Click here to close now.

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

Macromedia MX and Web Services

Macromedia MX and Web Services

The MX family of software was introduced by Macromedia last month. Without a doubt, it is the broadest and most impactful set of software releases in the company's 10-year history.

Macromedia MX combines clients, servers, and tools into an integrated family that will deliver rich Internet applications. It deeply embraces the idea of deploying and using "software as services," though the MX approach goes beyond many of the current notions and discussions in the industry about Web services.

What's the Big Idea?
Over the past couple of years, an idea has emerged (some might argue it's an old idea) that software will be transformed into being used as services, rather than as monolithic applications tied to a specific machine or platform. Rather than install software onto computers every time we need some functionality, an end user or corporation can reuse other application assets over the network. The idea expands into the notion of just-in-time delivery of applications. "Software as services" is a big idea. It holds the promise of introducing radical new economies of scale into the manufacture and distribution of software applications. From an end-user perspective, it's the idea that users can access information and applications anytime, anywhere, and from any device.

This is a powerful set of ideas. It's the idea that the value we create in software can be freed from any single delivery platform. It's the idea that rich applications can be used easily across platforms and devices. How close are we today to realizing this set of ideals?

The Web Services Industry Today
The phenomenal focus on Web services over the past year is interesting when contrasted with the actual set of technologies available to fulfill this vision. When comparing the broader vision for software as services to the current world of Web services technologies - protocols like SOAP and formats like WSDL - it looks more like we're perhaps 25% of the way toward fulfilling that vision.

Today Web services are primarily talked about through the lens of specific protocols - SOAP and WSDL, perhaps UDDI, though I've yet to find a customer who's really using UDDI in any significant way. This early focus and discussion is great; finding the holy grail of a common protocol for exchanging objects and data between platforms is an incredible achievement, and the fact that the industry is so focused on it gives us hope for the future of interoperable and open software.

But even the current crop of technologies implemented around these standards has problems and challenges. In the Web services model, application logic is well structured, often as component services. In actuality, the need to deliver well-structured applications has largely eluded Web application development over the past years. In fact, we all know that close to 75% of Web applications aren't well structured; they're conglomerations of dynamic pages, including scripting languages, database code, and presentation logic all together. Indeed, the desire to move to component middleware standards such as EJB, CORBA, and COM has been manifest mostly in the world of high-end architectures within large corporations rather than in the mainstream of Web application development.

As such, there is a huge disconnect between the need for well-structured Web services and the reality that most Web applications are built using 4GL scripting languages, usually are unstructured, and rarely meet the requirements of thoughtfully designed object-oriented systems.

Let's assume for a moment that Web services are strictly defined as the middleware standards for messaging and object marshaling - for example, SOAP and WSDL. Even in that world, the vast majority of Web application developers aren't well positioned to both create and consume Web services without becoming full-on system programmers using complete object-oriented environments such as Java or .NET. The back-end world of Web services needs to evolve to make it simpler for RAD or scripting-level developers to easily create and consume Web services. It would be a huge victory for the industry if those 75% of Web applications built with scripting languages could also share their value and data with other applications.

However, the focus on Web services through this lens largely relegates the topic to discussions of classic back-end middleware rather than a more holistic view of what's necessary to deliver software as a service. Strikingly absent from the current discussion of Web services is any notion at all of what the end-user experience is of these "software services." This is due in part to the type of vendors thinking about Web services - for example, traditional enterprise middleware companies - but it's also because of the hard work required by interoperable messaging and object protocols. These are necessary conditions to any future for software as services.

Getting back to the original vision of software as services, it's quickly apparent that we need a much more holistic discussion and framework for thinking about Web services, one that actually includes end users using this software. What would an end-to-end model for Web services look like?

