Note: This blog post is from 2006. Some content may be outdated--though not necessarily.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.Since the announcement of FusionDebug a couple weeks ago, there's been relatively little other news or blogging about it. I think that's a real shame and I'd like to address that here in a series of entries introducing you to it, and sharing tips and traps.
Over the next few entries here I'd like to share some of the points I did in the presentation. I'll cover such things as FusionDebug features and some gotchas to watch out for, as well as answer some frequent questions.
But I'd like to start with why I think people should be excited.
What is interactive (step) debugging?
What do we mean by interactive or step debugging? It's not about the debugging output at the bottom of a CFML page. Instead, it's about single-stepping through the code line at a time, while being able to watch the values of expressions and variables--and even change variables on the fly.
Where do you stand on using debugging?
Many don't know it, but there was indeed interactive debugging in CFML in CF 4 and 5, by way of CF Studio (or now HomeSite+). In a future entry I will talk about how you can demonstrate and use that (with CF4 and 5 only). But Macromedia/Adobe chose not to carry that feature forward into CFMX, so FusionDebug represents the first and only current way to do step debugging in CFML for CFMX (6 and 7).
As a commercial product, you can also take consolation that it will indeed work as advertised and if it doesn't that there will be a company behind it to help support, improve, and evangelize it.
FusionDebug is an Eclipse plug-in. Just like FlexBuilder is a commercial plug-in on top of the free Eclipse framework, so too is FusionDebug a commercial plug-in on top of Eclipse. It's priced at US$ 299, with an available 10% discount code (CFCOMMUNITY) as well as volume discounts. There is also a free 20-day trial. Your first response may be that you don't think you should have to pay for such a product, but with no debugging tools seemingly on the horizon from Adobe, it's really a rather small price to pay if you will benefit from debugging.
Your second response, if you don't use Eclipse currently, may be to worry about having to use it. First, note that you don't need to give up your favorite CFML editor (DWMX, CF Studio, HomeSite+, CFEclipse, or whatever). Further, it's easy to learn how to use the minimal amount of Eclipse functionality you need to understand to use FusionDebug.
You do need to download Eclipse (which is free), unless you already have it installed (for instance, if you have FlexBuilder or CFEclipse). The FusionDebug User Guide explains how to get and install it (which is very easy).
It also requires just a minor change in the jvm.config file for the CFML server that you'll be debugging against (again, easy to do as well-documented in the User Guide). Here you indicate a port that the debugger will listen on, and you then do a minor setup in Eclipse to enable debugging against that server (again, well-documented and simple).
In the next entry, I'll actually introduce the features that FusionDebug enables. In the meantime, if you're too excited to wait, you can can read about the features, including screenshots, or you can even view some Captivate videos.
In future entries, I have several hidden gems and gotchas that I'll share.
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