DotNetNuke plugin for Unity Web player

Discussion in 'Unity Gossip' started by jashan, Dec 31, 2007.

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Would DotNetNuke modules for Unity content be useful for you?

  1. Never heard of DotNetNuke, so I don't care...

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  2. I'm using DotNetNuke, but I can't install modules!

    33.3%
  3. I'm using DNN in a hosted environment but could convince the hosting provider to install the module

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  4. I would like to get a Unity Web player module for DNN once it's released and stable.

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  5. I would like to support this by beta-testing that module on my own DNN-installation...

    33.3%
  6. I'd be interested in any Unity module for DotNetNuke!

    33.3%
  1. jashan

    jashan

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    I've been struggling a little bit with putting my Web players online on my DotNetNuke portal by putting it into a simple HTML-module, so I'm currently considering writing up a little module for DotNetNuke that would make it very convenient to add Unity content to existing DNN-portals.

    If you don't know DotNetNuke, you might check out: http://www.dotnetnuke.com/ - I would say it's "the .NET based Web-portal system", it's open source and has a very large community around it. There's modules (most of them commercial, but usually not very expansive) for almost everything available. But so far, no convenient way of adding Unity content (which I'm about to change) ;-)

    I'm primarily doing this for myself, but I was wondering if other people who use Unity might find such a DNN-module useful, too (I would probably put it on Snowcovered for a few euros)? Do you know DotNetNuke at all? Do you use it? Would you use such a module? I've created a little poll to find out about that...

    The "features" would probably be: Selecting a Unity player that's already uploaded to the server, doing all the "customization" that's now possible with the Unity 2.0 Web player in a comfortable settings dialog (setting the colors, selecting the various images that can be customized, switching the context menu on and off etc.), and maybe even adding some of the "protecting your content tricks" that Tom Higgins explained in his Unite presentation (obviously, that would be optional as the module cannot know what the Web game is doing unless you tell the module about that - but as DNN generates the page dynamically, it's very easy to add this once the basic module is up and running ;-) ).

    So, if you have a DotNetNuke portal, and the module is installed, the "workflow" for putting the Web player online would simply be: Build, upload only the *.unity3d file (the HTML is not needed, as the module would create all relevant HTML dynamically), add the module on a page in your portal, select the uploaded unity3d-file and customize as you wish.

    Let me know what you'd think about this...

    As I'm using DotNetNuke for all my Websites and it therefore will be the framework in which any of my Web games will be delivered through, I'll probably come up with some more DNN modules, like high-scores management, user management (when a user logged in to the portal plays a game, the game automatically knows the user, like his name etc., possibly even his "last saved status"), possibly in the long run even some subscription-framework to be used with Web games that could be integrated with PayPal etc.

    Some of these modules might be generic enough so that others could use them, too. If, however, I'm the only DNN-user here, I'd rather not try to make those things generic as this obviously makes the development much more complex (not necessarily with the Web player module, but with some of the other stuff, it might become very tricky to implement a generic approach)...

    Jashan
  2. HiggyB

    HiggyB

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    Well Jashan, your poll is a bit off in that it doesn't provide the answer I'd like to use:

    "I've never heard of DNN but am interested in learning more"


    I've not heard of it nor am I using it but it seems interesting enough...



    Edit: and I notice that you posted this under Collaboration, are you really looking to work with others on this or sorting out whether there's general interest in it? If you're looking for folks to work on it with you then Collaboration is the right place, if not then maybe Gossip is a better spot?
  3. jashan

    jashan

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    Concerning the forum, I must admit I wasn't really sure whether or not "Collaboration" was the right forum for this. In the end, I posted it here because basically I'm planning to offer something to be used with Unity, even though it's not directly content... but you're right - maybe gossip would be the better location for this as it doesn't really fit very well anywhere else... if you can move the thread, I wouldn't mind ;-)


    Concerning your interest in DNN: Basically, since Unity is much targeted towards Web games (just saw the keynote of Unite 2007 a few days ago, with the "Mission statement" of becoming THE tool for 3d on the Web), I think DotNetNuke + Unity should be a very interesting combination to look at. About two years ago, I spent a few days checking out various portal systems and even though I really don't like the name (I don't like things that have "Nuke" in their name ;-) ), it seemed to me to be the best way to go... basically because there's an incredibly large community around this particular portal system.

