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The 100 most interesting posts on the Adobe ColdFusion blog, the past 3 years

The Adobe ColdFusion team blog often has really some interesting content, but I find that some people are either not aware of the blog or just don't keep up on it, or perhaps they have trouble finding something they saw before or maybe heard was there.

So here I present what I feel are the 100 (technically, 105) most interesting/useful posts made there over the past 3 years (2014-16), offering information about CF and CFML which should be valuable to readers for years to come.

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Why you should think twice about leaving on the "public JRE" option of the Java JDK installer

This is a follow-up to a post I did in late 2014, CF911: 'Help! I've updated the JVM which ColdFusion uses, and now it won't start!'. In that post, I listed about a dozen common problems that befall people who try to update the JVM that CF is using (and it and this post apply as well to Lucee or BlueDragon, or indeed any Java application server).

In this post, I want to elaborate on one more common mistake. Well, mistake may be too strong word. It's about a default option when you run a Java JDK installer (see the other post for more on JDK vs JRE options).

In short, I make the case here for why you should NOT let the JDK installer implement its "public jre" option.

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How to solve common problems with applying ColdFusion updates (in 10 and above)

While ColdFusion 10 and later releases add a new automated update installation mechanism, what do you do if the update doesn't work? The answer may be simple on the surface, but not obvious to most. (And you'll likely be in panic mode.)

Many find after applying a ColdFusion update that either CF won't start at all, or they can't access the ColdFusion Admin, or some part of CF or their app doesn't work. The problem may be simply that there was an error in the update process CF did, and it may be rather easily confirmed and resolved.

In this post, I share several tips and observations to help resolve this, based on my years of providing remote CF troubleshooting support.

The TLDR version: check the ColdFusion update log (not logs in the normal CF "logs" folder. More detail below.) And if there are errors, try stopping CF yourself and then either try the update again, or if it still fails, try to manually apply the update from the command line. If that's enough to get you going, great--especially if you ARE in panic mode! (If the "problem" you need to solve, instead, is that you can't get CF to show you updates because you're behind a firewall preventing outbound internet access, I help with that also, toward the end.)

For most people, though, even those "simple things to do" can prove challenging (and understandably so). And you may find different resources on the web offering perhaps truncated discussions of the topics, which is why I elaborate on things in this post.

And even if you're in a panic, it may take only about 10 minutes to read this whole post. (You can also hire me to help instead, of course. See the link above.) Hope the info to follow is helpful for you.

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The ColdFusion 'metrics log', an oft-missed or misunderstood feature, 'new' since CF10 (Part 1)

I'd like to take a diversion from my recent posts focused on CF2016 and talk about something that applies (and should interest) anyone using CF 10, 11, or 2016.

Have you heard of the new "metrics log" option that was enabled in CF10? If you have not, it's worth knowing about (there's precious little documentation, and I'll point to it, and give you still more info to help you use it). It's a useful, low-impact mechanism to get some high-level metrics logged by CF every 60 seconds (by default), and stored along with other CF logs.

If you did know about it, you've probably had some problems with it. Why does it show "nulls"? What do reported metrics really mean? Why do they not jive with what I'd expect to be the numbers reported?

In this post, and a Part 2 to come, I will introduce the metrics log, pointing out some key things you need to know to have it setup to work at all, and then I'll share my observations of things I've come to understand about the reported metrics.

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Stuck running the ColdFusion 'Migration wizard'? Here's how to get past that

CF Admin migration wizard screenSomeone presented a problem on a discussion list where they found that upon installing CF, they got to the "migration wizard" screen, and though it offered the option to "continue" if it hung up, it did not continue for him.

In this post, I'll share how to get past that prompt, if this happens to you. (And despite that image on the right showing ColdFusion 11, this could conceivably happen in CF10, CF9, and so on, and this same solution applies to all.)

