Welcome!

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

Related Topics: ColdFusion

ColdFusion: Article

ColdFusion Developer's Journal Special "Frameworks" Focus Issue: onTap

Using the onTap framework to reinvent the Pet Market application

I must admit to having been excited at the prospect of the Pet Market frameworks project when Simon proposed it to us at the Fusebox & Frameworks Conference in September. I once tried to do something similar by creating a small blog application using the three popular frameworks that I was aware of at the time (Fusebox 3-4 and Mach-II) and the onTap framework.

Unfortunately I did all the work myself and didn't have a great venue like the ColdFusion Developer's Journal to publish the results. In the end I think my efforts at a useful comparison of frameworks fell short of what I'd hoped. Naturally I'm excited to see Simon take the initiative to enlist the aid of various framework authors and publish the results in the journal. Although I personally lament the fact that the Pet Market application isn't perhaps an ideal medium to demonstrate the unique strengths or advantages of some frameworks (not only the onTap framework, although in my case display tools in particular spring to mind), I do believe the Pet Market application provides probably the best neutral ground for comparison.

My own conversion of the Pet Market application took a bit longer than I expected. At first I thought it was good that the Pet Market application was designed purely for demonstration purposes and wouldn't be used in a production environment.

On further reflection I wonder if perhaps the opposite is true - that the original application is worse for its attempts to educate programmers new to ColdFusion because anyone using it as a learning tool is apt to learn some bad habits. Here are a few examples of what I mean: no primary keys or foreign key constraints in the database containing many related tables (no enforcement of referential integrity); display code executed in a domain-model CFC; and serpentine multi-step form templates containing both form display and post logic in the same file. I'll omit my complaints about the way in which multiple historical postal addresses are stored. Having said all that, here's an application ripe for the kind of structure any good framework will provide.

A Statement of Benefits
Here's a brief list of the benefits I've found using the onTap framework to reinvent the Pet Market application in no particular order.

  • Eliminated code while simultaneously adding functionality
  • Replaced ad hoc queries with Object Relational Mapping (ORM) and vendor-agnostic SQL abstraction
  • Convenient caching of domain-model objects (products, categories, etc.)
  • Products in the shopping cart are locale-specific, dictionary-order sorted (i18n)
  • All files located in a single parent directory (no CustomTags directory or other external resources)
  • Elimination of the custom tag for the application's layout (individual content templates don't reference the layout tag/template - decreases coupling of the content and format)
  • Automated branding of images (home page graphics differ from the remaining site)
Due to time constraints and project requests from Simon, I was unable to implement any of the XHTML or form-management and validation features of the framework and as a result can't list them as benefits in using the framework in this instance although under normal circumstances I would have. The onTap framework's form tools would have replaced a fair amount of custom form validation code in this application in a manner that provides identical client-side and server-side validation with very little coding on my part. The XHTML features would have also provided a more modular method of generating the display, allowing anyone who might license my application to easily modify the display without editing any of my code, eliminating headaches related to later upgrades of my original software.

A Place for Everything and Everything in its Place
Because the onTap framework is designed to take advantage of directory structures, getting started with the migration of Pet Market to this framework is easy. First I created a /petmarket/ directory under my framework application root directory in which the Pet Market sub-application would execute. In this directory I put a copy of all the ColdFusion templates in the original application's /wwwroot/ directory. I could have put these templates in the framework root directory, although I didn't want to create a separate copy of the onTap framework core (3MB) for only the Pet Market application, so I created the subdirectory so it could execute as a sub-application under my existing framework installation. Then I copied the new /petmarket/ directory also into the framework /_components/ directory to mirror the root directory. Files in the root directory will be directly accessible to browsers, while files in the /_components/ directory won't (they're protected by an Application.cfm template). Once these files are copied, I replace the contents of each of the templates in the root /petmarket/ directory with a one-line cfinclude tag to drive the framework content:

<cfinclude template="#request.tapi.process()#">

This sort of minimalist index template should be familiar to anyone using Fusebox, Mach-II, Model-Glue, or the Hub. What's different in this case is that we have many Web-accessible templates instead of having all page requests routed through index.cfm.

