Welcome!

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

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
Fortunately, meaningful and tangible business cases for IoT are plentiful in a broad array of industries and vertical markets. These range from simple warranty cost reduction for capital intensive assets, to minimizing downtime for vital business tools, to creating feedback loops improving product design, to improving and enhancing enterprise customer experiences. All of these business cases, which will be briefly explored in this session, hinge on cost effectively extracting relevant data from ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that VAI, a leading ERP software provider, 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. VAI (Vormittag Associates, Inc.) is a leading independent mid-market ERP software developer renowned for its flexible solutions and ability to automate critical business functions for the distribution, manufacturing, specialty retail and service sectors. An IBM Premier Business Part...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Alert Logic, Inc., the leading provider of Security-as-a-Service solutions for the cloud, 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. Alert Logic, Inc., provides Security-as-a-Service for on-premises, cloud, and hybrid infrastructures, delivering deep security insight and continuous protection for customers at a lower cost than traditional security solutions. Ful...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Interoute, owner-operator of one of Europe's largest networks and a global cloud services platform, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2015 at the Javits Center in New York, New York. Interoute is the owner-operator of one of Europe's largest networks and a global cloud services platform which encompasses 12 data centers, 14 virtual data centers and 31 colocation centers, with connections to 195 ad...
As enterprises work to take advantage of Big Data technologies, they frequently become distracted by product-level decisions. In most new Big Data builds this approach is completely counter-productive: it presupposes tools that may not be a fit for development teams, forces IT to take on the burden of evaluating and maintaining unfamiliar technology, and represents a major up-front expense. In his session at @BigDataExpo at @ThingsExpo, Andrew Warfield, CTO and Co-Founder of Coho Data, will dis...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Commvault, a global leader in enterprise data protection and information management, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of 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, and the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Commvault is a leading provider of data protection and information management...
The cloud promises new levels of agility and cost-savings for Big Data, data warehousing and analytics. But it’s challenging to understand all the options – from IaaS and PaaS to newer services like HaaS (Hadoop as a Service) and BDaaS (Big Data as a Service). In her session at @BigDataExpo at @ThingsExpo, Hannah Smalltree, a director at Cazena, will provide an educational overview of emerging “as-a-service” options for Big Data in the cloud. This is critical background for IT and data profes...
With the Apple Watch making its way onto wrists all over the world, it’s only a matter of time before it becomes a staple in the workplace. In fact, Forrester reported that 68 percent of technology and business decision-makers characterize wearables as a top priority for 2015. Recognizing their business value early on, FinancialForce.com was the first to bring ERP to wearables, helping streamline communication across front and back office functions. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Kevin Roberts...
With an estimated 50 billion devices connected to the Internet by 2020, several industries will begin to expand their capabilities for retaining end point data at the edge to better utilize the range of data types and sheer volume of M2M data generated by the Internet of Things. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Don DeLoach, CEO and President of Infobright, will discuss the infrastructures businesses will need to implement to handle this explosion of data by providing specific use cases for filte...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Fusion, a leading provider of cloud services, 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. Fusion, a leading provider of integrated cloud solutions to small, medium and large businesses, is the industry's single source for the cloud. Fusion's advanced, proprietary cloud service platform enables the integration of leading edge solutions in the cloud, including clou...
Most people haven’t heard the word, “gamification,” even though they probably, and perhaps unwittingly, participate in it every day. Gamification is “the process of adding games or game-like elements to something (as a task) so as to encourage participation.” Further, gamification is about bringing game mechanics – rules, constructs, processes, and methods – into the real world in an effort to engage people. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Robert Endo, owner and engagement manager of Intrepid D...
Eighty percent of a data scientist’s time is spent gathering and cleaning up data, and 80% of all data is unstructured and almost never analyzed. Cognitive computing, in combination with Big Data, is changing the equation by creating data reservoirs and using natural language processing to enable analysis of unstructured data sources. This is impacting every aspect of the analytics profession from how data is mined (and by whom) to how it is delivered. This is not some futuristic vision: it's ha...
WebRTC has had a real tough three or four years, and so have those working with it. Only a few short years ago, the development world were excited about WebRTC and proclaiming how awesome it was. You might have played with the technology a couple of years ago, only to find the extra infrastructure requirements were painful to implement and poorly documented. This probably left a bitter taste in your mouth, especially when things went wrong.
Learn how IoT, cloud, social networks and last but not least, humans, can be integrated into a seamless integration of cooperative organisms both cybernetic and biological. This has been enabled by recent advances in IoT device capabilities, messaging frameworks, presence and collaboration services, where devices can share information and make independent and human assisted decisions based upon social status from other entities. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Michael Heydt, founder of Seamless...
The IoT's basic concept of collecting data from as many sources possible to drive better decision making, create process innovation and realize additional revenue has been in use at large enterprises with deep pockets for decades. So what has changed? In his session at @ThingsExpo, Prasanna Sivaramakrishnan, Solutions Architect at Red Hat, discussed the impact commodity hardware, ubiquitous connectivity, and innovations in open source software are having on the connected universe of people, thi...
WebRTC: together these advances have created a perfect storm of technologies that are disrupting and transforming classic communications models and ecosystems. In his session at WebRTC Summit, Cary Bran, VP of Innovation and New Ventures at Plantronics and PLT Labs, provided an overview of this technological shift, including associated business and consumer communications impacts, and opportunities it may enable, complement or entirely transform.
There are so many tools and techniques for data analytics that even for a data scientist the choices, possible systems, and even the types of data can be daunting. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Harrold, Global CTO for Big Data Solutions for EMC Corporation, showed how to perform a simple, but meaningful analysis of social sentiment data using freely available tools that take only minutes to download and install. Participants received the download information, scripts, and complete end-t...
For manufacturers, the Internet of Things (IoT) represents a jumping-off point for innovation, jobs, and revenue creation. But to adequately seize the opportunity, manufacturers must design devices that are interconnected, can continually sense their environment and process huge amounts of data. As a first step, manufacturers must embrace a new product development ecosystem in order to support these products.
Manufacturing connected IoT versions of traditional products requires more than multiple deep technology skills. It also requires a shift in mindset, to realize that connected, sensor-enabled “things” act more like services than what we usually think of as products. In his session at @ThingsExpo, David Friedman, CEO and co-founder of Ayla Networks, discussed how when sensors start generating detailed real-world data about products and how they’re being used, smart manufacturers can use the dat...
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 Buildi...