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My New Adobe Dev Ctr Article: Multi-user access for CF Admin and RDS

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 Some content may be outdated--though not necessarily.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.
I have a new 16-page article that was posted to the Adobe CF Developer Center yesterday:

Enabling multiple user access to the ColdFusion Administrator and RDS

If you're using CF 8 Enterprise or Developer edition, you should at least be aware of this feature. Even if it doesn't sound like something you'd need or want to use, check out at least the introductory section.

Besides explaining the features, and showing how to set them up and use them for practical solutions. It also addresses many gotchas and cautions to note, some of which may be surprises.

It shows using the multi-user admin feature for spreading out who can work on different parts of the admin (and shows enabling it even only for access to the CF 8 Server Monitor.)

And for the multi-user RDS feature, it shows leveraging it specifically within Eclipse and Dreamweaver (and points to resources for more on each and on using it with HomeSite+/CF Studio.)

I welcome comments or questions about the article here.

PS If you want to comment asking why one would use RDS due to security concerns, please read the article first. This addresses one significant concern and also points readers to additional resources to consider other concerns.

CF911: CF pages get "no web application configured", but CF's "running"

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 Some content may be outdated--though not necessarily.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.
If you find you can't run CF pages (they get "There is no web application configured to service your request") but CF seems to be "running", here's one possible explanation and how to diagnose/resolve the problem.

The problem outlined here has to do with being careful when you're modifying CF to enable/disable RDS (or doing any edits in the [cf]/wwwroot/WEB-INF/web.xml file that controls it.) This applies to CF 6, 7, or 8.

Of course, you may have a different cause for this kind of error. The focus here is this one cause and solution, but I hope that the information shared here on diagnosing the problem may help you if you've got a different problem.

The problem and solution

As many know, enabling/disabling RDS involves removing or adding comments around some XML entries, as explained in this technote.

After making the edits, though, you may find that you get this error when trying to run any CFML pages:


There is no web application configured to service your request"

What happened is you made a mistake I did. I had RDS enabled, so I wanted to disable it, which meant adding comments.

Don't do this

So I modified the XML entry from this:

<!-- begin RDS -->
<servlet-mapping id="coldfusion_mapping_9">
<!-- end RDS -->

to this:

<!-- <!-- begin RDS -->
<servlet-mapping id="coldfusion_mapping_9">
<!-- end RDS --> -->

That won't work. The problem is that my comment surrounds the section of XML which also includes an existing commented line.

Do this

So the solution is to do something like this instead:

<!-- begin RDS -->
<servlet-mapping id="coldfusion_mapping_9">
<!-- end RDS -->

I've only commented out the significant XML entries, not the comment that preceded it. There's a second entry that needs to be commented out as well, as discussed in the technote.

Also, note that you'd get the same error if you mistakenly use CFML comments (three dashes) rather than HTML comments (2 dashes). It's easy to do if you happen to edit the XML file in a CFML editor. I've confirmed it gets the same error indications above.

Diagnosing and resolving this and similar errors

That's the problem and solution. But how did I know that was the cause of the problem. It wasn't as obvious as it may seem.

It seems that CF *is* running--but no, JRun is

As the title of this entry (and the error message above) indicates, the problem was that CF was reporting that there was "no web application configured". Well, it's not really CF reporting that. It's JRun.

Indeed, in this situation one would notice that the jrun.exe process is running, but no CF pages would run.

There's no error reported in the CF/logs

So you may be tempted to look in the CF logs (such as C:\ColdFusion8\logs) but you'll find nothing. In fact, you may note that the logs are not even updated with the time that you had started CF.

The thing is, CF never really started. JRun did, yes, but the CF web application itself (within JRun) did not.

The real diagnostic info is in the Runtime logs

You can see this more clearly if you look instead in the "runtime" logs, which if you run the Server version of CF are in [cf]\runtime\logs\. (If you're running the Multiserver mode or what some call multiple instances, they're in jrun4\logs.)

In the coldfusion-out.log file (or the corresponding -out.log file for whatever instance is failing, if you're running multiple instances), you may see something like this error:

error Error on line 333 of document file:/C:/ColdFusion8/wwwroot/WEB-INF/web.xml: Next character must be ">" terminating comment .
[1]org.xml.sax.SAXParseException: Next character must be ">" terminating comment .

Sure enough, line 333 was where I had made my edit to the first of the XML entries discussed above.