For the anxious folks who want to "skip the waffle" and context/setup, the solution is at the very bottom. :-)

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More on Tomcat 'Status Worker', as discussed recently by Adobe

If you're running CF 10 or 11, there's a very interesting post on the Adobe CF blog, from July 19, entitled, Configuring Status Worker in Connectors. The Adobe blog post title may not have caught your attention, but it's about setting up a lightweight and built-in Tomcat monitoring feature for observing the status of the Tomcat web server connector.

You may want to consider enabling it, but I would add some caveats and observations that I share below. Note that it's really quite easy to enable, and DOES NOT require a restart of CF (only of your web server, or technically in IIS, the application pool/s) to take effect.

If you've not yet read their blog entry, go check it out and then come back here for several observations I have to share, some of which I think you'll agree could be very important. (BTW, if you don't follow that Adobe CF blog regularly, you really should. Often great content, and very little "noise".)

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FusionReactor updated today: some general info related to getting/applying FR updates

How to update FusionReactorFusionReactor users will want to know that there was a new update released today, 5.2.6. The update is free for those on 5.2.x releases as well as those with maintenance agreements. And you can just download the installer and run it to update your current version (even back to FR 5.0, if you've not updated FR 5 since you first installed it).

But more than that basic info, I'd like in this post to take advantage of the chance to share a few things related to the topic of upgrading FusionReactor, including some common questions I often am asked as I assist people in using it:

  • Where do I get the update?
  • How do I find out what's new in the update?
  • Should I hesitate about applying the very latest FR update as soon as it comes out?
  • How would you I know there WAS an update to FR available?
  • Do I just need to run the full installer or can I update just one file perhaps?
  • Do I need to restart CF (or Railo/Lucee/Tomcat, etc.) for the update to take effect?
  • Can I update FRAM and choose NOT to update my monitored CF/Railo/Lucee/Tomcat/etc instance?
  • Why do you keep referring to "CF/Railo/Lucee/Tomcat/etc"? I thought FR was a CF monitor tool?
  • What if I'm on an FR version older than 5.0?

For these and more, read on.

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CF911: Help, How do I connect sites to a new instance w/ the ColdFusion 10/11 webserver config tool?

This one causes a lot of heartburn for folks: you add a new instance in CF10 or 11 (in editions other than Standard, which do support adding instances), and you find that you can't seem to have the web server configuration tool (wsconfig) connect sites to that new instance(s). You never see the new instance listed in the UI of the wsconfig tool. What gives?

The solution is relatively easy, and the problem could maybe be fixed (or at least warned about) by Adobe (and I just filed a bug report for it). Until that happens, I wanted to share this. For more, read on.

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Updates, updates. Get your CF updates! The CF Team has been busy fixin' bugs!

If you'd not noticed, the CF team has been busy fixin' bugs! Over 300 in CF11 in just the past month. Check out these two announcements today of prereleases of update 5 for CF11 and update 16 for CF10:

This is on top of the release earlier this week of the final version of CF11 Update 4 (which had been in prerelease for a couple of weeks):

Great to see the CF team cranking on the bug fixes. I count just under 120 in the technotes for CF11 update 5, and just under 40 in CF10 update 16. And there were just under 200 fixes in Update 3 of CF11, which again was released just in recent weeks.

Yeah, but what about all those bugs?

Yes, I know some could twist things and say "yeah, but the problem is that there are so many bugs to be fixed". Sure.

Still, for others who may have longed to see their bugs fixed,

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Solving slow CF startup: my elaborating on an Adobe blog entry on a possible solution

The fine folks at the Adobe CF blog posted a blog entry today, on "Sometimes ColdFusion services refuse to start normally post server restart" (by Rahul Upadhyay), which offers some helpful information on one possible solution to the stated problem of slow CF startup.

That said, there are some concerns I have, with respect to how I fear some may read and take action based on it (especially the notion of deleting the cfclasses files, as a possible solution to the problem).

I'm not contradicting Rahul here, just elaborating on some points, as someone who (like some on the CF team) helps people with CF server troubleshooting every day.

