Whether you're a web developer, graphic designer or even a database administrator, having the sheer confidence that you can implement requests and develop applications quickly and efficiently is a priceless reward. I'm going to teach you how to build web apps with DNN and XMod Pro by walking you through a complete application from start to finish!

Personal Reflection

I started using DotNetNuke in 2004. This was my first experience with a CMS (Content Management System) and I was amazed at how much I could accomplish. With user accounts, roles, security settings and more already baked into the core, building a website was super easy! I knew then it was time to start a small web shop!

I looked like a Webmaster guru to existing and potential clients, giving them the ability to manage their own content. My pitch was simple:

I can build you a website that allows you to have complete control over your content. If you know how to use Microsoft Word, you'll have no problems. You'll have the ability to create private pages, specify which content on a page can be viewed by John Doe, along with a plethora of features.

I can specifically recall showing off the recycle bin to one client. They were astonished. But truth be told, I wasn't even close to web developer status, and I had practically no idea what I was doing. I knew the basics of HTML, CSS, JavaScript, but not how a website worked behind the scenes. I had a hosting company that would install DNN for me, provide me with the host/admin credentials, and the rest was littering the site with hundreds of HTML/Text modules.

With my toes breaking out of my newbie shoes, it wasn't long until I craved to know more. I got frustrated with the HTML Editor, finding myself in source view more and more. I was the master at copy, paste, tweak, test, until I somehow managed to achieve the desired result. If a client needed an employee directory, I'd purchase a module and install it. If they needed a contact form, I'd purchase XMod and install it. There were so many options to choose from on the DNN Store, that I could pretty much offer anything to my clients.

As time passed I found myself in big trouble. Clients began requesting changes or additional features that sent me back to the 3rd party developer of the module. This is a dangerous situation, relying on multiple vendors to sustain a happy client. Some vendors simply vanished; leaving me with a module that couldn't be upgraded to the latest DNN framework, whereas some requested outrageous fees that I had to pass along to my clients. Some modules had ferocious bugs, which reflected poorly on me as a web shop. In short, my confidence as a Webmaster guru quickly evaporated. I knew I'd have to make some big changes to survive.

  1. I realized I could no longer rely on multiple 3rd party vendors.
  2. I needed to learn how to build my own modules.
  3. I had to eat some "humble pie" and admit I wasn't a Webmaster guru—at least not yet.

Off I went, punishing Google with thousands of queries about building modules, understanding web development, learning HTML, CSS, JavaScript and so on. Module development had such a massive learning curve that it scared me to death. I felt hopelessly lost. Then I Discovered XMod Pro. XMod Pro served as my silent tutor. It enabled me to build solutions quickly, which gave me increasing confidence to push further, taking my knowledge of web development to the next level. Essentially, XMod Pro was teaching me how to program and I didn't even realize it.

I now laugh at any request a client sends my way, am considered one of the experts in the XMod Pro community, and am now building custom module solutions, plugins and more with server side programming. HTML is a breeze, Javascript is a breeze, is a breeze, and honestly at this point I can confidently claim developer status. I have complete control over my code and never again have to worry about other vendors, upgradeability, feature requests and more!

Why DNN (DotNetNuke)


DNN (formerly DotNetNuke) provides a suite of solutions for creating rich, rewarding online experiences for customers, partners and employees. DNN products and technology are the foundation for 750,000+ websites worldwide.

Aside from the previous statement from DNN Corporation, DNN is easy to use, has a rich set of features built in, and takes care of the initial heavy lifting so you can focus on building.

Why XMod Pro

Throughout this book you'll discover many reasons why we're using XMod Pro. In a nutshell, XMod Pro is a development tool. It is not simply a "form builder", although it makes building DNN forms quite simple. It is not a "reporting tool" or "data grid", though you can create those with relative ease. XMod Pro is all of these things and more. With it you can extend or completely replace other 3rd party modules, build custom tools to manage your website, provide your users with RSS feeds or downloadable spreadsheets, and just about anything you can imagine. But more importantly, XMod Pro allows you to get started fast, generate immediate results and later tweak, modify, or revamp your solutions as you learn more about HTML, CSS, JavaScript and SQL. In other words, it doesn't limit you to some developer's "vision" of what your user interface should look like or what data you can track.

Why This Book

I understand all too well the daunting feeling of a learning curve. Although XMod Pro's learning curve is minimal compared to most, my goal is to make it not only easier, but a joyous journey for you. Taking years of experience derived from trial and error, Discover XMod Pro delivers an easily digestible, iron-tested, step-by-step walk-through that will teach you how to build a web application from scratch. You'll find no dark corners, areas of confusion or misinterpretation. By completing just a handful of chapters, you'll have a solid working knowledge of XMod Pro and will be able to create custom module solutions with ease. By the end of this book you'll have an expert working knowledge of XMod Pro and will be able to build virtually any solution you or your clients can dream up.

How To Use This Book

Chapters are structured in such a way that will expedite the development of your application. Deep-Dives are optional, which provide a more technical explanation of particular features or advanced use-case scenarios. You may decide to read the deep-dive sections immediately, or start with just the chapters and then go back to those sections the second time around. How you utilize this book is up to you! Also, you'll see two icons at the top left of your page. You can access the chapter list and your bookmarks from there. Clicking the next to section headers will save the section in your bookmarks!

Please also note that the chapters, bookmarks and comments buttons will not display on smaller mobile devices such as phones. I may implement an alternative solution for this later, but for now I'm focusing on content.

What We'll Be Building

We'll be building a simple yet robust classifieds application that will allow end users the ability to post Ads. You'll learn how to create an administrative interface to manage sellers and Ads on your site, and we'll even break away from DNN Core messaging and create our own solution that will resemble iOS messaging. Nearly all of the features of XMod Pro will be covered, enabling you to easily adapt what you've learned into your other projects!

Getting Help

You can email us anytime at We can provide basic support for free as long as it fits within the boundaries of the lessons in the book.

Hooray! You've completed Chapter 1 - Introduction

Share your progress with your friends!