The Missing Piece: Rich Clients and Web Services
Many of the early visions and discussions of Web services centered on the idea that, in the future, software could be used as a service rather than as monolithic applications that needed to be installed and used on our desktop computers. While the Web has made progress in delivering applications easily to browsers, the world of Web services would take it further by delivering the experience of desktop-quality software that can be consumed as a service. Visions of using "productivity applications" as services were common interpretations by the industry. Examples such as Hotmail and Salesforce.com were cited as leading indicators. In this future world of software services, end users could easily access rich applications from any desktop computer; these applications would always have their personal information, would be interconnected with back-end systems, and could even be portable across devices. This new world, however, would leave behind the document-based or page-based model of the Web for one that was much richer in terms of application capability, and that extended beyond the browser onto desktops and devices.

What is the user experience of Web services? What's the model for combining rich interfaces with back-end middleware to deliver exceptional new value for end users and the companies that serve them?

Macromedia believes that the perfect complement to Web services as middleware is the emerging category of rich clients. Indeed, it may well be that rich clients and Web services are two sides of the same coin, combining to enable this world of software as services.

What are these rich clients, and what do they require to really meet the requirements of transforming the user experience and providing the logical front-end to back-end Web services?

Rich clients should combine rich content, applications, and communications in a single client environment. By rich content I mean richly formatted text, graphics, audio, and video. By applications I mean both rich, complex-user interfaces - the kind we expect from a modern desktop computer - and application logic and data deployed in the network. And by communications I mean the ability for end users to interact through these clients, to share data, text, audio, and video in real time and nonreal time. Rich clients should provide these capabilities in an integrated manner, where the applications that can target them far exceed what is possible in the world of HTML documents.

Rich clients should allow applications to run in browsers, but also as standalone applications on desktops and laptops. They should also support running on devices. To support these new Internet-connected application types, they should support offline data storage, enabling occasionally connected devices and applications.

Most important, rich clients should anticipate the emerging world of back-end Web services by using a services-oriented architecture for integrating business logic and data across the network, whether that's simply contained in an application server or actually a distributed Web service exposed through a protocol like SOAP.

Rich clients and Web services combined hold the promise of fulfilling the broader vision that the industry has for deploying software as services. The combination will enable rich, business-connected productivity applications. It will transform what's possible on the Internet today. From now on, when people ask you what Web services are and why they're significant, make sure your worldview encompasses this broader perspective on software as services.

Macromedia MX and Web Services
As might be expected, Macromedia has focused on delivering a holistic approach to Web services, one that provides transformative technology for the client, server, and development-tools aspects of Web services.

ColdFusion MX: An Approachable Web Services Environment
Starting with the more common world of Web services as component middleware, Macromedia has introduced major new Web services capabilities in ColdFusion MX, the latest release of this rapid server scripting environment. For those not familiar with CFMX, it's a fundamental shift and repositioning for ColdFusion in the industry, moving from being a proprietary application server to a rapid development and scripting environment that runs on any popular application server, such as IBM WebSphere or Sun's Sun ONE.

Specifically with Web services, Macromedia focused on delivering a Web services engine that would empower RAD and scripting-level developers to easily construct and consume Web services. Using a technology called ColdFusion Components, or CFCs, scripting developers can add simple tags that provide metadata for defining a service and then include arbitrary script inside that metadata. The result is a well-defined component that provides a services-based interface (see Figure 1). Underneath, CFCs are dynamically compiled into JavaBeans and hot-deployed into the containing application server. This gives the mass of scripters the ability to easily construct server-side logic that can immediately be exposed through SOAP and can also be used by rich clients, such as Macromedia Flash Player.

The ColdFusion MX Web services engine is actually based on Macromedia's active involvement in the Apache Axis project, with strong contributions from IBM and others in the Apache community. It is the first commercial server to use this powerful new open-source Web services platform.

While CFCs allow developers to create Web services easily, ColdFusion MX also includes approachable capabilities for consuming and using Web services. Developers can declaratively invoke any Web service and Web service method at runtime; ColdFusion will dynamically generate Java client proxies that handle all the SOAP interactions, and actually transform SOAP results into local variables that can be used from script. Developers don't need to think about parsing SOAP or WSDL, or even of manually building client proxy skeletons, let alone having to invoke interfaces on those proxies.