    I'm not sure if I need to explain "portal system"... One cool thing I see about using such a system for any "Website-stuff" is that you first of all have a clear separation of content and design: If I have a complete running Website and want to change the look (which does happen every once in a while), all I need to do is create a new skin, upload that, activate it - and that's it. Obviously, this flexibility also comes with restrictions in that there's certain parameters of "Webdesign" where this approach is somewhat restricted (from an artist's perspective), but with a little creativity, most visual things are possible - unless you want to base your Website fully on Flash or Unity ;-)

    While one could say, "content separated from look" is also available with HTML and CSS (with other restrictions ;-) ... obviously, the skinning feature in DNN is based on HTML and CSS), that's a somewhat limited view. Like: Just recently, DNN started using AJAX. So by using DNN, you get that technology more or less "for free" in many general cases.


    A portal system, of course, also provides a server-side runtime environment for modules (I guess that would be the definition of "portal system" ;-) ) - and in the case of DNN, a significant amount of existing modules you can simply "plug in" to the system and use as needed. www.snowcovered.com currently lists more than 1000 modules, and while obviously not all of them are useful to everyone, there's fancy stuff like forums, blogs, wikis, full-blown CRM-systems, document management systems, Flash-integration, internationalization, mail-blast tools, file-download management tools, FAQ-modules etc. etc. etc.

    When I pay from nothing to $100 for such a module, the math is very simple: How much can I as a developer do in one or two hours (which is more or less the equivalent of the price of one module)? Basically, I can sit down and think about what I want to do, and then the time is up ;-)

    And of course, DNN comes with quite a few useful modules and user management including various roles / user groups and rights management etc.

    DNN also comes with full PayPal integration, and while I haven't tested this myself yet, what should be possible to very easily set up is something like "if you pay a monthly amount of X, you can have access to Y". Hm... Y could be a Web based Unity game, for instance... or a set of games...

    And, if there's something you need that's not available, you can rather easily implement your own modules in C# or Visual Basic (or any other .NET language), which is why I started this thread ;-)

    Imagine you have a Website running and want to add a Unity-Game. Now, obviously, with the HTML-page that Unity generates, it's just a matter of uploading that page and linking to it. For a static Website, that's perfect. But now imagine you want to protect your content with some server/unity game communication. A DNN plugin could "give that for free" - you would just need to add the relevant code into your game that calls the server... the rest would be done by the module.

    To take it a step further: Imagine you want to create a community around that game. "Add forum module" (and set it up, and ... er ... maintain it ;-) ). You want to bind your users to the community and game by offering publicly visible high-scores. Now it becomes very interestin: What if all you need to do that is add a page to the portal, add the "high score module", connect the high-score module to your Unity game module, use the right script to send the highscores to the server and that's it...

    That's basically where I see DNN + Unity as a very powerful combination.


    That much about the "good news"... the "bad news" is that you obviously either need your own server where you can install and run DNN, and as DNN is .NET based, that usually means a hosted Windows server. Or, you need a hosting provider that has DNN installed. Personally, I like having my own (hosted) server(s) because that gives me full control over everything, and the one thing I'm really interested in is multiplayer games, so I have a need for that anyways...

    So, I guess the reason I didn't put "I've never heard of DNN but am interested in learning more" into the poll is so people could ask ;-)

    Jashan
  4. HiggyB

    HiggyB

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    And I quickly walked right into that "trap" now didn't I... :p Thanks for the explanation, it does sound like an interesting framework and I'll give it more of a look when I have time to properly read and digest it all. But your summary above did a lot to start answering the "why is this any better/different?" question so thanks for that. I do think that for a lot of folks the need to have their own Windows server set-up is a deal breaker, but there will be some users out there interested in DNN and any modules you might develop for Unity content so good on ya for the effort!

