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DNN 7.1 and Url Master

by Bruce Chapman on Monday, July 22, 2013 6:01 PM

The release of DNN 7.1 brings about a major change in URL management within the DNN Platform. This is the version that incorporated much of the Url Master codebase, and introduced many new functions and features around URLs. These are all laid out as per the original iFinity Acquisition blog post that was written late last year.

This blog post is designed to provide a guide for those people who have been using the Url Master module and are now looking to upgrade their DNN site to DNN 7.1.

There are two choices for people in this category:

1. Continue to use the Url Master module to provide the URL functionality for their site

2. Switch over to using the new ‘Advanced’ URL functionality in the DNN Platform

The first thing to note is that a new version of Url Master has been released for using DNN 7.1. This is Url Master version 2.8. This contains important UI fixes related to the new jQuery version bundled with DNN 7.1, as well as a new feature to migrate settings and configuration from Url Master to the ‘Advanced’ URL mode of DNN 7.1.

Download Url Master 2.8 from the Downloads page, or from the DNN Store.

Regardless of your intention in terms of whether you fall into category (1) or (2) you should update your Url Master version to 2.8. This is a free upgrade for anyone who already has a license for any version from 2.0 through to 2.7. The upgrade can be done before or after you have upgraded your DNN site to 7.1.

Continuing to use the Url Master module with a DNN 7.1 Site

There are no issues to using the latest version of Url Master with DNN 7.1. The module works as normal, and, as before, all of the settings and configuration are held separately to the core DNN settings and configuration.

While the Url Master module will not be enhanced at all going forward, it is expected to remain compatible with DNN for the foreseeable future, and there is no plan to force existing users to stop using the Url Master module.

For people in this category, just upgrade to version 2.8 for the UI fixes and continue to use the Url Master module as normal.

This advice applies both to the DNN Platform (formerly DotNetNuke Community Edition) and those who are now using Evoq Content (formerly DotNetNuke Professional Edition).

If you are currently leveraging any of the Url Master custom module providers, you will have to stay with using Url Master until a 7.1 compatible version of your specific provider can be made. These providers are all open-source now, so it is possible to convert the Url Master module providers over to DNN 7.1 Extension URL providers if you have access to development resources.

Switching over from Url Master to the Advanced URL functionality in DNN 7.1

If you are planning to start using the new Advanced URL functionality in DNN 7.1, and you have an existing license for the Url Master module, there is a conversion path. This converts all of the Url Master redirects, portal alias settings and configuration settings over to the DNN format. The Advanced functionality is heavily based on the Url Master codebase, but they are not exactly the same. Many changes have been made in order to properly integrate the product into the DNN Core.

Therefore, I suggest that people test the switch-over carefully, and make sure that they have checked that redirects, third-party modules, and all other URL-related functionality works correctly. I strongly recommend that people do this in a ‘localhost’ test environment if they have the capability. If not, you must take a backup immediately prior to doing the conversion and be prepared to revert to the backed-up version of the site if the tests do not pass.

This process applies both to the DNN Platform (formerly DotNetNuke Community Edition) and those who have upgraded DotNetNuke Professional Edition to Evoq Content.   While the DNN Platform has very few UI configuration locations for the Advanced URL Settings, the functionality is fully operational once the Url Master settings are converted.

Please note : you need to have a fully licensed version of Url Master in order to activate the conversion functionality, except if you are running on ‘localhost’, in which case it will work with an unlicensed version.

The actual process of conversion is very simple:

1. Upgrade your Url Master version to 2.8

2. Go to the Host->Friendly Url Settings page, and find the ‘Convert to DNN Advanced Urls’ button


3.  This will load the Conversion Dialog:


Click ‘Start Conversion’ when you are ready to do the conversion.

4.  The conversion process will run, and then show a summary of the changes made:


The figures in the boxes apply to the entire DNN installation.   Check through the numbers to do a ‘sanity check’ and make sure that the figures seem correct.   You can then close the dialog – the conversion is complete and your site is now activated in DNN ‘Advanced’ mode.  Note that because this requires a web.config change, the site will automatically restart when the process is complete.  The ‘close’ button triggers a page refresh to complete this process.

5. Check functionality on your site to make sure that the conversion has worked correctly.    A brief set of tests should include:

  1. Basic site operation : all public URLs work as expected
  2. Edit Mode : does the Edit Mode functionality work as before?
  3. Any third-party module functionality : do blog posts, forum threads, e-commerce pages, photo galleries etc load up correctly?
  4. Login/Logoff functions : are you able to login and log out as normal?
  5. 404 Handling : if you had 404 handling configured, check that the 404 error handling works as expected.
  6. Admin/Host Urls : are you able to do basic functions like search for a user, save site settings, etc?
  7. Custom Urls : do custom redirects you had configured in Url Master still work OK?  Are any custom URLs showing for pages correctly? 
  8. Site Alias redirects : does the site respond correctly in terms of alias redirects (like example.com –> www.example.com)
  9. User Profile pages : if you had vanity user profile URLs activated, do they still work correctly?  Are the profile pictures showing correctly, can users post updates, edit their profiles?

This is only a brief list to get you thinking; you should execute a comprehensive test plan to make sure the site is working as expected.  Your SEO depends on making sure there are no surprises and everything is working as before.   In the vast majority of cases, there should be no difference in behaviour or functionality, but it is imperative that this be tested and confirmed.  While I have tested this functionality to make sure a like-for-like conversion of settings is working as expected, it is impossible to test the entire universe of Url Master installations.

