PostNuke

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1 Definition

'PostNuke is a portalware or what we call the C3MS kind.

It now has been renamed Zikula - Summer/2008.

2 PostNuke in education

Systems like PostNuke can scaffold various kinds of project-oriented learning designs. E.g. read in that order Project-based learning, C3MS project-based learning model and browse though TECFA SEED Catalog.

Currently, Daniel K. Schneider doesn't endorse PostNuke as the best system anymore (I did that 5 years) ago. There are other choices, but since I moved to other things I don't have the expertise to make recommendations, except that Drupal, Joomla and probably also PostNuke are safe bets. The API's seem to stabilize and the active user bases are huge and way bigger than most open source LMS implementations and therefore you can make longer term plans (which is crucial in education !).

3 Installation of PostNuke

3.1 Installation of the default portal

In order to install PostNuke you need a LAMP or WAMP environment. Many providers offer LAMP hosting.

Here is an (old!) summary of the installation procedure with a provider. It may not be accurate anymore.

Tools needed
  1. Webbrowser
  2. A FTP client
  3. A "unzipping" tool like Winzip
Procedure
  1. Download PostNuke from http://www.postnuke.com
  2. Decompress the *.zip or *.tar archive in some directory
  3. Transfer the whole "html" subdirectory to your Web Server This may take some time. You can then rename this directory on the server if you wish
  4. From a web browser, click on the file install.php and follow instructions You will have to enter the following information:
    1. Database name is in most cases: localhost
    2. Database Password
    3. Database Name
    4. Database Prefix This is a very useful feature if you have only access to a single database. Each table will be "prefixed" and there won't be a conflict with other installed portals.
  5. Do a NEW INSTALL Don't check "create database" if you already got one !
  6. Click on START and choose your password
  7. Enjoy

3.2 PostNuke Modules installation

Most PostNuke Modules now install fairly easily, i.e. they follow the algorithm outlined below. However, always read the installation instruction. Some modules are not fully API compliant and need extra work. Also make sure to fix file permissions for modules that upload/download (this includes standard modules).

Get modules from http://community.postnuke.com/ (find extensions/module/blocks database)

  1. Download and uncompress archive
    1. Get the module preferably from it's author's site
    2. Extract the archive to some place Usually the module extracts to some subdirectory.
  2. Install and Activate Module
    1. Copy your new_module folder to the postnuke modules folder
    2. Login to postnuke and select Modules from the administration menu
    3. Click on Regenerate
    4. Find your New_Module module and click Initialize
    5. Find your New_Module module and click Activate
  3. Insert Module in some Menu
    1. Select Blocks from postnuke Administration Menu
    2. Find a Menu block and click Edit
    3. For URL use {new_module}, substitute of course "new_module" by the module name of your module use whatever you want for the other fields
    4. Click commit

3.3 Development of PostNuke Modules

Between 2001 and 2005, TECFA graduate or master students developed a few modules from which we can tell a few things:

While programming PostNuke modules is in most cases more efficient than writing stand-alone components, it is not easy. To program a good Beta version of typical module developed at Tecfa like pnProdAct, pScenariovQuizPN ArgueGraph,wTool takes on average about 2 month (more or less 1 month according to the complexity of the module, PhP programming skills and previous experience with PostNuke

Repurposing a module can take much less, if you don't need to change its structure. E.g. edu-recipes took less than a week for an unexperienced person.

Implementing a more ambitious module like Vivian Synteta's ePBL or Dorel Gorgas WINE (development of a an emotional agent, PPT) took more time. Btw as of June 2007 this line of investigation will restart/continue as a PhD thesis, but probably with another environment.

We don't have a lot of experience with other Portalware, e.g. Eric Inderbitzin's SimProjet (in french) - a hybrid business simulation teaching tool implemented with Joomla or Urs Richle's Java links visualization module for this wiki and Romain Sauvain's reimplementation in SVG (Beta release June 2007).

If you subcontract module writing or if you hire someone you should insist that the person respects the portalware's guidelines and its API (application programmer's interface). This will make installation much easier for everyone and it will greatly increase the likeliness that your module will run in future versions!

Documentation for writing such modules is not optimal (worse compared to some more dynamic Open Source projects). However, there are a number of resources which you can find in various Support portals. The starting point is http://community.postnuke.com/ but many other places may have interesting information, e.g. at Tecfa we provided a few slides for PN 7.2x that we used for teaching. One major problem with the PostNuke community is that every 2-3 years they completely reorganize their server, and a lot of module-specific information disappears.