DNN Review: Features, Architecture, and Pricing

DNN Review: Features, Architecture, and Pricing

This article is part of a series of blog posts dedicated to the best .NET e-commerce platforms - nopCommerce, Virto CommerceDNN, Umbraco, Kentico, Sitecore, and Sitefinity.

So far, we have discussed two of the platforms mentioned above - nopCommerce and Virto Commerce.

Next in line is DNN.

DNN is an open-source ASP.NET Web Forms content management system (CMS) and а web application framework.

You can create e-commerce systems, intranets, public websites, or custom web applications on top of DNN.

DNN History

The story of DNN begins in 2001 when Microsoft created a reference application called IBuySpy Portal. The purpose of the application was to showcase the ASP.NET software development framework.

On Christmas Eve 2002 the second version of IBuySpy Portal was released and was branded as IBuySpy Workshop.

In March 2003, the IBuySpy Workshop was rebranded as DotNetNuke.

In 2006 the DotNetNuke Corporation was formed.

In 2008 the company received financing from Sierra Ventures and August Capital. As a result, the DotNetNuke Professional Edition was released in February 2009.

2009 was a very successful year for DotNetNuke - aside from releasing the Professional Edition, the company announced the acquisition of a marketplace (called Snowcovered), and launched a partnership program. They started handpicking partner companies that would provide products, services, and solutions for DotNetNuke. The partners would also provide support for development companies, web design companies, and individuals who use the framework.

In addition, in October 2009, DotNetNuke was recognized as the leading open-source CMS based on ASP.NET (Open Source CMS Market Share Report 2009).

In 2013 DotNetNuke was replaced by DNN and the company became known as the DNN Corporation.

In 2017 ESW Capital acquired the DNN Corporation.

DNN Architecture

DNN is based on the legacy ASP.NET Webforms. The DNN team has been working frantically for the past three years to make it possible for the system to evolve to the latest .NET platforms.

The UI has been changed to be predominantly REST-API and javascript based. There is still roughly 20% Webforms left in it, so the transition is not yet complete. Many of the core components have already moved to .NET Core but many still remain to be ported because they still rely on Webforms objects like Server and Request.

DNN Features

There are 4 DNN products:

  1. DNN platform - an open-source development framework
  2. Evoq Basic - a content management tool set with limited capabilities
  3. Evoq Content - a complete content management tool set
  4. Evoq Engage - a complete community management tool set

Only the DNN platform is free. The other 3 DNN editions are distributed under a commercial licence and offer more advanced CMS features (a drag-and-drop content builder, SEO tools, content analytics, etc.), integrations with third-party systems (Google Analytics, Microsoft Azure, DropBox, etc.), community management features, better performance, and more.

Compare the 4 DNN editions.

DNN Themes

The DNN theme category contains 464 products - DNN themes, and DNN theme collections.

You can find 6 free themes and hundreds of commercial themes with a price range from $19.00 to $269.

There are several theme collections with a price range from $149 to $399.99, and several DNN skins with a price range from $6 to $2.400.

When browsing through the theme category, you can read an overview of each theme’s specifications, as well as see the theme’s price, number of reviews, and last update.

You can also filter the products by subcategory (color, genre, site type, theme packs, etc.), or by tag (CSS, iPhone, mobile, tablet, etc.). This way you can easily find the theme that best suits your store.

If you don’t have the time to do a detailed research on DNN themes, you can see the top DNN themes here.

DNN Plugins

The DNN marketplace contains 595 plugins.

162 of them are build to enhance the capabilities of your e-commerce website. You can find them in the ‘E-commerce’ category.

The e-commerce category consists of 25 subcategories. Some of the more significant subcategories include checkout, content management, forms management, marketing & advertising, email, SEO, and more.

You can purchase a product grid module, enable dynamic registration, ensure secure credit card transactions, integrate your online store with PayPal or Stripe, manage online orders in Zendesk, and much more.

Wondering which are the best DNN plugins out there? See a list

Note that if you don’t find the plugin you need on the DNN marketplace, you can always build a custom plugin for your store. You can either do this in-house or outsource it to a third-party (such as a DNN partner or a .NET developer, for example).

DNN Partners & Community

DNN has a thriving community that consists of more than 1 million members - developers, designers, marketers, store owners, etc.

They gather to discuss technology, design, the DNN framework and issues they are facing on the DNN forum.

The DNN community is active - there are more than 100K posts on the DNN forum and new posts appear every day.

In addition, at the time of this writing, there are 7821 questions in the DNN Questions Directory and 6767 of them have been answered.

Aside from its online community, DNN is supported by its partners as well.

The DNN partner directory consists of 37 partner companies. They are classified as:

There are 3 partner levels - registered, standard, and advanced. Currently DNN has 19 registered partners, 5 standard partners, and 13 advanced partners.

Note that 19 of all 37 partners have listed e-commerce as one of their competencies.

When browsing through the partner directory, you can read a short description of each partner company, see the number of websites each partner has developed, as well as the partner’s level.

In addition, you can filter the partners based on their location and partner level.

If you don’t have the time to research DNN partners and the services they offer, you can use Partner Match and let DNN themselves identify which partner company is best suited to meet your needs.

DNN Pricing

You can download the DNN platform for free. However, depending on your business objectives, you may need to purchase one of its paid editions:

  • Evoq Basic (distributed under an MIT license)
  • Evoq Content (distributed under a commercial proprietary licence)
  • Evoq Engage (distributed under a commercial proprietary licence)

You will need to contact the DNN sales team for more information on pricing. You can do this by clicking on one of the ‘Contact sales’ or ‘Request pricing’ buttons on this page.


We hope this article helped you get a better idea of what DNN can offer!

Stay tuned for our article on Umbraco - the next blog post of the series dedicated to the best .NET e-commerce platforms.