Web services can also be imported into a script and used as tag libraries, with each method on a Web service exposed as a custom tag, enabling even HTML-level designers and programmers to use Web services.

Flash Player 6.0: The Internet's Premier Rich Client
In line with our more holistic view of software as services, Macromedia is leading the way with the introduction of a powerful rich client for delivering Internet applications. Macromedia Flash Player has evolved into being a complete environment for delivering rich user experiences across browsers, operating systems, and devices.

Over the last several years, Macromedia Flash Player has emerged as the most ubiquitous client runtime on the Internet. With more than 98.3% of Internet end users having a version of the player, it is now the most widely deployed software environment in the history of computing. Since the introduction of Flash Player 6.0, we've distributed well over 100 million new runtimes, averaging almost 3 million downloads per day. Packed into this new player are powerful new capabilities for delivering applications. Flash Player now provides a more complete programming environment, a visual component model, and fantastic new rich-content types (see Figure 2).

Most important, we've introduced technology for connecting rich client applications with back-end services. Dubbed Macromedia Flash Remoting, this technology provides a high-performance connection between rich clients and back-end services, no matter what the back-end platform or model. Flash Remoting supports using services deployed as CFCs and scripts, Java classes, JavaBeans, EJBs, JMX Beans, C# objects, ADO.NET, and ASP.NET pages. With these services it provides a high-performance binary connection - running over HTTP - between server objects and client objects.

Additionally, Macromedia Flash Remoting provides a simple mechanism for connecting Flash to SOAP Web services, even services deployed on networks and servers that are different from the application's origin domain. Crucially, browser-contained Flash applications follow a strict security sandbox, where they can make requests only to their originating domain. Flash Remoting provides a server-based proxy to any SOAP Web services.

Nonetheless, the Macromedia Flash Remoting model uses a services-based architecture that is back-end independent: client code can use services without ever knowing the type of back-end implementation.

Dreamweaver MX: Creating and Using Web Services
Two tools in Dreamweaver MX stand out with respect to creating and using Web services. Dreamweaver MX includes development tools for creating CFCs for easy authoring, providing one of the quickest ways to create SOAP-accessible Web services. It also includes significant tools for using other people's Web services. The Dreamweaver MX Web services browser allows you to point to any WSDL file or UDDI repository and import a Web service into the development environment. This provides a visual browser of the Web service's interface, and will even generate client proxies for .NET and Java. Once developers find a method they want to use, they can drag-and-drop these into their code and Dreamweaver will create the basic invocation code automatically.

Studio MX: Tools for Creating Web Services
With the MX product family Macromedia has both broadened and focused its suite of design and development tools by providing an integrated suite called Macromedia Studio MX. Studio MX provides everything needed to rapidly create everything from content and graphics to rich and complex user interfaces, server-side logic, and components that interact with XML, databases, and Web services (see Figure 3).

In the MX family Macromedia Flash MX provides the primary authoring environment for creating rich client user interfaces, evolving from its early heritage as a motion graphics design environment to a complete application development tool for client-side applications. Likewise, Dreamweaver MX has also been transformed from being the premier Web authoring and site development package to a complete IDE for Web application development, including powerful new programming and database tools and support for XML and Web services.

Software as Services: Make It Real
Macromedia is passionate about the idea of using software as services. We believe in a holistic view that encompasses both the front-end user experience and the back-end integration layer. Our hope is that by making Web services approachable and affordable, all of us - not just the legions of advanced programmers and classic middleware developers - will be able to take advantage of what they have to offer. Building for the next generation of the Internet should be fun - let's make the Internet interesting again!

More Stories By Jeremy Allaire

Jeremy Allaire is one of the key people behind ColdFusion. He was one of the co-founders of Allaire Corp, which was later sold to Macromedia, where he joined as the CTO and turned his attention to helping evolve Macromedia Flash into a next-generation rich client platform. He is a regular author and analyst of Internet technologies.

