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Tweak your CF Debugging Output for better info about queries

Note: This blog post is from 2008. Some content may be outdated--though not necessarily.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.
Hey folks, if you've ever wished that the CF debugging output had some improvements, did you know you don't need to wait for Adobe to do it?

Ray Camden has written an entry which has an available download of an improved debugging template, which you can easily drop into your CF setup and immediately get the improved info (focused on better tracking query time info). This improvement doesn't require any change in your browser (like the ColdFire alternative, which I'll mention at the end below).

The additional debugging benefits

Ray implemented some ideas I posed as improvements for Adobe to consider adding, such as to offer a total of all query time spent (by default we see the time in each query, but not totaled). I also thought it would be nice to see highlighting of those queries that exceed a given amount of time, just like we get with included files and CFC methods. I mentioned a couple other things as well. Ray went ahead and made the changes for some of them.

How he did it

How'd he do that? Well, many may not realize that the debugging output we see is in fact editable because it's enabled by way of a CFML template (the default one's called classic.cfm). It's just CFML.

I've known for years that the file was editable, but I just didn't think to go ahead and edit it, or to share it with others. My focus was to get Adobe to consider it for an upcoming release. But, sure, if we can have it now (until they do), I suppose that's better than nothing, so thanks, Ray. :-)

How to get it

You can read more about the update, and download it, at Ray's entry.

(BTW, some folks might miss the download link on Ray's entry. It's at the bottom of his entry, just before the comments, on the line listing the entry's time/date and number of comments. Here's the URL for it, also.)

How to implement it

You can drop Ray's updated version into the place where these debugging templates live, which is under the [cf root]\WEB-INF\debug\). The improved info will be immediately available in any browser. Again, it's just a tweak of the normal debug output.

In a Server deployment on CF8 in Windows, the location to drop it would typically be C:\ColdFusion8\wwwroot\WEB-INF\debug\, or something like C:\JRun4\servers\[instancename]\cfusion-ear\cfusion-war\WEB-INF\debug\ if you're running on the Multiserver/multi-instance deployment mode.

Be sure to save a copy of the old one first under a new name, in case you want to revert back.

You could also give this new file a new name, and then just select it in the CF Admin Debug Output Settings page (as it's named in CF8). As soon as any cfm file is put in that directory above, it will be shown the drop-down of "Select Debugging Output Format".

Some other info

Note that the version he's offered at first there is known to work only for CF8 for now. Update: I just tested it in CF7 and it worked as well.

There's been interest expressed in creating an open source project on RIAForge, and that should offer versions for different versions (and perhaps different CFML engines). I'll share more news if that comes to pass.

And Ray would want to also point out ColdFire, a Riaforge project that uses yet another debug template in conjunction with a ColdFire Firefox add-in (that works in conjunction with the Firebug add-in). For more, see http://coldfire.riaforge.org/.

While ColdFire offers some neat features, I still myself like the idea of tweaking the classic template instead, as it's cross-browser and requires no changes to the browser. For a lot of developers, the easier it is to provide a benefit, the more likely they are to implement it. I hope to see this capability evolve still more over time.

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