|By Matthew Woodward||
|June 16, 2005 01:00 PM EDT||
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.
In his keynote at @ThingsExpo, Chris Matthieu, Director of IoT Engineering at Citrix and co-founder and CTO of Octoblu, focused on building an IoT platform and company. He provided a behind-the-scenes look at Octoblu’s platform, business, and pivots along the way (including the Citrix acquisition of Octoblu).
Nov. 27, 2015 10:00 AM EST Reads: 482
In his General Session at 17th Cloud Expo, Bruce Swann, Senior Product Marketing Manager for Adobe Campaign, explored the key ingredients of cross-channel marketing in a digital world. Learn how the Adobe Marketing Cloud can help marketers embrace opportunities for personalized, relevant and real-time customer engagement across offline (direct mail, point of sale, call center) and digital (email, website, SMS, mobile apps, social networks, connected objects).
Nov. 27, 2015 09:15 AM EST Reads: 282
The Internet of Everything is re-shaping technology trends–moving away from “request/response” architecture to an “always-on” Streaming Web where data is in constant motion and secure, reliable communication is an absolute necessity. As more and more THINGS go online, the challenges that developers will need to address will only increase exponentially. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Todd Greene, Founder & CEO of PubNub, exploreed the current state of IoT connectivity and review key trends and technology requirements that will drive the Internet of Things from hype to reality.
Nov. 27, 2015 07:45 AM EST Reads: 418
Two weeks ago (November 3-5), I attended the Cloud Expo Silicon Valley as a speaker, where I presented on the security and privacy due diligence requirements for cloud solutions. Cloud security is a topical issue for every CIO, CISO, and technology buyer. Decision-makers are always looking for insights on how to mitigate the security risks of implementing and using cloud solutions. Based on the presentation topics covered at the conference, as well as the general discussions heard between sessions, I wanted to share some of my observations on emerging trends. As cyber security serves as a fou...
Nov. 27, 2015 07:30 AM EST Reads: 314
Continuous processes around the development and deployment of applications are both impacted by -- and a benefit to -- the Internet of Things trend. To help better understand the relationship between DevOps and a plethora of new end-devices and data please welcome Gary Gruver, consultant, author and a former IT executive who has led many large-scale IT transformation projects, and John Jeremiah, Technology Evangelist at Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE), on Twitter at @j_jeremiah. The discussion is moderated by me, Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions.
Nov. 27, 2015 04:15 AM EST Reads: 708
With all the incredible momentum behind the Internet of Things (IoT) industry, it is easy to forget that not a single CEO wakes up and wonders if “my IoT is broken.” What they wonder is if they are making the right decisions to do all they can to increase revenue, decrease costs, and improve customer experience – effectively the same challenges they have always had in growing their business. The exciting thing about the IoT industry is now these decisions can be better, faster, and smarter. Now all corporate assets – people, objects, and spaces – can share information about themselves and thei...
Nov. 27, 2015 04:00 AM EST Reads: 217
Too often with compelling new technologies market participants become overly enamored with that attractiveness of the technology and neglect underlying business drivers. This tendency, what some call the “newest shiny object syndrome” is understandable given that virtually all of us are heavily engaged in technology. But it is also mistaken. Without concrete business cases driving its deployment, IoT, like many other technologies before it, will fade into obscurity.
Nov. 27, 2015 04:00 AM EST Reads: 328
The Internet of Things is clearly many things: data collection and analytics, wearables, Smart Grids and Smart Cities, the Industrial Internet, and more. Cool platforms like Arduino, Raspberry Pi, Intel's Galileo and Edison, and a diverse world of sensors are making the IoT a great toy box for developers in all these areas. In this Power Panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists discussed what things are the most important, which will have the most profound effect on the world, and what should we expect to see over the next couple of years.
Nov. 27, 2015 02:30 AM EST Reads: 454
Discussions of cloud computing have evolved in recent years from a focus on specific types of cloud, to a world of hybrid cloud, and to a world dominated by the APIs that make today's multi-cloud environments and hybrid clouds possible. In this Power Panel at 17th Cloud Expo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists addressed the importance of customers being able to use the specific technologies they need, through environments and ecosystems that expose their APIs to make true change and transformation possible.
Nov. 27, 2015 02:00 AM EST Reads: 517
The cloud. Like a comic book superhero, there seems to be no problem it can’t fix or cost it can’t slash. Yet making the transition is not always easy and production environments are still largely on premise. Taking some practical and sensible steps to reduce risk can also help provide a basis for a successful cloud transition. A plethora of surveys from the likes of IDG and Gartner show that more than 70 percent of enterprises have deployed at least one or more cloud application or workload. Yet a closer inspection at the data reveals less than half of these cloud projects involve production...
