Welcome!

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

A Cold Cup O'Joe: Part 6 of 8

A Cold Cup O'Joe: Part 6 of 8

With Java's ever-broadening list of class APIs, your CFX has few limitations.

However, shortcomings in the CFX model could make developing solutions a little tricky. Since the ColdFusion server bootstraps CFXs, debugging them poses certain challenges.

In Part 5 of this series (CFDJ, Vol. 3, issue 8) I introduced the basics of writing CFX tags in Java; this merely scratched the surface though. A simple "Hello, World" tag, even one driven by a query such as the second example I provided in Part 5 (see sidebar), is hardly sufficient to show the details of what can be done with a Java CFX tag.

As promised, in Part 6 I delve further into the CFX model by demonstrating some of the Macromedia-recommended debugging techniques, and talk about how you can do things in a Java CFX that would be a little more difficult in C++.

Check Your Tools
Of the 14 classes that comprise the Java CFAPI class library, I discussed only four of them in Part 5. These four classes form the basis of the majority of the interactions needed for working with ColdFusion's CFX interface (see Figure 1).

The CustomTag class is the foundation of every Java CFX tag. The Request class contains all the incoming parameters of the tag, and an instance of it is passed to the CFX tag entry point. The Response class enables data to be sent back to the classing logic, and an instance of it is passed to the CFX tag entry point. The Query class allows you to manipulate any ColdFusion query passed into the CFX tag. These four classes are fairly robust and you can accomplish a broad number of things with them.

Check the Printout
Print-to-screen is a tried-and-true debugging tool. Never elegant or clever, a language's print-to-screen commands are still the cornerstone of debugging. It's a minor challenge using this staple of software development in a CFX; content sent to System.out, the typical print-to-screen destination, doesn't enter the same output stream that the ColdFusion Server sends back to the Web server. However, you can manage this two ways through the Response object that the ColdFusion Server passes to your CFX when it gets called.

write
The write method of the Response class is used to return formatted output to the ColdFusion Server's output stream. Typically for the construction of an HTML user interface, write can also be used to display debugging information.

This technique, like all uses of the print-to-screen method, has a serious drawback. Not only does it disturb your screen output, but once you're finished, you must remove all calls to write that are used for debugging.

Using an update of the tried-and-true "Hello, World" example from Part 5, HelloWorld1.java (see Listing 1) shows an example of this. The results can be observed by simply executing the tag in a ColdFusion template (see Listing 2).

I registered the CFX as "cfx_helloworld" in the ColdFusion Administrator as discussed in Part 5. We'll be making a few different iterations to the "Hello, World" example throughout this article, and each time I'll update the "class file" setting of the same tag registration.

writeDebug
The writeDebug method of the Response class is a slight improvement. It still relies on the print-to-screen concept, but only under a specific circumstance. When the CFX is invoked with the DEBUG attribute set to "on," it will trip an internal flag. The writeDebug method will print only if this flag is tripped.

Replacing all the write methods with writeDebug methods will give us a CFX as seen in HelloWorld2.java (see Listing 3). Don't forget to update the CFX's "class file" setting in the ColdFusion Administrator. In a ColdFusion template (see Listing 4) I've made two calls to the newer version of our CFX, one with the DEBUG attribute set to "on" and the other with the attribute set to "off." Notice the differing results.

This is a little better, but again it's still messy.

Faking It
What if there was a way to run a custom tag from the command line? What if, instead of the ColdFusion Server instantiating the CFX, you could do it? Macromedia provides for just such a thing with the help of three classes: DebugRequest, DebugResponse, and DebugQuery. These debugging versions allow you to mimic the way the ColdFusion Server might interact with the CFX so you can test it right from the command line. This functionality is unique to Java CFXs, and while similar things can be rigged with their C++ cousins, Macromedia didn't provide a pre-packaged solution for them.

The Main Thing
The code in processRequest doesn't change, but I've added a new method to the class, main. This new iteration of the CFX, HelloWorld3.java (see Listing 5), creates its own debugging versions of Request and Response and passes them to an instance of itself (see lines 1-18).

Using a Java Hashtable, I created the arguments I want passed to the tag instance (lines 8 and 9). I use this Hashtable in the constructor of the DebugRequest instance (line 11). Neither the DebugResponse instance (line 12) nor the tag (line 14) requires construction. The tag's real functionality is invoked (line 16) when processRequest is called. Then it's a simple matter to display the results via the DebugResponse class's printResults (line 18), which displays directly to System.out.

Greet Them, One and All
To demonstrate the use of the DebugQuery class I'll use the HelloQuery CFX from Part 5. This tag receives a Query to loop over as the source of its input, nothing overly complex (see sidebar). I made some adjustments to HelloQuery.java (see Listing 6) and it can now be compiled and called from the command line.

I built a hash table of attributes to pass to processRequest, just as before (lines 10 and 11). Notice that I actually add the QUERY attribute and give it a value of "names". The value is unimportant, but it's vital that the QUERY attribute exists.