I started to write these thoughts as a comment there, and (as often happens) it grew long so I thought it better to be a blog entry rather than a long comment, and point people here. Once I did that I decided to go further still, hoping to really help those interested to consider the issue more carefully. (It also gives me a chance to highlight again the Adobe CF team blog, something I recommend EVERYONE reading this should follow!)

One quick point (and update) for the TL;DR cloud: My recommendation is that you move the cfclasses folder out of that location, as a temporary test, to see if it makes CF startup happen faster. If it does, I explain why and what the implications are in the choices of renaming, deleting, moving, or disabling the related "save class files" feature. Also, I add an update in E.1 below (since posting this) which you may really want to read: consider turning off your anti-virus software's real-time protection against the cfclasses folder to see if that alone helps with startup.

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CF911: 'Help! I've updated the JVM which ColdFusion uses, and now it won't start!'

Has this happened to you?
  • You wanted to update the JVM which CF uses to use a new version
  • so you found some resource on the web showing how to update, and it seemed simple enough
  • and then you tried restarting CF and wham, it won't start
  • and now you're stuck wondering, "what happened? and how am I supposed to fix this?"

It's a tragic position to be in, of course.

There are several reasons why your attempt to update CF's JVM can fail.

And fortunately I can offer several things you can consider/look at, some of which may quickly recover from or be able to undo (depends on what you did). And all this applies to Lucee, Railo, and BlueDragon as well, though folder locations will differ.

In brief, here are the things you may have done wrong. See below for solutions or recommendations:

  1. You may have told the Java installer to install itself WITHIN the CF directory. You should not do that.
  2. You may have gotten the wrong kind of Java installer
  3. You may have gotten the wrong bit-level of Java for your bit-level of CF
  4. You may have gotten the wrong JVM for your OS
  5. You may have tried to use a JVM not supported by the version of CF you're running
  6. You may have pointed CF to the wrong JVM location
  7. You may have updated the JVM config for the cfusion instance, but not your other instances
  8. You may have forgotten to change the path's directory separator slashes on Windows
  9. You may have to copy the msvcr100.dll from the JVM's lib to CF's when updating older CF's to Java 7+
  10. You may have to copy the tools.jar from the JVM's lib to CF's when updating older CF's to Java 8+ (and delete some files compiled for the old JVM)
  11. You may find that Solr integration (and/or PDFG in CF11+) stops working, because you didn't realize you needed to edit *its* jvm config file

While I'm at it, I also cover:

  • Why you'll find that CF can't even STOP (let alone START) if you make a mistake with the JVM configuration
  • What JVM version(s) are supported by what versions of CF
  • Dealing with SSL Certificates you may have imported into a previous JVM
  • Beware leaving the Java installer to choose the "public jre" option

So this really became quite a compendium of resources on changing the JVM CF uses, but again the focus is on why CF may not start if you make certain very common mistakes.

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My reply to: 'The price for CF troubleshooting consultants is a joke. They're taking us for a ride'

Ok, so that's clearly not my sentiment but rather that of a certain "Simon" (no other identifying info offered) in a blog comment in one of the recent CF team blog entries.

After complaining about how poorly he felt CF had responded to his seeking help, he threw in additionally that "the existing private consultants prices are a total joke - they are taking us for a ride!".

Well, I just couldn't let go his comment go unremarked.

I started to write my reply there, but it grew long (as is my wont). So rather than post there (where most comments are brief), I decided to post it here instead and point to it there. Perhaps some of my readers here may appreciate it as well, as I also talk about some thoughts on CF troubleshooting in general.

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Hidden Gem: Importing CF Admin settings in ANY release via 'import wizard', even AFTER installation

Have you ever faced the challenge of needing to migrate the CF Admin settings (datasources, mappings, scheduled tasks, etc.) from one machine to another? You may know of a couple of solutions (the CAR mechanism and the "import wizard" which runs at the end of installation).