Nov. 27, 2015 01:00 AM EST Reads: 463
Microservices are a very exciting architectural approach that many organizations are looking to as a way to accelerate innovation. Microservices promise to allow teams to move away from monolithic "ball of mud" systems, but the reality is that, in the vast majority of organizations, different projects and technologies will continue to be developed at different speeds. How to handle the dependencies between these disparate systems with different iteration cycles? Consider the "canoncial problem" in this scenario: microservice A (releases daily) depends on a couple of additions to backend B (re...
Nov. 27, 2015 01:00 AM EST Reads: 424
Growth hacking is common for startups to make unheard-of progress in building their business. Career Hacks can help Geek Girls and those who support them (yes, that's you too, Dad!) to excel in this typically male-dominated world. Get ready to learn the facts: Is there a bias against women in the tech / developer communities? Why are women 50% of the workforce, but hold only 24% of the STEM or IT positions? Some beginnings of what to do about it! In her Day 2 Keynote at 17th Cloud Expo, Sandy Carter, IBM General Manager Cloud Ecosystem and Developers, and a Social Business Evangelist, wil...
Nov. 27, 2015 01:00 AM EST Reads: 560
PubNub has announced the release of BLOCKS, a set of customizable microservices that give developers a simple way to add code and deploy features for realtime apps.PubNub BLOCKS executes business logic directly on the data streaming through PubNub’s network without splitting it off to an intermediary server controlled by the customer. This revolutionary approach streamlines app development, reduces endpoint-to-endpoint latency, and allows apps to better leverage the enormous scalability of PubNub’s Data Stream Network.
Nov. 27, 2015 01:00 AM EST Reads: 309
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, Ben Perlmutter, a Sales Engineer with IBM Cloudant, demonstrated 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 was on IBM Cloudant, Apache CouchDB, and ...
Nov. 27, 2015 12:45 AM EST Reads: 395
Container technology is shaping the future of DevOps and it’s also changing the way organizations think about application development. With the rise of mobile applications in the enterprise, businesses are abandoning year-long development cycles and embracing technologies that enable rapid development and continuous deployment of apps. In his session at DevOps Summit, Kurt Collins, Developer Evangelist at Built.io, examined how Docker has evolved into a highly effective tool for application delivery by allowing increasingly popular Mobile Backend-as-a-Service (mBaaS) platforms to quickly crea...
Nov. 27, 2015 12:00 AM EST Reads: 339
I recently attended and was a speaker at the 4th International Internet of @ThingsExpo at the Santa Clara Convention Center. I also had the opportunity to attend this event last year and I wrote a blog from that show talking about how the “Enterprise Impact of IoT” was a key theme of last year’s show. I was curious to see if the same theme would still resonate 365 days later and what, if any, changes I would see in the content presented.
Nov. 26, 2015 10:00 PM EST Reads: 402
Cloud computing delivers on-demand resources that provide businesses with flexibility and cost-savings. The challenge in moving workloads to the cloud has been the cost and complexity of ensuring the initial and ongoing security and regulatory (PCI, HIPAA, FFIEC) compliance across private and public clouds. Manual security compliance is slow, prone to human error, and represents over 50% of the cost of managing cloud applications. Determining how to automate cloud security compliance is critical to maintaining positive ROI. Raxak Protect is an automated security compliance SaaS platform and ma...
Nov. 26, 2015 04:00 PM EST Reads: 387
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place June 7-9, 2016 at Javits Center, New York City and Nov 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with the 18th International @CloudExpo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world and ThingsExpo New York Call for Papers is now open.
Nov. 26, 2015 03:30 PM EST Reads: 528
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing IoT strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @ThingsExpo 2016 in New York and Silicon Valley. Learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is as "IoT-Ready" as it can be! Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place Nov 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 17th 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 cha...
Nov. 26, 2015 03:15 PM EST Reads: 528
We are rapidly moving to a brave new world of interconnected smart homes, cars, offices and factories known as the Internet of Things (IoT). Sensors and monitoring devices will touch every part of our lives. Let's take a closer look at the Internet of Things. The Internet of Things is a worldwide network of objects and devices connected to the Internet. They are electronics, sensors, software and more. These objects connect to the Internet and can be controlled remotely via apps and programs. Because they can be accessed via the Internet, these devices create a tremendous opportunity to inte...
Nov. 26, 2015 02:15 PM EST Reads: 502