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2016 in review: top 10 CArehart ColdFusion posts of the year

I thought it may be useful to gather up a categorized listing of my most (seemingly) helpful/resourceful blog posts of the past year, to help others be aware of them (and indeed to help me be reminded).

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All My Blog Entries for 2012 (all but 3 about ColdFusion)

Following up my last blog entry (highlighting the top 10 most-viewed entries for my blog this year), here's a listing instead of all the entries I've done this year, if it may help someone more easily review if they missed any that might be interesting.

I present the list in two forms: first, just a list of all the entries (31 of them), and second, broken down by category, in case some category may be more interesting to you.

The entries

Here are the 31 entries, in descending order by date.

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Most-viewed ColdFusion blog entries of 2012

As the year comes to a close, many bloggers take a moment to document the most-viewed entries of the year on their blog. In that spirit, here are the top-viewed entries of the year for my blog.

I have more to say about the list (and such lists) below, but for those who like to "get to the point", here's the list:

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Come watch the Mura Show as we enable CArehart.org under Mura CMS

This could be very interesting. Starting today at 4pm EST, and over the next few weeks, the "Mura Show" (a weekly online user group for Mura CMS) will dedicate a few episodes to focus on the conversion of my site, CArehart.org.

A real live use-case, from scratch

What's interesting is that it will be an installation from scratch, in a "cinema verite" approach where we will assume nothing and if we trip over things, we'll talk about them. We'll talk about what I hope to gain by using Mura, and why it seems a good fit.

Ee'll proceed each step of the way with me as the new user (I have never used Mura), the Mura guys as my trusty guides, and of course with people able to ask questions all along the way and hopefully learning for themselves as we go.

Though I've not yet used Mara (or any CMS), I've been a big fan for a couple of years, observing it from the outside. Indeed, I blogged about how very impressed I was with their site in my May 2008 entry "A CFML-based product that really gets how to win customers, and what we can learn from it". And then I've watched as a couple of the ColdFusion Meetup episodes recently had covered Mura.

Though I've never really considered a CMS for my site, as I saw all that was possible with Mura and how it allowed for integration of existing CFML, I started to wonder if it may make sense to consider it for my site.

Going about enabling a CMS for a hodgepodge site

My site really hosts a few things and therefore offers different challenges in considering enabling a CMS. And this is what we'll cover over the next few weeks.

Some parts are static while others are dynamic (database driven). Some are just long static lists (my articles and presentations). Similarly, the CF411 site (which redirects to a page on my site) is an even larger list.

Each has just grown over time and naturally I'd love to make them both database-driven and to have some sort of paging, categorized presentation, searching, and such, and Mura can provide that. It can also allow me to let others contribute (especially to the CF411 site), which is a natural fit for a CMS.

Of course, I could also enable such db-driven paging and user contribution by hand. Idneed I had done that already for another part of my site, my UGTV repository of links to hundreds of recorded CF presentations. I knew when I started that it would not only grow substantially and that it would require entry of data by others.

So besides wanting to add more dynamic (and user-contributable) features for the other "static" parts of the site, it would also be interesting to see if/how I might keep or change this existing CF-driven part of the site. FWIW, the CF-driven part does not use any framework, either, since it was really a smallish app.

Another thing I've long wanted to add with all these sections (articles, presentations, UGTV, and CF411) is the concept of a "Landing page", where each item could have a page with more detail about it as well as features like rating, commenting, recommended related items, and such.

Again, I could do that for the UGTV site since it was already DB-driven, but since I'd have to make the other three sections be DB-driven and I'd have to code that, I just started to wonder if a CMS may be the way to go.

Mura to the rescue, and a case study is born

I thought to ask the Mura guys about things, and they felt on the surface that it woudl be a good fit. They asked me to present a list of the things I'd be interested in adding (as well as preserving), and on reviewing it, they not only felt it would work fine, but that it would make a great case study for the Mura show. They knew me from the past CFMeetups and they sensed that I would welcome the chance to do all this live on a Connect session. I said I would, absolutely, as I was sure many would benefit from seeing such a raw, live presentation. As they thought it over, they decided to propose a few weeks (whether they happen consecutively is to be determined), and I was open to that, as well.

Indeed, I expressed how I preferred (with the extra time) that we really do do it from scratch, so that people see really everything entailed. And of course we'd introduce how we got to this point (what you've read above), how they think it can all be done, and then (once we do the install, all this in the first show), we would proceed in future shows to start really integrating the site into Mura.

I'm really looking forward to it, and I hope others will too.

Update: The recording is now posted and available.

Max 2008 marks my 25th (differently named) CF conference as a speaker!

