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I'll be speaking at CFinNC, doing "Hidden Gems in CFBuilder"

Note: This blog post is from 2009. Some content may be outdated--though not necessarily.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.
CFinNC - Carolina ColdFusion / Flex / Air Conference - Oct 17-18, 2009For those attending the awesome free CFInNC conference this coming weekend in Raleigh NC, I'll be speaking on "Hidden Gems in CFBuilder". See the description there for more.

I mentioned last week that I was starting my "Hidden Gems in CF9" series of blog entries, and I'll eventually do a class based on that. In the meantime, I will also soon start sharing some of these CFBuilder hidden gems here as well.

So if you're coming to CFinNC, please look me up and say hello. And if you're not yet planning to attend but live within a few hours driving distance (I'll be driving the 5 hours from Atlanta), you should definitely consider it. There will ba a lot of great speakers and content, as well as community and festivities, all for free.

Help spread the word, online or by grabbing a flyer to put up at your workplace. It's not too late!

FusionReactor 3.5 update announced

Note: This blog post is from 2009. Some content may be outdated--though not necessarily.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.
Users of FusionReactor will want to know that today version 3.5 was released today. Among its changes are support for CF9, support for various newer operating systems, and some other modest enhancements.

For readers not familiar with FusionReactor, it's a server monitor (and more) for CF, Railo, OpenBD, and indeed any J2EE/Java EE server. I've written and spoken about it a lot. Here is the link to the category of my blog entries about it.

As for 3.5, here is what has been shared in an email to their customers. I wanted to pass it along to everyone:


EXTENDED PLATFORM SUPPORT - FusionReactor 3.5 now supports ColdFusion 9 plus a range of new servers and operating system platforms - including Windows 7, Windows 2008 Server R2, Mac OS X 10.6 "Snow Leopard", Railo 3.1.1 and JBoss 5.1.

IMPROVED INSTALLER - supporting 64 bit Windows machines

INCREASED MONITORING PERFORMANCE - FusionReactor continues to be the ColdFusion production monitor of choice because of its incredibly LOW overhead of less than 1%!

EXTENDED FRAPI INTERFACE - FRAPI, the FusionReactor API, gives you the ability to access FusionReactor functionality from your ColdFusion pages. This interface has now been extended to include additional Request information.

NEW AMF PROCESSOR - Action Message Format (AMF) is the file format used with Flash Remoting and applications such as Flex 2 and 3. FusionReactor has a completely new AMF processor supporting externalizable Objects.

A NUMBER OF MINOR ENHANCEMENTS AND IMPROVEMENTS - With every new release we continue to extend FusionReactor to make it even more stable and secure.

Click here to see the FusionReactor 3.5 Release Notes and Resolved Issues http://www.fusion-reactor.com/support/kb/FRS-230.cfm.

To upgrade, please download FusionReactor 3.5 from the FusionReactor download pag.e

Click here to download 3.5: http://www.fusion-reactor.com/fr/downloads.cfm

If you have any questions or feedback please email sales@fusion-reactor.com.

Hidden Gem in CF9: controlling Application.cfm/cfc lookup order

Note: This blog post is from 2009. 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.
It's that time again, time for me to start sharing hidden gems in CF9. In this first offering, I'll point out an interesting option now available in the CF Admin that lets you control how far up the drive CF searches for Application.cfm/cfc files. It's not quite as obvious as it seems, nor is it well documented. One of the options may even surprise you. More on the feature in a moment.

About the hidden gems series

With CF9 out and final, I'm excited to start identifying the interesting little bits and bobs which you may not have heard much about. Some will know I've done this going back to one of my first articles in the CFDJ from Feb 2000, on "Hidden Gems in 4.01".

Over the course of the next few weeks, I'll share various things that you may have missed, whether in the CF Admin, the language, the docs, or otherwise.

Hidden Gem 1: Controlling Application.cfm/cfc Lookup Order in Admin

If you've not noticed it, there is now a setting in the CF9 Admin for controlling how far above the current directory CF will look for Application.cfm/cfc if not found in the current directory. This is a server-wide setting (found on the Settings page).

How application file searching works by default

As you should know, if CF doesn't find an Application.cfm (or Application.cfc, since CF 7) in the current folder where a request starts, CF searches up to the parent, then the grandparent, trying to find one (and since CF 7 if it finds an Application.cfc it chooses that over an Application.cfm).

What many don't know is that by default ColdFusion has always searched all the way to the system root (the drive root). It doesn't stop at the webroot, which could lead to both security and possibly performance issues. This can now be changed using this setting.

To change this, find the Settings page which is the first link in the options on the left (see the arrow pointing to it in the image above). This new setting is about 2/3 the way down this page of settings (which is getting quite long!)

