|By Charlie Arehart||
|May 2, 2002 12:00 AM EDT||
CFMX, the new release of ColdFusion, will allow us to use JSP custom tags within our ColdFusion programs. Some may say, "So what?"
In this article I hope to show you why it's definitely worth looking into this new possibility.
At the time of this writing CFMX, previously known as Neo, is still in beta and the nondisclosure agreement prevents people writing about its features, but one of the few things that have been public knowledge since last year's DevCon is the ability to leverage JSP custom tags.
I've been given the OK by Macromedia (indeed the encouragement) to show this stuff to you. But be aware that what I'm showing is how things work as of beta 3. It's possible that things may change prior to the production release, but again, this functionality has been shown in its current form for nearly a year.
JSP Custom Tags Are Coming
In CFMX it may soon not be unusual to see something like the following in some ColdFusion code:
<cal:calendar month="3" year="2002" />
This is an example of calling a JSP custom tag. This one (which really does exist) will generate an HTML calendar for March 2002, as shown in Figure 1. Pretty nifty. We don't have such a tag in ColdFusion, and it's not that trivial to build calendars, so to be able to generate one so easily with a single tag is powerful.
Some will quickly point out that it's certainly possible that someone could write (and indeed has surely written) a similar sort of ColdFusion custom tag and make it available at the Macromedia Developer's Exchange (at http://devex.macromedia.com/developer/gallery/). Custom tags have been around in ColdFusion for a long time, and they're certainly an underused resource for many.
But this is a JSP custom tag. Don't let that throw you. Does that example above look really all that different to you as a CF developer? Sure, the syntax is a little different from a normal CF custom tag call. Where perhaps we may have used <cf_calendar>, if a tag of that name existed, this one uses <cal:calendar>. That's curious and will be explained in a moment.
But other than that, you don't need to know how the tag works (or how it's built) - all you need to do is call it. And this particular one has many more features than the simple example above demonstrates (you can easily make hyperlinks on given dates, add next/previous month links, and more).
This is a perfect example of a custom tag: something that didn't exist in the language, that someone else created, that we can easily reuse to add functionality to our programs, and that has lots of flexibility.
A New Source for Custom Tags
What's more important about this example is that this Calendar tag came (for free) from a site devoted to JSP custom tags, at http://coldjava.hypermart.net/servlets/. Don't be fooled by the name "coldjava" in the URL. This site really has nothing to do with ColdFusion. It's a total coincidence that the name might suggest a relationship to CF.
It's simply one of many such sites that serve as JSP tag library repositories for JSP developers. I've listed several more later in this article. They're not writing these tags for us, but for the world of JSP developers, and that's a pretty big world, which in many cases is itself only just becoming aware of the possibilities of custom tags.
So what we're talking about here is opening the door to an even larger network of possible sources where we can find reusable custom tags. The fact that they're JSP custom tags is nearly transparent to us.
A Closer Look
Let's look a little closer at the example above. I left out a few pretty important points, such as how to get the custom tag, where to put it, and some other important details.
First, this particular tag is available at http://coldjava.hypermart.net/servlets/caltag.htm. If you can, take a look at that page. As I said, the tag will generate an HTML calendar for you, and the site shows the various syntax alternatives as well as the results of running many of its available variations.
Indeed, in the simplest JSP examples shown there, the use of the custom tag is nearly identical to the way we'd use it in CF. In fact, here's how it might show the example we used below above:
<%@ taglib uri="taglib.tld" prefix="cal" %>
<cal:calendar month="3" year="2002" />
<cal:calendar month="3" year="2002" />
These two lines are indeed an example of a fully functioning JSP page, albeit a very simple one. The only truly foreign thing is that first line, which is a JSP statement. We can't use that specific line of code but will change it to a corresponding CF equivalent. See the sidebar below for more on this.
So, the first line in the preceding sample tells the JSP page where to find the custom tag, meaning where on the server the page should locate the custom tag. We'll change that to a corresponding CF tag in a moment.
JSP Custom Tags vs JSP tags
It's important to clarify that you can not mix JSP and ColdFusion syntax in a single CFMX page. We're talking here about using JSP custom tags, not JSP tags and directives. The use of the JSP custom tag (cal:calendar) is identical to that shown in the simplest JSP code example.
