While attending the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology Computer Systems Technology program, our final semester consisted of a large project. We were given a real client who had a business need. It was our responsibility to determine the client’s exact requirements and business needs, and build a product to match.
The product that was chosen was Recovery Realm – an online community to assist people in overcoming addictions. Our client in the past had set up a chain of small websites hosted by various free places (geocities, anglefire, etc), but was unable to get all the functionality that she needed in a single place.
As we met with the client the first few time or two we were able to get a better idea of what exactly was wanted: an online community complete with news feed, message boards, multi-platform/browser chat client, photo ablum, and the ability to add, remove, and modify pages (such as a FAQ page containing Frequently Asked Questions). One of our group members (we were in a group of 4) suggested that we use a Content Management System (or CMS). None of us had really worked with a CMS before, except for the one group member who had mentioned that we look into it.
We did some investigating into various content management systems and with the permission of our instructor, settled on using DotNetNuke. It is a very flexible CMS written in VB.Net (which we learned at NAIT, and was the language used by most of the classes at NAIT). As we discovered, it had a considerable sized following, and was designed in such a way that modules adding various functionality could simply be plugged in. We were able to find modules that provided the message board, chat, photo album, paypal donation button, RSS news feed, and FAQ page, as well as a few other odds and ends. We were initially a bit worried that the project involved very little coding and that the instructor would not allow us to use such a solution, but he was fine with it. We did do a bit of custom coding – including a module to do some account management and ban/restore users.
In the end, our group was chosen by the client to be put to use.
Anyway, enough jabbering on about the project.
Here it is: Recovery Realm
Since the site has been up and running and our client has taken control of it, she’s managed to re-skin and rearrange the whole thing. (I’ll be honest, I’m not a huge fan of the current layout or skin/color scheme, but it is still pretty cool that the client was able to rearrange it to suit her tastes without having any programming experience).
A big kudos to everyone that was in our group:
Joel Bennett (me)
…and to everyone else that helped!