Note: This blog post is from 2010. Some content may be outdated--though not necessarily. Same with links and subsequent comments from myself or others. Corrections are welcome, in the comments. And I may revise the content as necessary.Do you know what the "var scope problem" is, and how pernicious it can be in causing very subtle bugs that can cause errors that are VERY hard to understand? I list here several resources to help you understand the issue. Some help plainly explain what the issue is, including even a live demo.
I also discuss below the key varscoper tool which you will want to use to help assess and indeed correct your own code.
(Update in 2019: while they're all quite old now, they still apply. And where needed, I recovered them from the good ol' archive.org, as I've written about before.)
Why a list was needed
If you or anyone you know ever wants to get up to speed on the "var scope problem" in CF, you may be challenged by the fact that there are many discussions of the topic, spread across many blogs.
I created this list today after helping a client with a problem which seemed related to this classic problem: the need to remember to var scope your variables in CFCs, and especially when instances of such a CFC may be saved in a shared scope. Like many, these folks still hadn't heard about the problem (introduced in CF6!). Others may have seen mention of it but didn't really understand it.
As always, the CF community has rallied the troops on the matter over the years, and several folks have blogged in various detail or on various related aspects. I think it's helpful to have all the resources in one place. Indeed, I've since moved this also to my "resource lists" page where I keep similar "compendia".
About the resources
The first few elaborate on the problem, and the first one even includes a live running example to demonstrate the point. Then a couple explain some related issues.
I also then list resources on the related new "local" scope in CF 9, and some more that discuss compatibility issues with that.
Note that these may have been written any time in the past couple/few years, so keep that in mind and be sure to check the comments as well.
First, some general resources introducing the var scoping issue/feature:
- Thread safety and the var scope - live example, by Mike Schierberl
- Memory Leaks: Part III - sessions and cfcs, Mike's previous blog entry discussing a memory leak he'd found related to CFCs (and perhaps the var scope) back in 2006
- Why precisely is it important to var-scope your variables?, by Nathan Strutz
- Thread safety example: Var scope your loop index in ColdFusion CFCs!, by Dave Shuck (recovered via archive.org)
- Object Oriented Coldfusion : 4 : The var scope, by Adrian Moreno
And some that address various issues related to using the VAR scope (in descending order of recency):
- cfparam with unscoped variables, by Mike Henke (recovered via archive.org)
- So what happens when you don't var scope? and Always var scope! Always!! Except..., by Ray Camden
- Var Scoping Queries, by Gary Gilbert (recovered via archive.org)
- VAR scoping using structures, by Dave Shuck (recovered via archive.org)
- The VAR keyword is idiotic, by Steve Nelson (recovered via archive.org)
- The REAL reason you need to var-scope your local CFC function variables, by Tyson Vanek (recovered via archive.org)
On the new "local" scope added in CF9
Some may know that CF9 added a new "local" scope, to help ease the challenge of working with "unscoped" vars within functions. For more on that, read on:
- The New ColdFusion LOCAL Scope, by Ben Forta
- Repeat - ColdFusion 9 does NOT remove the need to var scope!, by Ray Camden
And some tangential discussions of that, including some compatibility issues with that new "local" scope alternative:
- Be careful with the 'local' scope when migrating from CF8 to CF9, by Dan Skaggs
- CHF Warning - Impacts MXUnit, by Ray Camden (important impact of CF 9 CHF 1, even if not using MXUnit)
- LOCAL Variables Scope Conflicts With ColdFusion Query of Queries, by Ben Nadel
- Is this an issue with the local scope in ColdFusion 9?, by Paul Kukiel (recovered via archive.org)
- ColdFusion 9 and the local scope continued, by Paul Kukiel (recovered via archive.org)
- Major Flaw in CF9 - May Break Code! and part 2/part 3, by Sami Hoda
The VarScoper toolFinally, of course, as most of these resources point out, be sure to use Mike Schierberl's wonderful which can help you easily find whether you have instances of this problem. It tells you literally what to change, where, so don't let concern of this problem overwhelm you.
The tool: varscoper tool (previously at riaforge.org until mid-2019, then that site was abandoned by Adobe)
It can help with tags or script (though he was seeking help in 2012 with an aspect of working with entirely-script-based CFCs, which never seemed resolved, if that may be an issue for your own needs).
And even as old as is, it has continued to be included in or integrated with various tools:
- Note that the tool is embedded in the Ortus CodeChecker, on ForgeBox
- VarScoper integration for Sublime Text 2 (from 2012)
- Mike Henke's varScoper Ant Target Example, if that may aid you in using Ant
Finally, here are some resources about using it (they will link typically to where it WAS, at riaforge):
- Twitter feed on the tool and its use
- 'varscoper' For CFML Revisited (in 2016, by wouter)
- Mike's several blog posts on it (from 2006-2012)
- Ray Camden introducing his readers to it in 2008
- Ray shared some tips on the tool (See also comments from others)
- Brian Ghidinelli's commendation of it (and that it should be used frequently)
Hope those are helpful. Again, it's just a starting list. I welcome additions, and I look forward to your comments. In time, I'll move this (and any suggested additions) to my "resource lists" page. Check that out for similar lists of resources on various subjects.
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