Sitefinity intra-site modules: The Unbearable Lightness of Development

Sitefinity intra-site modules: The Unbearable Lightness of Development

December 20, 2007 0 Comments

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As I have promised in my last post, I have created a Contacts module (previously developed as pluggable module) as an intra-site module. Though, I've said I'll make a post series out of it, creating an intra-site module in Sitefinity is so simple that I can't see how would I span the topic into a series. A single post will do just fine.

I’ve been asked many times is it necessary to use Nolics.Net when developing with Sitefinity and the answer is, of course, no. But as far as I can remember, I don’t think we’ve provided a sample of it anywhere, so I’ve decided NOT to use Nolics.Net in this module… to make things really simple I was using SqlDataSource. That of course doesn’t mean that you can’t use ObjectDataSource or good ol’ SqlDataReader.

The whole project you can download from here. I suggest you do it now because I’ll be referring to the files throughout the post. To illustrate how easy it is to create a new intra-site module, I’ve took the liberty to provide you with a little diagram.

Intra-site module

As the graphic suggests, there is a minimum of four steps that you need to complete in order to create your module. Anything else that you will be doing depends exclusively on the project / module you are working on. These four steps are:

1. Create a folder for your module
2. Create ControlPanel user control
3. Create CommandPanel user control
4. Create Module class

1. Create a folder for your module

Ok, you don’t really need to create a folder for your module. You could have your controls anywhere you please… but it’ll keep things organized if you do. So, as you can see in the project you’ve downloaded, I’ve created a folder ContactsModule in the root folder and that is where I will keep all the module related files.

2. Create ControlPanel user control

Notice that I’ve just said: “user control”. This is one of the biggest differences between pluggable modules and Intra-Site modules. Here, in Intra-site modules, everything is achieved through user controls. Drag-and-drop baby!

I’ve created “Admin” folder inside of my ContactsModule folder to keep all the user controls I’ll be using on the admin side of my modules. You are not required to do that obviously.

The only thing you need to keep in mind with this user control is that it has to implement IControlPanel interface. After you implement the interface, everything else you do is completely up to you. The ContactsModule you’ve downloaded is well commented so I won’t be going into details here.

3. Create CommandPanel user control

This step is very similar to the step 2, except that this time it is CommandPanel user control we are creating and this time we need to implement ICommandPanel interface.

NOTE: You’ll notice that in intra-site module we are implementing interfaces, while in pluggable module we inherit from the base classes. This is of course because user controls need to inherit UserControl class. The implementation is a bit different than in pluggable module, so pay attention to that if you have experience with pluggable modules.

Same as with ControlPanel, after you implement the interface everything else you do is up to you.

4. Create module class

Every intra-site module needs to have a module class that will typically inherit from WebModule class. This class you’ll put in App_Code folder. This is the central class of every module. I’ve commented the code in this class, and you can use this class as a template for your own modules. The parts that need to be modified are rather obvious.

And that’s it…

How to install Contacts intra-site module

Note, you’ll need an already working Sitefinity website.
  • Download the project if you haven’t already
  • Unzip it (good thing I’ve mentioned this, ehh? :)
  • Copy the files from App_Code to the App_Code folder of your already existing Sitefinity website
  • In your database (probably App_Data/Sitefinity.mdf) add the two tables for Contacts module. Those are sample_Contacts and sample_Departments. I’ve provided you with my Sitefinity.mdf file so you can see the schema there or script them from there. Are you missing Nolics yet? If it was Nolics you wouldn’t need to create any tables…
  • Copy ContactsModule folder to the root folder of your already existing Sitefinity website
  • Copy the Sitefinity/Admin/Themes/Default/modules.css to the same place on your already existing website. Alternatively you can simply append the last few styles for the contacts module to your modules.css
  • Make sure you have connection string named “Sitefinity” in your web.config and that it points to the database where you have created the two needed tables. If you don’t you’ll have to modify all SqlDataSource controls in user controls.

Well, I think that’s all. There is really nothing else to explain because everything else is just a familiar ASP.NET stuff. Let me know if you encounter problems or if you have questions.

Sometime next week I’ll publish this module in VB.NET as well… and then the video!

[UPDATE: Apparently I have messed up something with the database file - see comments below - so I am posting the zip of database again. You can download it from here. ]


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