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

CFDJ Cover Story — Get in the Right Group

The group attribute of the cfquery tag is a powerful tool for not only organizing your data but for styling and presenting it

In a previous article for ColdFusion Developers Journal I described a ColdFusion component (CFC) that I wrote to report on what search terms visitors used on a site's search facility when visiting the Web sites I managed (February 11, 2005 - http://cfdj.sys-con.com/read/48234.htm).

My work is largely comprised of moderate-traffic sites hosted on shared servers and, while most hosting companies offer fairly robust statistical reporting, including well-articulated reports on the referring keyword terms used to enter a site from a search engine, I wanted a report that would show in a simple and easily readable way what terms had been entered in the search facilities (usually Verity-powered) that I had created for use within the site.

One method of the component recorded each search term used when it was used in a data table, and other methods called and displayed a time-sorted count of the most frequently used search terms.

That turned out to be so handy for me and my clients that I crafted another similar CFC that reports on which data records are being called into a detail page so the client and I can see, for instance, what performing arts events are most looked at or e-mailed about.

Since the same collection of records can be called from different calling pages and into different presentations of the details - for instance, one page of event listings can call a detailed page regarding one event, or a detail page itself can call a page to "Email a friend" - this reporting component needed to have a field in its data table for the calling page as well as the record called.

Displaying that information is a classic use of the "group" attribute of ColdFusion's <cfoutput> tag, which specifies the query column to be used when retrieving a record set that's ordered on a query column.

For our calling page CFC, the reporting query looks like this:

<cfquery name="recordcount" datasource="#thedatasource#">
SELECT thecallingscript, thecalledrecordtitle, COUNT(thecalledrecordtitle) AS TheCount
FROM tbl_calledrecords
WHERE thecalledtime BETWEEN #CreateODBCDate(arguments.thestartdate)
# AND #CreateODBCDate(DateAdd('d',1,arguments.theenddate))#
GROUP BY thecallingscript, thecalledrecordtitle
ORDER BY thecallingscript, TheCount DESC, thecalledrecordtitle

The code for the <cfoutput> tag looks like this:

<cfoutput query="recordcount" group="thecallingscript">
    Here were the records called to the page
    <table width=600 cellpadding=2 cellspacing=0 border=1>
      <cfif TheCount gte arguments.minRecords>
        <td style="font-size:11px;" valign="top" align="left" width=80>#TheCount#</td>
        <td style="font-size:11px;"" valign="top" align="left">#thecalledrecordtitle#</td>

And that results in a display that looks like Table 1.

Note the difference between <cfoutput>'s "group" attribute and "GROUP BY" in the SQL statement. GROUP BY is used with aggregate functions to sort rows into the specified groups before applying an aggregate function to each group.)

What <cfoutput>'s group attribute does is isolate the query column that identifies a group defined by the query's ORDER BY clause, whereupon you can, with an additional <cfoutput> tag nested inside, output the individual rows that have matches to that specified query column. In our example, we output the variable #thecallingscript# and use it as a title for an output of each set of rows creating a match for the different instances of #thecallingscript#.

This use of the "group" attribute can be nested at as many levels as you need. You can have a query that orders rows by several fields, like this:

<cfquery name="thequery" datasource="datasource">
SELECT maincategory, subcategory, subsubcategory, description, theurl
FROM thetable
ORDER BY maincategory, subcategory, subsubcategory, description

And you can output it by nesting at each group level like Table 1:

<cfoutput query="thequery" group="maincategory">
   <cfoutput group="subcategory">
     <cfoutput group="subsubcategory">
         <li><a href="theurl">#description#</a></li>

Note that the source query is identified only in the outermost top-level <cfoutput> tag, and that it's not necessary to name the "group" at the innermost level. We'll see in the next example that it's also possible (and very useful) to have more than one <cfoutput> at a given level of the nesting.

What You See Is What You Output, Made to Look the Way You'd Like It To
Because this means of grouping data comes on the output side of the process, the means of styling the display can be made an integral part of the grouping, such as our simple use of unordered list tags in the example above, and is independent of any of the query logic except the ORDER BY clause - complex queries that join two or more tables use aggregate functions. Filters by various parameters are ready for use in the "group" attribute of cfquery.

What's more the various nested levels of grouped output can each have their own display treatment, allowing for some handy integration with CSS or other display code.

A case in point came up recently when one of my clients, a very successful biomedical firm that operates plasma donation centers in a couple of dozen U.S. states, asked for a map application on its Web site that would show its donation centers by state, with detail pages as the site visitor drilled down to specific states and cities.

There are countless examples on this kind of display on various sites around the Web, a large number of which employ HTML <map> and <area> tags to define coordinates of spots on a map that can be linked (Table 2). For users of an application server like ColdFusion, however, this can be made into a dynamic display and the "group" attribute of <cfquery> plays a central role in passing information from the database into CSS that makes the display work.

