Dozing Dogs CMS 2.4.1
Build Web Sites with Simplicity
By Anand Narayanaswamy
Developers are always on the lookout for ready-made applications for building Web sites. Over the last several years, there has been a steep rise in content management systems powered with ASP.NET. Dozing Dogs CMS is one such product with which developers can install, customize, and run their Web sites without any major effort. Initially developed by James Shaw, Dozing Dogs is currently owned and managed by Telligent Systems.
You can download a fully functional trial version of the product from the Dozing Dogs Web site (http://www.dozingdogs.com/downloads). However, you must register on the site to access the product. You can either download the product as an MSI file or in ZIP format. While the MSI file is suitable for testing the product locally, the ZIP format is ideal if you plan to host the application in a shared Web server. I first installed the product locally using the MSI file, then uploaded the contents of the ZIP file to my own Web site. At present, there is no browser-based wizard available for installation of the product. Hence, you ll have to execute the database scripts manually using the tools provided by the SQL Server.
If you want to run the application on a Web server you ll need to upload the required files inside the root folder, then create the database using the interface provided by your hosting provider. The next step is to execute the database scripts and update the web.config file manually with the relevant database name, username, and password of your SQL Server 2000 database. I installed the product on a server with SQL Server 2005 and it worked smoothly without any problems. However, I had to fix a security exception error by giving full trust for my domain on the machine.config file.
Because Dozing Dogs CMS provides step-by-step instructions, I found it very easy to work with the product after completing the installation. As an administrator, you ll be able to log in to the system using a random e-mail and password generated by the setup. Once you log in, you can edit the content of all the pages by clicking on the pencil-shaped icon (see Figure 1).
Figure 1: Edit your content with ease.
You can easily add new categories and content, such as articles, blogs, and events. It is also possible to showcase certain articles as headlines with pictures (see Figure 2). You should bear in mind that content will appear as headlines only if you associate a picture with the relevant article.
Figure 2: Display headlines in a smart way.
You can edit the content as and when you wish by either clicking on the edit link on each page or by selecting the relevant link from the administration page. One of the core features of the product is that you can create unlimited pages of content. You can also create unlimited categories and sub-categories under each main category (see Figure 3).
Figure 3: Categorize your content.
Moreover, your users can post comments, which will be displayed at the end of the article. You ll have the ability to moderate comments, but the appropriate permissions should be given while posting an article. I found that the content produced by the system can be accessed using friendly URLs, such as /aspdotnet, /vbdotnet, etc. With the help of Dozing Dogs CMS, you can easily integrate Google AdSense and the Amazon affiliate system by supplying the required affiliate code.
The product is highly scalable and makes extensive use of caching. This will surely boost the performance of your site. It also includes a robust membership system that will enable your users to register and sign in to the site, post content, edit profiles, and much more. Another important feature of the product is that you can seamlessly display information about weather in your location with the requisite XML feed from http://www.customweather.com. I prefer to not use this feature, as it involves additional cost to get a license from CustomWeather. The product also provides RSS 1.0 and 2.0 feeds for all blog entries. You can easily handle errors using the exception handling mechanism provided by the product. It automatically triggers an e-mail if there is any error with the application; this will help the administrator fix the problem. There are many more features that ship with this product that I can t cover here; check out http://www.dozingdogs.com/featureslist for the complete list. The vendor provides three separate licenses for the product (personal, professional, and enterprise), as well as accompanying annual maintenance subscriptions (http://www.dozingdogs.com/licenses).
Dozing Dogs CMS ships with a WYSIWYG editor that provides all the required functionalities for content creation (see Figure 4). It also has a built-in spell checker with which you can correct the entries before publication. The product comes with support for aspNetEmail and aspNetMX, e-mail components that allow you to send multi-part e-mails, both plain text and HTML, in one e-mail. Dozing Dogs CMS also includes support for a menu component with which you can easily create state-of-the-art vertical and horizontal menus, as well as tree view, nav bar, tab strip, multipage, sitemap, rotator, and snap controls. Moreover, the component is compatible with XHTML and can be used with a variety of browsers. The product comes with an online database administration tool called 1ClickDB. With the help of this tool, you can add, edit, and delete data in tables, as well as modify stored procedures. You can also run queries, perform advanced searches and multi-field sorting, and export results to an Excel spreadsheet or to an XML file.
Figure 4: A sneak preview of the RichTextBox Editor.
Documentation & Support
I recommend you refer to http://www.dozingdogs.com/search.aspx for comprehensive documentation if you face any problems while working with the product. It would be great for the vendor to provide a Web-based installation wizard so that users can set up the product easily and without any hassles. From my point of view, the vendor should provide documentation in PDF format either along with the product or separately on their Web site so that users can read the same offline.
The vendor provides excellent support through e-mail. They promptly resolved all my questions regarding the product by giving accurate and clear instructions. I was amazed to see the rapid response directly from the person who developed the product. If you purchase the annual maintenance subscription, the vendor also provides toll-free phone support. This is a great way to keep in touch with customers, and I applaud their efforts. The vendor is planning to integrate the entire Dozing Dogs system with the next release of Community Server. This will be great for users because it will provide a great combination of content management with forums, blogs, and galleries.
Anand Narayanaswamy, a Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP), works as an independent consultant and runs NetAns Technologies (http://www.netans.com), which provides Web hosting services based in Trivandrum, India. Anand also works as a technical editor lead for ASPAlliance.com. He runs Learnxpress.com (http://www.learnxpress.com), Dotnetalbum.com (http://www.dotnetalbum.com), and Csharpfaq.com (http://www.csharpfaq.com). Find out more about him at http://www.visualanand.net or e-mail him at mailto:[email protected].
Web Site: http://www.dozingdogs.com
Price: Starts at US$249