Welcome!

You will be redirected in 30 seconds or close now.

ColdFusion Authors: Yakov Fain, Jeremy Geelan, Maureen O'Gara, Nancy Y. Nee, Tad Anderson

Related Topics: ColdFusion

ColdFusion: Article

The Asynchronous CFML Gateway

A Real-World Example of a Great New Technology

One of the most powerful new features available in ColdFusion MX 7 Enterprise that many ColdFusion developers might not yet be using is event gateways. Event gateways open up entirely new possibilities for ColdFusion and allow our ColdFusion applications to communicate with more or less any other Internet-enabled system even if the system doesn't communicate via the "traditional" HTTP protocol.

CFMX 7 Enterprise ships with a few gateways to get you started, such as an SMS gateway for communicating with mobile devices, a directory watcher gateway, a socket gateway, a Java Message Service (JMS) gateway, and Jabber/XMMP as well as Lotus Sametime IM gateways, so you have a lot of possibilities right out of the box.

If you don't need the specific functionality offered by these gateways you might not have investigated them thoroughly and because the event gateways themselves are written in Java, creating new gateways may not be a high-priority item for many ColdFusion developers. But there is another gateway that ships with CFMX 7 Enterprise that ColdFusion developers can take advantage of right away, which offers numerous benefits in your ColdFusion applications. In this article I'd like to introduce you to the Asynchronous CFML Gateway, describe some of the great potential uses of the gateway, and show how I added an asynchronous CFML gateway to vastly improve the performance and functionality in an existing ColdFusion application.

The Asynchronous CFML Gateway
The purpose of the asynchronous CFML gateway is to allow developers to offload long-running processes to the gateway. The gateway immediately passes control back to the application and does it's processing behind the scenes. This means that your users will no longer have to wait for lengthy batch processes to complete before doing other things within the application. This is great for things like logging, which if you log a lot of data can really bog down your application since the user has to wait for the logging process to complete on each request.

Even if you have a process that runs behind the scenes that is initiated by the ColdFusion scheduler as opposed to by a user action, leveraging the asynchronous gateway can allow for the process to complete more quickly. For example, if you have a loop of some sort and the work done upon each iteration is fairly lengthy, by sending a message to the asynchronous gateway on each loop iteration the overall process doesn't need to wait for each iteration to complete before proceeding.

What allows this magic to be possible is the use of ColdFusion Components (CFCs) that operate within the event gateway environment as opposed to being tied to a specific request. By creating a CFC that contains a few specific methods (actually we'll concern ourselves with one method in particular - more on this in a moment) and registering the CFC as an event gateway instance in the ColdFusion administrator, the CFC can now operate independently of the traditional request/response model of web applications.

Bear in mind, however, that not all processes are suitable for use with the asynchronous event gateway. One big caveat here is that because the asynchronous process is detached from the request/response cycle, it isn't really feasible to provide feedback to the user in a traditional way such as sending the user to a confirmation page when a process completes. Also, if your application contains processes that occur sequentially and later processes rely on the results of preceding processes, then even if one of these processes is time-consuming this isn't a case in which use of the asynchronous gateway is possible. When you use the asynchronous gateway you essentially throw the process over the fence and give up control over when it completes and the ability to rely on the results of the asynchronous process.

The asynchronous CFC can however, do things such as log information to a file or database, send information via e-mail, or even send an instant message using the IM gateway, so by no means does the asynchronous CFC's processing disappear into a black hole.

In addition to these methods the event gateways can of course also use the cflog tag, which outputs information to a log that can be viewed from the ColdFusion administrator or directly in the log file itself. In the ColdFusion administrator's Debugging & Logging section you will also see an Event Gateway log that can provide information about what occurs inside your gateways. Finally, for some additional thoughts and methods by which to get feedback from asynchronous CFCs, please see Sean Corfield's blog entries about his Concurrency library under "Resources" at the end of this article.

If you haven't considered the power of asynchronous processing before, I'd be willing to bet the wheels are spinning and your head is filling with ideas of how you can leverage this power in your applications. Let's take a look at one real-world example that created dramatic improvements and was surprisingly easy to build.