Here's something I thought interesting. I just realized that Max 2008 marks the 25th CF conference I've been selected to speak at. I'm not talking about 25 conference, sometimes many years for each: I'm talking about 25 differently named conferences. I'll bet some people would be surprised to learn we've even HAD at least 25 differently named national and regional CF conferences over the years. :-) We have, and let's take a look.

I mentioned last night my delight in learning that I'd been selected to speak at Adobe Max later this year. It got me thinking: that was the one remaining major CF conference that I'd not yet spoken to over the last 10 years. I mentioned that I'd spoken at the MM and Allaire Devcons before it, but as I looked back in my records (carehart.org/presentations/, and elsewhere), I was surprised to see just how many there had been.

I can now say that (as of July 2008) I've been selected to speak at:

  1. Adobe Max (2008)
  2. CFunited (all 10, starting with when it was called CFUN and the DCCFUC before that)
  3. cf.objective (2008, 2007)
  4. Scotch on the Rocks (2008)
  5. Webmaniacs (2008)
  6. CFunited Europe (2008)
  7. WebDU (2007)
  8. CFUnited Express (2007: Atl, SF, Chi)
  9. Minimax (2007, 2005)
  10. CFDevcon (London) (2006)
  11. Powered by Detroit (2005)
  12. MX Vegas (2003)
  13. CF Europe (2003, 2002)
  14. MX On The Rocks, Denver (2003)
  15. Southern Cal Regional CF Conf (2003)
  16. Macromedia DevCon (2002, 2001)
  17. CF Underground (2002, 2001, 2000)
  18. MX/CFNorth (2003, 2002)
  19. Colorado Macromedia TechCon (2002)
  20. MXDC (2002)
  21. CF Edge Conference (2001)
  22. Fusebox Conference (2003, 2001)
  23. CF Odyssey, Bethesda (2001)
  24. Allaire DevCon (2000)
  25. The first national CF Conference in Ft Collins (1998)

Sadly, a lot of them were one-off events, but I always want to support conference organizers. (No one at the first CFUN would ever have imagined it would turn into CFUnited, for instance.)

And while I was invited to speak at CFSouth in 2001, I ended up being unable to attend due to my father's passing the weekend before.

I should note that there are still a couple more conferences that I didn't make or haven't made. No slight intended in not mentioning them. I'm just listing those I did speak at.

Add in user groups...for about 200 presentations!

Considering that I've spoken at some conferences for multiple years, that makes over 45 appearances total. And it's still more presentations, really, since I've often presented more than one topic at a single conference. Then if we count repeated sessions...it's been a lot of talks.

And of course, that's all in addition to all the presentations I've given to, wow, I count now nearly 60 different user groups around the country (and internationally) during the past 11 years! All told, again since I've often presented to a single user group more than once over the years, it looks like I've given nearly 200 presentations total across all CF user groups and conferences. (And that's not counting other conferences like SQL Pass, MS CodeCamps, Wireless Devcons, and then several other IT conferences during my 15 years prior to getting into CF in 1997.)

And I'm happy to say that they've not all been the same talk! :-) It's been nearly 80 different topics!

Details on past talks

If anyone's interested in the details of the talks, I list nearly all of them (with titles, descriptions, dates, locations, and links to the slides) at my site's presentations section. I can say that some are as valuable today as years ago, since I sometimes still point them to to people looking for discussion of a given topic (sometimes I've never ended up writing an article on a topic that I presented as a speaker.)

Not bragging, just looking back on a career, encouraging others, and giving thanks

I don't say any of this to brag. Not at all. It's really just rather unusual when one has a chance to stop and look back on their career (other than when writing a resume.)

You just do things day in and day out, and often you never realize how much you can accomplish with a slow and steady pace. Same with the more than 60 articles I've done, too. You just don't notice the pace while you're in the middle of it. Like the journey of a 1,000 steps, it all begins with the first. In that respect, I'd like to encourage any who've thought of giving a talk or writing an article to *just do it*. You never know where that first step may lead. :-)

Anyway, again, it's really nice to add Max as the capstone to this list. Thanks to all the organizers and attendees who've supported my presentations over the years.

For a real time warp, you can find out more about the various conferences I mentioned (including seeing speaker lists, topics, pictures, and more) at the CFConf.org site, which lists them all going back to 1998.

"Using the CF8 Debugger", my 25-page CFWACK chapter is available online

Have you started using the CF 8 debugger? Either way, you may have noticed that the documentation on it is rather sparse. Fortunately, there's a relatively new and substantial (25-page) resource that's available online in the form of a PDF.

