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FusionReactor web site improvements

If you're a user of FusionReactor or FusionDebug, or are curious about the tools, note that their web sites have had a face lift.

Besides a fresher appearance there's improved organization and navigation. There are high-level views of the products (available on the front page, with tabs along the bottom for each product) and more detailed pages on each (FR and FD), with product tours, benefits, faqs, and much more. This breakdown of high-level and detail views applies as well to discussions of the Air Enterprise Dashboard and their Services (consulting, training, etc.)

Through the updated web site you can also learn about many other resources available, including articles, videos, and blogs by them and others; product docs, screenshots, FAQs and more; info on customers and free/paid support; community tool contributions, and lots more.

The folks behind FusionReactor/FusionDebug are really great. They're very open to communications and always welcome (and act effectively on) feedback. I've been a long-time fan, so much that I work with them directly on doing training and consulting based on their products (while remaining an independent consultant.) It's their very openness and willingness to listen to feedback that brought me to working with them more and more closely over the years. I'm glad to help others take notice of the company and their great products.

FusionDebug 2.02 update available (in beta)

Those on CF8 now have an interactive step debugger, but for those on CF 6 or 7, or for those who cannot use RDS (on which the CF8 debugger is based), you should consider FusionDebug. There's a new update in the works, 2.0.2, now available in beta.

Among the features now available in the beta are new abilities:

  • to run to a particular line, from a breakpoint
  • to break when your program throws an exception
  • to work with custom file extensions (such as if you configure CF to run .htm or other file extensions *)

It also contains some fixes to previous issues. Also, see the README.txt in the download for known issues regarding new features.

They indicate that some functionality is still under heavy development and has not been fully included in this release. Feedback is appreciated to help make FD work better for you.

This release is just one a series of updates planned for the next 12 months. Of course it's encouraging to see continuing development of FusionDebug.

If you're wondering why a third party debugger would still make sense in the face of CF8's inclusion of one (other than the point I made at the outset above), see this blog entry I did in the past on that subject. For an online presentation about both debuggers (CF8's, which is only for CF8, and FusionDebug, which is for 6, 7, and 8), see the recording of my CF Meetup talk from December 2007.

Finally, for more on FusionDebug in general, see fusiondebug.com. You can also see past blog entries I've done, listed at the bottom of this entry.

*BTW, If you're wondering how to configure CF to run files with other extensions (than .cfm, .cfml, etc.), as mentioned above, here's a reference on Adobe.com. Though it's in an article on modifying the internal web server, the technique applies just as well if using external we servers, too, like IIS and Apache. You can find more on the extra steps to make that happen in at least one blog entry that explains how to do both steps.

Discount Code Available for FusionReactor, FusionDebug

Ah, August, when thoughts turn to vacations...and end of summer sale-a-thons. :-) I want to share that the fine folks at Intergral, makers of FusionReactor and FusionDebug, are offering a 10% discount coupon code, CFCOMMUNITY, good through the end of this September.

I've written about both these tools quite a lot in the past, if you're interested in exploring my respective blog entry categories: FusionReactor and FusionDebug.

I've also written about them in the FusionAuthority Quarterly Update, if you happen to get that great magazine. Most recently I did, "FusionReactor: ColdFusion Server HealthCare (and What's New in Version 3)", in Volume ii Issue iv (Summer 2008), and a couple of years ago I did, "FusionDebug Explained: Interactive Step Debugging for CFML", in Volume i Issue ii (Fall 2006).

I'll also have news coming up about more cool stuff coming from the folks, including FusionAnalytics and FusionReactor Enterprise Monitor, both discussed in the FusionReactor Labs, as well as the recently released AIR Enterprise Dashboard, recently promoted from the labs to an available product.

Until then, go enjoy the discount code to get these great products, which help you with debugging and monitoring whether you run on CF 6, 7, or 8. (For more on why they still matter even with CF 8, see this previous entry.)

My two articles in the latest FAQU

I'm keeping my streak alive of having written in each of the first 5 editions of the FusionAuthority Quarterly Update. In the latest "CF 8 Special Edition"", where I have two articles:

  • The ColdFusion 8 Debugger Explained: Interactive Step Debugging for ColdFusion 8
  • Tipical Charlie: Hidden Gems in ColdFusion 8

The first is a 10-page overview of getting started with the CF 8 Debugger. It follows on to the earlier article I'd done in the Fall 2006 edition on FusionDebug. As both articles show, I'm a fan of both tools, and I just want to help people become aware of both.

