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

Note: This blog post is from 2007. Some content may be outdated--though not necessarily.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.
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.

When pressing enter on an input text field will suddenly not submit the form...sure surprised me!

Note: This blog post is from 2007. 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.
Most know that a form will submit if you press enter while the cursor focus is on a text field (INPUT TYPE="text"|"radio"|"checkbox"). Some have surely noticed that you don't often even need a submit button, which can be nice when creating some simple interfaces.

But did you know that the submit will not happen if you have two input text fields (and no submit button)? I found this when I had a long-working form of this sort, to which I added a second input field. Suddenly, it stopped submitting on pressing enter. I've tested this in either IE 6 or Firefox 2. I explain the scenario and a solution, below.

The problem

I had a small form on my UGTV recordings list page, which let users enter search criteria. Today, someone asked me to let them indicate how many records to show by default, and when I added a second input box for that, suddenly the submit would not work. (If you look, you'll find the 2nd input field at the bottom of the form, but it doesn't matter. It's within the one form, and the problem happened regardless of where the 2nd field was placed.)

Again, the key is that I have no submit button in this scenario (as it would just look clunky, and is otherwise unnecessary).

Some solutions

So I did some digging and found that indeed others have observed this. One suggestion offered was that you provide a submit button but use CSS to make it invisible. You can't really use "display:none" because then, in IE 6 at least, it still thinks it's not there.

But you can set its height and width to 0 and set the border to none, and it solves the problem:

<input type="submit" style="width: 0px;height: 0px;border: none">

If you'd like some simple code to test with, here you go:

<form action="">
<input name="i1" type="text"/>
<input name="i2" type="text" />
<input type="submit" style="width: 0px;height: 0px;border: none">

If you're curious about the empty action, that just makes the page self-posting. If you're interested in that, or have any comment on that aspect, please see my other blog entry on the subject.

cf.Objective()--a great conference all around, and some news and tips from it

Note: This blog post is from 2007. 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.
Let me join in the chorus of praise for the cf.Objective() conference, which I just got back from last night. I also have a couple of tips for if you attend next year, as well as some news items that may interest some.

Like others, I could go on and on about the great food. Man, that really was awesome. And of course the great people you got to meet. I met a lot of new and old faces who I just hadn't run into before, and of course I reconnected with lots of old friends. Then there are the awesome talks. And Jared and Steven (and Jim and others) all did a great job organizing things.

Some News Items (You Won't Hear Elsewhere)

While you'll find plenty of folks sharing their positive sentiments like the above, let me take the chance to offer a couple of comments that I doubt you'll see elsewhere. :-)

First, I'll say that the only negative of the event was that I still had to explain to some that I no longer work for New Atlanta! It's been over a year now (left at end of March 2006). Oh well, time heals all wounds, right?

Indeed, if my carrying around an Adobe bag and even wearing an "Adobe Community Summit '06" shirt one day wasn't enough to show that I was "back in good graces", I also led a "birds of a feather" session on "hidden gems in Scorpio" (joined by the fearless leader himself, Jared). Of course, I had cleared them all with CF Product Manager Jason Delmore first. Though we often only spoke for a minute on each item, and were just talking (not showing slides or doing demos), we were able to speak for over an hour, and by the time we were done it was about 25 people attending.

I also presented a talk on understanding what happens under the covers in the database when you do or don't use CFQueryParam. Both days it was against other strong presenters, but the second day the room was nearly full, which I can hope was because there was good buzz about the talk. The evals will tell for sure, though your comments here are welcome also.

I want to say, too, that I hope folks took advantage of the chance to talk with the guys from Intergral, makers of FusionDebug and FusionReactor. Darren Pywell, CTO, and John Hawksley, one of several engineers, flew over from Germany for the event. They knew that people would have questions regarding the Scorpio Debugger if it was announced (Darren's on the Scorpio beta so has known about it). Sadly, it wasn't announced till after they left Sunday morning (just bad timing: Ben couldn't get in till then, and Adobe was saving the big announcement for his talk.) Even so, they got to talk about their plans for enhancements and indeed new products. I'll have more to say on my favorable opinion about the future for these tools, and SeeFusion as well, in a later blog entry.

Finally, I want to also put in a plug for the Sofitel itself. My goodness, what great service, on every level.

So now, about those tips I promised.

First, if we are back in the Sofitel next year, or indeed if you have any occasion to visit them in the US or abroad, do be sure to join their "privileges card" program. There's no fee, and from your first signup you get benefits, including a room upgrade and more. See their web site for more details.

Second, if we are back at that hotel next year, and you find the bite of a cab from the airport a bit high ($25-30), check this out: you can take public transport quite easily for just $1.50 ($2 during rush hour). From the airport, you'd take the light rail just 10 minutes to the Mall of America, and from that, just steps away you'd catch the 540b bus (free on a transfer) which terminates (in about 25 minutes) behind the Sofitel, at 78th St W and Picture Dr. Same in the reverse, of course. More at http://www.metrotransit.org/.

