Click here to close now.


You will be redirected in 30 seconds or close now.

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

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
NHK, Japan Broadcasting will feature upcoming @ThingsExpo Silicon Valley in a special IoT documentary which will be filmed on the expo floor November 3 to 5, 2015 in Santa Clara. NHK is the sole public TV network in Japan equivalent to BBC in UK and the largest in Asia with many award winning science and technology programs. Japanese TV is producing a documentary about IoT and Smart technology covering @ThingsExpo Silicon Valley. The program will be aired during the highest viewership season of the year that it will have a high impact in the industry through this documentary in Japan. The film...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Luxoft Holding, Inc., a leading provider of software development services and innovative IT solutions, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's @ThingsExpo, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Luxoft’s software development services consist of core and mission-critical custom software development and support, product engineering and testing, and technology consulting.
The broad selection of hardware, the rapid evolution of operating systems and the time-to-market for mobile apps has been so rapid that new challenges for developers and engineers arise every day. Security, testing, hosting, and other metrics have to be considered through the process. In his session at Big Data Expo, Walter Maguire, Chief Field Technologist, HP Big Data Group, at Hewlett-Packard, will discuss the challenges faced by developers and a composite Big Data applications builder, focusing on how to help solve the problems that developers are continuously battling.
Nowadays, a large number of sensors and devices are connected to the network. Leading-edge IoT technologies integrate various types of sensor data to create a new value for several business decision scenarios. The transparent cloud is a model of a new IoT emergence service platform. Many service providers store and access various types of sensor data in order to create and find out new business values by integrating such data.
Developing software for the Internet of Things (IoT) comes with its own set of challenges. Security, privacy, and unified standards are a few key issues. In addition, each IoT product is comprised of at least three separate application components: the software embedded in the device, the backend big-data service, and the mobile application for the end user's controls. Each component is developed by a different team, using different technologies and practices, and deployed to a different stack/target - this makes the integration of these separate pipelines and the coordination of software upd...
SYS-CON Events announced today that IBM Cloud Data Services has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 17th Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. IBM Cloud Data Services offers a portfolio of integrated, best-of-breed cloud data services for developers focused on mobile computing and analytics use cases.
In his session at @ThingsExpo, Tony Shan, Chief Architect at CTS, will explore the synergy of Big Data and IoT. First he will take a closer look at the Internet of Things and Big Data individually, in terms of what, which, why, where, when, who, how and how much. Then he will explore the relationship between IoT and Big Data. Specifically, he will drill down to how the 4Vs aspects intersect with IoT: Volume, Variety, Velocity and Value. In turn, Tony will analyze how the key components of IoT influence Big Data: Device, Connectivity, Context, and Intelligence. He will dive deep to the matrix...
When it comes to IoT in the enterprise, namely the commercial building and hospitality markets, a benefit not getting the attention it deserves is energy efficiency, and IoT’s direct impact on a cleaner, greener environment when installed in smart buildings. Until now clean technology was offered piecemeal and led with point solutions that require significant systems integration to orchestrate and deploy. There didn't exist a 'top down' approach that can manage and monitor the way a Smart Building actually breathes - immediately flagging overheating in a closet or over cooling in unoccupied ho...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Cloud Raxak has been named “Media & Session Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 17th Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Raxak Protect automates security compliance across private and public clouds. Using the SaaS tool or managed service, developers can deploy cloud apps quickly, cost-effectively, and without error.
Scott Guthrie's keynote presentation "Journey to the intelligent cloud" is a must view video. This is from AzureCon 2015, September 29, 2015 I have reproduced some screen shots in case you are unable to view this long video for one reason or another. One of the highlights is 3 datacenters coming on line in India.