To be fair the same can be done also with any of these other frameworks, although the other frameworks are rarely implemented this way because they don't inherently gain any noticeable benefit from using this structure and as such it's generally easier to simply route all requests through the index.cfm template. However, with the onTap framework the name of the base template is used as a part of the execution path to determine which templates are executed by the framework. So using cart.cfm has an inherently different result than using index.cfm as the base template. Of course there's nothing preventing you from routing all requests through index.cfm, although using this multi-template strategy let me migrate the application more quickly thanks to not needing to edit any of the links, form targets, or cflocation tags in the application. Had I used any of these other frameworks, which use form/url parameters and XML configuration files to direct their execution, they would have required that I edit every URL in the application to add the appropriate event parameter (FuseAction, event, etc.).

Although I chose a directory structure that let me ignore URLs in the application, I chose not to take the same approach with images. Although I could have simply left the Pet Market images in the /ontap/petmarket/images/ directory and ignored any image tags in the application HTML, the framework provides some added features with regard to images and for this reason I decided to put the images in the framework's designated image directories.

Yup, multiple image directories.

Although most HTML applications put all images in a single directory, the onTap framework provides a method of easily targeting methods contextually to provide simple branding and replacement of images by context. Interestingly enough, the Pet Market application provides a perfect example of why I included this feature in the framework in spite of the fact that the original Pet Market authors never imagined that I would write this framework revision: more evidence that this is a good feature to have.

When you view the Pet Market application in a browser, you'll notice that the layout presents several images of different animals at the top, linked to category pages for the various categories of pets, such as dogs, cats, and reptiles. As you browse through the application, however, you might notice that a different set of images is presented on the home page than on any other page in the application. In the original application, the location of this image was tightly coupled with the layout custom tag: the layout tag contained logic to determine if the current page was the home page and displayed a different set of images (including the size of the image as part of the name of the graphic file). I put copies of each of these smaller five images in the directory /ontap/_components/petmarket/_images/category/ for most pages in the application to use, renaming them to remove the image size from its file name. This makes the image name succinct and canonical and the name of the image file accurate, even if the size of the image changes later. Then I copied the five larger images to the directory /ontap/_components/petmarket/index/_images/category/ for the home page to use with the same succinct file names.

Throughout the HTML for the application I then replaced all image tag SRC attributes with the function request.tapi.getIMG() containing the name of the target image. This function checks a series of nested image directories and returns the URL to the first image it finds. So when the layout requests request.tapi.getIMG("category/dogs.gif") it will use the image located in /petmarket/index/_images/category/ on the home page and on every other page it will use the image located in /petmarket/_images/category/.

More Stories By Isaac Dealey

Isaac Dealey has worked with ColdFusion since 1997 (version 3) for clients from small businesses to large enterprises, including MCI and AT&T Wireless. He evangelizes ColdFusion as a volunteer member of Team Macromedia, is working toward becoming a technical instructor, and is available for speaking engagements.

Comments (2) View Comments

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.


Most Recent Comments
SYS-CON Brazil News Desk 02/01/06 03:38:19 PM EST

I must admit to having been excited at the prospect of the Pet Market frameworks project when Simon proposed it to us at the Fusebox & Frameworks Conference in September. I once tried to do something similar by creating a small blog application using the three popular frameworks that I was aware of at the time (Fusebox 3-4 and Mach-II) and the onTap framework.

SYS-CON India News Desk 02/01/06 02:49:28 PM EST

I must admit to having been excited at the prospect of the Pet Market frameworks project when Simon proposed it to us at the Fusebox & Frameworks Conference in September. I once tried to do something similar by creating a small blog application using the three popular frameworks that I was aware of at the time (Fusebox 3-4 and Mach-II) and the onTap framework.

@ThingsExpo Stories

SUNNYVALE, Calif., Oct. 20, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Spansion Inc. (NYSE: CODE), a global leader in embedded systems, today added 96 new products to the Spansion® FM4 Family of flexible microcontrollers (MCUs). Based on the ARM® Cortex®-M4F core, the new MCUs boast a 200 MHz operating frequency and support a diverse set of on-chip peripherals for enhanced human machine interfaces (HMIs) and machine-to-machine (M2M) communications. The rich set of periphera...

