I have just been wowed by DotNetNuke (http://www.dotnetnuke.com/ ).
Our team is completing a web-based EDC ("Electronic Data Capture") application. EDC is used by the pharmaceutical industry to enable doctors to collect clinical trial data directly from their desktop PCs. (Traditionally, a doctor would fill out a paper form, fax it to our office, and then we would undertake a lengthy process of data entry and verification. Fun? No!) To round-out our application we were looking to add some document management, announcements, a simple discussion/blog forum, and possibly other tools to engage our physician community. Oh yes …we have no budget for this! And so I came across DotNetNuke (Hallelujah and sounds of angels singing).
DNN ("DotNetNuke") is an open-source portal based on the DotNet platform. It won't replace enterprise portals such as SharePoint, but if you are looking to make an entry into portals, intranets, CMS ("Content Management System"), or even your own website DNN will save you a LOT of time and a bucket of money. The skins are attractive, the core modules are good – occasionally great, and everything integrates nicely together. Best of all is the support from the user community. Development on DNN is very active and there are some exceptional third party modules ( http://www.dotnetnuke.com/Community/Modules/NonCoreModulesVersion34/tabid/794/Default.aspx ). Unfortunately there are many not-quite-ready-for-primetime modules and the module cataloging system is less than ideal. (Check out http://www.aspin.com/ or http://www.asp.net for other great ASP and ASP.NET resources – both sites happen to have much better cataloging systems.)
So in the end we were able to install and get DNN up and running in a couple of hours. Throw in a couple more hours and we had a prototype portal to support our new application. Our investment in DNN will run about 2~3 days effort, but our user experience will be far richer.
If you have looked at DNN (DotNetNuke) before, look again. Version 4 has recently been released and it looks slick. Start your tour here: http://www.dotnetnuke.com/guidedtour/PagesOverview.htmm
UPDATE: Aspin's website has been changed to Codango at http://www.codango.com.