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DNN-Connect 2019 Recap: The Next Phase of Our Journey

DNN-Connect 2019

I’m not yet out of Europe.  I’m sitting in my hotel room in Paris, enjoying the sounds of the city, just blocks away from the Eiffel Tower.  I spent about an hour last night after midnight, exploring the city.  I can’t help but reflect on what DNN has done for my life.  It’s quite literally changed it, for the better, time and time again.  As a minor and superficial example, over 15 years ago when I started with it, I never thought it would lead me to Switzerland or France, much less riding a scooter around the Eiffel Tower after midnight.  I’ve come a long way over the years, and so has our community.  We’ve all grown, and this conference marked an important new milestone in our mutual journey. 

Champéry, Switzerland was one of the more beautiful DNN venues that I’ve ever been too.  We were housed in a quaint little hotel with 3 session rooms.  The day and nighttime festivities were certainly a great time, as usual.  We were surrounded by mountains, which makes sense, because Champéry is basically a small valley village in the middle of the Swiss Alps.  It was absolutely gorgeous!  If you only came for the view, it would have been enough.  I’m definitely planning on coming back during ski season.

Will Strohl lounging in the Alps (photo credit: David Poindexter)

The event began with a welcome reception on and near a deck that was overlooking an amazing view of the Alps.  It’s difficult to not be inspired by such a beautiful view.  I should have taken a photo of it, but besides the obvious great things that come with any welcome reception (e.g., catching up with friends and networking), they had a couple of melted cheese stations that were insanely delicious!


For the first time since DNN Corp received funding in 2009, we began the conference with a keynote that didn’t feature the DNN Corp CEO, but rather, featured the leaders of the community.  Peter Donker opened the event with a great introduction to our current state of affairs, and he did a wonderful job of highlighting that we – the community – is in control of DNN Platform now and we can and do have the ability to contribute to it. 

Mitch Sellers gave us his update on the project from a technology perspective, including his thoughts on how we’re moving forward towards a migration to .NET Core. Also, while webforms is no longer being focused on for feature development, we can realisticly run it up until 2029.  We obviously don't want to do that, but the timeline is still not as urgent as some may think.  DNN Platform version 9.4 is coming in a couple of weeks. 

David Poindexter gave a summary of where the partner group is at the moment and the progress over the past year. 

Finally, I gave my update.  I guess the biggest news in my update from the awareness group is that we launched the new DNN community website that very morning.  That’s right.  We have our own new home for the DNN community.  By us, and for us.  Please learn more about that update in my “Welcome to the New DNN Community Website” blog post.

Breakout Sessions

The next two days was filled with breakout sessions.  I didn’t get to attend as many as I would have liked because I was updating the website, but those that I did attend were very good. 

The first one I attended was quite good, because it was mine.  Ha!  I presented a session titled, “Build a Module in Minutes.”  In this session, I walked the audience through why and when to build a module (or a different type of DNN extension), and then we did a demo where I built a module using the upendodnn generator

Next, I attended a session by Mandeep Singh, where he showed us how he and his team isolated everything that is and isn’t required to run DNN, with the intent of running a DNN-based SaaS solution.  Basically, he ripped out the entire front-end presentation layer of DNN and it left a blank slate with a DNN back-end to run everything.  It was very interesting. 

I wanted to attend the OpenContent session by Sacha Trauwaen next, but it was literally standing room only.  I couldn’t get in, so I ended up working during that hour.  (That’s a great problem for any conference to have, by the way.)

I Love DNN: Shaun Walker

I attended Shaun Walker’s Blazor session next.  Shaun helped educate everyone on what Blazor is, its future, architecture, and how he thinks it can be used.  Then, he gave us a demo of a very early stage open source project built on it.

Martijn Werbrouck led a session where he showed how they were doing very advanced front end techniques using DNN.  It was quite impressive!


Following Martijn was Scott Wilkinson.  Scott had a wonderful presentation about what OAuth2 is and how to implement it in DNN. 

I attended a couple of other sessions, but I was distracted by updating the DNN community website, so I didn’t really pay attention to the presenters.  (I’m sorry.)  :(

Finally, the last session I attended was my own.  Hahaha!  It was titled, “DNN Horror Stories: Things that DNN Developers Shouldn’t Do.”  This is a session I’ve been wanting to present for years.  Now is such a pivotal time for the growth of our community, that I felt it was the perfect time to finally do this presentation.  Basically, it was a lot of stories of websites and projects that I’ve inherited from other clients, developers, and freelancers over the years.  We discussed many scenarios and how best to resolve each. 


Will Strohl Rock Climbing in the Swiss Alps

Having afternoon or weekend excursions seems to be a signature of our respective DNN conferences, and this venue did not disappoint.  There was an entire menu of things we could do, including hiking, mountain biking, riding scooters down the mountain, and event paragliding and rock climbing.  I really wanted to paraglide, but it was canceled every day due to weather conditions.  I did manage to do the rock climbing, and WOW!  It was easily one of the most fun things I’ve ever done in my life.  We literally climbed up the rock face of a cliff that faced the venue.  So… I did it twice! 

The first time I went, we also had Shaun Walker there.

Shaun Walker Rock Climbing in the Swiss Alps

We had a couple of group dinners that featured local food and culture.  They were very, very good!  Though, the fondue needed more than only bread to dip into it. :)

A group of us rock climbing in the Swiss Alps

Thank You!

In closing, this was an amazing event.  Event organizers around the world continue to out-do themselves.  I know you’ve likely heard this before, but if you haven’t gone, you’re really missing out.  These events are an incredibly fun way to meet and get to know fellow DNN’ers, learn new things, and grow yourself professionally.

Thank you so much to those of you that attended DNN-Connect.

Thank you to all of the speakers and volunteers that helped to give the event value.

Thank you to the sponsors who made this event possible. 

Last, but certainly not least, thank you to the organizers, without whom the event would literally not be possible.

See you next year, and see you at DNN Summit next year as well.

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About the Author

Will StrohlFounder & CEO
Upendo Ventures
Overall, Will has nearly 20 years of experience helping website owners become more successful in all areas, including mentoring, website development, marketing, strategy, e-commerce, and more.

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