    And I'll now move this to Gossip as it's not so much a Collaboration thing...
  5. jashan

    jashan

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    It might also get some attention to Unity when those modules are available to that community... That may, however, spawn a few more "why doesn't Unity exist for Windows, yet"-threads :-(

    Thank you! And sorry, for posting it to the wrong location...

    Jashan
  6. Ricko

    Ricko

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    Can you use one of the many existing DNN flash player modules and just convert the object type? They would both just be VB.net or C#.net that writes out the HTML for embedding the object.

    I'm writing one right now for my site (to be announced soon) which uses Community Server, a similar but commercial portal technology to dotNetNuke, based on dotNet 2.0. Probably using a different module interface. I'm running an existing five year old software company while starting a new one for online games, so I doubt I'll have time to convert it for DNN. I'm happy to share my experience when I'm finished making one for Community Server.

    Ricko
  7. HiggyB

    HiggyB

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    That doesn't bother me, at least it has them here and looking at Unity. :)

    Not a problem at all so don't sweat it. Moving threads takes about two seconds and now it might get more/proper attention from others.
  8. jashan

    jashan

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    It will obviously be a very similar plugin. However, the more interesting part of the Unity plugin will be the "Web player customization" which I think is a little different than Flash (using different loading screen images / progress images etc.), and, when we get to that, the "Web player protection stuff".

    One thing that's also nice about using a server-side technology is that we can deliver only the code relevant for the browser doing the request instead of putting it all into one page and then doing the browser check on the client with JavaScript. To me, this feels somewhat "cleaner" and it also makes it impossible to simply "rip the page and put it one someone else's server".


    That would be cool. I haven't looked into Community Server because I think back then, I was looking only for open source based solutions. You're right: It's probably quite a hassle to convert from one portal system to another one.

    It's sure great to share experiences during the development. Maybe we should move this back to collaboration? ;-) just kidding ;-)

    I think a rather significant part of such modules will be somewhat portal system independent. Like, there sure will be some HTML/JavaScript code that's always the same and I don't think it makes a significant difference whether the "backend" of the module goes into the DNN or Community Server framework on that level (basically, I will use what comes with Unity and what Tom has created and split it up into "IE-specific" and "other browsers" parts so I can do the "browser-specific delivery", plus adding "parameters" where necessary).

    Also, if you plan on integrating some of the techniques that Tom has outlined in his talk at Unite (Developing Content for the Web), it would probably be a good idea if we could agree on using the same "concepts" so that a Web player that uses this could be deployed both to Community Server and DNN alike.

    I guess this could be done by simply creating "one Unity script to rule them all" ;-) i.e. a script inside the game that handles the relevant checks and server communication... Probably the best way to go about this is using some secret key that the script inside the game is configured with and that's also available in the configuration of the module (not "publicly visible"). So, to be able to install the game on your server with any of the available modules (Community Server, DNN, whatever other modules come along), you need to know the secret key that was used for the game. That way, the relevant Unity script and the underlying concepts could be "open source" and stored on the Unifywiki without breaking security (if one believes in security by obscurity in first place).

    The other stuff ("customizing the module to the site-specific needs") is obviously heavily framework dependent and I guess the specification for that is somewhat trivial simply resulting from the available parameters.

    Jashan
  9. pavlito

    pavlito

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    Hi there holtsch!

    I, myself am using DNN to cover my portal needs and I do too have problems adding the web game to a text / html module.

    My provider registered the file in the DNN system but I'm having some problems executing the game.

    So far, I've managed to get the first image (the little unity loader picture), but the game doesn't load. I'm just not sure what part of all the generated HTML code is needed. I have HTML and coding experience, so I'm not at all lost, yet encounter problems when dealing with something new. Don't we all? =)

    Anyway, I think the "unity module" would be a great thing. Otherwise, I might be forced to ask my provider to deliver such a module =)

    Adding a flash object and manually changing the application type and the file itself also generates the first screen (unity loader) but doesn't load the game.