For the biomedical firm, I started by creating a graphical map of the U.S. and then measured coordinates for the spot on each state where a text abbreviation would sit; these coordinates are stored in a simple table called "tbl_states":

The "tbl_states" table gives me a set of map coordinates to join with my ongoing database of plasma center locations for this query that will get the information needed for the display:

   <cfquery name="getmapinfo" datasource="#thedatasource#">
SELECT distinct c.state, c.city, c.status, c.state_full, s.state_ab, s.state_top, s.state_left
FROM tbl_states s
LEFT OUTER JOIN biocenters c
ON s.state_ab = c.state
ORDER BY state_ab, status, city

More Stories By James Edmunds

James Edmunds is a freelance Internet developer and arts administration consultant living in New Iberia, Louisiana. After a career in journalism that included writing for national publications such as Newsweek and serving as editor for an alternative weekly newspaper he founded in southern Louisiana, James began to pursue a second career working with arts groups. Though he had no technology background, his interest in harnessing the power of the Internet to serve the interests of the arts led him into Internet development, an arena in which he has now gone beyond the arts to serve a general business clientele.

Comments (1)

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.

IoT & Smart Cities Stories
Every organization is facing their own Digital Transformation as they attempt to stay ahead of the competition, or worse, just keep up. Each new opportunity, whether embracing machine learning, IoT, or a cloud migration, seems to bring new development, deployment, and management models. The results are more diverse and federated computing models than any time in our history.
At CloudEXPO Silicon Valley, June 24-26, 2019, Digital Transformation (DX) is a major focus with expanded DevOpsSUMMIT and FinTechEXPO programs within the DXWorldEXPO agenda. Successful transformation requires a laser focus on being data-driven and on using all the tools available that enable transformation if they plan to survive over the long term. A total of 88% of Fortune 500 companies from a generation ago are now out of business. Only 12% still survive. Similar percentages are found throug...
At CloudEXPO Silicon Valley, June 24-26, 2019, Digital Transformation (DX) is a major focus with expanded DevOpsSUMMIT and FinTechEXPO programs within the DXWorldEXPO agenda. Successful transformation requires a laser focus on being data-driven and on using all the tools available that enable transformation if they plan to survive over the long term. A total of 88% of Fortune 500 companies from a generation ago are now out of business. Only 12% still survive. Similar percentages are found throug...
Dion Hinchcliffe is an internationally recognized digital expert, bestselling book author, frequent keynote speaker, analyst, futurist, and transformation expert based in Washington, DC. He is currently Chief Strategy Officer at the industry-leading digital strategy and online community solutions firm, 7Summits.
Digital Transformation is much more than a buzzword. The radical shift to digital mechanisms for almost every process is evident across all industries and verticals. This is often especially true in financial services, where the legacy environment is many times unable to keep up with the rapidly shifting demands of the consumer. The constant pressure to provide complete, omnichannel delivery of customer-facing solutions to meet both regulatory and customer demands is putting enormous pressure on...
IoT is rapidly becoming mainstream as more and more investments are made into the platforms and technology. As this movement continues to expand and gain momentum it creates a massive wall of noise that can be difficult to sift through. Unfortunately, this inevitably makes IoT less approachable for people to get started with and can hamper efforts to integrate this key technology into your own portfolio. There are so many connected products already in place today with many hundreds more on the h...
The standardization of container runtimes and images has sparked the creation of an almost overwhelming number of new open source projects that build on and otherwise work with these specifications. Of course, there's Kubernetes, which orchestrates and manages collections of containers. It was one of the first and best-known examples of projects that make containers truly useful for production use. However, more recently, the container ecosystem has truly exploded. A service mesh like Istio addr...
Digital Transformation: Preparing Cloud & IoT Security for the Age of Artificial Intelligence. As automation and artificial intelligence (AI) power solution development and delivery, many businesses need to build backend cloud capabilities. Well-poised organizations, marketing smart devices with AI and BlockChain capabilities prepare to refine compliance and regulatory capabilities in 2018. Volumes of health, financial, technical and privacy data, along with tightening compliance requirements by...
Charles Araujo is an industry analyst, internationally recognized authority on the Digital Enterprise and author of The Quantum Age of IT: Why Everything You Know About IT is About to Change. As Principal Analyst with Intellyx, he writes, speaks and advises organizations on how to navigate through this time of disruption. He is also the founder of The Institute for Digital Transformation and a sought after keynote speaker. He has been a regular contributor to both InformationWeek and CIO Insight...
Andrew Keys is Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise. He comes to ConsenSys Enterprise with capital markets, technology and entrepreneurial experience. Previously, he worked for UBS investment bank in equities analysis. Later, he was responsible for the creation and distribution of life settlement products to hedge funds and investment banks. After, he co-founded a revenue cycle management company where he learned about Bitcoin and eventually Ethereal. Andrew's role at ConsenSys Enterprise is a mul...