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How and why your sites may break, and what to do, after applying March 2020 update to CF2018 or 2016

This is a critical warning to anyone who may apply the recent CF2018 Update 8 or CF2016 Update 14, released Tuesday of this week (on Mar 20, 2020). And readers in the future should note it will apply if and as you may update CF from any update BEFORE this one to any update AFTER this one.

To be clear, I do not mean with this warning to suggest that you should NOT apply the update! It implements an important security fix.

Instead, it's that after applying it, your CF web sites served via IIS or Apache WILL likely break initially, until you take one at least and perhaps two extra steps. The good news is that these steps are both easy and documented by Adobe in the update technotes, but they do require that someone do them, if needed. Let me explain.

[Update: I did an abbreviated version of this post on the Adobe CF portal: Three reasons your sites may break, and how to fix them, after applying March 2020 update to CF2018 or 2016. Note I also titled it differently. Just trying many ways to get people's attention. That post may interest some, either to read first (but my TLDR below also tries to abbreviate things also), or especially if you may prefer to give others a link to a post on this matter that is not as "dense" as this one. :-) I do point to this post from there, of course, for the many additional details that some may appreciate.]

Sadly, because many people don't bother to read the CF update technotes (linked to below), and they just apply the CF updates, they are not noticing this issue until they or their users start screaming because their sites are down. There's also a fair bit of "screaming" in the CF community, and folks responding may not know the info that I (or Adobe) have shared, to get things "working again", so I hope this helps bring some calm, and most important the clear solution/s needed.

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How to solve failing "api" URLs, in CF2016 and 11 (not a problem in CF2018)

If you're trying to run a request against CF 2016 (or perhaps 11), and the URL you're using has a path which starts with /api, you may find that the request fails to run (it may give a blank page). What gives? (It was related to the CF2016 API Manager, not CF's REST services feature.)

And what can you do about it, if you are on CF2016 or 11, and you want to use /api for your URLs? There are are two choices, depending on your needs: in brief, you can either:

  • change your /api folder to a new name (which I realize may not appeal to all to some)
  • or change the CF configuration, to STOP it treating /api specially for the API Manager's use. You would do this by editing two CF config files, urlworkermap.properties and web.xml (but this will break the ability of the API Manager to introspect REST services in CF2016 or CF11, though not CF2018)

TLDR; if you're bold and a risk taker, you can jump to the bottom to see my list of changes to make for that second option. As is often the case, there is risk in making changes in a cavalier fashion. There are various things to consider, and I warn of them below--but the good news is that this is a change that may take only minutes to do, once you've been careful to read about how to do it effectively.

Read on for more, including pros and cons of each choice, what to change and where, why this problem NO LONGER happens from CF2018 onward, and more.

(And if you are not familiar with the CF Enterprise API Manager, which is installed separately from CF, you can read about it here.)

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When and how to upgrade CF web server connector, easier since CF2016

Did you know that when you update ColdFusion, there is often a need to also update the web server connector (for IIS and/or Apache)? In this post, I discuss how you can know when to do it (Adobe makes that easier since CF2016), as well as how to do it (also easier since CF2016), and why it's important.

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Folks may want to hold off on the Sep 24 2019 CF updates

Update (Nov 20, 2019): Adobe announced today that they'd come out with a new set of updates to fix the problems in the Sep 24 updates. Today's updates address the various issues reported below about the Sept update. It's important to proceed with performing the updates, for the benefit of the security updates as I discussed below back in Sept.

I shared here Tuesday the news that Adobe had announced there were new updates for CF2018 and 2016, released that day.

But as has happened every few releases, a lot of folks are reporting various problems, enough for me to say that folks may want to hold off on applying these updates, which I realize is a risky proposition since the update includes security fixes. More on that below.

--
Update Nov 13: Adobe has released a preview of new updates, meant to address the issues in these Sep 2019 updates. For more, see my post: https://www.carehart.org/blog/client/index.cfm/2019/11/13/preview_available_for_new_coldfusion_updates//

Update Sep 27: Adobe has commented below (Sep 27) saying that there are now fixes available for the bugs reported (but that you must request each directly from them, and that an update refresh is not planned). See Vamsee's comment below, and my reply to that (asking for a bit more detail). For now, I have added any links I've seen to fixes for any of these.
--

Of course, if you need something in the update and want to try it, just be sure to do ample testing, and check out some of the problems people are reporting below. And beware that some issues may only happen under load, so you may not find them in your own testing.

Otherwise, let's see if Adobe may either "refresh" the update or may well "pull" it, as they did with the Feb 2019 updates for CF 2016 and 11, when they replaced those with another a week later (see the "Note" about it at the top of that page).

For more, read on.

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Monitoring ColdFusion web server connectors, more on Tomcat 'Status Workers'

Note: This blog post is from 2015. 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 running CF 10 or above, there was a very interesting post on the Adobe CF blog, from July 19 2015, entitled, Configuring Status Worker in Connectors. The Adobe blog post title may not have caught your attention, but it's about setting up a lightweight and built-in Tomcat monitoring feature for observing the status of the Tomcat web server connector.

You may want to consider enabling it, but I would add some caveats and observations that I share below. Note that it's really quite easy to enable, and DOES NOT require a restart of CF (only of your web server, or technically in IIS, a recycling of the application pool/s--a web site restart is not enough) to take effect.

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Still more reasons to make sure you have updated your ColdFusion 10 web server connector

Note: This blog post is from 2013. 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.
Several weeks ago, I did an entry, CF911: Why/when you MUST update the web server connector for #ColdFusion 10, and may have missed it.

In this entry, I want to throw in another reason why it's important to make sure you properly update (reconfigure/rebuild/upgrade) your web server connector after applying certain CF10 updates, or if applying only the latest update for the first time to a newly installed CF10 instance.

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CF911: Why/when you MUST update the web server connector for ColdFusion 10/11 and may have missed it

Note: This blog post is from 2013. 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.
Have you installed or updated CF10 (or 11) and found that you still have problems with it running right, even when you have "fully updated" CF10? In this blog entry, I explain how it may NOT be that "CF 10 is broken" but rather that you may have missed an important step when updating it.

In brief, a VERY common problem is that while they MAY WELL have applied the provided "updates" for CF, folks often do NOT notice that they may have to (and generally must) "update" the web server "connector" (if they are using an external web server, like IIS or Apache) as a separate manual step, after applying the update.

I explain here what that means, how do to it, and why you may miss that you need to.

Update in 2019:

Since writing this entry, I did one in 2019 on When and how to upgrade CF web server connector, easier since CF2016, which at least makes it EASIER to upgrade, though much of what I write here still applies. I also updated this post since originally writing it, in ways discussed below.

(Or if you'd rather just have me help you quickly help you analyze and rectify your situation, whether with regard to the connectors or any other CF server troubleshooting, I can do that in a brief consulting session, likely less than an hour, remotely and securely. I provide all the detail here for those who prefer to "go it on their own". For more on my consulting services, including rates, approach, satisfaction guarantee, and more, see the consulting page at carehart.org.)

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