterprise licenses.

    -eLindy
    brian
    brian
    28 Mar 2011 02:14 PM

    Since it will be in core, that means AS will be Open Source come 6.1 (approx)?
    NFXBeats
    NFXBeats
    31 Mar 2011 12:10 PM

    One thing that you might want to consider is a user lookup control. There so many places that one might need to look up a user (PM, assigning forum rights, etc) and a clean, fast, reusable control to do this would go a long way for the AM products line and beyond.

    A few questions:

    1) When the AF code starts to be placed into DNN, will it be full featured? ie. will we be able to transition to it and not lose features?

    2) when AF/AS starts to go into DNN, will it use the existing database or do we need some sort of migration procedure?
    Will Morgenweck
    Will Morgenweck
    31 Mar 2011 01:41 PM
    www.activemodules.com
    One thing that you might want to consider is a user lookup control. There so many places that one might need to look up a user (PM, assigning forum rights, etc) and a clean, fast, reusable control to do this would go a long way for the AM products line and beyond.

    Good idea and Active Social does have this capability already. Which means this would be one of the items that does become a core control.

    1) When the AF code starts to be placed into DNN, will it be full featured?

    Just to be clear, AF code isn't technically going into DNN. It will still be a module and full featured.

    will we be able to transition to it and not lose features?

    You will probably gain a few features actually. The only thing to be removed is the Mail Connector.

    2) when AF/AS starts to go into DNN, will it use the existing database or do we need some sort of migration procedure?

    It will use the existing database, but there will be new database objects where data is stored. This means there will be a need for a data migration/upgrade path.
    Frozen DNN
    Frozen DNN
    31 Mar 2011 03:47 PM

    will we be able to transition to it and not lose features?

    You will probably gain a few features actually. The only thing to be removed is the Mail Connector.


    What if I do not want to lose the Mail Connector? What are my options other than upgrading DNN to Pro?

    Just not upgrade my website to DNN 6?
    Will Morgenweck
    Will Morgenweck
    31 Mar 2011 03:49 PM
    www.activemodules.com
    Again, since it will be a new module, you could upgrade to DNN 6.x and just keep using your existing version of Active Forums. We will make sure Active Forums works with DNN 6.0 and 6.1.
    Frozen DNN
    Frozen DNN
    31 Mar 2011 04:17 PM

    Thank you! That's all I wanted to know.
    Cliff Hammock
    Cliff Hammock
    03 Apr 2011 08:05 PM

    Prior to the acquisition there was much discussion from AM about major focus on improving Groups and the Administration of Groups. Is any of that capability coming to fruition in a near term release? Are any new updates coming on what will be done in the Feature Release that is supposed to happen before DNN 6? I see that some of this is slated for v2.0.0, but I can see the potential for that to not come out until 4th quarter 2011, which would mean almost a year between promoting some of these major improvements (and putting them in the Task Tracker) and their actual inclusion in a release.

    Also will there be any point releases to address any of the currently identified issues? I see a lot of possible issues showing up here on the site summary. I know some of that is just related to improper settings, etc. but not all of them. So it would be nice to know if 1.9.3 is a near term release.

    Thanks for any updates you have.
    Interzoic Media
    Interzoic Media
    05 Apr 2011 10:06 AM

    Hi Will,

    Thank you very much for the clarifications. I think this is a great move and will benefit the entire community. I support you and DNN and am exited about the roadmap you've laid out.

    Since the first release of Active Social there has been confusion regarding the purpose of groups versus roles.


    The idea of opening up group access through roles means there are so many more possibilities than before for integration, features, etc.


    We sell a Learning Management System and want more seamless integration with AS. This would require group assignment/drop via roles. This is still the A-#1 question my government and corporate clients have concerning AS. I had some frustration in the months leading up to the AM sale, I now realize that you were not in a position to discuss some of the questions I was asking. Can you now give me more clarity (and a delivery time line) for group/role association so that I can manage my client's questions and expectations. For some of them I have had to say "I have no idea" for the last 9 months. Some canceled plans for AS, others are anxious and the others discouraged. I'll be buying another license this week and need to give my clients a clear answer.

    Thanks,
    Chris
    Will Morgenweck
    Will Morgenweck
    05 Apr 2011 11:48 PM
    www.activemodules.com
    @Cliff We will continue to have point releases as needed. If we have an urgent need for a point release for Active Social tomorrow then we will have a point release tomorrow. I am still 100% in control of how that is handled and that also includes Active Social 2.0. Just to clarify, I'm not sure exactly when 2.0 will ship as I'm still defining the actual scope. I would like for it to be around the same time frame as DNN 6.0.

    @Chris Thank you for understanding. It was very tough for me to not answer those questions at that time.
    Can you now give me more clarity (and a delivery time line) for group/role association so that I can manage my client's questions and expectations.

    The only answer I have for this right now is that it will be part of DNN 6.1 which is scheduled for Q4. As far as the actual solution, we are still working out the details. I would very much just like to see a group being tied directly to a role, but there are many technical aspects that need to be addressed in order to make this happen. One thing we are doing right now is expanding our API. This could create some opportunities for managing group/role associations with a custom solution. We may actually have some of the Group API enhancements in 1.9.3, but I'll need to double check.
    Steven Webster
    Steven Webster
    06 Apr 2011 01:09 PM
    www.overlooktechnologies.com
    I'm a big fan of tighter group/role integration. It seems to make so many other things easier.
    Steven Webster
    Steven Webster
    06 Apr 2011 01:13 PM
    www.overlooktechnologies.com
    Will, are one way friends still planned for 1.9.3?
    Matt M
    Matt M
    10 May 2011 06:11 PM

    I would be keen to see the ability to retain the Mail Connector in future versions of AF, without needing to go to Pro - since we don't have the budget Equally, we want to stay up to date with AF. Maybe this could be a 'previous customers only' license which simply retains the existing functionality, with no new features. We could be issued a key accordingly that would work for future versions.

    I know Will is looking to ensure customers aren't disadvantaged, so I am optimistic on this being looked after in a way that's fair. Nonetheless, it doesn't hurt to mention it.
    test
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