DotNetNuke – Skinning

Today I’m going to start a separate series on Skinning DotNetNuke. Don’t worry, I’m still planning to continue the series on creating modules. Later on, I may start a series on something else. But I have a need to explain skinning for a client, so you all get to benefit from the effort.

Similar But Different

The first thing to understand about skinning DotNetNuke is that it is quite different from skinning a typical web application or even other content management systems. In a typical web application, the person responsible for skinning tends to think of the whole page at once in full living color. The skin for the page is the whole page.

Skins and Containers

Contrast this to DotNetNuke, which has a skin and a container. The skin is responsible for where content goes and what the page generally looks like, and the container controls what specific modules on the site look like.


Of course, this begs the question, what is a module? A module is a specific unit of functionality. The most common unit of functionality in DotNetNuke is the Text/HTML module. This module is used to place text on the page in a specific location. The only thing it is responsible for is the text and HTML that will display. The color of the text, size of the font, background color, and other presentation items are controlled by the container.


The container typically displays a “picture frame” around the module which includes a picture frame title and can optionally display a print button, rss feed button, and an expand/collapse button. A drop-down menu should also be available for the administrators of the module so that they can access module settings and edit the content.


By providing a flexible layout in the skin and a number of different containers it is possible for two different sites to have the same set of skins and containers in use, but look entirely unique.This is the beauty of using DotNetNuke, but it is also why creating a set of skins and containers requires a certain mind shift from how the typical web designer works.

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