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Setting-up Your

Development Environment

Also see:
 The ADefWebserver DotNetNuke HELP WebSite


What You Need:

  • Visual Studio or Visual Web Developer Express
  • SQL Server Express
  • The latest copy of the DotNetNuke
    "Install Version"

To use IIS instead of the Visual Web Developer Express' built-in web server:

  • Windows 2000  Server
    Windows XP Professional
    Windows 2003 Server
You can simply download and install the DotNetNuke Website Starter Kit and follow the directions here to install it.

Some like to set up their sites using the Windows IIS web server. Here is how you can do that.

Also see: Setting-up the Development Environment (without IIS)

Also see: Setting-up the Development Environment on Windows Vista

My DotNetNuke Development Environment

I own the full version of Visual Studio 2005 and SQL Server 2005 but for DotNetNuke development I don't use them.

The reason is that I have found that Visual Web Developer Express gives me access to all the tools I need in a smaller faster package.

Using SQL Server Express allows me to set up a DotNetNuke website faster than using SQL Server 2005.


Download DotNetNuke

The trick here is to download the Install Version. The source is bulky and not useful for module development because you don't want to develop a module on an installation that is not standard. 

Create a directory on your hard drive. Do not put it under the wwwroot directory because it will most likely have permissions set that will make the installation difficult.
Unzip the files to the directory
(The following screen shots are on Windows XP Professional)

In IIS configuration, create a new Virtual Directory.

Click Next
Give the site a name
Point to the root of the directory
On this screen check the boxes next to "Read", "Run scripts (such as ASP)", and "Execute". Then click Next.
In IIS, go into properties for the site you just created and click on the ASP.NET tab and insure that you set the site to run under ASP.NET 2.0.
Go to the site in your web browser
The installation wizard will appear and guide you through the installation.
Open Visual Web Developer Express
Select File then Open Web Site
Open the root of the web site
When it opens, right-click on the root of the website in the Solution Explorer in Visual Web Developer Express and select Property Pages.
  • Go to Start Options
  • Under Server select Use custom server
  • Enter the URL for the first page of your DotNetNuke site in both the Start URL and Base URL test boxes.
From he Toolbar select Debug then Start Debugging


Click OK
The website will come up and you're done!
You are now ready to follow any of these DotNetNuke 4 tutorials:






For Fast Debugging...  



  • You do not have to compile each time, simply save the page and refresh your web browser.


  • If you need to compile to check for errors, select "build page" to just build the page you are working one (files in the app_code directory do require a full build)


  • To debug use Attach To Process (requires the full version of Visual Studio 2005)
    • You may see more than one "aspnet_wp.exe". Hover your mouse over each one and they will identify the version (after a second or so). Select the one that is "\v2.0..." and click "Attach"
    • On Windows Server 2003 / IIS 6.0, the ASP.NET work process is named "w3wp.exe"

Note: If you have problems setting up on Windows Vista see this post.  


Visual Web Developer Express can cause SQL Server Express to lock.

If you click on the Database Explorer tab...
It will allow you to manage your SQL Server Express database...
But then you get this error when you try to view the site in your web browser:

Error Installing DotNetNuke

Current Assembly Version: 04.03.04

ERROR: Could not connect to database specified in connectionString for SqlDataProvider


The problem is Visual Web Developer Express has locked the database.  
Right-click on the database and select Close Connection
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