The second article continues my tips column that's at the end of each issue, and this is a quick one-page summary of some of the best of the hidden gems I've identified in my past user group talks of the same name.

Note that the articles are not available online so you must get the print edition to read them (though I've been in talks with Judith and Michael for some time to get at least just the tips columns online, perhaps only some time after publication. We shall see.)

I'm offering FusionReactor and Fusiondebug training, online

Interested in learning more about FusionReactor and FusionDebug? I'm teaching inexpensive half-day classes (of my own design) every few weeks for Intergral, the makers of the tools. They organize the dates, take the registration and payment, and provide the GotoMeeting account that we use to present the training (over the web and phone). You can learn more about the training at their site.

Many know I'm also a big fan of the CF8 monitoring and debugging tools, but I've been talking about FD and FR for over a year. I've also written previously (since the release of CF8) on why there's still a place for all these kinds of tools. Perhaps the biggest point is that not everyone is ready to move right away to CF8, as good as it is. More important for some is that to monitor your production servers in CF8, you need CF8 Enterprise.

FD and FR work on all editions of ColdFusion 6, 7, and 8, and even offer some features not found in the built-in tools (though the reverse is true as well).

Here are the courses, which are 3 hours each for the full classes, and 1 hour for the free webinar.

FusionReactor FastTrack I - Introduction

The "FusionReactor FastTrack I - Introduction" class is more than just an introduction to the tool. It shares lots of tips and techniques for using the monitor to help solve real problems. More important, it shows many features that you might otherwise easily miss. Even experienced FusionReactor users would likely learn a lot.

FusionReactor FastTrack II - Advanced Techniques

The "FusionReactor FastTrack II - Advanced Techniques" class moves beyond learning how the tool works to how to use it to solve common ColdFusion performance and reliability challenges, including how to configure and leverage FusionReactor features to increase your server's performance, reliability and availability. It also covers how to access FusionReactor and its logs during and after critical periods, as well as common troubleshooting analysis approaches.

FusionDebug FastTrack I - Introduction

The "FusionDebug FastTrack I - Introduction" class introduces the tool, shows how easy it is to use, and demonstrates its advantages over traditional debugging techniques as well as tips and traps in using the tool. It includes debugging CFML code called from client-side applications like Flex and Ajax. In fact, someone interested in learning about the CF8 debugger could get a lot from the class (since they're so similar), though it's just focused on FusionDebug.

Free FusionDebug Webinar

The Free FusionDebug Webinar in an online seminar where you can learn about how to debug CFML with FusionDebug.

Step Debugging in CF 6/7/8 with the CF8 Debugger and FusionDebug

I wanted to share the availability of a recorded presentation I did a couple of months ago on "Step Debugging in CF 6/7/8 with the CF8 Debugger and FusionDebug". As the title indicates, I cover both the CF8 debugger and FusionDebug (for 6, 7, and 8).

This particular talk was recorded at a joint meeting of two Australian CFUGs in September, though I also presented the talk at CFUnited in June.

Anyway, if you're interested in either or both of these debuggers (or even if you're ambivalent about them), do check it out.

(Though the recording has been available online for some time, the host had left it marked as requiring a username/password. When someone pointed that out, we resolved the problem and that's why I'm pointing it out now.)

Get FusionDebug for free (through November), with purchase of FusionReactor Enterprise

Here's news that will interest those who may have become interested in interactive step debugging in CFML, since CF8 includes it. If you're not ready to move to CF8, you can get CFML debugging for free with CF7 (or 6 or 8), with FusionDebug, the commercial tool from Intergral which was the first to give us step debugging in CFMX.

It's just through November, but if you buy their sister product, FusionReactor (the Enterprise edition), you'll get a free copy of FusionDebug. For more, see:

http://www.fusion-reactor.com/fr/offer.cfm

You can learn more about FusionDebug from several blog entries I've done in the past (see the "related entries" area at the bottom of this entry), including one on why I don't think CF8 is a death knell for either FusionDebug or FusionReactor.

(So no, I don't think anyone should read this as a move of desperation on Intergral's part. Rather, it's natural that the release of CF8 will cause some to say, "well, I could wait for CF8", but then for many shops moving up to a new release isn't trivial. That's why I said above: this may be most compelling for those whose interest in CFML step debugging has been piqued, but they can't for some reason move to CF8, whether Enterprise, Standard, or Developer. And of course, there are times when even a developer edition doesn't help if you need to debug a central development or test server. See my past blog entries on pros and cons of debugging a shared server. There are also some differences between the two that may even keep some using FD on CF8. More on that in a future entry, perhaps.)