But you may see some examples that show the attribute values for a custom tag being obtained using JSP tags, just as we might use CF variables in the attribute values for a tag. You'd need to change those references before running the code in your CF template. The JSP syntax is often pretty easy to interpret, though not always. Again, we're just talking about translating JSP custom tag documentation into CF.
You may be thinking, "Aha! In CF we don't need to indicate where custom tags are stored. CF figures that out itself." That's true, and it's indeed a nice feature of CF. But, in fact, the CFMX designers have chosen to follow this same logic when using JSP custom tags. To actually run the simple example I showed earlier, I really need to use lines that might look like this:
<CFIMPORT TAGLIB="/WEB-INF/lib/ caltag.jar" PREFIX="cal">
<cal:calendar month="3" year="2002" header="true" />
<cal:calendar month="3" year="2002" header="true" />
That first line looks an awful lot like the JSP code above. It's also a brand-new tag in CFMX. CFIMPORT tells your CF page where on your server to find the JSP custom tag library that you're trying to use. It also names a "prefix" that will describe the means by which you'll refer to tags in this library throughout this page.
Not only does this make our use of tags look more like JSP's use of them, it actually adds some benefit, which in fact will be available to ColdFusion custom tags as well, but that's beyond the scope of this article and would cross the NDA lines to say any more!
Note, too, that I said this CFIMPORT points to the tag library, not the tag itself. That's another difference from CF custom tags. JSP custom tags are generally distributed as libraries of several tags (often called "taglibs", hence the TAGLIB attribute name). It's a more effective way of organizing a set of related custom tags. (Boy, we could sure use a similar capability in organizing collections of related CF custom tags. Wink-wink.)
Just to clarify, the "calendar" after "cal:" is the actual name of the custom tag, or to be more technically accurate, it's the name of the custom tag handler in the taglib. Anyway, for our purposes just know that the documentation for the tag will tell you what to put on the right side of the colon. Don't worry about case sensitivity: CF won't care if the actual tag name is upper- or lowercase. Naturally, you're free to choose your own PREFIX and use that on the left side of the colon; the cases of the PREFIX and the tag name don't have to match..
I said the CFIMPORT tells CF where to find the custom tag library on your server. How do you get it on your server? And where do you place it?
Getting a JSP Custom Tag
If you're interested in leveraging a JSP custom tag library from one of the public sites I refer to here, you simply need to find where on the site it offers a means to download the given custom tag. In the case of the site for the calendar tag offered above, there's a link to the tag's support file at the bottom of the page.
Actually, it offers links to both a ".jar" file and a ".tld" file. The .tld file is another remnant of the JSP specification for custom tags, called the "tag library descriptor" file. It's an XML file. We don't really have to have that or even understand it to leverage the custom tag. We should be able to use TLD's, and the CFMX doc shows it working, but I've had difficulty trying to use it, so I'll chalk it up to beta incompleteness.
All we really need is the .jar file, which is the actual "Java Archive" (get it? "JAR"?) that holds the Java code for the custom tag. Did I scare you just then, talking about Java? Don't worry. You don't need to know Java to use JSP custom tags. Remember, in CF it's just <cal:calendar>, which is really not that foreign.
So you want to click on the link for the .jar file, which should cause your browser to download the file (if not, right-click on the link and choose Save As). If it asks whether to open or save the file, save it. When it offers a location to save it, you'll generally want to put it in a location that's related to where your CFMX application's CF files are stored.
If your CF files are in C:\CFusion MX\wwwroot\ (which is where they might be if you choose to use the built-in CFMX Web server), then you'd also have an underlying C:\CFusionMX\wwwroot\WEB-INF\lib\ directory, and indeed that's where you want to put this .jar file. (Because CFMX is built atop a J2EE platform, this WEB-INF directory structure is a remnant of that, but you'll typically just put your CF files in the wwwroot referred to above or any subdirectory of it.)
Once the file is placed there, at least in my experience with the beta, you need to restart the CFMX server. Perhaps that will change by the time it goes to production.
