|By Charlie Arehart||
|July 11, 2001 12:00 AM EDT||
You've probably seen the use of a variable called "application.dsn" (or "application.datasource") in code. Perhaps you've even been taught to use the method in a class.
Maybe you've even been doing it in your own code. I'm talking about setting this variable in the application.cfm file to hold the name of your data source for a given application.
It seems so innocuous, and it seems to provide ways to make your code easier to maintain (change the dsn variable once in the application.cfm, and all the templates that use it under control of that application.cfm get the benefit of the change).
However, there's a problem and it can be a nasty one. This issue has to do with the locking of (or failure to lock) shared-scope variables such as this one, and the fact that rarely does any discussion of this approach include the consequences of using shared variable scopes. There have been other articles in CFDJ on the subject of shared variable locking, as well as Macromedia Knowledge Base articles.
Maybe you didn't make the connection between them and this issue. This article puts the problem in perspective and offers some explanations of how to understand and resolve it. The ultimate solution involves using a "request"-scoped variable instead of an "application"-scoped one.
If you're not familiar with shared variable scopes, or are fuzzy about locking issues, or perhaps have never understood what "request" scope variables are about, this article should help you.
If you do understand these things, change your references to application.dsn to request.dsn, and if you find any locks around code that was using such an application.dsn variable, you need to consider whether those should stay as well. I'll also offer insights into how to find and fix such locking references.
You may see code doing this in application.cfm:
<CFSET application.dsn = "whatever">
which declares the variable as "global," in essence, and can therefore be used later in all other templates as in:
<CFQUERY datasource="#application.dsn#" ... >
to refer to that data source name. The upside to this is that if the data source name needs to be changed (from "whatever" to "whatever_test", for instance), you can simply modify the application.cfm to point to the new name, and all templates under its control get the benefit of the change.
It's a good plan, but the use of an application-scoped variable is flawed. It opens you to potentially troublesome locking issues (for more on that, including a good explanation for why it's a problem, see "ColdFusion Locking Best Practices" at www.allaire.com/Handlers/index.cfm?ID=20370&Method=Full). More important, you can have the intended benefit with an equally useful and less troublesome way.
For reasons I'll explain in a moment if it's still unclear, I'm suggesting that you stop using the application scope to hold the data source name. However, instead of dropping "application." from the variable name, I'm suggesting that you use the "request" scope. In other words, do the following (in your application.cfm):
<CFSET request.dsn = "whatever">
and then in all your templates do:
<CFQUERY datasource="#request.dsn#" ...>
If it's not clear why this is useful, or how it works, then there may be confusion about:
- How the application.cfm works like a CFINCLUDE (and how we could, but won't, use a local variable called "dsn")
- What the request scope is about (and why it's better to use "request.dsn")
How Application.cfm Works Like a CFINCLUDE
And How We Could, but Won't, Use a Local Variable Called "dsn"
Nearly every CF developer knows that whenever a CF template is run, CF first tries to execute any application.cfm that exists in the same directory (or its parent directory, or its grandparent, and so on).
What may not be obvious is that CF actually runs the application.cfm like a CFINCLUDE, which means that any variables set there, including "local" variables (such as <CFSET firstname="bob">), are then available to the template that was originally being run.
So let's say we have a template that does the following:
If it did this and nothing else, you might expect it to fail since you can't refer to variables that don't exist, and it's only outputting the variable, not creating it. But if firstname was set in application.cfm (assuming this template is in a directory controlled by that application.cfm), it can indeed refer to the variable.
Knowing that, you may wonder why the folks who promoted this solution of setting the dsn variable to the application scope even bothered. They could just as easily have said:
<CFSET dsn = "whatever">
and then in all their templates do:
<CFQUERY datasource="#dsn#" ...>
It would work. In fact, there's no need to be using the application scope to pass the variable to all templates (make it global), because any variables set in the application.cfm "trickle down" to all templates, in effect making them global. There are certainly good uses of application scoped variables, but this isn't one of them.