The options available in CF9

As the screenshot above shows, you can now change things to choose either of these alternative search behaviors:

  • Default order
  • Until webroot
  • In webroot

As I said at the outset, things are not quite as obvious as they may seem. OK, the first is: it maintains the default behavior of searching to the system root, such as c:\.

The second does what some have wished: makes CF stop searching when it reaches the webroot. (The third option may make you think that this second option means search until the webroot but do not search in the webroot. That's NOT what it means.)

Before explaining that, let me point out as well that changing this setting is immediate. No restart of CF 9 is required.

The surprising "in webroot" option

So what then is the deal with the third option, "in webroot"? It may surprise you (as it did me, at first). What it does is tell CF to search either in the current directory (as they all do) or if not found, search ONLY in the webroot. It DOES NOT search the directories between the current directory and the webroot. Interesting. (To be clear, it does not mean "don't look in the current directory but only in the webroot". It still takes affect only if there is no Application.cfc/cfm in the current directory where a request starts.)

Why might one use this third option? Well, if they know that their server code directories are setup in such a way that the Application.cfc/cfm file is either in the directory of templates it should apply to, or if not there it's only in the webroot, then this option would suit them.

I can see it potentially causing confusion if folks don't know about the change in behavior and wonder, "why isn't my Application.cfc/cfm file (in an intermediary directory) running?"

Also, the fact that this is a system-wide feature means that all your apps on your entire server must accept the behavior specified here.

No documentation on this feature

Another source of confusion is the fact that there's no documentation explaining this feature. It's mentioned only in passing in the online help of the Administrator, without explanation of the meaning of the options. It's not mentioned at all in the docs, either the "Configuring and Administrating CF" manual or the "Developing Applications" manual. That's a real shame and I hope it will change in the next release.

In the meantime, I hope that this entry will help. Sorry that it was a long one, but again it's just not a trivial feature. It is indeed a hidden gem, and look for more to come from me soon.

(I've provided a zip here that can help you demonstrate things. Unzip it into a web root and run the nested /testdir/testsubdir/test.cfm, and observe that whichever Application.cfm runs reports where it was found. You can rename the various Application.cfm files to xApplication.cfm to observe the impact of CF's search order, and as you change the Admin settings. You'll also want to copy one of the Application.cfm files to a direcory above your webroot to test that, too. The content is identical in all of them.

Of course, beware when unzipping the file that you don't overwrite any Application.cfm that you already have in your webroot. Also, beware that if you have an Application.cfc file in that webroot, it would take precedence over the Application.cfm file.

Finally, to find the zip file, see the link appearing just below this blog entry.)

I've made it onto the CF9 video interviews at Adobe.com

Note: This blog post is from 2009. 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.
Someone told me today they'd spotted me on the CF9 video interviews offered on the Adobe site. Pretty cool. There are actually a couple of sets of video interviews that I made it into.

One is a 3-minute conglomeration of comments from several people. These are both the "official" Adobe talkinghead-style videos, and some are more like "live remote shots" taken from the floor of CFUnited. Besides a couple of appearances in it, near the end they included me saying something fairly quotable. I'll let you find it. :-)

Then there's a another set of individual interviews with different folks (the talking head style), which appear (currently) at the top of the CF9 product page. You click on whichever one shows up (or click "community feedback") and an interface like slide show picker appears. You can pick any of them and at the end it offers to advance to the next. (That link to them at the top may eventually no longer appear on that page, I suppose.)

It was a treat being interviewed for these.

About the process

I got the invite over the summer and was told they'd be taken in a room at CFUnited. I assume the others were done there, too, but I don't know. The room was staffed by a video production team.

There was no way of telling for sure as we did them whether what we said would be included ultimately, and/or how much. Indeed, the interviews were a lot longer than what was showed (about 30 minutes for less than a couple), so much ended up on the cutting room floor for each of us, obviously. That was to be expected, of course, and I'm just thrilled to have been included at all.

Any disappointments?

My only disappointment: well, if you look at the videos and even the pictures at the top of the page, you'll notice something about mine stands out from the others. The production folks had made a point from the start about wanting me to "be sure to use my hands", so my inteview and picture show me gesticulating pretty vigorously. :-) It's not really my normal style, but if that's what they wanted.

But then I notice NO ONE ELSE is. Maybe I was an early interview and they dropped it eventually. If I knew the folks doing the interviews, I might feel like they punked me. :-) Heck, even on the tight shots (where they zoom in the editing) you can still see my fingers flying into the frame. Grr... :-)

And yet another appearance spotted

I notice that my shiny face also appears (for now) further down the product page next to a link labeled "Get Inspired". That's cool to see. I suppose it may well rotate with other folks (but it hasn't when I've refreshed it today).

Guess my 12 years of CF experience have born yet more fruit. Thanks, Adobe. And certainly I hope what I said is of value to some viewers, brief though the interviews are. Next time, if invited back, I'll also wear a less floppy-looking shirt! :-)

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