Pointing to the TagLib
Now, with your .jar file in place, you're ready to use the CFIMPORT. Note, again, that the JSP example shows:
<%@ taglib uri="taglib.tld" prefix="cal" %>
But we're going to change that to:
<CFIMPORT TAGLIB="/WEB-INF/lib/caltag.jar" PREFIX="cal">
There are a couple of differences. Not only do we use a TAGLIB attribute rather than a URI attribute, but I'm also going to recommend (for now) that you change the latter's reference from the .tld to the .jar file you downloaded. (If I learn I've missed something about using TLD files, I'll share it in the comment area of the online version of this article at the SYS-CON Web site.)
Note also that the slashes must be "/" and not "\"; otherwise you'll get a "cannot find file" error. And if you do a copy and paste of a JSP taglib directive, don't forget to remove the "%" at the end of the tag before the ">" or you'll get an "invalid token" error.
One last thing: you may think, "But what if I want to use this JSP custom tag in multiple CF templates? I'll just put that CFIMPORT in my application.cfm". Sorry, you can't do that. At least not as of beta 3. Similarly, you can't even put it in a file and CFINCLUDE it. It's a bummer, but for now you must place that tag wherever you intend to use a custom tag. And there's no default central repository for JSP custom tags to be shared by all apps on a CF server.
Otherwise, that's all there is to it. The steps are:
- Find a suitable custom tag that may seem helpful.
- Download it.
- Place the .jar in the WEB-INF/lib directory.
- Create a CFIMPORT naming that directory and .jar file name and a prefix.
- Create references to the prefix and actual custom tag name in your template.
Finding More Custom Tag Libraries
I mentioned previously that there are several repositories of custom tags, each with dozens or more custom tags. I've found ones for such generally useful things as creating state and country SELECT lists, performing stock quote lookups, and doing credit card number validity checking. Of course, there are CF custom tags and UDFs to do most of these sorts of things as well. But I've also found some for caching page content, SOAP processing, WAP coding, and other things that perhaps CFers may not have thought of yet.
Perhaps the best places to start are some sites set up as "portals" to keep track of available custom tags and taglibs of all sorts (see sidebar below). They're also good places to visit occasionally to see what may be new in the JSP custom tag world.
Among the sites the URLs will point to are a few specialized libraries that may or may not be generically useful for CF applications. Some of the JSP custom tags will indeed be useful only on real JSP pages, but I've found that many of them can be used perfectly well within CFMX
A few taglibs are part of projects to bring standard use of JSP custom tags (and in some cases entire frameworks) to JSP developers. These in-clude things like the Sun JSP Standard Tag Library (JSTL), the Jakarta Taglib project, and the Jakarta Struts project. These offer new frameworks for JSP developers in the form of taglibs, but they may be beyond the interest and reach of CF developers.
Actually, some of the tag libraries offer JSP developers the kind of easy, tag-based control over page flow and database query processing that we've always enjoyed natively in CF. That's kind of interesting to observe, making it seem like CF is the ultimate tag library.
Be careful with that phrase, though. CFMX is not "CF as a JSP tag library." It's really much more than that. Still, some JSPers may indeed see CFMX as a new, easier alternative to JSP itself, even with the many taglibs out there trying to offer a more complete framework.
Finally, a few tag libraries are intended for use with specific J2EE application servers, such as those for JRun, iPlanet, Orion, Gefion, and Oracle Java Web servers. It's likely that few of the tags in these libraries may be generally useful, but they're worth a look. You can't predict when someone in that community may think of something that may be broadly useful.
Admittedly, some of the tags out there in publicly available JSP tag libraries are no more clever than those we already have available in Cold-Fusion custom tags, such as those at the Developer's Exchange. But you never know. It's like finding a new directory in the Developer's Exchange, but it's a much bigger world of developers out there building JSP custom tags.
At each of these sites you'll generally find help on how to use the tags. Sometimes the documentation for using a JSP custom tag may show it using JSP syntax, but it will often be readable enough for CF programmers. More to the point, perhaps more CF people will start sharing their discoveries of useful JSP custom tag libraries, including documentation of how to use them within CF. Indeed, what we really need is a repository for people to share their observations of useful JSP custom tags. I'll start one at www.systemanage.com/taglibs/.