The simple example of setting a variable called "dsn" (or what could be formally specified as variables.dsn, which is the same thing) to hold the name of the data source would work, and would trickle down to all the templates. It's effectively "global," at least for the life of that template, and it's reset at the execution of each template by being executed in the application.cfm each time.
I've recommended that you use "request.dsn" rather than "dsn" or "variables.dsn". Why? And what is the request scope, anyway?
What the Request Scope Is About
And Why It's Better to Use "Request.dsn"
If you understand that setting a local variable called "dsn" will work, can you think of any situation in which your code may expect to have access to that variable but won't? Think hard. Okay, custom tags. Yep, most know that custom tags have their own local variable scope. So a local variable set in the caller (or in the application.cfm) won't be available to the custom tag.
When we were setting the dsn variable to an application scope, it was available in the custom tag (as are all shared scopes and also form, url, cgi, and other variables that are passed to the calling template).
By changing the application.dsn variable to dsn (or variables.dsn, same thing) while it's available in all templates under control of the application.cfm, it's not available to any custom tags called by those templates. That's why we need to use the request scope instead.
Its sole purpose, poorly understood though it is, is to create local variables in a program that are available within custom tags called by that program (and vice versa). That's it. Nothing more.
Many confuse the request scope with some sort of persistence or shared nature (and the fact that there's a different kind of "request" scope in other languages like ASP and JSP only confuses matters further). It's best to think of it as nothing more than a scope that allows local variables to be seen in a custom tag called by the template setting the request scope variable. And since our request.dsn variable is set in the application.cfm, it trickles down to the template being executed and is therefore also available to any custom tags we call as well.
That's why you should use the request scope rather than a local scope.
Remediation of Application.dsn Misuse
One last thought: you may not be able to blindly do a global search and replace application.dsn with request.dsn wherever it occurs. Depending on the savvy of the coder, the use of application.dsn may have at least two wrinkles that require more care than just replacing application.dsn with request.dsn:
- You may be testing for the existence of application.dsn before setting it in the application.cfm, in which case you need to set the request.dsn outside that test since it will never "already exist."
- You may have CFLOCKs surrounding CFQUERYs, or CFLOCKs that are moving the application.dsn to a local variable. You wouldn't want to just rename the scope in those instances.
I hope this article not only helps prevent problems with application.dsn, specifically, but also increases your understanding of request scope variables and application.cfm processing in general.
|charlie arehart 04/15/08 02:16:10 PM EDT|
Thanks for that, Brian. I should add that while this article was from 2001, since CF7 we now have application.cfc and its onapplicationstart method. That does change things a bit, in that one could safely create an application variable there and it really would be created only once, at the start of the application. For that reason, I suppose it may no longer be so "wrong" to see application.dsn--but again, that's only if you're using this feature. Otherwise, it may be better to stick with the request scope as discussed in the article.
|Brian 04/04/08 03:17:23 PM EDT|
Very informative! I've been wondering what the request scope is for such a long time and no other resource did such a great job of explaining it.
|Charlie Arehart 08/31/01 10:36:00 AM EDT|
A read asked by email: "don't you also need to lock request vars?" The answer is no. They're not shared by any other user. More particularly, they're not shared by any other "thread".
The request scope, like the variables scope, is local to the running program and belongs only to it. It's a single thread of execution, so there's no risk of conflict with other threads, as with the "shared scope" variables, server, application, and session.
SYS-CON Events announced today that IBM Cloud Data Services has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 17th Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. IBM Cloud Data Services offers a portfolio of integrated, best-of-breed cloud data services for developers focused on mobile computing and analytics use cases.
Oct. 6, 2015 10:00 PM EDT Reads: 626
In his session at @ThingsExpo, Tony Shan, Chief Architect at CTS, will explore the synergy of Big Data and IoT. First he will take a closer look at the Internet of Things and Big Data individually, in terms of what, which, why, where, when, who, how and how much. Then he will explore the relationship between IoT and Big Data. Specifically, he will drill down to how the 4Vs aspects intersect with IoT: Volume, Variety, Velocity and Value. In turn, Tony will analyze how the key components of IoT influence Big Data: Device, Connectivity, Context, and Intelligence. He will dive deep to the matrix...