But what if those solutions don't work for you? Or what if you didn't know of them before installation, and now you have dozens of dsn's, scheduled tasks, mappings, or other settings you want to get from one machine/release to another?

You are NOT stuck having to manually copy settings from one screen to another! (And you should be very careful about the common hack solution of copying neo*.xml files from one instance to another, which may not always work and may break things.)

In this entry I'll discuss how you CAN indeed import the CF admin settings from ANY release of CF into ANY OTHER release of CF, in a fully supported way, and which CAN be done even after installation of a new CF release.

I'll also mention an important potential gotcha to beware, as well as how to to get around that.

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Finding ColdFusion installers, updaters, hotfixes, and docs for all recent releases

This won't be new info for some, but many folks remain confused by the fact, that after Adobe released ColdFusion 11 2016, they can seem to only find ColdFusion 11 2016 installers on the Adobe site. What if you need installers for 11, 10, or 9, or 8, and so on?

(Update: I wrote this post originally after CF11 came out, but it applies as well and still now that CF2016 has come out, so I have changed the references to that from here on.)

Find CF installers, updaters, and docs for past several releases

The good news is that if one wants to find ANY installers for most ANY version of CF, they can be found on an external repository setup by Gavin Pickin (and added to by myself and others, to include updates, hotfixes, and docs):

Gavin Pickin's CFML Repo

The name, CFMLRepe, may confuse some if they presume it's a repo of CFML. It's not. What it is is that originally it did originally have only CF installers (and updates, etc.) but then some contributed installers for Lucee and such, so he chose the more "generic" name.

(There used to be a longer and hard-to-remember URL, when I posted this originally in 2014, and I had created a shortened url, http://bit.ly/cfdownloads. It's now not "shorter", so I leave this here for posterity.)

Thanks so much to Gavin for creating the repo, and to him and others for maintaining it. Let's hope it remains a viable solution to find downloads for years to come.

New updates for Coldfusion 11, 10, and 9 (security update for 9, 11; still more for 10)

If you'd not heard the news, there were several updates released today, for CF 11, 10, and 9.

As for CF11 and CF9, it's mainly a security update. For CF10, it's got quite a bit more. (And there is another update for CF11 to come in the future which Adobe mentioned when it came out with its first update last month.)

For more on each, see below.

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CF911: Solving problem in ColdFusion Admin getting "error accessing this page" on certain actions

Here's a real CF911 challenge (and solution): You may find that when using the CF Admin, especially in CF10 but it can happen in CF 9 or 8 depending on security hotfixes applied, when performing certain Admin operations (like making a change, or verifying datasources, or checking for server updates) you get an error:

"There was an error accessing this page. Check logs for more details."

And your operation fails. You're then prompted to "Click here to login", but even if you back up or client another link, you'll be prompted with the CF Admin login.

What gives? Why is it happening? And how can you fix things? Is CF broken? No, not in the sense that you need to reinstall or anything. The good news is that there is a quite simple solution. Well, there are several, depending on your goals.

The simple solution: delete the duplicate cfid/cftoken or jsessionid cookies that you will find your browser is sending to CF. But there is much more to this, as well as other solutions, which would be worth most readers taking a few minutes to read on here.

BTW, the same root problem can be the cause of your own application's users finding that they can't stay logged in. More on that in a moment.

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Applying hotfixes to ColdFusion 9 and earlier? A guide to getting it right

I realize that title may seem anachronistic. Why talk about hotfixes in CF9 and earlier, in 2014, indeed as CF11/Splendor is in beta? But I'll tell you that I still help people daily who are still on those older releases, and often they have problems that may have long since been solved by a hotfix or a cumulative hotfix they never applied--or may be caused by misapplication of such hotfixes.

Of course, in CF10 it's easier now because of the built-in "server updates" feature of the CF Admin. But in earlier releases, it was all on you to both keep up on the updates and to apply them manually. And a lot of people either never bothered, or may have tried and failed, or did it but got it wrong.