Comments (1) 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
David Santora 06/16/02 11:46:00 AM EDT

yea, but you have to pay a monthly fee for all these services. and you could aford to pay for more services, when you are all ready paying for cablle tv, cable or DSL access,cell phones a regular phone service and the list gos on. and now you will ba paying for a whole list of internet services monthly. ( I don' think so )

@ThingsExpo Stories
SYS-CON Events announced today that Gridstore™, the leader in hyper-converged infrastructure purpose-built to optimize Microsoft workloads, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Gridstore™ is the leader in hyper-converged infrastructure purpose-built for Microsoft workloads and designed to accelerate applications in virtualized environments. Gridstore’s hyper-converged infrastructure is the industry’s first all flash version of HyperConverged Appliances that include both compute and storag...
SYS-CON Events announced today that IDenticard will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. IDenticard™ is the security division of Brady Corp (NYSE: BRC), a $1.5 billion manufacturer of identification products. We have small-company values with the strength and stability of a major corporation. IDenticard offers local sales, support and service to our customers across the United States and Canada. Our partner network encompasses some 300 of the world's leading systems integrators and security s...
BroadSoft on Tuesday announced that it is a recipient of the 2014 Frost & Sullivan Market Leadership Award in the Hosted/Cloud Internet Protocol (IP) Telephony market for Latin America. According to Frost & Sullivan market research, the Latin America (LATAM) hosted/cloud Internet Protocol (IP) telephony market, including integrated unified communications and collaboration (UC&C) applications, is currently experiencing a rapid growth trajectory and is expected to exhibit a tenfold rise in annual revenues in the 2013-2020 period. With more than 600 cloud deployments internationally, BroadSoft w...
In 2015, 4.9 billion connected "things" will be in use. By 2020, Gartner forecasts this amount to be 25 billion, a 410 percent increase in just five years. How will businesses handle this rapid growth of data? Hadoop will continue to improve its technology to meet business demands, by enabling businesses to access/analyze data in real time, when and where they need it. Cloudera's Chief Technologist, Eli Collins, will discuss how Big Data is keeping up with today's data demands and how in the future, data and analytics will be pervasive, embedded into every workflow, application and infra...
The best mobile applications are augmented by dedicated servers, the Internet and Cloud services. Mobile developers should focus on one thing: writing the next socially disruptive viral app. Thanks to the cloud, they can focus on the overall solution, not the underlying plumbing. From iOS to Android and Windows, developers can leverage cloud services to create a common cross-platform backend to persist user settings, app data, broadcast notifications, run jobs, etc. This session provides a high level technical overview of many cloud services available to mobile app developers, includi...
Participants will reach the final if their IoT solution is liked. A community vote will determine the best solutions submitted in each country, after which an expert jury will select the national winners and the best international IoT solution. Each country's best solution can win a national marketing campaign worth up to €30,000 and become a partner in Deutsche Telekom's participating markets. The winning international solution can become partner of Deutsche Telekom Group across all eight countries and reach out to a potential of 10,8 million business customers. Deutsche Telekom Group has a...
Health care systems across the globe are under enormous strain, as facilities reach capacity and costs continue to rise. M2M and the Internet of Things have the potential to transform the industry through connected health solutions that can make care more efficient while reducing costs. In fact, Vodafone's annual M2M Barometer Report forecasts M2M applications rising to 57 percent in health care and life sciences by 2016. Lively is one of Vodafone's health care partners, whose solutions enable older adults to live independent lives while staying connected to loved ones. M2M will continue to gr...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Vicom Computer Services, Inc., a provider of technology and service solutions, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. They are located at booth #427. Vicom Computer Services, Inc. is a progressive leader in the technology industry for over 30 years. Headquartered in the NY Metropolitan area. Vicom provides products and services based on today’s requirements around Unified Networks, Cloud Computing strategies, Virtualization around Software defined Data Ce...