As far as learning more about using JSP custom tags within CFMX, you should look to the CFMX documentation (and release notes, new features guides, etc.) that will be made public when the product goes into production.
As for learning more about the general subject of JSP custom tags, several books cover it from a Java or JSP perspective. They can be helpful, but mostly for those creating JSP custom tags or using them within JSPs. I'll point you to a couple. There are certainly others. Perhaps the most complete book on the subject is Mastering JSP Custom Tags and Tag Libraries, by James Goodwill. It's just come out.
There are chapters in other books, as well as several articles and tutorials of the same sort online. Perhaps the best place to point you is a repository listing many of them at www.jspinsider.com/tutorials/jsp/taglibraries.view.
When All's Said and Done...
Now you have it: what JSP custom tags are, how and why you might use them within CF, and where to find them and more information about them. Should you be interested in such possibilities? I think so. And, again, you definitely don't need any Java or JSP experience to benefit from them. They can simply provide some useful, reusable functionality that you can leverage in your CF (or JSP) pages. There's quite a bit more that we could discuss about them, but this should be enough to get you started.
|charles arehart 09/08/02 04:56:00 AM EDT|
|Charles Arehart 08/07/02 01:08:00 PM EDT|
Folks, I'm sad to have to report that I've now confirmed that the use of CFIMPORT to call JSP custom tags does NOT work in the Pro edition of CF. It will work in Enterprise, as well as the Trial (which is enterprise) and the Developer Edition (which the Trial becomes after 30 days, reverting to a single-user version).
|charles arehart 05/22/02 04:58:00 PM EDT|
Folks, here's another update of info I've learned since the article. First, you don't HAVE to place your jar file in the web-inf\lib directory as I (and the docs) had stated. I've found that you can indeed put them in the same directory as your CF template that's calling them, and then just say
That's useful if you work in an environment where you may find th web-inf directory locked down for any reason.
Also, in the preview release candidate, you can now refer to TLD files in the CFIMPORT, and again they can be located either in web-inf\ or in the same dir as your code.
Of course, when I say you can put these in the same dir as your code, I also mean you can put them in some other dir in the web root and use a relative reference to point to it.
|charles arehart 05/22/02 04:54:00 PM EDT|
Folks, just wanted to add some info for you. If you try out these tags as I have offered in the article, you may find that you get the error:
The type for attribute xxx of tag yyy could not be determined.
where xxx is the attribute you're using and yyy is the tag whose attributes it's complaining about.
Though I didn't mention that error specifically, I did say that it was my experience that you needed to restart the server upon placing a new tag into the web-inf\lib directory.
This error is what you'll see if you don't.
Code Halos - aka "digital fingerprints" - are the key organizing principle to understand a) how dumb things become smart and b) how to monetize this dynamic. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Robert Brown, AVP, Center for the Future of Work at Cognizant Technology Solutions, outlined research, analysis and recommendations from his recently published book on this phenomena on the way leading edge organizations like GE and Disney are unlocking the Internet of Things opportunity and what steps your organization should be taking to position itself for the next platform of digital competition.
Jan. 25, 2015 02:00 AM EST Reads: 2,628
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.
Jan. 25, 2015 01:45 AM EST Reads: 2,208
In their session at @ThingsExpo, Shyam Varan Nath, Principal Architect at GE, and Ibrahim Gokcen, who leads GE's advanced IoT analytics, focused on the Internet of Things / Industrial Internet and how to make it operational for business end-users. Learn about the challenges posed by machine and sensor data and how to marry it with enterprise data. They also discussed the tips and tricks to provide the Industrial Internet as an end-user consumable service using Big Data Analytics and Industrial Cloud.
Jan. 25, 2015 01:00 AM EST Reads: 2,432
SYS-CON Media announced that Splunk, a provider of the leading software platform for real-time Operational Intelligence, has launched an ad campaign on Big Data Journal. Splunk software and cloud services enable organizations to search, monitor, analyze and visualize machine-generated big data coming from websites, applications, servers, networks, sensors and mobile devices. The ads focus on delivering ROI - how improved uptime delivered $6M in annual ROI, improving customer operations by mining large volumes of unstructured data, and how data tracking delivers uptime when it matters most.
