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I attended a DNN webinar today wherein the DotNetNuke (DNN) team offered a tantalizing glimpse into the new social features that will be part of DNN 6.2.  The new release is fittingly scheduled to drop on June 2nd (6/2 ... get it?) so we won't have to wait long.  These features have been hotly anticipated for some time now, so I'm glad that the DNN crew took time off from the CMS expo (taking place here in Chicago) to show off.  

Origins in Active Social

Once upon a time, these social features were the product of a 3rd-party DNN module called Active Social, produced by the development house, Active Modules.  DotNetNuke Corp. acquired Active Modules in Feb of 2011.  With this transaction, DNN picked up some fantastic capabilities:  a commerce module, a forums module (which was an improvement over the existing standard DNN forums module), and a social module.  The social features that will be included in DNN 6.2 represent the full integration of the Active Social module into the core of DNN.

Web Designers & Web Developers Get Ready

Those of us who are in the business of using DNN to do web design and development have an exciting new feature set to offer to our clients:

  • There is a new concept of "social groups" which acts as an organizing concept for the social activity.  This is a way to associate like-minded users the content that is generated by these users.
  • Users will have a lot of tools for managing their online profile and for managing their participation in social groups.
  • Users can establish friendships with other users.
  • Users can send private messages to each other.
  • Users can post messages and content (docs or images), perhaps to a "journal" ... which is analogous to a wall in Facebook
  • Users can manage their own collection of files 
  • There are notification features so that users can see activity of interest to them
  • There are user directory features to allow users to find each other.
  • There are new authentication options, including Facebook, Google, Live (MSN), and Twitter so that it will be easy for visitors to your site to become registered users.

There are a lot of new toys to play with, and the possibilities for businesses to use these tools are very broad.

Sounds Interesting.  Is it Too Good to Be True?

Not at all.  I've been very impressed by how well these features work and how well thought out the implementation was.  These tools are for real, and if you are a web designer or web developer you won't be embarrassed if you pitch this stuff to your clients.  I'm very impressed by user interface of these new features - it's very modern, and AJAX driven.  User's have been conditioned by Facebook to expect this kind of UI, and they won't be disappointed.  Also, the DNN developers did a great job in offering robust privacy controls at every turn.

Ok, So Who can Use This Stuff?

I see great social use cases for many kinds of businesses, including both B2C and B2B companies.  For manufacturers, there are opportunities to interact with your customers, get their feedback, and encourage them to share with each other how they make use of your products.  For retailers, you can encourage users to share information related to local events that relate to your store's product focus.  Companies that offer professional services should seek to establish online communities related to your subject matter expertise, and your employees should be leading the discussion to demonstrate thought leadership.  Speaking of your employees:  these same social features can power internal engagement and knowledge sharing through an intranet.  

As a Chicago-based website design agency, I know that we are extremely excited to start the conversations with our customers about how they can use these feature.  As web developers we are gratified that DNN has made it easy to provide this functionality and that they've laid a great foundation on which to extend all sorts of cool customizations.

Expect Further Enhancements from 3rd Party DNN Module Sellers

I'm quite certain that the DNN module development community will be looking closely at the new social features of DNN.  BlueBolt's sister company, Packflash, who is a seller of DNN modules, is already planning enhancements to their product line to deeply integrate with DNN's social tools.

What do you think of the new features coming to DNN 6.2? Leave your comments, questions and insights below.