Since my nomination as a DNN MVP late last year I feel the need to introduce myself a little bit more to the community. In fact, this nomination was a big surprise for me and I don’t know how to fulfil the expectations at the moment. Times are extremely busy and I suspect that I am not able to act as an MVP in the way I want to, especially in the next 3 or 4 month. The reason for this is a big DNN project, more on this later!
First I want to tell you some steps from my personal history. After learning chip design, robotics and compiler engineering, I started my personal career as a software developer for the German Federal Environmental Agency in 1991. Short after the fall of the Berlin Wall there was a need to connect the newly formed German states to the weather measurement system. Because the lack of telephone lines (people had to wait sometimes 15 years to get telephone in the German Democratic Republic), we used satellite communication to transfer the weather data to the host in Hanover. Between installation of the communication parts in Eastern Germany I developed the data visualization software (nice job with 80x25 in Turbo Pascal … X-D ).
The next two years I worked for companies in a nursing service for elderly people as a programmer and later as a sales man, driving through Northern Germany and trying to sell the business solution software. This was the time when I realized that I am a good software developer but a really bad sales man…
So I started a small business at my hometown as an emergency service for computers and as a web designer. In the past 2 or three years I always had hobby programming projects in FoxPro and inspired by Rick Strahl I developed my own web framework. With the help of this framework I started a website for my community which was really sophisticated for these days. Zoomable maps of my home town, telephone book, yellow pages, menu for restaurants and so on. I planned to make money with it but my hometown was no trend setting capital at the dawn of the internet and a lot of people said that “no one needs this internet thing”. Again – good developer and bad sales man.
With a lot of outstanding debts I decided to work as an employee for a bigger company. So I hired as an IT guy at an international call center agency named Sykes. This was really funny because the IT department was build of a big team containing one person: me. I was responsible for about 100 call center agents sitting in two settlements (150 km apart). I made hardware purchases, first and second level support for the agents, MS Access programming for the outbound calling campaigns, Rollout of new Windows versions, configuring and maintaining two different telephone systems and managing the year 2000 compliancy certification. After 11 month I quit the job – needless to say why!
After a short intermezzo as an Oracle Database Administrator (meh!) I hired as a software developer at a small software company named indisoftware in Hanover, where my Odyssey comes to an end. Regular income for doing things that have been my hobby before felt like a dream for me. At indisoftware they had developed a desktop framework for Visual FoxPro which was very cool and made development of Desktop application rapid and easy without constraints in design and UI. Getting fluent in VFP development I began to create a software for eBay. At this time, my wife was very active at eBay and handling all the tasks from creating auctions, managing payments and shipping becomes difficult. After finishing the first version (which was not much more as a demo program for our framework), I published this on CompuServe as freeware – and was very overwhelmed by the reaction of the people. They loved it and they downloaded it a lot! So I made another version and another again and ended up with a commercial software with over 2000 registered users and a number 1 test in Germanys leading Computer magazine for eBay software.
After five years my former boss Andreas offers me to become a partner and so we are now. We did a lot of cool projects, each of them where very individual stuff. Some examples: We developed the complete software infrastructure for one of the biggest credit and debit card producers in Germany. We won an open competitive bidding against SAP for the Stadtwerke Konstanz, a community in Southern Germany with electricity, gas, ships and busses and dealing with 3 countries taxes (Konstanz is at the border of Switzerland and Austria). Last year I developed a complete new interactive user Interface for CNC machines for an Italian company in Rimini. Not bad for a company with 5 people + back office.