WebRTC defines no default signaling protocol, causing fragmentation between WebRTC silos. SIP and XMPP provide possibilities, but come with considerable complexity and are not designed for use in a web environment. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Matthew Hodgson, technical co-founder of the Matrix.org, will discuss how Matrix is a new non-profit Open Source Project that defines both a new HTTP-based standard for VoIP & IM signaling and provides reference implementations.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Aria Systems, the recurring revenue expert, has been named "Bronze Sponsor" of SYS-CON's 15th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 4-6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Aria Systems helps leading businesses connect their customers with the products and services they love. Industry leaders like Pitney Bowes, Experian, AAA NCNU, VMware, HootSuite and many others choose Aria to power their recurring revenue business and deliver exceptional experiences to their customers.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is going to require a new way of thinking and of developing software for speed, security and innovation. This requires IT leaders to balance business as usual while anticipating for the next market and technology trends. Cloud provides the right IT asset portfolio to help today’s IT leaders manage the old and prepare for the new. Today the cloud conversation is evolving from private and public to hybrid. This session will provide use cases and insights to reinforce the value of the network in helping organizations to maximize their company’s cloud experience.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is making everything it touches smarter – smart devices, smart cars and smart cities. And lucky us, we’re just beginning to reap the benefits as we work toward a networked society. However, this technology-driven innovation is impacting more than just individuals. The IoT has an environmental impact as well, which brings us to the theme of this month’s #IoTuesday Twitter chat. The ability to remove inefficiencies through connected objects is driving change throughout every sector, including waste management. BigBelly Solar, located just outside of Boston, is trans...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Matrix.org has been named “Silver Sponsor” of Internet of @ThingsExpo, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Matrix is an ambitious new open standard for open, distributed, real-time communication over IP. It defines a new approach for interoperable Instant Messaging and VoIP based on pragmatic HTTP APIs and WebRTC, and provides open source reference implementations to showcase and bootstrap the new standard. Our focus is on simplicity, security, and supporting the fullest feature set.
Predicted by Gartner to add $1.9 trillion to the global economy by 2020, the Internet of Everything (IoE) is based on the idea that devices, systems and services will connect in simple, transparent ways, enabling seamless interactions among devices across brands and sectors. As this vision unfolds, it is clear that no single company can accomplish the level of interoperability required to support the horizontal aspects of the IoE. The AllSeen Alliance, announced in December 2013, was formed with the goal to advance IoE adoption and innovation in the connected home, healthcare, education, aut...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Red Hat, the world's leading provider of open source solutions, will exhibit at Internet of @ThingsExpo, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Red Hat is the world's leading provider of open source software solutions, using a community-powered approach to reliable and high-performing cloud, Linux, middleware, storage and virtualization technologies. Red Hat also offers award-winning support, training, and consulting services. As the connective hub in a global network of enterprises, partners, a...
The only place to be June 9-11 is Cloud Expo & @ThingsExpo 2015 East at the Javits Center in New York City. Join us there as delegates from all over the world come to listen to and engage with speakers & sponsors from the leading Cloud Computing, IoT & Big Data companies. Cloud Expo & @ThingsExpo are the leading events covering the booming market of Cloud Computing, IoT & Big Data for the enterprise. Speakers from all over the world will be hand-picked for their ability to explore the economic strategies that utility/cloud computing provides. Whether public, private, or in a hybrid form, clo...
Software AG helps organizations transform into Digital Enterprises, so they can differentiate from competitors and better engage customers, partners and employees. Using the Software AG Suite, companies can close the gap between business and IT to create digital systems of differentiation that drive front-line agility. We offer four on-ramps to the Digital Enterprise: alignment through collaborative process analysis; transformation through portfolio management; agility through process automation and integration; and visibility through intelligent business operations and big data.