In the ColdFusion 8 Web Application Construction Kit Volume 2: Application Development, I had the honor of doing the chapter on the CF8 debugger. If I do say so myself, I think that it's a really complete introduction both to installing, configuring, and using the debugger, along with many tips, tricks, and traps--perhaps even a better one-stop resource than the docs themselves.

Best of all, it's one of the chapters that's been made available online. There was fear that Volume 2 would be too big and so a few chapters (mostly on older topics) were put into a 550 page PDF. My chapter is near the back of this PDF.

Also, note that if you have the print version of the book, it's technically chapter 52 of volume 2, but you won't see these online chapters listed in its table of contents. Instead, they appear in the TOC at the start of vol 3 (long story)

Sadly, I couldn't get permission to just cut out this one chapter, so you do need to get the full PDF. You should be able to easily jump to the starting page (using Ctrl-Shift-n), which is page 467 in the PDF, despite the table of contents on the first page which lists it at 471. And of course, you can print just selected pages from a PDF as well.

Either way, I hope you get great value out of the information offered. I'd really welcome your feedback.

(PS I mentioned last week that I'd also done an article on the CF8 debugger in the FusionAuthority Quarterly Update, in their recent CF8 Special Edition. Unfortunately, the FAQU articles are not available online.)

Lots of cool tools for CFers: a new (old) list

How many times have you wondered about what options are available to you as a CF developer for things like WYSIWYG editors, CMSs, DBs, & tools for blogging, query building, load testing and much more? Or you've seen others ask, and have started digging around search engines or old mailing list threads to recall a list of them that you have in mind. Well, I've long kept such a meta-list for myself and am now sharing it with everyone at:

http://www.carehart.org/resourcelists/tools_to_consider/

Actually, it's a list I started back in 2002 and hosted until recently at my old systemanage.com site. While the info there ranges from a couple to several years old (though still nearly all useful), this list was one thing I continued to update.

I just decided this weekend to pull it out to my Carehart.org site. Bookmark it and point others to it when you need to find such tools.

Not competing with Brian Rinaldi's list

I know some will say, "don't you know about Brian Rinaldi's list?", and of course I do and I reference it there. The lists really are different, as I don't limit myself to only open-source tools. In fact, I don't limit it only to tools written in CF. Rather, I list them and tools (and services) written in other languages, but that may be useful to CFML developers. (And while there's some cross-over between my list and his, I'm not interested in just sucking out things he has that I don't. Instead, I point to his matching categories in each of mine, so you can check that out for still more alternatives.)

My categories

  • Blog Aggregators
  • Blogging Tools
  • CFMAIL Replacement/Enhancement
  • Code Generators
  • CFML Engines
  • Content Management Systems
  • Database Engines
  • Database Query Tools
  • E-commerce Enabling Solutions
  • Editors/IDEs
  • File Upload tools
  • Forums/Bulletin Boards
  • HTTP Debugging Proxy
  • Image Processing
  • Load Testing Tools
  • Regular Expression Generation/Testing Tools
  • Graphing/Charting Tools
  • Server-side Spell Checkers
  • Source Code Control
  • WYSIWYG/Rich Text Editors

Additions Welcomed

I don't claim that it's the ultimate list of all tools in each category. I may even have some glaring ommissions. I welcome additions there, as I repeat several times on the page. I will also be glad to add new categories if suitable.

One of many resource lists I've created

In moving it here, I've placed it in a new Resource Lists page, where I also now point to other such resource lists and compendium-style blog entries that I've long kept (and others still to come). More about them in another entry to come.

Charlie Arehart offers new per-minute phone-based support service

Ever felt stumped trying to solve a CF problem? You've tried everything? Searched the web? Asked on forums and lists, and you're still stuck? Or maybe you're just pressed for time.

Maybe you've wished you could hire someone with more experience but can't justify a high hourly rate. Of course, with so many web tools available to share a desktop, travel need no longer be a significant issue. Sometimes, it could help to simply have someone "look over your shoulder" via the web to resolve a problem.

Recognizing all those challenges, I've created a new service that I'm tentatively calling "AskCharlie", to be able to offer just such assistance.

Via buttons on my site or an 888 number you call, you can arrange to speak with me by phone (and optionally join me in a shared desktop session) to solve some knotty problem.

Best of all, it's very low cost and at a per minute rate (first-time callers can use a 10 minutes free option, and everyone gets a money-back guarantee). That and more are explained on my site:

http://www.carehart.org/askcharlie/

There you can learn more about why I did it, how it works, how the remote desktop sharing assistance works (no problem with firewalls, for instance), and more.

I'd welcome your thoughts on what you think of the idea.

My Latest CFDJ article is now posted: Errors in Your Code: Handling, debugging, and testing for them

I see that my latest CFDJ article has now been posted on the CFDJ site: "Errors in Your Code: Handling, debugging, and testing for them".

