Improving DotNetNuke 5.0 Administrator Menu Organization

DotNetNuke Admin Menu (Original)One of my (few) cavils about the DotNetNuke Content Management System is the organization of the administrator menu.  Presenting an administrator with thirteen options (including somewhat inscrutable choices like “Extensions” and “Solutions”), is easily overwhelming for an often-technically unsophisticated administrator.  Indeed, both feedback from users and log analysis have indicated that several of these options are rarely utilized and thereby serve only to clutter the interface and increase the learning curve.

In pre-5.0 versions, despite being persisted to the database like any other page, the admin menu is restricted to one level.  This was a hardcoded limitation; though one could change the verbiage, order, or visibility of the items in the menu, one could not introduce additional levels of organization (without several changes to the core framework).

With DotNetNuke 5.0, however, because administrator pages are treated on-par with any other page on a site, an improvement in organization becomes possible.  Herein I discuss the changes necessary to, in my opinion, improve the overall organization of the DotNetNuke administrator menu.

DotNetNuke 5.0 Administrator Menu with Advanced OptionMy goal was to group several of the less-used administrator menu options and place them under a new “Advanced” menu option.  The process for creating this tab was straightforward, with title “Advanced,” the “Disabled” checkbox selected, and “Admin” selected as the parent page.  It was also necessary to specify an icon.

Using the “Pages” tab, I next organized those pages that I felt were rarely used (or had only advanced application).  In my opinion, those pages were in the set { Site Settings, Log Viewer, Security Roles, Vendors, Extensions, and Solutions }.  Naturally, different sites have different requirements, and the list of pages falling into this category might vary.  The “Site Settings” option required particular consideration, but ultimately I felt that since it was only accessed initially that it was safe to tuck away and de-clutter the interface.

My page organization ultimately resulted in the following hierarchy*:

DotNetNuke Admin Page Organization

* Astute readers will note that the “Site Wizard” option has been removed.  I generally prefer to remove this option after a customer has initialized his or her site.

These changes resulted in an administrator menu that is, in my opinion, significantly more streamlined, intuitive, and user-friendly:

DotNetNuke Administrator Menu (After)

Addendum

I encountered one difficulty with this process of which readers should be aware.  When organizing the page hierarchy, I initially visited page settings and explicitly set the new page parent from the dropdown list.  However, this caused the icon to disappear.  Because the icons for administrator pages are located outside the portal directory (specifically, in “/images”), it became impossible to restore these icons.

This behavior does not appear to manifest when using the arrow links on the “Pages” tab (image above).  Therefore, until this behavior is corrected (or declared by design), I strongly suggest using this method as your exclusive means by which to organize the administrator hierarchy.

For those interested, the work item for this issue is located here.

B

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2 Comments

  1. Gifford Watkins

    October 10, 2008 @ 2:10 pm

    1

    Hey Brandon… I see you have DNN 5.0 up and running. I’m always cautiously looking for good solid lifetime DotNetNuke hosters. Looking foward to more posts.

    Gifford

  2. Cuong Dang

    October 20, 2008 @ 8:27 pm

    2

    Great tips Brandon! I don’t think I care much about the icons, but it’s a better way to organize items that I almost never use.

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