The Transparent Cloud-computing Consortium (abbreviation: T-Cloud Consortium) will conduct research activities into changes in the computing model as a result of collaboration between "device" and "cloud" and the creation of new value and markets through organic data processing High speed and high quality networks, and dramatic improvements in computer processing capabilities, have greatly changed the nature of applications and made the storing and processing of data on the network commonplace.
Be Among the First 100 to Attend & Receive a Smart Beacon. The Physical Web is an open web project within the Chrome team at Google. Scott Jenson leads a team that is working to leverage the scalability and openness of the web to talk to smart devices. The Physical Web uses bluetooth low energy beacons to broadcast an URL wirelessly using an open protocol. Nearby devices can find all URLs in the room, rank them and let the user pick one from a list. Each device is, in effect, a gateway to a web page. This unlocks entirely new use cases so devices can offer tiny bits of information or simple i...
Things are being built upon cloud foundations to transform organizations. This CEO Power Panel at 15th Cloud Expo, moderated by Roger Strukhoff, Cloud Expo and @ThingsExpo conference chair, will address the big issues involving these technologies and, more important, the results they will achieve. How important are public, private, and hybrid cloud to the enterprise? How does one define Big Data? And how is the IoT tying all this together?
The Internet of Things (IoT) is going to require a new way of thinking and of developing software for speed, security and innovation. This requires IT leaders to balance business as usual while anticipating for the next market and technology trends. Cloud provides the right IT asset portfolio to help today’s IT leaders manage the old and prepare for the new. Today the cloud conversation is evolving from private and public to hybrid. This session will provide use cases and insights to reinforce the value of the network in helping organizations to maximize their company’s cloud experience.
TechCrunch reported that "Berlin-based relayr, maker of the WunderBar, an Internet of Things (IoT) hardware dev kit which resembles a chunky chocolate bar, has closed a $2.3 million seed round, from unnamed U.S. and Switzerland-based investors. The startup had previously raised a €250,000 friend and family round, and had been on track to close a €500,000 seed earlier this year — but received a higher funding offer from a different set of investors, which is the $2.3M round it’s reporting."
The Industrial Internet revolution is now underway, enabled by connected machines and billions of devices that communicate and collaborate. The massive amounts of Big Data requiring real-time analysis is flooding legacy IT systems and giving way to cloud environments that can handle the unpredictable workloads. Yet many barriers remain until we can fully realize the opportunities and benefits from the convergence of machines and devices with Big Data and the cloud, including interoperability, data security and privacy.
All major researchers estimate there will be tens of billions devices - computers, smartphones, tablets, and sensors - connected to the Internet by 2020. This number will continue to grow at a rapid pace for the next several decades. Over the summer Gartner released its much anticipated annual Hype Cycle report and the big news is that Internet of Things has now replaced Big Data as the most hyped technology. Indeed, we're hearing more and more about this fascinating new technological paradigm. Every other IT news item seems to be about IoT and its implications on the future of digital busines...
Cultural, regulatory, environmental, political and economic (CREPE) conditions over the past decade are creating cross-industry solution spaces that require processes and technologies from both the Internet of Things (IoT), and Data Management and Analytics (DMA). These solution spaces are evolving into Sensor Analytics Ecosystems (SAE) that represent significant new opportunities for organizations of all types. Public Utilities throughout the world, providing electricity, natural gas and water, are pursuing SmartGrid initiatives that represent one of the more mature examples of SAE. We have s...
The Internet of Things needs an entirely new security model, or does it? Can we save some old and tested controls for the latest emerging and different technology environments? In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Davi Ottenheimer, EMC Senior Director of Trust, will review hands-on lessons with IoT devices and reveal privacy options and a new risk balance you might not expect.
IoT is still a vague buzzword for many people. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Mike Kavis, Vice President & Principal Cloud Architect at Cloud Technology Partners, will discuss the business value of IoT that goes far beyond the general public's perception that IoT is all about wearables and home consumer services. The presentation will also discuss how IoT is perceived by investors and how venture capitalist access this space. Other topics to discuss are barriers to success, what is new, what is old, and what the future may hold.