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New updates released for Java 8 and 11, Oct 2020

For those using the Long-term support (LTS) versions of Oracle Java, 8 and 11, please note that there were new updates released last week (Oct 20), specifically Java 11.0.9 and 8.0_271. For more on each, see the:

For some, that's all they need to hear.

And I could (and probably should) leave it at that. But there are other questions which folks will have, including more on getting those binaries/installers (from Oracle or Adobe), on the difference between those LTS versions and "more recent" Java versions, as well as non-Oracle JVMs, and on licensing matters and more. For those, read on. Perhaps I will split this other stuff out into its own post at some point, so I can just point to it from news of these Java updates.

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Come see my webinar at 2p ET today, "Differences Between CF Enterprise and Standard", via carahsoft

I'll be presenting my talk, "Differences Between ColdFusion Enterprise and Standard: More than you may think" online today (Oct 21, 2020) at 2pm Eastern. Just thought I'd share a heads-up here about that, which is being offered via Carahsoft's Adobe webinar series.

Sorry that I didn't post this sooner. (I'm just not great at promoting my talks: I forgot to mention here when I gave the talk on the online CFMeetup back in Sept--and this one today will be a slightly updated version.)

Anyone can register to attend the session, and I hope you will. You may be surprised to learn a few things.

Here's the description as offered on that Carahsoft site (and see below that on how "I am not Carahsoft"):

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Getting started with "Project Stratus" public beta, aka CF2021

Did you know that the public beta for CF2020 (or "CF2021", as I think the name will be) is now open, since August 2020? It's formally known by its code-name, "Project Stratus", or as some call it, "CF Next".

What matters most is that it's one of the boldest new versions of CF in quite some time. In this post, I want to share some tips about getting started with the beta, as I have seen many in the community left wondering about some things.

My focus here is not on "what's new" (I'll offer a brief list here, and more in a later post), but really just "how to get started", especially during the beta (or "prerelease") as some things are not as obvious as they perhaps should be. In fact, I make some pointed suggestions that I hope Adobe will consider, as well as share tips for you in the meantime.

In this post, I cover:

  • How easily anyone can join the public beta (Don't miss all that's on the prerelease front page)
  • Available documentation resources, don't miss them! (The 500-page (!) release notes, and separate system requirements and known issues docs)
  • Getting help with the prerelease, don't go it alone! (Filing bug reports, feature requests for the prerelease; asking for help and learning in the available prerelease forums)
  • The available installers and more
  • A taste of what's new (more to come in a later post)
  • About the use of the codename, Project Stratus

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It's looking like cf2020 will be cf2021, if I'm reading things right

As much as many have been referring to the new release (known for now as "Project Stratus") as "CF2020", it's looking like it may be instead "CF2021", if I'm reading the tea leaves right. And maybe it's only the name, not the actual release year. Let me explain (Hey, the bright side is that "2020" as a year is one many want to forget.)

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Come see my online talk, "Migrating or Comparing CF Admin Settings", at noon ET on Aug 13

Just thought I'd share a heads-up here on the blog that I'll be the speaker for the Online ColdFusion Meetup this week, Aug 13, at noon ET, presenting a new talk:

Migrating or Comparing CF Admin Settings, between instances, versions, and engines

You can learn more (including the description, the online meeting URL, where the recording will be posted, and more) at the meetup event page. FWIW, the session name had to be shortened a bit as presented on the meetup site there and even in the title here. :-)

As a bonus for you, my blog readers, I'll note that I'll be covering the CF migration and CAR features, the Commandbox CFConfig tool (which can be used for more than just "box" instances) and the CF2020 cfsetup tool (which has been shown publicly already), and more.

I'll also have a special surprise for people who "just want to compare the Admin settings of two instances without resorting to command-line tools, or hopping back and forth between browser tabs", using a free cross-platform GUI compare tool (and a simple trick in the CF Admin) which has delighted nearly everyone I've ever shown it to. And the tool can benefit you for far more than this one task. :-)

Why should one be careful about securing ColdFusion ARchive (CAR) files?

You may hear (starting today) about a new admonition (a "strong recommendation") from Adobe that one should be careful to "delete CAR files once they are used". What's that about? And why is it a concern? (And is it ever NOT a concern?) Indeed why is it a new admonition? (To be clear: the recommendation should be heeded even by those using CF versions BEFORE this update and older versions like 11, 10, and so on.)