What you need to know

So in this blog entry, I some key info that will help you, if you may be in need of applying one or more of those updates to CF9 and earlier. Indeed, I'll point to some past entries I've done where I shared a lot more detail that I find is vital and rarely mentioned when some people try to share just the bare minimum of info (often leaving people hanging).

For instance, I'll help you answer such questions as what hotfixes do you already have applied? How do you find out? And you need to know exactly what version of CF you have, whether 9.0/9.0.1/9.0.2, 8.0/8.0.1, 7.0/7.0.1/7.0.2, and so on. I'll explain how to tell and why that's important, and especially when it comes to finding and applying hotfixes. And if you have applied hotfixes, are you sure you have done it right? It's easy to get things wrong and botch things. I'll help you avoid several very common mistakes.

(That's why it's so great that CF10 finally handles things for us. But this entry, focused on 9 and earlier, is not the place to discuss concerns with the CF10 hotfix mechanism. If you have questions or concerns about that, see the substantial CF10 Hotfix Installation Guide from Adobe, a 50-question FAQ on all things related to that feature.)

I'll also point you to where to find hotfixes and installers for CF9 and earlier (not as easy as it may seem), and still more.

If any of that's of interest, and I hope it is if you're on CF9 or earlier, then read on.

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An interesting solution to problems with ColdFusion 10 and IIS 404 handlers

There was an interesting solution proposed today on the Adobe forums, to address a problem some folks are having with CF10, where they find problems using an IIS 404 error handlers set to pass to a CF page. I found it helped with one of my consulting clients, so I wanted to share the news with others readers here who may benefit.

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Note that ColdFusion 10 Update 13 is "needed" for OS X-only...and some confusion

Some of you may have seen that Adobe released a new hotfix for ColdFusion 10 last night, called Update 13. If you only read the text in the update (shown in the "Server Update" page of the CF admin), you might proceed to apply that update (which is ok).

But guess what: it technically only has changes related to Mac OS X (specifically adding support for its Mavericks version).

This is addressed if you read the technote that the update text points to, or the Adobe blog entry from last night which announced the update (more on these in a moment.) Those DO indicate that if you are not running that OS, you need not apply the update. (And the day after I wrote this entry, this indication was added to the update text itself.)

But what if you are on Windows (or another *nix variant besides OS X)? Should you apply it? What if you do? (there's NO PROBLEM!) What if you don't? And given that the update text says you need to reconfigure the web server connector, do you really need to bother on Windows?

And what if you are installing CF10 for the first time, since you DO need to apply updates upon installation? (you can either apply update 13 or 12, but you must apply at least one of them to be fully updated.)

As important, how might Adobe have better clarified this, and how might they make a simple change now related to that (they since did)?

I address in this entry these questions and a few other concerns I have, about confusion that may ensue.

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Two videos I've done for the Adobe YouTube ColdFusion Channel

Hey folks, I've done a couple of videos over the past several months on the Adobe YouTube ColdFusion channel, both focused on some important challenges related to ColdFusion 10. If you've got about 10 minutes to spare, I suspect you may learn things to surprise you.

First video, on single-login problems in CF10 Admin

The first video was done at cf.Objective() in May 2013, and was posted to YouTube by Adobe shortly thereafter:

Video 1: Solving the problem of single-login in ColdFusion10 (07m:32s)

If you've had the problem in CF10 of finding that you login to the Admin, only to be logged off soon thereafter, I explain in the video both why it happens and how to solve it. (I also wrote about it previously here.)

Second video, on important security hotfix notes document

The second video was done back in June, but sadly was not posted until last week. While the timeframe references I make are dated, the information shared is not and really may still be a surprise to as many now as back then:

Video 2: Security Hotfix Notes Document (5m46s)

This is such an important document. I also had written about it previously here.

See other CF videos there

Be sure to check out all the videos in the Adobe CF YouTube channel, about 20 of them currently, from different speakers and on many topics.

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