Dave will share his insights on how Internet of Things for Enterprises are transforming and making more productive and efficient operations and maintenance (O&M) procedures in the cleantech industry and beyond. Speaker Bio: Dave Landa is chief operating officer of Cybozu Corp (kintone US). Based in the San Francisco Bay Area, Dave has been on the forefront of the Cloud revolution driving strategic business development on the executive teams of multiple leading Software as a Services (SaaS) application providers dating back to 2004. Cybozu's kintone.com is a leading global BYOA (Build Your O...
VoxImplant has announced full WebRTC support in the newest versions of its Android SDK and iOS SDK. The updated SDKs, which enable audio and video calls on mobile devices, are now compatible with the WebRTC standard to allow any mobile app to communicate with WebRTC-enabled browsers, including Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Opera, and, when available, Microsoft Spartan. The WebRTC-updated SDKs represent VoxImplant's continued leadership in simplifying the development of real-time communications (RTC) services for app developers. VoxImplant (built by Zingaya, the real-time communication servi...
What exactly is a cognitive application? In her session at 16th Cloud Expo, Ashley Hathaway, Product Manager at IBM Watson, will look at the services being offered by the IBM Watson Developer Cloud and what that means for developers and Big Data. She'll explore how IBM Watson and its partnerships will continue to grow and help define what it means to be a cognitive service, as well as take a look at the offerings on Bluemix. She will also check out how Watson and the Alchemy API team up to offer disruptive APIs to developers.
The IoT Bootcamp is coming to Cloud Expo | @ThingsExpo on June 9-10 at the Javits Center in New York. Instructor. Registration is now available at http://iotbootcamp.sys-con.com/ Instructor Janakiram MSV previously taught the famously successful Multi-Cloud Bootcamp at Cloud Expo | @ThingsExpo in November in Santa Clara. Now he is expanding the focus to Janakiram is the founder and CTO of Get Cloud Ready Consulting, a niche Cloud Migration and Cloud Operations firm that recently got acquired by Aditi Technologies. He is a Microsoft Regional Director for Hyderabad, India, and one of the f...
The 17th International Cloud Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. 17th International Cloud Expo, to be held November 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, brings together Cloud Computing, APM, APIs, Microservices, Security, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps and WebRTC to one location. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to plant your flag in this fast-expanding business opportunity. Submit your speaking proposal today!
SYS-CON Media announced today that @WebRTCSummit Blog, the largest WebRTC resource in the world, has been launched. @WebRTCSummit Blog offers top articles, news stories, and blog posts from the world's well-known experts and guarantees better exposure for its authors than any other publication. @WebRTCSummit Blog can be bookmarked ▸ Here @WebRTCSummit conference site can be bookmarked ▸ Here
With IoT exploding, massive data will transform businesses with opportunities to monetize almost anything that can be measured. In this C-Level Roundtable Discussion at @ThingsExpo, Brendan O’Brien, Aria Systems Co-founder and Chief Evangelist, will lead an expert panel of consultants, thought leaders and practitioners who will look at these new monetization trends, discuss the implications, and detail lessons learned from their collective experience. Finally, the panel will point the way forward for enterprises who wish to leverage the resulting complex recurring revenue models, adding valu...
The WebRTC Summit 2015 New York, to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York, NY, announces that its Call for Papers is open. Topics include all aspects of improving IT delivery by eliminating waste through automated business models leveraging cloud technologies. WebRTC Summit is co-located with 16th International Cloud Expo, @ThingsExpo, Big Data Expo, and DevOps Summit.
“In the past year we've seen a lot of stabilization of WebRTC. You can now use it in production with a far greater degree of certainty. A lot of the real developments in the past year have been in things like the data channel, which will enable a whole new type of application," explained Peter Dunkley, Technical Director at Acision, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
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...
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 ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Ciqada will exhibit at SYS-CON's @ThingsExpo, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Ciqada™ makes it easy to connect your products to the Internet. By integrating key components - hardware, servers, dashboards, and mobile apps - into an easy-to-use, configurable system, your products can quickly and securely join the internet of things. With remote monitoring, control, and alert messaging capability, you will meet your customers' needs of tomorrow - today! Ciqada. Let your products take flight. For more inform...