    Any help?
  10. jashan

    jashan

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    Hi Pavlito,

    hm... I'm not sure why this fails for you. You need to make sure the correct MIME-Type(s) are set in the IIS-settings of the IIS that's running DNN. Also, you have to allow the unity-Filetypes to be uploaded to the DNN portal (I think that's what your provider enabled).

    Then, what I'm doing is simply using the greatest part of the HTML-file that Unity has generated. I've copied the script parts into the body and them I'm using the usual HTML-module (actually, I'm using a multi language HTML-module, but that shouldn't make a difference).

    I guess I'll have to modify this for Unity 2.0.2 now...

    I remember that I had been fiddling with this for quite some while, and then "suddenly" it worked. My assumption back then was that something simply had been cached somewhere (don't we all hate caches? it's such a funny feeling when you realize your changes solved the problem half an hour ago, but the caches didn't let you see the result ;-) ). Could also be I had to restart the IIS for the MIME-type changes to work.

    I'm currently focussed on finishing my game, but once that's done, I'll look into creating this module (and then, I'll also do some proper testing on what is really needed to get this up and running). Shouldn't take too long...

    I guess I'll only support Unity 2.0.2, though, and future versions, unless someone tells me what the differences are ;-)

    Sunny regards,
    Jashan
  11. pavlito

    pavlito

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    So, you only copy script parts from the HTML? Not the whole document..

    I copied the whole document without the <html> and <body> tags which resulted in not showing unity loader.

    After that I tried tweaking the code, removing some components which ultimately lead to showing the loader but not starting the game.

    You might be right concerning MIME-Type(s) in IIS. I'll check with him later and give feedback.
  12. jashan

    jashan

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    Well, I basically copied what I felt made sense inside the framework ;-)

    I guess that's pretty much what I did. I DID include the contents of the <head>-tags, though (i.e. the scripts that are included there).

    One trick I used was trying to directly download the Unity-file. At first, the browser told me the file didn't exist. When I recall correctly, after fixing the MIME-problem, it would try to download the file...

    Jashan
  13. pavlito

    pavlito

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    Correct! MIME-Type application/vnd.unity needed to be registered.

    Yep, solved the problem. While I'm here, I can brag with my latest achievement on www.colorsoft.hr/Air-race.aspx

    Enjoy and try not to get lost in the void :D
  14. Rolandd

    Rolandd

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    Hi Jashan,

    Any update to this post/poll? I am interested in using DNN and Unity.

    Rolandd
  15. jashan

    jashan

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    Hi Roland - by now I have implemented a module which is used for Traces of Illumination; but it's kind of tied in with my user management. But you if it would be useful for you, I could probably create a "clean" version, too (to be used with "some minimal DNN-module development know-how")
  16. Rolandd

    Rolandd

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    Hi Jashan,

    Thanks for your kind offer. Perhaps I can also get your opinion on using DNN with my project.

    I am creating a grocery shopping game for students with intellectual disabilities. The concept of the game is rather simple. A player gets a list of items they have to pick off the shelves of a virtual grocery store. I want to use DNN modules to build a simple Learning Management System with high scores, registration, documentation, etc.
    For example a student may click a link in DNN to start a game level in Unity. Or an action in the game may trigger a link to documentation in DNN. Or players can use a DNN chat module while in a multi-player session.

    Can your module be used to call functions and send data between DNN and Unity?

    Thanks again,
    Roland
  17. jashan

    jashan

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    The main part of my module is configuration and being able to deliver different Web players depending on the user's user groups. So, non-registered users get a different Web player than registered users, and paying users get yet another Web player ;-)

    I also have implemented some checks back and forth between the Web player and the module to make sure that certain Web players won't play if hosted from another site (that's one thing that I feel was kind of a waste of time by now ;-) ).

    Also, I have a separate HttpHandler that handles communication between the Web player and DNN - however, that's just doing exactly what I need - basically it's nothing more than a Web based interface to the stored procedures in my database ... so from that perspective, it's kind of trivial (just an HttpHandler with no DNN-specific stuff). Also, that HttpHandler - while packed with the module - requires manual changes in the Web.config.