If you recall from Part 5, to pass a CFML Query to a CFX it had to be passed via the QUERY attribute. The HelloQuery CFX actually tests for this attribute before retrieving the Query object with the Request's getQuery. Because it's possible through the debug versions to pass the Query without using the QUERY attribute, it's vital to create a QUERY attribute so as not to disrupt the current functionality of the tag. At first this might seem silly. If the tag is designed to receive a Query object, why check for the QUERY attribute at all? The answer to that would be: What if the QUERY attribute were being used to pass optional data? This leaves the door open for increased flexibility, especially when this flexibility can be used to overcome the data-passing limitations imposed by the CFX model. In this way nothing is assumed; the code always tries to check itself.

To create a DebugQuery instance two String arrays are needed. One array contains the names of the columns (line 14), the other is a multidimensional array, an array of column values within an array that comprises the rows (lines 15-18). An instance can then be created (line 20) and passed to the DebugRequest constructor (line 22).

The rest is the same as in the previous example.

Debug Class Dividends
All in all, using the debugging classes is not a very complicated activity. The real dividend is that you can run it from the command line, but because of that you can use traditional debuggers to step through the code as it executes. Just when you thought it was going to get tough...

Under Observation
It would hardly seem decent to write an article that contains little more than what can be found in the documentation already. Sure, I've covered a few extra little twists, but nothing you couldn't have gleaned with careful reading and a little experimentation. So I've brought something more to the table: leveraging some of the technology I used in the JVMLog class I introduced in Part 4 (CFDJ, Vol. 3, issue 6), you can take your debugging one step further.

The JVMLog class (reversibly) hijacks the JVM's standard I/O PrintStream instance. It does so with another simple class that I created called ObservablePrintStream. The ObservablePrintStream is a subclass of the normal PrintStream used by the JVM, so my class could polymorphically stand in for the original. The interesting thing about ObservablePrintStream is that it implements the Observer design pattern.

I was unable to use Java's standard Observable class since my PrintStream subclass would have had to inherit from something other than PrintStream - thus completely ruling out my ability to hijack the JVM's PrintStream in the first place.

The point of the Observer design pattern is to set up a relationship of objects that can communicate with each other in a publish/subscribe fashion. An object interested in getting notified whenever something happens "subscribes" to the object in which it is interested. Specifically, anything that's intended for the screen via System.out will also get sent to the subscribing objects.

What I have done is create a set of templates and Java classes that will allow you to install the ObservablePrintStream to the JVM and then "subscribe" objects so you can monitor things printed to the JVM's System.out instances.

Using the ColdFusion template ManageObserver.cfm (see Listing 7) will allow you to toggle the hijacking of the JVM's PrintStream. (Listings 7-10 can be found on the CFDJ Web site, www.sys-con.com/coldfusion/ sourcec.cfm.) Using another template, ManageNetObserver.cfm (see Listing 8), you can toggle the installation of a socketed observer. Then, using either the client I created, Monitor.java (see Listing 9), or a telnet application, you can connect to port 2525 (configurable from ManageNet-Observer.cfm) and watch for anything written to the JVM's System.out to be displayed. To this end I've created a new version of the "Hello, World" CFX, HelloWorld4.java (see Listing 10), where I've done a search and replace on all the writeDebug calls to change them into println calls off System.out.

Wrapping It Up
There are a number of challenges when it comes time to debug your Java extensions, but they don't need to be insurmountable. Using the built-in tools provided by Macromedia you stand a good chance of solving most any debugging problem.

Reusable Tools
When I created the Observable-PrintStream I knew it would be a useful tool. I've gotten considerable mileage out of it in more than just my work with ColdFusion. I've no doubt that this simple tool could be leveraged in ways that I have yet to foresee.

It seems I have an apology to make. There was an error in the source HelloQuery.java in Part 5. The for-loop on line 35 is incorrect and will cause the tag to fail at runtime with a Java IndexOutOf-BoundsException. That line should actually read:

for(nRowIndex = 1; nRowIndex <= nRowCount; nRowIndex++)

Notice that the loop index starts at 1. It seems that a Query is base 1, so it was necessary to adjust the starting position and the terminating condition for the code to function correctly. I've no excuse for this error in judgment. I can only throw myself at your mercy.

More Stories By Guy Rish

Guy Rish is a ColdFusion and .NET developer at Vente as well as President at Gestaltech. He is an active developer and writer for various languages and technologies, and has contributed work in books on ColdFusion MX, Flash MX, and Dreamweaver MX. He blogs at ccoj.coldfusionjournal.com.

Comments (0)

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.