6.  When the conversion is finished, it’s up to you whether or not you uninstall the Url Master module.  You may wish to keep it installed as a backup for the short term in case you find a problem with the conversion process.   You can run the conversion process as many times as you like – it has been designed to be run repeatedly without causing any issue, to allow for iterative checks.   Each time it is run, the settings are taken from the Url Master configuration and applied to the DNN install – thus any changes in the DNN installation may be overwritten each time you do this.

Note: Anyone using Custom Module Providers for the Url Master module – the settings specific to Custom Module Providers are not converted during this process.  Any Custom Module providers will have to be replaced like-for-like with a DNN 7.1 specific Extension Url Provider which provides the same functionality, and the settings specific to that provider will have to be carried across.

Getting Support and Help

If you find any issues with the conversion process, please log them in the Url Master support forum.  

Wrapping Up

This is the last scheduled release of the Url Master module, and it will removed from sale very soon.   There has been a very long process in the making to get to this point in time, and I’m very happy that the ideas and concepts I developed and pushed over many years are now going out to a very large install base.   It’s the end of the road for the Url Master module, but the start of a whole new URL journey for the DNN Platform, and there are even more innovations and improvements yet to come.

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12 comment(s) so far...

Lance Long 7/22/2013

Is DNN advanced URLs an all-portal option or can the new URL format be customized as needed? I wouldn't want to mess with the format for most of my sites but I also don't want them on a retired code base.

Bruce Chapman 7/23/2013

@Lance - the Advanced URLs are indeed an 'all-portal' option. While you can change settings on a per-portal basis (in terms of page extension, space-replacement, etc) you can't run one portal on humanfriendly mode and one portal on advanced mode within the same installation. It's always been this way with URL Master and the same concept applies to the advanced mode. I would recommend to most people to have a plan to eventually get onto the advanced mode for their sites, because that's where all the future innovations will be, and the extra features certainly are worth the effort.

Web Admin 7/30/2013

Bruce, we are toying with this new functionality in a test 7.1 environment. I see how it's possible now to list a custom URL for a given page. But is it possible to create alternate URL's for a given page? This is something we became accustomed to doing with URL Master. We would often create alternate URL's that would 301 to the preferred page name. We would do this to keep an old link alive when updating sites or to create alternate print-friendly campaign URL's. Any advice appreciated. Perhaps I'm just overlooking this in the UI? Thanks, Greg

Bruce Chapman 7/31/2013

@Greg : the ability to create custom redirects through the UI in 7.1 is a piece of functionality that was reserved for the Evoq editions as per the original announcement. Within 7.1, any change in the page Url will keep the 'old link' active in a redirect behind the scenes, which also happens if you rename a page or move it in the page hierarchy. You can see these created in the TabUrl table within the database. But the exact scenario you are describing is not surfaced in the DNN Platform UI. I have seen some conversations amongst community members about creating an open-source UI module to perform these functions but that is not something I am actively involved in. Any of these created in URL Master and migrated using the 2.8 setting will be copied across.

Accuraty 8/4/2013

I thought I had read up fairly completely on Url Master moving in to DNN. However, I admit to still being confused about what features are now in DNN Platform (CE) vs. what additional, advanced features are available in DNN Evoq (PE). Is there a table or chart that sums it up somewhere? Also - if a site is upgraded to 7.1 and converted to Advanced Url, has the solution for catching and redirecting *.htm/*.html pages changed?

jac69 9/22/2013

Hi I did the conversion and it looks ok ... my only problem is where the page urls configuration went on DNN. For example i have a page that is /bookstore in en-US and /livraria in pt-PT. After conversion it works like before but where are these configurations went? In page settings even changing languages i can only see one of them. Can you help me? You say in conversion "and updates the DNN Adanced URL management configuration" what really this means? Jose

Bruce Chapman 9/23/2013

@jac69 the urls are in the TabUrls table so they are still there. You should see any custom Urls in the 'Page Url' section on the Page Settings. You may need to switch between languages in order to see the corresponding language related URL. Some of the configurations will not be visible through the Admin pages in DNN but they are all stored in the correct place within the application. That's what it means by 'updates the Advanced Url Management configuration'.

jac69 10/28/2013

Hello Bruce I am trying to record a url per language in the 'Page Url' section on the Page Settings and it is not working. I am changing language to record each one (that also changes alias because i have one primary per language) but when i record it... it looks that is changing the default language one not respecting language. The url in the language i am does not change. . If i switch back to the default language and the url is changed to this new one not the language i was working in. Any idea what can be causing this? Best Jose

Lucas Jans 11/4/2013

Hi Bruce, is a scenario where we had a custom URL with a custom domain name still going to work? This screenshot should explain it clearly: http://cloud.lucasjans.com/image/0F1f1r3y3x31 We are also on DNN Pro, will we have access to management tools to maintain this type of configuration?

Bruce Chapman 11/4/2013

@Lucas : yes, that functionality is included, and there are tools to manage it within Evoq Content and Evoq Social. It's under the 'Advanced URLs' section of the page settings. You will need to use V2.8 and the conversion script to convert the data over - I suggest testing on a local install first.

Bruce Chapman 11/4/2013

@jose I don't quite follow your question. If it's a support issue for URL Master please create in the Support Forum.

Bruce Chapman
Hi, I'm Bruce Chapman, and this is my blog. You'll find lots of information here - my thoughts about business and the internet, technical information, things I'm working on and the odd strange post or two.
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