Indeed, if you want to visit the Mall while at the hotel, you can catch that bus (again, just $1.50/$2). But note that a transfer permits travel anywhere for 2 hours, including back in the other direction, so you could see a good bit of the mall and hop back on the bus for free (the terminal is in the basement of the mall). Even if you'll be longer, it's cheaper than the $20 cab ride.

Of course, in all these cases, if you can share a cab, it makes the cost less significant.

In that regard, my last tip is that if you do share a ride to the airport, be aware that there are two terminals, and they're not as close to each other as you'd expect. I was invited to join Mark Mandel, Mark Drew, and Derek Perez to share their cab. As we approached, the cabbie asked and the 3 of them were going to Northwest. I was going to Airtran. We dropped them off and it was another 10 minutes (and literally another 10 dollars) to the other terminal. As I always say, "forewarned is forearmed".

Even so, it was a delight to share the cab with those blokes. Like so many at the conference, they were just a great bunch of guys and it was a ball to spend even a few more minutes with them.

So I'm looking forward to next year, but in the meantime, I'll see you at CFUnited, and indeed I hope Max as well. I was there last year--again, fending off the cold stares of some who asked others, "why did Adobe let him come?"

I'll have plenty more announcements of things I'm doing to show the community that I'm back in the saddle and on their side, including being picked to present two Scorpio talks at CFUnited as well as contributing to Ben's upcoming Scorpio rewrite of the Web Application Construction Kit books. I'm not knocking BD or turning my back on it. It's not like I was in a dream or a long sleep.

I'm just glad to be able to as boldly and confidently proclaim the benefits of Scorpio and other Adobe products, like I equally support it and the products from Intergral and WebApper. Like all of you, I'm just a fan of the various technologies we've all come to know and love, and I look forward to sharing that with those who it would help.

First CFUnited Preview: "New in CFMX 6&7: What Did You Miss?"

Note: This blog post is from 2007. 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.
As I mentioned in the last entry, we will begin doing CFUnited previews on the Online ColdFusion Meetup.

I've been asked to step up to the plate first. While I'm doing a few sessions at the conference (including two on Scorpio, more about those later), Michael Smith has asked me to preview my day-long class, "New in CFMX 6&7: What Did You Miss?"

Now, I'm sure some are thinking, "you're kidding? We're on the verge of CF8, and you want to talk about CF 6 and 7?" But hear me out. Actually, I'll let my description do the talking:

Planning to move to CF8? Did you skip either 6 or 7? Or have you perhaps installed and been running on them but doing little or no new development? Were you paying attention as all the new features (and folks' experiences using them) were being shared? There may be a lot you've missed. Veteran CFML developer Charlie Arehart will introduce both the key features introduced in those releases as well as many hidden gems. It's surprising how many little things get slipped into releases, and point releases, and sometimes it's those which can be as important to you as any prominent feature.

In his typical encyclopedic but pragmatic style, Charlie will help you make the most out of features you may have missed. Of course, this is just a 20- minute preview of what is in fact a day-long course. But it will give a taste of what's to expect and will provide value in and of itself.

The URL for RSVP'ing via the meetup site is http://coldfusion.meetup.com/17/calendar/5756012/. There you can RSVP for the meeting as well as sign up to get notifications about future Online ColdFusion Meetups.

The URL for the Acrobat Connect session itself will be http://experts.acrobat.com/cfmeetup/, and indeed that will be the URL for all future Online ColdFusion Meetup sessions.

ColdFusion Meetup now doing CFUnited previews

Note: This blog post is from 2007. 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.

Following on the heels of the cf.Objective() preview sessions two weeks ago, the Online ColdFusion Meetup will now turn its attention to previews for the CFUnited conference. We've already lined up 7 speakers for each of the weeks between now and the conference, which is held the last week of June outside Washington, DC.

Michael Smith asked me to do the first preview, for my day-long class on "New in CFMX 6&7: What Did You Miss?". I'll have more about that in the next entry.

As before, these previews are just a 20-30 minute introduction to the topic at hand, with Q&A (thus the name, "previews"). The goal is indeed to offer great information and value, just as in the real talk, but they're not going to be the entire talk, so expect to be left looking forward to hearing more. :-)

Also, something new for the meetups is that from now on we will just use one Acrobat Connect meeting URL for all the meetings, both previews and otherwise. This will make it easier both for presenters to post the URL when they promote their own meetings, and also to help attendees make sure they don't end up visiting the wrong URL (only to find no one there, which has happened a couple of times.)

The new Acrobat Connect URL for the meetup meetings going forward will be http://experts.acrobat.com/cfmeetup/. As before, we do appreciate folks using the meetup system's interface to RSVP, as well as to be able to share thoughts before and feedback after the meeting. RSVPs are preferred but not necessary. Again, the meetup site is at http://coldfusion.meetup.com/17.

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