Oct. 6, 2015 08:00 PM EDT Reads: 310
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 Building actually breathes - immediately flagging overheating in a closet or over cooling in unoccupied ho...
Oct. 6, 2015 05:00 PM EDT Reads: 251
Scott Guthrie's keynote presentation "Journey to the intelligent cloud" is a must view video. This is from AzureCon 2015, September 29, 2015 I have reproduced some screen shots in case you are unable to view this long video for one reason or another. One of the highlights is 3 datacenters coming on line in India.
Oct. 6, 2015 02:00 PM EDT Reads: 228
“The Internet of Things transforms the way organizations leverage machine data and gain insights from it,” noted Splunk’s CTO Snehal Antani, as Splunk announced accelerated momentum in Industrial Data and the IoT. The trend is driven by Splunk’s continued investment in its products and partner ecosystem as well as the creativity of customers and the flexibility to deploy Splunk IoT solutions as software, cloud services or in a hybrid environment. Customers are using Splunk® solutions to collect and correlate data from control systems, sensors, mobile devices and IT systems for a variety of Ind...
Oct. 6, 2015 01:00 PM EDT Reads: 580
SYS-CON Events announced today that ProfitBricks, the provider of painless cloud infrastructure, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. ProfitBricks is the IaaS provider that offers a painless cloud experience for all IT users, with no learning curve. ProfitBricks boasts flexible cloud servers and networking, an integrated Data Center Designer tool for visual control over the cloud and the best price/performance value available. ProfitBricks was named one of the coolest Clo...
Oct. 6, 2015 01:00 PM EDT Reads: 739
You have your devices and your data, but what about the rest of your Internet of Things story? Two popular classes of technologies that nicely handle the Big Data analytics for Internet of Things are Apache Hadoop and NoSQL. Hadoop is designed for parallelizing analytical work across many servers and is ideal for the massive data volumes you create with IoT devices. NoSQL databases such as Apache HBase are ideal for storing and retrieving IoT data as “time series data.”
Oct. 6, 2015 12:45 PM EDT Reads: 458
Clearly the way forward is to move to cloud be it bare metal, VMs or containers. One aspect of the current public clouds that is slowing this cloud migration is cloud lock-in. Every cloud vendor is trying to make it very difficult to move out once a customer has chosen their cloud. In his session at 17th Cloud Expo, Naveen Nimmu, CEO of Clouber, Inc., will advocate that making the inter-cloud migration as simple as changing airlines would help the entire industry to quickly adopt the cloud without worrying about any lock-in fears. In fact by having standard APIs for IaaS would help PaaS expl...
Oct. 6, 2015 12:30 PM EDT Reads: 585
Organizations already struggle with the simple collection of data resulting from the proliferation of IoT, lacking the right infrastructure to manage it. They can't only rely on the cloud to collect and utilize this data because many applications still require dedicated infrastructure for security, redundancy, performance, etc. In his session at 17th Cloud Expo, Emil Sayegh, CEO of Codero Hosting, will discuss how in order to resolve the inherent issues, companies need to combine dedicated and cloud solutions through hybrid hosting – a sustainable solution for the data required to manage I...
Oct. 6, 2015 12:00 PM EDT Reads: 440
Apps and devices shouldn't stop working when there's limited or no network connectivity. Learn how to bring data stored in a cloud database to the edge of the network (and back again) whenever an Internet connection is available. In his session at 17th Cloud Expo, Bradley Holt, Developer Advocate at IBM Cloud Data Services, will demonstrate techniques for replicating cloud databases with devices in order to build offline-first mobile or Internet of Things (IoT) apps that can provide a better, faster user experience, both offline and online. The focus of this talk will be on IBM Cloudant, Apa...
Oct. 6, 2015 10:45 AM EDT Reads: 452
Mobile messaging has been a popular communication channel for more than 20 years. Finnish engineer Matti Makkonen invented the idea for SMS (Short Message Service) in 1984, making his vision a reality on December 3, 1992 by sending the first message ("Happy Christmas") from a PC to a cell phone. Since then, the technology has evolved immensely, from both a technology standpoint, and in our everyday uses for it. Originally used for person-to-person (P2P) communication, i.e., Sally sends a text message to Betty – mobile messaging now offers tremendous value to businesses for customer and empl...