Web-Based "E-Mail Blaster"
A few years ago I wrote a ColdFusion application for my company's marketing department that is used for generating and sending e-mail marketing campaigns. This application became affectionately known as the "E-Mail Blaster." Prior to the existence of the E-Mail Blaster our marketing team was literally cutting and pasting e-mail addresses from an Excel spreadsheet into the Lotus Notes e-mail client. Clearly not the most efficient way to do things given the fact that some of our larger batches of e-mail can top 50,000 recipients, and Notes has an upper limit of a few hundred recipients for each e-mail. (Before you declare me the Spam King of Texas, bear in mind that that our lists are entirely opt-in!)

When I saw how the marketing department was dealing with these e-mail campaigns I immediately knew that this was a perfect job for ColdFusion. ColdFusion Enterprise handles large volumes of e-mail extremely well, and it was quite simple to build a web-based interface for creating e-mail campaigns that saves countless hours of time versus the old cut-and-paste method. We use another tool to maintain contact lists, so the marketing team extracts the recipient list into an Excel spreadsheet. They then use the ColdFusion application to upload the Excel spreadsheet containing the recipients' e-mail addresses along with an HTML file containing the contents of the e-mail, and the E-mail Blaster handles the rest.

Hurry Up and Wait
The application was an immediate hit with the marketing department, but there was one drawback. Even as quickly as ColdFusion handles e-mail it still takes a bit of time to process 50,000 e-mails, and in the traditional request/response model of web applications this means the user of the application has to wait ... and wait ... and wait for the process to complete. This doesn't necessarily mean the user can't go do something else while it's processing, but people tend to get used to submitting a form and seeing a response relatively quickly so by force of habit the users of the E-mail Blaster tend to wait for a response from the application.

In a long-running process such as this the response can be substantially delayed, and this can cause problems ranging from simple annoyance to users resubmitting e-mail batches because they assume the process stopped or an error occurred. In the original version of the application there were problems with Internet Explorer refreshing the processing page automatically because I wasn't flushing anything to the screen during the send process. Once I discovered this issue I updated the application to flush each e-mail address to the screen as the e-mail was sent, which gave the user primitive feedback and also solved the auto-refresh issue with Internet Explorer.