    In the end, I guess the hardest part is setting up the development environment for DNN-modules. What I'd recommend for that is using the Visual Studio 2008 C# Compiled DNN Module Started Kit (in case you prefer VB ... there's a link to that from there as well).

    Then, I broke apart the HTML-template for Web Players that is generated when you create a Web player with Unity and made it configurable. I also provide two options: a) vbscript/javascript code resides in skin (this is what I'm using); b) vbscript/javascript code delivered by module.

    Finally, I'm using the settings to store all the configuration (colors, which Web player to use etc.). So the module does not use its own datalayer but it the module settings (the GUI for that is implemented in Settings.ascx, which is the usual layout for those modules).
  18. chrisk

    chrisk

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    Hi, jashan,
    I just got dnn set up and I really like it.
    The next natural step is to plug unity in it. I was struggling to get it to work together and the search on the forum led me to this post. ^^

    Were you able to make a module to work?
    I'm very interested unity and dnn to talk to each other using the module in addition of just displaying it.

    But first, I was trying to display unity in dnn HTML module, following your guidelines.
    There is no error but I'm not sure why loading screen doesn't appear.
    I'm a newbie regarding web. So please explain what I'm doing wrong. Here are what I did.

    1. Got dnn setup and running. Everything seems be ok.
    2. Installed unity web player.
    3. added .unity3d application/vnd.unity MIME type to IIS
    4. modified the loading path of unity3d file ("document.write(' <embed id="UnityEmbed" src="/Portals/0/Unity/test.unity3d" ...) and cut and paste withtout <html> and <body> tag into dnn HTML module.

    I'm using the latest dnn (5.1) in Windows7 x64
    Any help would be appreciate.

    And please let us know how unity module is coming along.

    Thanks.
  19. jashan

    jashan

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    Hi Chris,

    since you have added the MIME type (which would be the first thing to look after) ... and it's still not working, I'm not really sure what the problem is here, sorry. I think one issue I had encountered were permissions (the way I originally uploaded Web-players sometimes led to missing permissions for the Web-application / IIS to deliver the Web-player).

    Does it work when you include it with a simple HTML-page (the page that Unity spits out on building a Web-player)?

    I think another issue that might be giving you trouble is JavaScript-oddities. IIRC, I didn't get Web-players to run on my "main-site" (which includes a JavaScript-based navigation-menu), that's why I simply put the Web-player on its own page which only has a back-link (after all, users should play the game and not mess with the Website navigation ;-) ).

    Sunny regards,
    Jashan
  20. chrisk

    chrisk

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    Yup, html Unity spits out works without problems.
    I also tried to create its own sub-page as you suggested, but it's the same problem.
    I extracted the skeleton html code below. Do you see anything suspicious?

    Code (csharp):
    1.  
    2. <center>
    3.  
    4. <h2>Unity Web Player - UnityProtoType</h2>
    5.  
    6.  
    7. <script language="javascript1.1" type="text/javaScript">
    8.  
    9.  
    10. document.write('<object id="UnityObject" classid="clsid:444785F1-DE89-4295-863A-D46C3A781394" width="800" height="860"> \n');
    11. document.write(' <param name="src" value="demo.unity3d" /> \n');
    12. document.write(' <embed id="UnityEmbed" src="/Portals/0/demo.unity3d" width="800" height="860" type="application/vnd.unity" pluginspage="http://www.unity3d.com/unity-web-player-2.x" /> \n');
    13. document.write('</object>');
    14. </script>
    15.  
    16. <h5>[url="http://unity3d.com"][i]Created with Unity ยป[/i][/url]</h5>
    17.  
    18. </center>
    The same html code above (<html> <body> tag removed, path to unity file modified) works fine when loaded from html file.

    Thanks.
  21. jashan

    jashan

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    So the sub-page used a simplified skin without navigation etc. and only the plain module? You'll probably have to create a custom skin to test this (but you can probably use an existing skin and just strip out everything except the content frame).