About 4 years ago (MS announced the end of life of Foxpro and I managed to learn C# by myself), I get to know DNN. This was another turning point in my life. I was addicted from the first minute on. Before DNN I had some Joomla websites (especially for my eBay tool), but dealing with the LAMPP stack was not really my thing. After first DNN experiences from a user perspective I started development with help of Mitch Sellers book “Professional DotNetNuke module programming” (thank you Mitch, this was a perfect starting point and the most complete reference of API descriptions I found til now!). A two day training with Sebastian and Philipp rounds this up and from now on I could not keep my hands off coding in DNN. A bit later I got the first chance to make some money with coding DNN: I was hired to build a user interface for the entry of display messages that are shown in the subway stations of New York. Funny job! Unfortunately they did not pay me a journey to NY to see this live in action …
One of the features I missed most in the DNN ecosystem was the availability of a good shop system that is affordable and that works in European countries. There was a very long thread on a forum (not DNN but I forgot where it was) with a lot of people discussing this and after testing some of the open source or low cost shops I decided to write one by myself. This was 3 years ago and I am still coding on it. It is good stuff but not good enough for official release …. (coders problem!). I have a few shops running with it out in the wild and it works really nice but there is a gap between running something as a developer and providing it to a wider audience (documentation, admin UI instead of tweaking things directly in the database and so on). If you want to have a look at it see my demo: http://awesome.bitboxx.net ( My favorite part is on “Our products / WOW series” ). At the moment I really don’t know what to do with it – making money by selling modules for DNN seems to be difficult according to what you people say in forums. But giving it to open source is not an easy step when I think of all the work I put inside. Any suggestions would be appreciated!
My actual project is a very exciting one. Here in Hanover we have a social community web platform named goolive.de which is regional orientated. Its about flirting / events / party photos / chat and has about 120.000 registered users. The platform is a homegrown php / mysql solution running on amazon E2. This community platform should get a complete overhaul and should be additionally transformed into a mobile app. In short terms: Where to go tonight ? Looking for beer + hard rock! Where are my friends now ? Getting a fast pass (no waiting) and discount at the entrance. In the location: Who is also here ? Oh, nice girl! Send her a push notification to invite her to a drink on the bar! What’s that ? Push notification from the club in the neighborhood: Free beer in the next 30 minutes ! Pay the bill with the mobile. Lost my friends … quick look where they checked in. On the next day: See photos of my event / club in the app. There are more things like collecting “miles” while paying with the app and change into free drinks / other gimmicks, free WLAN in the clubs and so on. Beside the mobile apps we’ll still have a website where I can chat with the girl from last night or look at the photos too. We need a backend where the bartender can have a look of the sales he made last night, may enter promotions and start push notifications. We have different roles to manage because the content the people are entering needs to be controlled. In my eyes DNN fits perfect for this project. The web thing is common, no magic inside. But with the integration of WebApi in DNN 7 we now have a perfect solution to manage the mobile part. I don’t speak here about responsive skins. We’ll create native apps for iOS and Android and they will get their data from DNN. That is very easy to implement because the business logic must be there for the website anyway and creating a webapi service layer is often nothing more than encapsulate the existing business logic into a webapi method.
If everything works like expected we want to have this running in June in Hanover and then in autumn Berlin and Cologne/Ruhr area. This is an optimistic plan because we are only 4 developers in this project. Me and my partner for the database / web part, 1 guy for the Android App and 1 girl for iOS. And there are some parts I’ve no experience with (High traffic / web farm / load balancing / Azure). Really a challenge! But a great chance. Not only for my and my company. If this works like expected and gets hot in the App Stores, it could be a real good chance to raise the publicity for DNN in Germany tremendously. Although Sebastian is really an evangelist and the German DNN User Group is one of the biggest in the world, DNN has absolutely no visibility here in Germany. Wherever you read technical magazines about CMS, you see Joomla, Drupal, WordPress, Typo 3. Even in “complete” listings of CMS, DNN is not even mentioned. A killer “Nightlife” App (there is no competitor) running on a DNN backbone could perhaps be the case study which changes everything!
And so I want to close my introduction with a request to the community. If you have any ideas, Know How, modules, skins or even want to invest crowd funding money, please let me know! We need all the help we could get to get this running. And I promise, I have a lot of cool stuff in stock, waiting to get published as open source or knowledge blog articles when I have a bit more time to get this prepared. If you want to get in touch with me you can write me an email to info (at) bitboxx.net !
Thanx for listening!