Here's a brief synopsis:

Errors and bugs: they happen in all code, mostly in development but in production too and perhaps more easily in CFML than in compiled languages. There are several features to help better handle, debug, and test for them, and this article will focus on those.

Though the article has just been posted, it's in the "August" issue. Due to some snafus in recent months, the CFDJ folks are just getting caught up. I have no information myself on when the print version of the issue will be coming out, if indeed it may already have.

I will say you can also look for me to have articles in future issues, including Sept and Oct which are already turned in. I'll post those as soon as I see they are available online.

Read the article online now

My Upcoming column in the October FusionAuthority Quarterly Update: It's TipicalCharlie

Folks going to Max will get the new October issue of the FusionAuthority Quarterly Update, and you'll find that I have two articles (well, I also am quoted in a 3rd).

One will be a feature on using FusionDebug, and the other is another of my "tips" column. In the first issue (July), it was on the back page as something like "tips from a coldfusion developer". That wasn't too clever.

In this next issue, we've chosen to call it "Tipical Charlie". That's not a typo. (I've already had one person ask if it was, when they saw another site listing the upcoming issue articles.)

Where did I come up with the name? Well, some know that besides this blog, I have an older one, called tipicalcharlie.com. That one focuses on non-CF tips. Still, I thought it also a suitable title for the FAQU column. ]

On the tipicalcharlie site, I do explain where I got the idea for the name. HGTV fans may already recognize it.

Got my Adobe Community Expert (ACE) designation today...thanks, Adobe!

I was delighted to learn today that I have been designated an Adobe Community Expert (ACE). Many know the program as the segue from Team Macromedia, and my readers may remember that I was a member of that program until April 2003 when I...uh...took a sabattical. :-)

Anyway, I'm back in the program and very honored. (It may take a few days to get the listing on the site.) I look forward to continuing to contribute to the CFML and broader Adobe community.

Great new resource: a weekly summary of the CF blogosphere

Hey folks, here's something to add if you wish to keep up on the news of the week in the CF blogspace. Andy Allan of the Scottish CFUG (www.scottishcfug.com) has started to keep a running weekly summary of what he observes to be the top news stories of the week among the various CF blogs.

Because he's using Ray's awesome BlogCFC tool and is marking the entries in a category (blog-round-up), you can easily keep an eye on all future posts.

Here's the RSS feed URL for just the blog-round-up category:

http://www.creative-restraint.co.uk/blog/rss.cfm?mode=full&mode2=cat&catid=93661280-C6C5-1A2A-16D86B1A3ADA948E

And here's the URL to view just the blog-round-up category in a browser:

http://www.creative-restraint.co.uk/blog/index.cfm/Blog-Round-Up

Finally, here is this week, his first post:

http://www.creative-restraint.co.uk/blog/index.cfm/2006/7/22/Blog-Round-Up

Awesome stuff, Andy! Thanks so much, on behalf of the entire CFML community.

Of course, let's recognize that this is really a substantial undertaking for him. There could be times when he misses publishing it, or perhaps misses some entry you feel is vital. I'm sure he'll welcome comments there, but let's also cut him some slack.

If it becomes a more vital resource that proves too much for him to handle alone, perhaps it could become a community contributed resource. Maybe there's even some alternative approach where desirable blog entries are marked and rated by the community (without being lost in world-volume services like Digg, Technorati, Delicious, etc.) I don't use them to know, but perhaps others can comment (here or at Andy's entry).

But for now, let's just all sit back, relax, and gratefully enjoy Andy's editorial efforts. Thanks, dude!

PS If you don't use an RSS reader, note that you can also subscribe to his entire blog (you'll get an email of all new posts) using the subscribe form on the page. Or, you can use a cool tool like Squeet to have IT watch the RSS feed and send you emails for new posts in that feed. I've blogged about that elsewhere:

http://www.tipicalcharlie.com/blog_email_notification_by_squeet.htm (Update: tipicalcharlie domain is no more, but page recovered using Archive.org.)

(Update: Sadly, squeet (a tool to send RSS feeds by email) is no more. But there are other alternatives, that I track in a category of my CF411 site: http://www.cf411.com/rss_email.)

Read me on the back page in Fusion Authority Quarterly Update

As others have pointed out, the fine folks from Fusion Authority have come out with a new "Quarterly Update" magazine, with lots of content and few ads. I was delighted when they asked me to contribute a tips column on the back page. This quarter, I discuss 4 ways to read text files in CFML--there's much more than just CFFILE.

The mag was offered to all attendees at the conference and is also available as a subscription (paper only) at http://www.fusionauthority.com/quarterly/.

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