Jan. 25, 2015 12:30 AM EST Reads: 3,366
Today’s enterprise is being driven by disruptive competitive and human capital requirements to provide enterprise application access through not only desktops, but also mobile devices. To retrofit existing programs across all these devices using traditional programming methods is very costly and time consuming – often prohibitively so. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jesse Shiah, CEO, President, and Co-Founder of AgilePoint Inc., discussed how you can create applications that run on all mobile devices as well as laptops and desktops using a visual drag-and-drop application – and eForms-buildi...
Jan. 24, 2015 11:45 PM EST Reads: 2,321
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, addressed the big issues involving these technologies and, more important, the results they will achieve. Rodney Rogers, chairman and CEO of Virtustream; Brendan O'Brien, co-founder of Aria Systems, Bart Copeland, president and CEO of ActiveState Software; Jim Cowie, chief scientist at Dyn; Dave Wagstaff, VP and chief architect at BSQUARE Corporation; Seth Proctor, CTO of NuoDB, Inc.; and Andris Gailitis, C...
Jan. 24, 2015 11:00 PM EST Reads: 2,337
SYS-CON Events announced today that CodeFutures, a leading supplier of database performance tools, has been named a “Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9–11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. CodeFutures is an independent software vendor focused on providing tools that deliver database performance tools that increase productivity during database development and increase database performance and scalability during production.
Jan. 24, 2015 11:00 PM EST Reads: 1,442
SYS-CON Events announced today that ActiveState, the leading independent Cloud Foundry and Docker-based PaaS provider, has been named “Silver Sponsor” of SYS-CON's DevOps Summit New York, which will take place June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. ActiveState believes that enterprises gain a competitive advantage when they are able to quickly create, deploy and efficiently manage software solutions that immediately create business value, but they face many challenges that prevent them from doing so. The Company is uniquely positioned to help address these challenges thro...
Jan. 24, 2015 09:00 PM EST Reads: 1,694
IoT is still a vague buzzword for many people. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Mike Kavis, Vice President & Principal Cloud Architect at Cloud Technology Partners, discussed the business value of IoT that goes far beyond the general public's perception that IoT is all about wearables and home consumer services. He also discussed how IoT is perceived by investors and how venture capitalist access this space. Other topics discussed were barriers to success, what is new, what is old, and what the future may hold. Mike Kavis is Vice President & Principal Cloud Architect at Cloud Technology Pa...
Jan. 24, 2015 06:15 PM EST Reads: 3,718
Dale Kim is the Director of Industry Solutions at MapR. His background includes a variety of technical and management roles at information technology companies. While his experience includes work with relational databases, much of his career pertains to non-relational data in the areas of search, content management, and NoSQL, and includes senior roles in technical marketing, sales engineering, and support engineering. Dale holds an MBA from Santa Clara University, and a BA in Computer Science from the University of California, Berkeley.
Jan. 24, 2015 06:00 PM EST Reads: 2,873
SYS-CON Media announced that Cisco, a worldwide leader in IT that helps companies seize the opportunities of tomorrow, has launched a new ad campaign in Cloud Computing Journal. The ad campaign, a webcast titled 'Is Your Data Center Ready for the Application Economy?', focuses on the latest data center networking technologies, including SDN or ACI, and how customers are using SDN and ACI in their organizations to achieve business agility. The Cisco webcast is available on-demand.
Jan. 24, 2015 05:00 PM EST Reads: 1,077
The Internet of Things (IoT) promises to evolve the way the world does business; however, understanding how to apply it to your company can be a mystery. Most people struggle with understanding the potential business uses or tend to get caught up in the technology, resulting in solutions that fail to meet even minimum business goals. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jesse Shiah, CEO / President / Co-Founder of AgilePoint Inc., showed what is needed to leverage the IoT to transform your business. He discussed opportunities and challenges ahead for the IoT from a market and technical point of vie...