CF8 monitor doesn't run on CF8 Standard, or any 6 or 7. What to do?

I'm surprised to still see people lament when they learn that CF8's server monitor does not run on CF8 Standard, or that it doesn't run at all against CF 6 or 7. My surprise is that their comments often make no mention of being aware of alternatives. On one list, someone said they might even be willing to pay double CF Standard's price to get monitoring in Standard. They just didn't like paying 6 times more (for Enterprise).

Well here's the thing: you can indeed get CF server monitoring, whether added to CF8 or made available in CF 6 or 7, and for far less than even double the cost of CF Standard. Some of you know where I'm going, but in case it needs to be said...

Check out FusionReactor and SeeFusion, both tools that I've written about before (see the "related entries" links at the bottom of this entry.)

Both these tools not only run on 8 (any edition), but they run on 7 and 6 as well, which CF 8's monitor does not. Further, FusionReactor can monitor not just CF but also any J2EE servers or app (including LiveCycle Data Services, for instance), and SeeFusion has a sister product, SeeJava, that can do this as well.

I've been a huge fan of both tools for a couple of years. No, they're not identical to CF8's monitor, and CF 8's monitor has access to a lot of information that those tools don't (for now, though they could be modified to access it as well, via the Admin API if running on CF8 Enterprise). But even until then there are features each of them has that CF's monitor doesn't, and vice versa.

I know some instead want Adobe to offer the monitor somehow to those on Standard, whether at some price or in some new edition. The chances of that seem seem pretty slim for now, though certainly interested folks should make their concern known. And certainly, it's worth noting that one can run the CF8 monitor on the Developer edition.

But some rightly point out that they want CF server monitoring in production and they can't use Adobe's on CF8 standard (or on 6 or 7). (And they're asking for more than just monitors to tell if the server's up or down, etc. Sure there are plenty of tools to tell that, but they want real insight into the processing of requests, threads, queries and more, which only these tools can do.)

I just want to make sure those folks know there are indeed good, professionally managed alternatives to get that on CF8 standard and earlier versions of CF, and those options are at low costs and come with free trials. (Same goes for step debugging. While the new debugger in CF8 works only with 8, FusionDebug, from the same company that makes FusionReactor, works in 6, 7, and 8.)

As I wrote before, I don't feel that the availability of the CF8 monitor (or debugger) diminishes the value of the third party tools for those on CF8. Keep an eye on the monitoring category here in my blog as I'll continue to write more about all 3 monitors in the future. They each have their strengths and their place.

New FusionReactor (and FusionDebug) Support resources

If you're a user of (or are considering using) FusionDebug or FusionReactor, two tools I've written about before, I want to point out that they have some new support resources.

Mailing Lists

First, there are now mailing lists (Google Groups) for each. This is something I pressed for since last year, and thankfully now they're enabled and there are good discussions already taking place.

http://groups.google.com/group/fusionreactor

http://groups.google.com/group/fusiondebug

Knowledgebase, Searchable and Browsable

There is also a new Knowledge Base where they've put many tech notes and answers to questions (other than those already in the FAQs). You can search it via the main support page, indicating which product and type of docs to search (it also searches the Google groups as well).

Finally, I'll share a little hidden gem. If you'd rather not search the KB, you can instead browse it. Here's a URL for each product:

Browse FusionReactor KB articles

Browse FusionDebug KB articles

I should note that they don't currently offer these links on the site, and in fact they may change in the future (since they're not published yet), but I don't think they'll mind me sharing it for now.

They're presented in numerical order, which isn't really chronological order, but clearly mixed in are discussions relevant to both old and new releases of the products, to be sure to note that indicator in the info at the bottom of each technote, if you have any question. There's some good stuff in there, and I'll be mining it for tips to share (here or on the mailing lists).

CF8 Debugger and Monitor: What's it mean for FusionDebug, FusionReactor, and SeeFusion?

So by now most have heard that Adobe announced at cf.Objective() that Scorpio (now CF8) would include an interactive step debugger. And many may know I've long been a fan of FusionDebug, having written quite a bit about it, as well as the monitoring tools, Integral's FusionReactor and Webapper's SeeFusion.