    Why do you need to modify the path to the Unity file? I think it should be the same in the "plain-html-file" and when you're including it into your module. For testing, it might be best using an absolute path (which /Portals/0/demo.unity3d is - so that *should* do).
  22. chrisk

    chrisk

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    The subpage has only a single HTML module. I'm not sure what skin has to do with this.

    If I'm correct, dnn HTML module loads resources from /Portals/0/... thus I have to create a directory under /Portals/0/ and modify the path to load from the correct folder. Is this correct?
    This is my first attempt to do anything in dnn and please excuse my ignorance.

    Thanks.
  23. chrisk

    chrisk

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    Here is screenshot of the problem.
    The dialog box is when I click on "error details" link
    Thanks.

    Attached Files:

  24. chrisk

    chrisk

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    I finally figured out.
    It was the path problem. Unity generated path needs be modified and in the end, this is all you need to put in into the HTML.
    Code (csharp):
    1.  
    2. <object classid="clsid:444785F1-DE89-4295-863A-D46C3A781394" width="320" height="240"> <param name="src" value="/Portals/0/Unity/Island.unity3d" /></object>
    Thanks for helping me out.

    BTW, are you still working on dnn Unity module? The next thing I'm going to try is Unity to talk to dnn.
    It would be much more challenging though..
  25. jashan

    jashan

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    A problem I once encountered had to do with the JavaScript that was used for the navigation of DNN. So in such a case, the only thing that helps is having a skin without navigation (which - depending on your design - can actually make a lot of sense anyways because it helps focus the user on the Web player instead of getting distracted by the page navigation).

    As it seems your problem was not related to some JavaScript issue you don't need to worry about that, though.

    No ;-) ... /Portals/0/ is just the folder that you can access via the DNN file manager. Within a module, you could link to any URL anywhere. It does make sense to keep those files in /Portals/0/, though (well, "0" being the ID of the portal, so this also could be 1 or 2 or some other positive integer ;-) ).

    However, /Portals/0/ could also be accessed by any HTML page you put into your DNN folder.

    Hm ... for testing purposes, I'd go another route, though: First just use the html-file and unity3d-file generated by Unity and put it to your Web application's root folder. Test if it works; if it does, go for the next step: Put the code from the Unity-generated html-file into a module (as you did, without the html/body tags). Here, you need to be a bit careful: You'll probably have to prefix the Web-player filename with a "/" to make sure it tries to get it from the root because usually, DNN uses some sort of "pretty URLs" which would make the Web browser look for the file in some deep path (which very likely doesn't even exist) unless the path is made absolute. Here, you also need to be careful if you have DNN running in the root or a subfolder (if you have http://www.yourdomain.com/MyCoolDNNSite/ you'd have /MyCoolDNNSite/ as prefix instead of just /.

    There, you also need to be a little careful because Unity has the Web-player location a couple of times in the generated HTML-file (for good reasons, see below). You need to make sure you change all of them.

    Finally, if that works, you're really familiar with both DNN HTML-modules and how the Unity-generated HTML-file is setup, and if everything worked so far, you'd probably want to put the Web-player to its final destination somewhere under /Portals/0/


    Anyways, cool you figured it you (just wrote this in case someone else runs into a similar problem ;-) ).

    Btw, using only the object-element as you suggested in your previous posting will very likely only work in a few browsers. That's why the Unity-generated HTML file is a little more complex: It has mechanisms implemented to work on all browsers (AFAIK), and also to work whether the Unity Web player plugin is available or not (if not, a download button is shown).

    Regarding my module: I'm currently not working on it as it does what I need. I can post some of the code for reference (even though I think something similar already exists on the Wiki ... might be PHP based but the basic concepts should be the same).

    Sunny regards,
    Jashan
  26. chrisk

    chrisk

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    Hi, jashan, thanks again for your help.
    Now that I got the basics working, I can start experiment with other options.

    Yeah, I don't know how many are using DNN but I'm pretty sure people would appreciate if they start using it. It would be really helpful if you can share the dnn module code with us as I'm just begining. Any help would be appreciated. ^^