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
Join IBM June 8 at 18th Cloud Expo at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and learn how to innovate like a startup and scale for the enterprise. You need to deliver quality applications faster and cheaper, attract and retain customers with an engaging experience across devices, and seamlessly integrate your enterprise systems. And you can't take 12 months to do it.
Machine Learning helps make complex systems more efficient. By applying advanced Machine Learning techniques such as Cognitive Fingerprinting, wind project operators can utilize these tools to learn from collected data, detect regular patterns, and optimize their own operations. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Stuart Gillen, Director of Business Development at SparkCognition, will discuss how research has demonstrated the value of Machine Learning in delivering next generation analytics to im...
This is not a small hotel event. It is also not a big vendor party where politicians and entertainers are more important than real content. This is Cloud Expo, the world's longest-running conference and exhibition focused on Cloud Computing and all that it entails. If you want serious presentations and valuable insight about Cloud Computing for three straight days, then register now for Cloud Expo.
You think you know what’s in your data. But do you? Most organizations are now aware of the business intelligence represented by their data. Data science stands to take this to a level you never thought of – literally. The techniques of data science, when used with the capabilities of Big Data technologies, can make connections you had not yet imagined, helping you discover new insights and ask new questions of your data. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Sarbjit Sarkaria, data science team lead ...
So, you bought into the current machine learning craze and went on to collect millions/billions of records from this promising new data source. Now, what do you do with them? Too often, the abundance of data quickly turns into an abundance of problems. How do you extract that "magic essence" from your data without falling into the common pitfalls? In her session at @ThingsExpo, Natalia Ponomareva, Software Engineer at Google, will provide tips on how to be successful in large scale machine lear...
IoT device adoption is growing at staggering rates, and with it comes opportunity for developers to meet consumer demand for an ever more connected world. Wireless communication is the key part of the encompassing components of any IoT device. Wireless connectivity enhances the device utility at the expense of ease of use and deployment challenges. Since connectivity is fundamental for IoT device development, engineers must understand how to overcome the hurdles inherent in incorporating multipl...
The paradigm has shifted. A Gartner survey shows that 43% of organizations are using or plan to implement the Internet of Things in 2016. However, not just a handful of companies are still using the old-style ad-hoc trial-and-error ways, unaware of the critical barriers, paint points, traps, and hidden roadblocks. How can you become a winner? In his session at @ThingsExpo, Tony Shan will present a methodical approach to guide the holistic adoption and enablement of IoT implementations. This ov...
We’ve worked with dozens of early adopters across numerous industries and will debunk common misperceptions, which starts with understanding that many of the connected products we’ll use over the next 5 years are already products, they’re just not yet connected. With an IoT product, time-in-market provides much more essential feedback than ever before. Innovation comes from what you do with the data that the connected product provides in order to enhance the customer experience and optimize busi...
The IETF draft standard for M2M certificates is a security solution specifically designed for the demanding needs of IoT/M2M applications. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Brian Romansky, VP of Strategic Technology at TrustPoint Innovation, will explain how M2M certificates can efficiently enable confidentiality, integrity, and authenticity on highly constrained devices.
Artificial Intelligence has the potential to massively disrupt IoT. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, AJ Abdallat, CEO of Beyond AI, will discuss what the five main drivers are in Artificial Intelligence that could shape the future of the Internet of Things. AJ Abdallat is CEO of Beyond AI. He has over 20 years of management experience in the fields of artificial intelligence, sensors, instruments, devices and software for telecommunications, life sciences, environmental monitoring, process...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Ericsson has been named “Gold Sponsor” of SYS-CON's @ThingsExpo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York, New York. Ericsson is a world leader in the rapidly changing environment of communications technology – providing equipment, software and services to enable transformation through mobility. Some 40 percent of global mobile traffic runs through networks we have supplied. More than 1 billion subscribers around the world re...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Stratoscale, the software company developing the next generation data center operating system, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Stratoscale is revolutionizing the data center with a zero-to-cloud-in-minutes solution. With Stratoscale’s hardware-agnostic, Software Defined Data Center (SDDC) solution to store everything, run anything and scale everywhere...
Angular 2 is a complete re-write of the popular framework AngularJS. Programming in Angular 2 is greatly simplified – now it's a component-based well-performing framework. This immersive one-day workshop at 18th Cloud Expo, led by Yakov Fain, a Java Champion and a co-founder of the IT consultancy Farata Systems and the product company SuranceBay, will provide you with everything you wanted to know about Angular 2.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Men & Mice, the leading global provider of DNS, DHCP and IP address management overlay solutions, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. The Men & Mice Suite overlay solution is already known for its powerful application in heterogeneous operating environments, enabling enterprises to scale without fuss. Building on a solid range of diverse platform support,...
In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Klein, CEO and Co-founder of Rachio, will discuss next generation communities that are using IoT to create more sustainable, intelligent communities. One example is Sterling Ranch, a 10,000 home development that – with the help of Siemens – will integrate IoT technology into the community to provide residents with energy and water savings as well as intelligent security. Everything from stop lights to sprinkler systems to building infrastructures will run ef...
You deployed your app with the Bluemix PaaS and it's gaining some serious traction, so it's time to make some tweaks. Did you design your application in a way that it can scale in the cloud? Were you even thinking about the cloud when you built the app? If not, chances are your app is going to break. Check out this webcast to learn various techniques for designing applications that will scale successfully in Bluemix, for the confidence you need to take your apps to the next level and beyond.
Manufacturers are embracing the Industrial Internet the same way consumers are leveraging Fitbits – to improve overall health and wellness. Both can provide consistent measurement, visibility, and suggest performance improvements customized to help reach goals. Fitbit users can view real-time data and make adjustments to increase their activity. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Mark Bernardo Professional Services Leader, Americas, at GE Digital, will discuss how leveraging the Industrial Interne...
Whether your IoT service is connecting cars, homes, appliances, wearable, cameras or other devices, one question hangs in the balance – how do you actually make money from this service? The ability to turn your IoT service into profit requires the ability to create a monetization strategy that is flexible, scalable and working for you in real-time. It must be a transparent, smoothly implemented strategy that all stakeholders – from customers to the board – will be able to understand and comprehe...
Increasing IoT connectivity is forcing enterprises to find elegant solutions to organize and visualize all incoming data from these connected devices with re-configurable dashboard widgets to effectively allow rapid decision-making for everything from immediate actions in tactical situations to strategic analysis and reporting. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Shikhir Singh, Senior Developer Relations Manager at Sencha, will discuss how to create HTML5 dashboards that interact with IoT devic...
The increasing popularity of the Internet of Things necessitates that our physical and cognitive relationship with wearable technology will change rapidly in the near future. This advent means logging has become a thing of the past. Before, it was on us to track our own data, but now that data is automatically available. What does this mean for mHealth and the "connected" body? In her session at @ThingsExpo, Lisa Calkins, CEO and co-founder of Amadeus Consulting, will discuss the impact of wea...