This was followed by other messages (along with lots of stack tracing info to wade through):

info Unregistering enterprise application: file__C__ColdFusion8_#Adobe_ColdFusion_8

error Deployer Service failed to deploy file:/C:/ColdFusion8/
   * Could not deploy web application at file:/C:/ColdFusion8/wwwroot/.
   * Failed to parse XML: file:/C:/ColdFusion8/wwwroot/
   * null

finally showing (after still more stack tracing info):

Server coldfusion ready (startup time: 7 seconds)

Again, we can be mislead by that, thinking, "ok, CF is up". But no, it's just saying that the JRun server named "coldfusion" (or whatever instance you may be running) had started, but the web app for CF itself did not deploy, as the previous error message above showed.

So the moral of the story is to be careful when editing these (and any) XML files.

Side note on RDS

I'll add a note that one other reason people don't use RDS is because it relies on a single password to be shared by all who would use it. Yes, I realize there's still more to the security concerns. Anyway, if that's the most significant issue for you, there's a new feature in CF 8 Enterprise to address that, in the new option to enable multiple different user accounts for both the Administrator and RDS.

And in fact, I just did an Adobe DevCenter article introducing this feature at length (and I point to more about the other security concerns to consider before enabling RDS.) It's supposed to be coming out later today (at 4pm eastern), and I would assume it will be at the CF dev center.

Getting to know...um...me. My CFConversations podcast interview was released last week

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.
Hey folks, if you hadn't noticed, I was the subject of the latest CFConversations podcast, released last week. You can hear it, or read more about it at:


I really enjoyed it and hope you will as well. We talked about some things that may surprise people, and more than he quips about in the intro. :-)

Still, it's not just a puff piece. We do talk about quite a few issues of significance to some, and as always I try to offer resources and info to help people in their day-to-day working with CF.

I welcome your thoughts or feedback here.

Indeed, as I noted on the comments at the blog entry above, it bears repeating for some that one quip I made was more relative to the time of the interview, which was around election time. It might be misconstrued now 3 months later. :-)

Setting Google to Show You More Results Per Page: how and why

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.
In a recent entry, I made mention of the fact that I have Google set to show me 30 results per page, rather than the default of 10.

Some may read this and say, "big deal, I've been doing that for years", but it's one of those little things that some just never notice or think of. If you've not considered the option, why not check it out?

(Update on 9/30/2010: Others may have noticed that they DID have it set to more than 10, but recently they lost that functionality. I have the solution for that, as well.)

Others may say, "well, why choose to see more than 10? They offer buttons to let you page through the results", but the point is that people often will not page through them. I can tell you from my own experience that seeing more than just those "top 10" results when searching makes me more inclined to quickly consider more results. More on why do it in a moment.

How to make the change

The change it really simple. Just click the "Search Settings" box to the right of the top of the search page at google.com. (It used to appear to the right of the search box as a "preferences" link, but now it appears at the top right instead.)

If you're logged in, it will instead show as a link to "Settings", with "Search Settings" as a menu option under that when you click on it.)

On the preferences page, the 4th option controls the number of results.

Sure, they warn that 10 results per pages is "faster", but in these days of high speed internet, that's of course a relative assertion.

Update on 9/30/2010: Need to turn off Google Instant search

As I noted above, some may have noticed that even with that setting set, and saved, they still see only 10 results. In fact, if you re-open the preferences page, you'll see that it just ignored your choice and is back to 10. What gives?

The problem is the new "Google Instant" search feature, implemented recently (by default), which allows search results to appear as you type in your search criteria. If that's enabled, then Google does not let you set the results to more than 10. That's a shame, but worse is that they don't warn you of this when you try to change the number of search results.

The setting appears two below the "number of search results". Choose "Do not use Google Instant", if you want to see more than 10 search results.

Sadly, if you try to change both settings at once (turn off "Google Instant" and change "number of results"), that doesn't work either for the same reason above. Instead, do it in 2 steps: turn off Google Instant, save the preferences, then edit them again and change the number of results, and save that.

It really is too bad that Google doesn't handle both problems more gracefully.

Why to make the change to see more results

So why make the change to see more results? We all tend not to want to page forward through search results, right? But often some of the best results--those with real valuable info--are beyond the top 10, perhaps just beyond them, or perhaps 30 or 40 down.

Of course, hucksters know that people are reluctant to page down and go to great lengths to get their stuff in the top 10. (Granted, there are many fine entries which also show up in the top 10 just because they deserve to.)

But if you set your results to 30 at a time (or some other number larger than 10), you're just more likely to find (or consider) other results. It's surely paid off for me, and the speed to show more results is hardly noticeable.