Oct. 6, 2015 10:45 AM EDT Reads: 163
As more and more data is generated from a variety of connected devices, the need to get insights from this data and predict future behavior and trends is increasingly essential for businesses. Real-time stream processing is needed in a variety of different industries such as Manufacturing, Oil and Gas, Automobile, Finance, Online Retail, Smart Grids, and Healthcare. Azure Stream Analytics is a fully managed distributed stream computation service that provides low latency, scalable processing of streaming data in the cloud with an enterprise grade SLA. It features built-in integration with Azur...
Oct. 6, 2015 10:00 AM EDT Reads: 734
SYS-CON Events announced today that HPM Networks will exhibit at the 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. For 20 years, HPM Networks has been integrating technology solutions that solve complex business challenges. HPM Networks has designed solutions for both SMB and enterprise customers throughout the San Francisco Bay Area.
Oct. 6, 2015 09:00 AM EDT Reads: 569
The enterprise is being consumerized, and the consumer is being enterprised. Moore's Law does not matter anymore, the future belongs to business virtualization powered by invisible service architecture, powered by hyperscale and hyperconvergence, and facilitated by vertical streaming and horizontal scaling and consolidation. Both buyers and sellers want instant results, and from paperwork to paperless to mindless is the ultimate goal for any seamless transaction. The sweetest sweet spot in innovation is automation. The most painful pain point for any business is the mismatch between supplies a...
Oct. 6, 2015 09:00 AM EDT Reads: 140
The broad selection of hardware, the rapid evolution of operating systems and the time-to-market for mobile apps has been so rapid that new challenges for developers and engineers arise every day. Security, testing, hosting, and other metrics have to be considered through the process. In his session at Big Data Expo, Walter Maguire, Chief Field Technologist, HP Big Data Group, at Hewlett-Packard, will discuss the challenges faced by developers and a composite Big Data applications builder, focusing on how to help solve the problems that developers are continuously battling.
Oct. 6, 2015 04:00 AM EDT Reads: 409
As enterprises capture more and more data of all types – structured, semi-structured, and unstructured – data discovery requirements for business intelligence (BI), Big Data, and predictive analytics initiatives grow more complex. A company’s ability to become data-driven and compete on analytics depends on the speed with which it can provision their analytics applications with all relevant information. The task of finding data has traditionally resided with IT, but now organizations increasingly turn towards data source discovery tools to find the right data, in context, for business users, d...
Oct. 5, 2015 08:00 AM EDT Reads: 378
SYS-CON Events announced today that MobiDev, a software development company, will exhibit at the 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place November 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. MobiDev is a software development company with representative offices in Atlanta (US), Sheffield (UK) and Würzburg (Germany); and development centers in Ukraine. Since 2009 it has grown from a small group of passionate engineers and business managers to a full-scale mobile software company with over 150 developers, designers, quality assurance engineers, project manage...
Oct. 5, 2015 05:00 AM EDT Reads: 737
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 Thingies, will discuss and demonstrate how devices and humans can be integrated from a simple clust...
Oct. 4, 2015 12:00 PM EDT Reads: 628
SYS-CON Events announced today that Cloud Raxak has been named “Media & Session Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 17th Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Raxak Protect automates security compliance across private and public clouds. Using the SaaS tool or managed service, developers can deploy cloud apps quickly, cost-effectively, and without error.
Oct. 3, 2015 01:15 PM EDT Reads: 625
Who are you? How do you introduce yourself? Do you use a name, or do you greet a friend by the last four digits of his social security number? Assuming you don’t, why are we content to associate our identity with 10 random digits assigned by our phone company? Identity is an issue that affects everyone, but as individuals we don’t spend a lot of time thinking about it. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Ben Klang, Founder & President of Mojo Lingo, will discuss the impact of technology on identity. Should we federate, or not? How should identity be secured? Who owns the identity? How is identity ...
Oct. 3, 2015 11:00 AM EDT Reads: 418