DNN vs Sitecore

— Anyone shifting from DNN to Sitecore should be aware of a few differences in the platforms.

Posted: April 13, 2016

DNN vs Sitecore

As developers we use all types of technologies, tools, systems, and applications. Over time we come to understand the similarities and differences of various applications. At Arrow we specialize in application development, user experience, and website platforms. In this entry we’ll focus on the differences between 2 popular content management platforms, DotNetNuke and Sitecore.

Our team is skilled in supporting both DNN and Sitecore based websites. We won “Site of the Year” in 2012 for our Hilton Grand Vacation DNN site and we are also recognized as Gold Level Sitecore Partners. Having used both systems for some time we have unique insight into the differences between the two CMS’s.

In this blog entry we’ll focus on these systems from more of a development perspective, since I am a developer!

Data Sources

Sitecore has the concept of custom data sources built in to the platform. This enables developers to create data sources via an editor by creating templates. This eliminates a large majority of the need for additional 3rd party modules such as those frequently used in DNN sites. Since this functionality is built into Sitecore, every component created can take advantage of data sources through configuring a data source or personalization setting.

MVC & Razor Views

Sitecore has great flexibility with using MVC and razor views. DNN is working to get this functionality implemented, but the Sitecore implementation is very mature and is really well done. Sitecore allows our team to create multiple types of MVC components like controller renderings and view renderings with ease.

More API, Less Direct Database Connections

With Sitecore a developer does not work much with external databases. A developer mostly works with the available Sitecore APIs to access the Sitecore data, which helps speeds things up since things like caching are already taken care of. This makes development in Sitecore really efficient.

Skins, Layouts, Modules, & Components

“Skinning” in Sitecore is done in a similar way as it’s done in DNN. Though, in Sitecore a skin is known as a layout and modules are referred to as components. Also, the concept of a container does not really exist in Sitecore. Instead, Sitecore allows the nesting of placeholders. Components can act as containers if needed. For example, we can have a container for a 4 x 4 x 4 grid (3 col) that can then have additional components nested inside it. The concepts are similar in between DNN and Sitecore, but the terminology and implementation are different.

HTML Control

One area where Sitecore really shines is in the area of control over your HTML. Sitecore gives developers 100% control of the HTML that gets rendered on a page. It does not add additional HTML, CSS, or scripts to the page as frequently experienced in DNN. Being able to have full control over the rendered HTML allows for faster loading pages, better SEO results, increased accessibility, and semantic HTML.

DNN Store vs. Sitecore Marketplace

The Sitecore Marketplace is not as vast as the DNN Store, but in many cases the quality is much higher. Since Sitecore doesn’t really come with any UI components out of the box, the Sitecore Marketplace is a good starting point for building a site. is also a good example site of what you can do with Sitecore. Sitecore also has accelerators that will speed up the foundation of the project.

In Sum

At Arrow we leverage a lot of Microsoft technologies and specialize in application development, user experience, and website platforms. Hopefully this article helps provide insight into a few things developers can consider when thinking of Sitecore from a DotNetNuke perspective. And if your organization needs help with this type of transition we’d love to assist. Just contact us to get the conversation started.