“The Internet of Things transforms the way organizations leverage machine data and gain insights from it,” noted Splunk’s CTO Snehal Antani, as Splunk announced accelerated momentum in Industrial Data and the IoT. The trend is driven by Splunk’s continued investment in its products and partner ecosystem as well as the creativity of customers and the flexibility to deploy Splunk IoT solutions as software, cloud services or in a hybrid environment. Customers are using Splunk® solutions to collect and correlate data from control systems, sensors, mobile devices and IT systems for a variety of Ind...
SYS-CON Events announced today that ProfitBricks, the provider of painless cloud infrastructure, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. ProfitBricks is the IaaS provider that offers a painless cloud experience for all IT users, with no learning curve. ProfitBricks boasts flexible cloud servers and networking, an integrated Data Center Designer tool for visual control over the cloud and the best price/performance value available. ProfitBricks was named one of the coolest Clo...
You have your devices and your data, but what about the rest of your Internet of Things story? Two popular classes of technologies that nicely handle the Big Data analytics for Internet of Things are Apache Hadoop and NoSQL. Hadoop is designed for parallelizing analytical work across many servers and is ideal for the massive data volumes you create with IoT devices. NoSQL databases such as Apache HBase are ideal for storing and retrieving IoT data as “time series data.”
Clearly the way forward is to move to cloud be it bare metal, VMs or containers. One aspect of the current public clouds that is slowing this cloud migration is cloud lock-in. Every cloud vendor is trying to make it very difficult to move out once a customer has chosen their cloud. In his session at 17th Cloud Expo, Naveen Nimmu, CEO of Clouber, Inc., will advocate that making the inter-cloud migration as simple as changing airlines would help the entire industry to quickly adopt the cloud without worrying about any lock-in fears. In fact by having standard APIs for IaaS would help PaaS expl...
Organizations already struggle with the simple collection of data resulting from the proliferation of IoT, lacking the right infrastructure to manage it. They can't only rely on the cloud to collect and utilize this data because many applications still require dedicated infrastructure for security, redundancy, performance, etc. In his session at 17th Cloud Expo, Emil Sayegh, CEO of Codero Hosting, will discuss how in order to resolve the inherent issues, companies need to combine dedicated and cloud solutions through hybrid hosting – a sustainable solution for the data required to manage I...
Apps and devices shouldn't stop working when there's limited or no network connectivity. Learn how to bring data stored in a cloud database to the edge of the network (and back again) whenever an Internet connection is available. In his session at 17th Cloud Expo, Bradley Holt, Developer Advocate at IBM Cloud Data Services, will demonstrate techniques for replicating cloud databases with devices in order to build offline-first mobile or Internet of Things (IoT) apps that can provide a better, faster user experience, both offline and online. The focus of this talk will be on IBM Cloudant, Apa...
Mobile messaging has been a popular communication channel for more than 20 years. Finnish engineer Matti Makkonen invented the idea for SMS (Short Message Service) in 1984, making his vision a reality on December 3, 1992 by sending the first message ("Happy Christmas") from a PC to a cell phone. Since then, the technology has evolved immensely, from both a technology standpoint, and in our everyday uses for it. Originally used for person-to-person (P2P) communication, i.e., Sally sends a text message to Betty – mobile messaging now offers tremendous value to businesses for customer and empl...
As more and more data is generated from a variety of connected devices, the need to get insights from this data and predict future behavior and trends is increasingly essential for businesses. Real-time stream processing is needed in a variety of different industries such as Manufacturing, Oil and Gas, Automobile, Finance, Online Retail, Smart Grids, and Healthcare. Azure Stream Analytics is a fully managed distributed stream computation service that provides low latency, scalable processing of streaming data in the cloud with an enterprise grade SLA. It features built-in integration with Azur...
SYS-CON Events announced today that HPM Networks will exhibit at the 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. For 20 years, HPM Networks has been integrating technology solutions that solve complex business challenges. HPM Networks has designed solutions for both SMB and enterprise customers throughout the San Francisco Bay Area.
The enterprise is being consumerized, and the consumer is being enterprised. Moore's Law does not matter anymore, the future belongs to business virtualization powered by invisible service architecture, powered by hyperscale and hyperconvergence, and facilitated by vertical streaming and horizontal scaling and consolidation. Both buyers and sellers want instant results, and from paperwork to paperless to mindless is the ultimate goal for any seamless transaction. The sweetest sweet spot in innovation is automation. The most painful pain point for any business is the mismatch between supplies a...