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I am preparing the creation of a dot net user group. One of the step is to have a website to :

  • Exchange and discuss between members, using a forum (or just a mailing list?).
  • Share a common calendar
  • Have a survey ready for its opening (asking people what they are expecting)
  • Present activities to visitors
  • Be a showcase for encouraging people to come.
  • ...

As I am a SharePoint developper/trainer, my first thought was to use SharePoint. However, it is bad for forum, and customizing it (to make it a showcase) requires lot of work.

I looked over existing dot net groups. Lot of them are based on Dot net nuke. However, DNN seems a bit old-school. Am I right ?

Maybe a State of Art asp.net MVC application might be great. Using Orchard or Umbraco as a start might be a good solution. But they seem to lack community functionnalities...

If you were asked to create the Web site for a dot net user group, which framework/plateform/tool would you use ?

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why create a website when you can use meetup.com? The .NET User Group in my area uses it (as well as other programming User groups) –  Jetti May 2 '11 at 18:49
    
Hum. I don't know meetup.com. I will give it a try. Thx for the link. –  Goglue May 2 '11 at 18:54
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3 Answers

up vote 3 down vote accepted
+50

None of the above -- what you want is meetup.com or your local equivalent. Here is why:

  • long-term care and feeding -- who's going to pay for hosting? Who is going to manage the server/app/database/backups and all the other unglamorous but necessary things it takes to own a website?
  • features -- the online stuff is going to be adding features left and right to compete with other online beasts.
  • drive-by traffic -- if you are on your own dedicated site, you've got near zero chance of people stumbling upon your fledgling organization. Something like meetup will cross-pollinate a bit as folks looking for a tech meetup in your local might well find you.

So, don't build anything.

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The only drawback is that meetup.com is not your .net showcase application. However it is a great solution for organizing events, discussing, collaborating... I will see... –  Goglue May 2 '11 at 20:33
    
But is your usergroup about building showcase apps or getting together? Now, having a sandbox for members to show off apps in could make some sense . . . –  Wyatt Barnett May 2 '11 at 20:33
    
I wanted the WebSite of the usergroup to be a .net application. If the .net UG does not use .net for it's website, it may be a bit odd. But maybe I am wrong. –  Goglue May 2 '11 at 20:48
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In Tampa we have websites for the .net groups, meetup pages, and showcase pages. I think each accomplishes something different. For the most part I think the Meetup is best for running the group and a separate showcase site that can be linked to from the meetup site is the best combination. –  Chris Kluis May 4 '11 at 11:52
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DNN is definitely the largest .NET-based CMS out there, with a user group that casts a large shadow over all the others. Google will confirm this. It's not MVC-based, but it's large, powerful, and has a huge assortment of both out-of-the-box modules and purchasable modules (see snowcovered.com). Out of the box it will offer most of the functionality you need, and you'll be able to find free modules for most of what you want.

Orchard is a player to watch, but MSFT produced that project in a way that makes it seem like it was just a proof-of-concept. At the moment it's basically bleeding edge. I hope Orchard will become DNN's greatest competition (I'm a big fan of MVC), but it's early to hook your coach to that horse.

Umbraco is interesting, but with Orchard on the horizon and Umbraco not having delivered on their promise to switch to MVC... IMHO it will get crowded out by the other two.

It's up to you whether you want to bite off the challenge of maintaining your own site, but as you've pointed out there are good reasons to do it. Depending on the size of your town, there's a good chance someone else will step up to help with some of the setup and maintenance after you get it off the ground. Our town of 150K people has three different companies that specialize in DNN-based websites, two of which are very successful (our company is one); I'm sure you'll discover there's at least one in your town after you get the word out.

One word of caution: remember that using a free solution like meetup.com will most likely mean it's impossible to get your data out if you want to move to DNN or Orchard later. Every free, hosted tool is different, but being able to export your data is not the norm.

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DNN is still a solid .NET-based content management system. I have not used it for a serious project, but I have talked to people that have, and it has a high learning curve. So the effort to get off the ground would be high, but after that it would probably work well for you.

You can also take a look at Orchard. It is an up-and-comer in the .NET CMS space, and it seems to have gotten some traction on some bigger sites lately. I haven't used it so I can't comment on how it compares to DNN.

I agree that Sharepoint isn't a great fit. Sharepoint is good for a collaboration site for a small team of users. I don't think it is that great for a larger, public-facing site.

I strongly recommend not building a site from scratch. But it sounds like you were already not planning on doing that.

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