Jan. 24, 2015 03:15 PM EST Reads: 2,918
"People are a lot more knowledgeable about APIs now. There are two types of people who work with APIs - IT people who want to use APIs for something internal and the product managers who want to do something outside APIs for people to connect to them," explained Roberto Medrano, Executive Vice President at SOA Software, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at Cloud Expo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Jan. 24, 2015 02:30 PM EST Reads: 2,106
Performance is the intersection of power, agility, control, and choice. If you value performance, and more specifically consistent performance, you need to look beyond simple virtualized compute. Many factors need to be considered to create a truly performant environment. In his General Session at 15th Cloud Expo, Harold Hannon, Sr. Software Architect at SoftLayer, discussed how to take advantage of a multitude of compute options and platform features to make cloud the cornerstone of your online presence.
Jan. 24, 2015 02:15 PM EST Reads: 2,766
In this Women in Technology Power Panel at 15th Cloud Expo, moderated by Anne Plese, Senior Consultant, Cloud Product Marketing at Verizon Enterprise, Esmeralda Swartz, CMO at MetraTech; Evelyn de Souza, Data Privacy and Compliance Strategy Leader at Cisco Systems; Seema Jethani, Director of Product Management at Basho Technologies; Victoria Livschitz, CEO of Qubell Inc.; Anne Hungate, Senior Director of Software Quality at DIRECTV, discussed what path they took to find their spot within the technology industry and how do they see opportunities for other women in their area of expertise.
Jan. 24, 2015 01:45 PM EST Reads: 2,048
Almost everyone sees the potential of Internet of Things but how can businesses truly unlock that potential. The key will be in the ability to discover business insight in the midst of an ocean of Big Data generated from billions of embedded devices via Systems of Discover. Businesses will also need to ensure that they can sustain that insight by leveraging the cloud for global reach, scale and elasticity.
Jan. 24, 2015 01:00 PM EST Reads: 3,693
“The age of the Internet of Things is upon us,” stated Thomas Svensson, senior vice-president and general manager EMEA, ThingWorx, “and working with forward-thinking companies, such as Elisa, enables us to deploy our leading technology so that customers can profit from complete, end-to-end solutions.” ThingWorx, a PTC® (Nasdaq: PTC) business and Internet of Things (IoT) platform provider, announced on Monday that Elisa, Finnish provider of mobile and fixed broadband subscriptions, will deploy ThingWorx® platform technology to enable a new Elisa IoT service in Finland and Estonia.
Jan. 24, 2015 11:00 AM EST Reads: 1,379
Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs) are increasing at an unprecedented rate. The threat landscape of today is drastically different than just a few years ago. Attacks are much more organized and sophisticated. They are harder to detect and even harder to anticipate. In the foreseeable future it's going to get a whole lot harder. Everything you know today will change. Keeping up with this changing landscape is already a daunting task. Your organization needs to use the latest tools, methods and expertise to guard against those threats. But will that be enough? In the foreseeable future attacks w...
Jan. 24, 2015 11:00 AM EST Reads: 2,807
As enterprises move to all-IP networks and cloud-based applications, communications service providers (CSPs) – facing increased competition from over-the-top providers delivering content via the Internet and independently of CSPs – must be able to offer seamless cloud-based communication and collaboration solutions that can scale for small, midsize, and large enterprises, as well as public sector organizations, in order to keep and grow market share. The latest version of Oracle Communications Unified Communications Suite gives CSPs the capability to do just that. In addition, its integration ...
Jan. 24, 2015 11:00 AM EST Reads: 2,749
From telemedicine to smart cars, digital homes and industrial monitoring, the explosive growth of IoT has created exciting new business opportunities for real time calls and messaging. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Ivelin Ivanov, CEO and Co-Founder of Telestax, shared some of the new revenue sources that IoT created for Restcomm – the open source telephony platform from Telestax. Ivelin Ivanov is a technology entrepreneur who founded Mobicents, an Open Source VoIP Platform, to help create, deploy, and manage applications integrating voice, video and data. He is the co-founder of TeleStax, a...
Jan. 24, 2015 10:45 AM EST Reads: 2,840