Also, seeing 30 at a time makes it feel like no problem to go through a hundred results (including following the link to look at some of them) in a matter of minutes. Just something psychological about feeling that paging forward a couple of times is no big deal, but I see a lot more results doing that than if it was set to 10.

(And given the conflict with "Google Instant" discussed above, I'm happy to forego that feature to see more results instead.)

Hope this may help some of my readers.

PS Oh, and if you have changed the Google preferences but find your browser keeps losing the changes over time, check out the other recent entry I referenced at the top here, which addresses this very problem.

Been losing cookies from sites you visit? Fix in FF 3.0.7, and solution for other browsers

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.
If you use Firefox and have found it losing cookies, this will interest you. Even if you don't use FF, and experience the problem on Chrome, IE, Opera, Safari, etc., the root of the problem and a possible manual solution may interest you.

Of browser point releases, why it's worth paying attention

So Firefox 3.0.7 landed on my machine today as an auto update. Like me, you may find that these point releases aren't too much to write home (or blog) about. Often it's things like adding "Estonian, Kannada, and Telugu" language support. No offense to them, of course, but it's not something to get me get excited.

Still, I watch the release notes whenever a new release is pushed (just like I comb more carefully the far more interesting release notes for any new CF release), as you never know what surprise may be in store.

A fix in FF 3.0.7 seems the solution

Today, my reading the release notes paid off. There's word of a fix to the problem that's the subject of this blog entry:

"For some users, cookies would appear to go "missing" after a few days (bug 444600)."

Well heck yeah. It's been really annoying. And reading into that also showed how to solve the problem in other browsers.

What I was experiencing

Just like those in the support team (discussing the problem in the bug note), I would find that every couple of weeks various sites I visit often would have lost their cookies.

For instance, I set my Google search result preferences so that I see 30 search results at a time, rather than the default of 10. Suddenly it would be reset, which was very noticeable.

Or my bank would suddenly act like I'd visited the site for the first time on my laptop (when I'd used it just last week), and it make me go through extra authentication. That was annoying.

I knew it had to be a problem of the cookies being lost, but none of the obvious things were the problem. It was a nuisance, but not the end of the world.

The problem was not caused by what fellow troubleshooters may presume

Before pointing out the solution, I'll note that some may put on their debugging hats and wonder about what might have been other possible causes. It would have been easy to suspect a lot of things when faced with this problem.

Was it that the cookies being set (and lost) just had a suddenly early expiration date? Well, no, that wasn't it. (And these were major sites, like Google, my bank, etc. They don't make such mistakes, at least not more than once, typically.)

You might wonder if it was something I was doing on my system. No, I wasn't clearing out cookies. I just don't have call to do that, though I know some do when facing some development challenges.

I also don't regularly run any tools that might have been doing this for me, such as registry cleaners, anti-virus tools, etc. (And no, I don't run an AV tool all the time, and I've never suffered for it. I'll blog about that in a future note.)

So, sure, good to do the diagnostics. And an A for your effort, but it wasn't the problem. (BTW, this troubleshooting and helping people think through problems and use diagnostics is indeed what I do for a living now, helping people solve problems related to CF, so I really do respect and appreciate those who try to solve things on their own first. But if you do that and still have a problem, or can't take the time or don't know where to look, I can help.

The root cause, and learning more

So, back to the fix, it's great to see this it may well have been due to this issue now recognized and fixed in FF 3.0.7, which basically comes down to a combination (explained well in the bug note) of both a low default for how many cookies FF should keep (1000) and an eviction algorithm that didn't take into account how recently you'd visited a site before kicking it out when the limit was reached. Very nice.

You can learn more about the release, and get it if you've not auto-received it yet, here.

Oh, and if you want to up the number without applying the fix, the setting is called network.cookie.maxNumber, and you can tweak it using about:config (in FF), to access the underlying configuration settings.

As always with such tweaks, be careful. And naturally, raising the limit could eventually cause FF to take up a little more space in its repository to hold permanent cookies, and in memory. The bug note reports an estimate of about 1-2m per number increased, FWIW, so forewarned is forearmed.

What if you're not on FF?

As for those using Chrome or other browsers, note that you may find the same default setting of 1000 is limiting you. Whether and how to set it may vary, of course. Chrome, for instance, offers no about:config or other seeming way to edit its config settings (correct me if that's changed.)

I looked briefly and couldn't find how to set this in IE, Safari, or Opera, but if anyone reading this finds it, please share as a comment.

A couple of bonus tips

A couple of final observations: the bug note talks about how to get an interface tool for querying the underlying SQLite database, including SQL statements for detecting most recently accessed cookies,etc. Interesting to explore.

