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FusionReactor 3.0.1 released. Some hidden gems

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 Some content may be outdated--though not necessarily.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.
There's been a recent point-release update (3.0.1) of FusionReactor, the server monitoring and troubleshooting tool for CF 6, 7, 8 (Standard and Enterprise) and other J2EE servers. You can obtain and install the update quite easily (or new installations will get the updated release). While there are available release notes, they're pretty terse in describing the changes. I'd like to elaborate on a couple, from my exploration.

Some of the Improvements

Here are some hidden gems among the improvements.

  • Support for 64-bit CF and JVM -
    Pretty self-explanatory
  • Reports if you have any URLs set to be ignored
    I'd asked for this feature. You will now see an indication in the Running Requests, Request History, and some other pages when you have set any requests to be ignored by FusionReactor "restrictions". This deserves some explanation.

    This is referring to a setting made in the final menu option in the FR interface, labeled simply FusionReactor. It's an option (that many miss, I think) called "Restrictions" which can be used to prevent some URLs (exact match or regular expression) from being monitored at all by FR. This is not to be confused with the similar Crash Protection restrictions feature, which can prevent some pages from being tracked for CP. This other setting is more global, controlling whether they're monitored by FR at all.

    I felt that users might not realize that they (or someone else) may have marked some URLs to be ignored by this FR Restrictions feature. The Intergral folks kindly responded by adding this improvement, which just adds some text to the bottom of the affected pages where URLs would be shown, to indicate that some may not be shown since the "restrictions" feature had been used. It does not appear if there are no restrictions enabled, of course.
  • Can re-run installer to add FR into additional instances/servers
    This is a nifty enhancement, especially for those running FR Standard. The FR installer normally offers to install only into one installation of CF (or other supported J2EE servers) on your machine. If you wanted to install it into another CF installation (perhaps 7 and 8, or one of multiple instances) or another supported CFML or J2EE server after installing into the first, in FR Standard you previously had to add it manually (With FR Enterprise, you could have used its available Instance Manager feature.)

    Now with FR 3.0.1, you can re-run the FR installer and there will be an option offering to install it into a newly selected instance (meaning another CF deployment or other CFML or J2EE server) on this machine.

    (I'm being careful not to call them CF "instances", since that could be read to mean an instance in the Multiserver mode of CF. FR supports those, but when it says "instance" it means either one of those or a Standalone/Server deployment of CF, or any other supported CFML or J2EE server.)
  • New URL params for redirected CP URLs -
    If you choose to have users redirected to a new URL (if their page is aborted or queued too long by FR crash protection), you can optionally have that new URL include URL parms that describe what went wrong to trigger the redirection.

    In addition to the current detection_method, threshold_value, and actual_value, there are 4 new values included on the URL: source_url, source_url_params, source_method and start_time. For more on all of these, see the online help for the CP Settings page.
  • Port checker on the installer -
    When newly adding FR into an instance, you're prompted to choose a port for FR's built-in web server to use for you to access the interface. It now checks and reports if the port selected is already in use.
  • socketWrite0 protection -
    This is an experimental (and optionally enabled) new feature, which deserves its own discussion as a separate entry which I hope to offer in coming days.

Again, this is just some of the improvements. To see a list of all them (and bug fixes), see the release notes.

Take care in reading about the items

As I said at the opening, the list of items in the release notes is pretty terse. They're basically just a few words per change. I'll suggest you be careful in reading them, though.

As if often the case in bug fix lists (though these are more), they appear to really be the brief description of each change as was entered by the developers in a source control system. The bummer in then using these for release notes (as Adobe has sometimes, too) is that the wording could be misconstrued.

For example, one improvement says, "When a server has an expired licesne [sic] and the server is selected within the ED a runtime error is thrown". Ignoring the typo, this reads as if it's an improvement that an error is thrown. Instead, this is saying that the problem is fixed, really. And the "ED" means Enterprise Dashboard. So just keep this in mind while reading the release notes.

It's understandable that some may think that a release notes list of enhancements doesn't need much more. Sometimes the CF release notes are equally terse or unclear. Hey, they have people like us who will blog clarifications. :-)

But I'll also point out that the FR folks are great about support, so post any questions to the FusionReactor mailing list (http://groups.google.com/group/fusionreactor) and not only will you get an answer, but other users will benefit. (Or feel free to drop any comments/observations here, too.)

Here's a bit of a hidden gem (I don't see it listed in the release notes, but I may not be finding the right wording.)

For those using FR Enterprise, on the Enterprise Settings page, what used to be a single entry for "Network Timeout" in a section of the page called "Remote Instances" is now 3 entries in a section called "Heartbeat Settings for Monitored Instances". That network timeout is now called Heartbeat Timeout, and there is also a "Heartbeat Metrics Fetch Interval" and a "Heartbeat Failure Threshold".

There is considerable text on the screen (and the same is in the online help) explaining each of these new features. The bottom line is that they help improve the process of one monitoring FR instance detecting (for its Enterprise Dashboard and notifications) when another server/instance that it's monitoring has become unavailable. The new settings should help prevent (or help you tune how to prevent) false positives.
# Posted By Charlie Arehart | 12/8/08 5:57 PM
I just noticed that there is additional info about the update in an available press release: http://www.prweb.com...

Among the additional info offered is a mention of these updates:
o Improved Enterprise Dashboard and UI performance
o Increased stability
o 64-bit support for Windows, Linux, Solaris and OS X
o Support for Flash 10 and AIR 1.5
o Improved support for Railo, Jetty and Open BlueDragon
# Posted By charlie arehart | 1/2/09 2:53 PM
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