More Stories By Matthew Woodward

Matt Woodward is Principal Information Technology Specialist with the Office of the Sergeant at Arms at the United States Senate. He was until recently a Web application developer for i2 Technologies in Dallas, Texas. A Macromedia Certified ColdFusion Developer and a member of Team Macromedia, he has been using ColdFusion since 1996. In addition to his ColdFusion work, Matt also develops in Java and PHP.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@ThingsExpo Stories
SYS-CON Events announced today Telecom Reseller has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Telecom Reseller reports on Unified Communications, UCaaS, BPaaS for enterprise and SMBs. They report extensively on both customer premises based solutions such as IP-PBX as well as cloud based and hosted platforms.
Smart Cities are here to stay, but for their promise to be delivered, the data they produce must not be put in new siloes. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Mathias Herberts, Co-founder and CTO of Cityzen Data, will deep dive into best practices that will ensure a successful smart city journey.
DevOps at Cloud Expo, taking place Nov 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 19th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The widespread success of cloud computing is driving the DevOps revolution in enterprise IT. Now as never before, development teams must communicate and collaborate in a dynamic, 24/7/365 environment. There is no time to wait for long dev...
The 19th International Cloud Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. Cloud Expo, to be held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, brings together Cloud Computing, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, Digital Transformation, Microservices and WebRTC to one location. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to plant your flag in this fast-expanding business opportuni...
There is growing need for data-driven applications and the need for digital platforms to build these apps. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Muddu Sudhakar, VP and GM of Security & IoT at Splunk, will cover different PaaS solutions and Big Data platforms that are available to build applications. In addition, AI and machine learning are creating new requirements that developers need in the building of next-gen apps. The next-generation digital platforms have some of the past platform needs a...
Pulzze Systems was happy to participate in such a premier event and thankful to be receiving the winning investment and global network support from G-Startup Worldwide. It is an exciting time for Pulzze to showcase the effectiveness of innovative technologies and enable them to make the world smarter and better. The reputable contest is held to identify promising startups around the globe that are assured to change the world through their innovative products and disruptive technologies. There w...
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 19th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the most profound change in personal and enterprise IT since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago. All major researchers estimate there will be tens of billions devices - comp...
Data is the fuel that drives the machine learning algorithmic engines and ultimately provides the business value. In his session at Cloud Expo, Ed Featherston, a director and senior enterprise architect at Collaborative Consulting, will discuss the key considerations around quality, volume, timeliness, and pedigree that must be dealt with in order to properly fuel that engine.
19th Cloud Expo, taking place November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud strategy. Meanwhile, 94% of enterpri...
Personalization has long been the holy grail of marketing. Simply stated, communicate the most relevant offer to the right person and you will increase sales. To achieve this, you must understand the individual. Consequently, digital marketers developed many ways to gather and leverage customer information to deliver targeted experiences. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Lou Casal, Founder and Principal Consultant at Practicala, discussed how the Internet of Things (IoT) has accelerated our abil...
With so much going on in this space you could be forgiven for thinking you were always working with yesterday’s technologies. So much change, so quickly. What do you do if you have to build a solution from the ground up that is expected to live in the field for at least 5-10 years? This is the challenge we faced when we looked to refresh our existing 10-year-old custom hardware stack to measure the fullness of trash cans and compactors.
The emerging Internet of Everything creates tremendous new opportunities for customer engagement and business model innovation. However, enterprises must overcome a number of critical challenges to bring these new solutions to market. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Michael Martin, CTO/CIO at nfrastructure, outlined these key challenges and recommended approaches for overcoming them to achieve speed and agility in the design, development and implementation of Internet of Everything solutions wi...
Cloud computing is being adopted in one form or another by 94% of enterprises today. Tens of billions of new devices are being connected to The Internet of Things. And Big Data is driving this bus. An exponential increase is expected in the amount of information being processed, managed, analyzed, and acted upon by enterprise IT. This amazing is not part of some distant future - it is happening today. One report shows a 650% increase in enterprise data by 2020. Other estimates are even higher....
I wanted to gather all of my Internet of Things (IOT) blogs into a single blog (that I could later use with my University of San Francisco (USF) Big Data “MBA” course). However as I started to pull these blogs together, I realized that my IOT discussion lacked a vision; it lacked an end point towards which an organization could drive their IOT envisioning, proof of value, app dev, data engineering and data science efforts. And I think that the IOT end point is really quite simple…
Today we can collect lots and lots of performance data. We build beautiful dashboards and even have fancy query languages to access and transform the data. Still performance data is a secret language only a couple of people understand. The more business becomes digital the more stakeholders are interested in this data including how it relates to business. Some of these people have never used a monitoring tool before. They have a question on their mind like “How is my application doing” but no id...
Identity is in everything and customers are looking to their providers to ensure the security of their identities, transactions and data. With the increased reliance on cloud-based services, service providers must build security and trust into their offerings, adding value to customers and improving the user experience. Making identity, security and privacy easy for customers provides a unique advantage over the competition.
Is the ongoing quest for agility in the data center forcing you to evaluate how to be a part of infrastructure automation efforts? As organizations evolve toward bimodal IT operations, they are embracing new service delivery models and leveraging virtualization to increase infrastructure agility. Therefore, the network must evolve in parallel to become equally agile. Read this essential piece of Gartner research for recommendations on achieving greater agility.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Venafi, the Immune System for the Internet™ and the leading provider of Next Generation Trust Protection, will exhibit at @DevOpsSummit at 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Venafi is the Immune System for the Internet™ that protects the foundation of all cybersecurity – cryptographic keys and digital certificates – so they can’t be misused by bad guys in attacks...
For basic one-to-one voice or video calling solutions, WebRTC has proven to be a very powerful technology. Although WebRTC’s core functionality is to provide secure, real-time p2p media streaming, leveraging native platform features and server-side components brings up new communication capabilities for web and native mobile applications, allowing for advanced multi-user use cases such as video broadcasting, conferencing, and media recording.
Akana has announced the availability of version 8 of its API Management solution. The Akana Platform provides an end-to-end API Management solution for designing, implementing, securing, managing, monitoring, and publishing APIs. It is available as a SaaS platform, on-premises, and as a hybrid deployment. Version 8 introduces a lot of new functionality, all aimed at offering customers the richest API Management capabilities in a way that is easier than ever for API and app developers to use.