I also wanted to talk about an interesting observation from seeing discussions that took place from people trying to solve this problem. It's an interesting case study in troubleshooting and where one can go wrong. And I wanted to explain why changing the Google preference from 10 to 30 is a good idea. This has gotten way long, so I'll write those up as separate entries.

FusionReactor web site improvements

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.
If you're a user of FusionReactor or FusionDebug, or are curious about the tools, note that their web sites have had a face lift.

Besides a fresher appearance there's improved organization and navigation. There are high-level views of the products (available on the front page, with tabs along the bottom for each product) and more detailed pages on each (FR and FD), with product tours, benefits, faqs, and much more. This breakdown of high-level and detail views applies as well to discussions of the Air Enterprise Dashboard and their Services (consulting, training, etc.)

Through the updated web site you can also learn about many other resources available, including articles, videos, and blogs by them and others; product docs, screenshots, FAQs and more; info on customers and free/paid support; community tool contributions, and lots more.

The folks behind FusionReactor/FusionDebug are really great. They're very open to communications and always welcome (and act effectively on) feedback. I've been a long-time fan, so much that I work with them directly on doing training and consulting based on their products (while remaining an independent consultant.) It's their very openness and willingness to listen to feedback that brought me to working with them more and more closely over the years. I'm glad to help others take notice of the company and their great products.

Problem creating Derby DSN? It's a bug in CF8 Standard

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.
Here's some important news I've not seen shared elsewhere. We occasionally hear of people having problems creating Derby datasources in the CF Admin. They report that they get taken to the "other" datasource page by mistake. I've done some digging and can report the root cause: it's a bug in CF 8 Standard. You don't see the problem if you run the Developer or Enterprise edition, whether running standalone or multiserver (or "multi-instance"). It only happens on Standard (which only supports a standalone/server deployment.)

I think this is why it's been so confusing to resolve. Instead, I've seen all kinds of guesses as to the root cause. The challenge is that if you don't have a Standard license, you can't see how things work in Standard. Fortunately, I have one and just ran a test and can confirm this.

How I've demonstrated the problem

I started out on Enterprise (same on Developer), and in the CF Admin chose to create a new datasource, choosing "Apache Derby Embedded" in the "select a valid driver type", and it took me to a page asking just for the "Database folder" where the Derby DB would live, and it offered the optional "create database" checkbox. That and a description field were it. This is indeed what one SHOULD see for a Derby Embedded DSN.

But when I switched my CF license (clicking the blue "i" icon at the top right for the System Information page) to use a Standard license key, and repeated the steps above, I was taken instead to the "other" driver page, where one is prompted to enter a JDBC URL, driver class and name, and many other things that would clearly confuse someone trying to use Derby. What a shame.

Does NOT affect those adding a Derby Client DSN

I'll add that this does NOT happen when choosing the "Apache Derby Client" driver option, even in Standard, which is odd. (And again, it doesn't affect those using Enterprise or Developer edition, even if they're using the Server/Standalone mode that's closest in implementation to Standard.)

What's this Derby thing anyway?

If you're not familiar with the difference between Derby Embedded and Client, or indeed don't know much about Derby at all (the Apache database embedded in CF 8) and may wonder why one may bother to try to use it, you can check out various Derby resources I have offered on my site, including most recently a talk I gave at Max 2008, the recording of which is available here.

Bug report filed

This problem of redirecting to the wrong page seems, then, to be clearly just a bug in CF 8 Standard. I've just filed a bug report on the CF wish form, which I discuss more here for those not familiar with it. Let's hope that perhaps this is addressed in the Centaur release.

"Using Apache Derby", watch my Max presentation

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.
Did you know that CF8 (Enterprise, Standard, and Developer) has an embedded Apache database called Derby? Have you wondered what it's about? Why you might consider it? How to use it, and how to use it with other tools? Well now you can watch/listen to my Max presentation, "Using Apache Derby: the Open Source DB Embedded in CF 8", which is one of many Max NA 2008 videos which Adobe has released at tv.adobe.com. You can find a description of the talk here.

I actually did 2 Max talks (in addition to my Unconference talks), and I mentioned the other in a previous entry.

I'll note as well that I list this and all presentations I do, with links to PDFs or recordings, at the presentations section of my site.

Finding other CF Videos at tv.adobe.com

Finally, note that you can find other CF videos by selecting the "all product" category and choosing CF. Of course, you can also use the search field as well to find specific speakers or topics.

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