A natural question on the minds of many is whether Adobe's entry into these markets is a death knell for these vendors? I don't think so, at all. Here are just a few reasons why. I'm sure I (and others) will think of more. Comments are indeed welcome.

  1. Are you running 6, 7, or 8? - First of all, it's vital to keep in mind that the new CF 8 tools work only with CF 8. If you're still on CFMX 6 or 7, then you can't use the CF 8 debugger or monitor. I've heard some who thought that the new CF 8 Debugger might work worth the earlier releases. It does not. Of course, it's indeed another strong incentive to move up to CF 8, and there are more and more reasons being released all the time. But until you do, you can't benefit from them. Both SeeFusion and FusionReactor/FusionDebug work with CF 6, 7, and 8 (and the monitor tools also work with BlueDragon/J2EE and should work with Railo, Smith, and others.)

  2. Do you have more than just CF to monitor? - Indeed, another point in the favor of the third-party monitoring tools is that more than just CFML servers, they indeed work with any Java server. And that's not just tools like Tomcat, JBoss, WebLogic, and WebSphere, but also includes other Adobe-specific tools that are also J2EE server-based, like Flex/LiveCycle Data Services, the older Flex 1.5, and more, and of course the Adobe J2EE server, JRun. FusionReactor's installer and "add server" feature will both recognize any of these automatically so that the one FusionReactor Enterprise Dashboard monitor can watch all such services, while SeeFusion offers a separate SeeJava product for watching such J2EE servers.

  3. Does one size really fit all? - Another point to keep in mind is that each of the tools still do something that the other does not. I've said the same when contrasting SeeFusion and FusionReactor, and I can now say the same of them and the new CF 8 tools. Each can have their place in a developer/administrator's toolbelt. I could even argue that one could/should have them all, for whatever benefit each offers. The prices are low enough that it's not much of an issue.

  4. CF 8 monitor API is public - With regard to the new monitor in CF8, Adobe has made it clear that it's just a particular (albeit very nice) Flex interface on top of an underlying API of admin CFCs that anyone can call. Naturally, this means that the other monitor tools could easily add whatever feature they (or users) may think must be added. (The FusionReactor folks will announce plans at CFUnited for integrating CF8 monitoring features into FusionReactor, so we should see some benefits and cooperation taking place.) Again, though, perhaps the reasons above may diminish the significance of needing to "keep up". Perhaps they can peacefully coexist.

  5. If a tree falls in Times Square, it will make a sound - One can argue that a benefit of the new CF 8 monitor and debugger tools is that they will raise the profile of--and interest in the CF community for--such tools. And of course competition also breeds innovation. I think we already saw that between the two monitor tools themselves (and indeed between CF and BD, and others). In fact, still another outgrowth of this will be an increase in the opportunities for skilled folks (like those at these companies) to help CF developers make the most of the mass of information that these tools all provide. That will serve both companies well, since they each do training and consulting.

  6. The past is prologue - Further to the last point, let's keep in mind that we can only compare the new CF 8 tools to the current versions of their third-party counterparts. Both Intergral and Webapper have told me (and others) that they've known these things were coming and have been considering enhancements for quite some time. The companies will be in a great position to watch and see what things people like (or don't like) about the CF 8 tools. I mentioned Intergral's plans above, and the SeeFusion folks are talking about extending their product to provide actual problem-solving intelligence, beyond just exposing metrics. Of course, we can expect Adobe will continue to evolve the tools as well (both before the final release and in later ones).

  7. An abundance of riches - Finally, consider how fortunate we are in the ColdFusion community to have third party vendors who take risks to enhance the CF toolset and bring new and exciting professional tools to market--even before Adobe! We should support them if indeed they provide solutions to our problems. To the degree that we do (and they do), they will continue to survive.

Clearly I'm high on the entire CF tools market and think there's a place for all the companies and their tools.

Even so, there are some things that the CF8 monitor and debugger do add that are not currently in the other tools, and there's no doubt that for many, if they're moving to CF8 they may be happy with what they get built into those tools.

But it's not a zero-sum game with only one possible winner. Even if only a small fraction of the market remains interested in and using the 3rd party tools, whether because using the older CF releases, or for the features they offer, that's still a decent market for the toolmakers. And as they (and the market) evolve, the third party tools should continue to gain new fans.

I'll be writing (and speaking) quite a bit about both of the new CF 8 tools, as well as those from the other vendors, and how they all compare now and into the future.

It's just more testimony of why it's now really a great time to be involved in CFML.

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