The TLDR is this: If you create (or are given) a CF "CAR" (ColdFusion ARchive) file, you should treat that as a file that contains passwords, as technically it will, if what was exported into it was in fact any CF Admin setting which holds a password (there are several). No, the passwords are not in plain text within the CAR (which is just a zip). But the info needed to decrypt the passwords is in that file, and the CF Admin INTO WHICH such a CAR is imported will now have those passwords enabled within that CF Admin. Perhaps more dismaying, a savvy coder could easily use that info to convert the "encrypted" passwords into plain text in a single line of code. So one SHOULD indeed take care to secure such CAR files (if not delete them after use).

Do I have your attention now? Just a bit more tldr to preface the post...

Is the concern really unique to CAR files alone? And is deleting the CAR files the only way to "secure" them? No, but a difference is that CAR files may be passed around in a way that other "sensitive" CF files would not be. Indeed, what about the process of simply transporting them from one server to another? Should you be as concerned about that? And what if you don't WANT to delete them because they hold the CF Admin settings of record for an old CF instance you are removing? Should you even be concerned that a colleague also accessing your CF Admin might now use the info identified here to try to obtain a CAR file and use it in ways they should not? And what can you do to limit that? Finally, what about other tools that can save/transfer admin settings, like CFConfig in commandbox?

If you're interested in what's up (and if you or anyone on your server uses the CF Archive mechanism at all, you should be), then do read on. Same if you are not aware of what CAR files are used for, as I will explain.

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How can I keep CF Admin settings in sync between multiple servers or instances?

This question was asked today on the Adobe CF forums. The person had CF instances on multiple servers and lamented having to login to each CF admin to make changes that would apply equally to all instances, in particular creating or changing datasources. They wondered if in fact there was a feature in the CF Admin to "cluster" datasource definitions, like there is (since CF2016) the feature to "cluster" scheduled tasks.

I explained that there was not such a "feature" but that there were at least two options to achieve the goal. The answer was long enough (as is my wont) that I should have probably created a blog post instead. After submitting it, I decided to do just that, here (and I have tweaked here what I said, with some more elaboration and links).

Short answer: there are two tools that can help with this task, the CF Admin API (minimalist and manual), and the CFConfig tool within CommandBox (powerful and automated), as well as some seeming "shortcut" options (copying neo xml files, using symlinks, etc., which I'd advise strong caution against). I also give the CF CAR file feature an honorable mention.

For more on all this, read on.

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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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Did you know that CF2018 imports environment vars into the Server scope?

This is a hidden gem that I never saw documented anywhere: CF2018 now imports environment variables into the CF "server" scope, specifically:

server.system.environment

and java system properties into:

server.system.properties

(Thanks to Sean C for catching a mistake in the initial post.)

I learned of it last year when Pete F tweeted about it, and I assumed someone else would do a post about it, but the topic came up in a discussion today and I was surprised to not be able to find any mention of it, other than that and his mention of it in his cfdocs.org site.

And yes, Lucee had it first (as proposed initially in 2015). :-)

The feature can be useful, whether you're setting such vars when running a (Docker) container, or via JVM args, etc., and you want to be able to access them within CFML.

Solving metaspace errors, once and for all

I have a really simple solution to offer here, for a problem that has been nagging people running ColdFusion for the past few years. (I've also just filed a bug report asking Adobe to address this.) This post may also benefit those NOT running CF, especially if they have found confusing/conflicting information about the Java metaspace error and jvm argument that relates to it.

Perhaps you're getting errors referring to "metaspace" or "OutOfMemoryError: Metaspace", whether in your web sites, error logs, or even the CF Admin, and you wonder "what to do". Or you may be getting odd occurrences of blank pages, and if you look in your coldfusion-error.log you are finding such metaspace errors.

TLDR; In all these cases, the solution is simple (and may seem contrarian to some ears): REMOVE the maxmetaspace element from your JVM arguments. Indeed, I would go so far as to say everyone should simply remove it, even BEFORE you may get errors.

In the post that follows, I will explain how to remove it, including how you need to be VERY careful when doing that. You may also wonder why I recommend removing it, versus raising it. I cover that, as well as that bug report, below.

Update: I also created an abbreviated version of this post, on the Adobe CF portal, if that may interest some readers.

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