Implementation of a ASP.NET based portal-like application

There is the requirement, to write a portal like ASP.NET based web application. There should be a lightweigted central application, which implements the primary navigation and the authentication. The design is achieved by masterpages.

Then there are several more or less independent applications(old and new ones!!), which should easily and independent be integrated into this central application (which should be the entry point of these applications). Which ways, architectures, patterns, techniques and possibilities can help and support to achieve these aims? For example makes it sense to run the (sub)applications in an iframe?

Are there (lightweighted and easy to learn) portal frameworks, which can be used (not big things like "DOTNETNUKE")?

Many thanks in advance for you hints, tips and help!


DON'T REINVENT THE WHEEL! The thing about DotNetNuke is that it can be as big or as small as you make it. If you use it properly, you will find that you can limit it to what you need. Don't put yourself through the same pain that others have already put themselves through. Unless of course you are only interested in learning from your pain.

I'm not saying that DNN is the right one for you. It may not be, but do spend the time to investigate a number of open source portals before you decide to write your own one. The features that you describe will take 1000s of hours to develop and test if you write them all from scratch.

@Michael Shimmins makes some good suggests about what to use to implement a portal app with some of the newer technology and best practice patterns. I would say, yes these are very good recommendations, but I would encourage you to either find someone who has already done it this way or start a new open source project on codeplex and get other to help you.

Daniel Dyson makes a fine point, but if you really want to implement it your self (there may be a reason), I would consider the following components:

  • MVC 2.0
  • Inversion of Control/Dependency Injection (StructureMap for instance)
  • Managed Extensibility Framework
  • NHibernate (either directly or through a library such as Sh#rp or Spring.NET
  • A service bus (NServiceBus for instance).

This combination gives you flexible user interface through MVC, which can be easily be added to via plugins (exposed and consumed via MEF), a standard data access library (NHibernate) which can be easily configured by the individual plugins to connect to specific databases, an ability to publish events and 'pick them up' by components composed at runtime (NServiceBus).

Using IoC and DI you can pass around interfaces which are resolved at runtime based on your required configuration. MEF gives you the flexibility of defining 'what' each plugin can do, and then leave it up to the plugins to do so, whilst your central application controls cross cutting concerns such as authentication, logging etc.

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