@ThingsExpo Stories
"Space Monkey by Vivent Smart Home is a product that is a distributed cloud-based edge storage network. Vivent Smart Home, our parent company, is a smart home provider that places a lot of hard drives across homes in North America," explained JT Olds, Director of Engineering, and Brandon Crowfeather, Product Manager, at Vivint Smart Home, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Conference Guru has been named “Media Sponsor” of the 22nd International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. A valuable conference experience generates new contacts, sales leads, potential strategic partners and potential investors; helps gather competitive intelligence and even provides inspiration for new products and services. Conference Guru works with conference organizers to pass great deals to gre...
The Internet of Things will challenge the status quo of how IT and development organizations operate. Or will it? Certainly the fog layer of IoT requires special insights about data ontology, security and transactional integrity. But the developmental challenges are the same: People, Process and Platform. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Craig Sproule, CEO of Metavine, demonstrated how to move beyond today's coding paradigm and shared the must-have mindsets for removing complexity from the develop...
In his Opening Keynote at 21st Cloud Expo, John Considine, General Manager of IBM Cloud Infrastructure, led attendees through the exciting evolution of the cloud. He looked at this major disruption from the perspective of technology, business models, and what this means for enterprises of all sizes. John Considine is General Manager of Cloud Infrastructure Services at IBM. In that role he is responsible for leading IBM’s public cloud infrastructure including strategy, development, and offering m...
"Evatronix provides design services to companies that need to integrate the IoT technology in their products but they don't necessarily have the expertise, knowledge and design team to do so," explained Adam Morawiec, VP of Business Development at Evatronix, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
To get the most out of their data, successful companies are not focusing on queries and data lakes, they are actively integrating analytics into their operations with a data-first application development approach. Real-time adjustments to improve revenues, reduce costs, or mitigate risk rely on applications that minimize latency on a variety of data sources. In his session at @BigDataExpo, Jack Norris, Senior Vice President, Data and Applications at MapR Technologies, reviewed best practices to ...
Widespread fragmentation is stalling the growth of the IIoT and making it difficult for partners to work together. The number of software platforms, apps, hardware and connectivity standards is creating paralysis among businesses that are afraid of being locked into a solution. EdgeX Foundry is unifying the community around a common IoT edge framework and an ecosystem of interoperable components.
Large industrial manufacturing organizations are adopting the agile principles of cloud software companies. The industrial manufacturing development process has not scaled over time. Now that design CAD teams are geographically distributed, centralizing their work is key. With large multi-gigabyte projects, outdated tools have stifled industrial team agility, time-to-market milestones, and impacted P&L stakeholders.
"Akvelon is a software development company and we also provide consultancy services to folks who are looking to scale or accelerate their engineering roadmaps," explained Jeremiah Mothersell, Marketing Manager at Akvelon, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
"IBM is really all in on blockchain. We take a look at sort of the history of blockchain ledger technologies. It started out with bitcoin, Ethereum, and IBM evaluated these particular blockchain technologies and found they were anonymous and permissionless and that many companies were looking for permissioned blockchain," stated René Bostic, Technical VP of the IBM Cloud Unit in North America, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Conventi...
In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Carl J. Levine, Senior Technical Evangelist for NS1, will objectively discuss how DNS is used to solve Digital Transformation challenges in large SaaS applications, CDNs, AdTech platforms, and other demanding use cases. Carl J. Levine is the Senior Technical Evangelist for NS1. A veteran of the Internet Infrastructure space, he has over a decade of experience with startups, networking protocols and Internet infrastructure, combined with the unique ability to it...
22nd International Cloud Expo, taking place June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and co-located with the 1st DXWorld Expo will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud ...
"Cloud Academy is an enterprise training platform for the cloud, specifically public clouds. We offer guided learning experiences on AWS, Azure, Google Cloud and all the surrounding methodologies and technologies that you need to know and your teams need to know in order to leverage the full benefits of the cloud," explained Alex Brower, VP of Marketing at Cloud Academy, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clar...
Gemini is Yahoo’s native and search advertising platform. To ensure the quality of a complex distributed system that spans multiple products and components and across various desktop websites and mobile app and web experiences – both Yahoo owned and operated and third-party syndication (supply), with complex interaction with more than a billion users and numerous advertisers globally (demand) – it becomes imperative to automate a set of end-to-end tests 24x7 to detect bugs and regression. In th...
"MobiDev is a software development company and we do complex, custom software development for everybody from entrepreneurs to large enterprises," explained Alan Winters, U.S. Head of Business Development at MobiDev, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Coca-Cola’s Google powered digital signage system lays the groundwork for a more valuable connection between Coke and its customers. Digital signs pair software with high-resolution displays so that a message can be changed instantly based on what the operator wants to communicate or sell. In their Day 3 Keynote at 21st Cloud Expo, Greg Chambers, Global Group Director, Digital Innovation, Coca-Cola, and Vidya Nagarajan, a Senior Product Manager at Google, discussed how from store operations and ...
"There's plenty of bandwidth out there but it's never in the right place. So what Cedexis does is uses data to work out the best pathways to get data from the origin to the person who wants to get it," explained Simon Jones, Evangelist and Head of Marketing at Cedexis, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
SYS-CON Events announced today that CrowdReviews.com has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 22nd International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 5–7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. CrowdReviews.com is a transparent online platform for determining which products and services are the best based on the opinion of the crowd. The crowd consists of Internet users that have experienced products and services first-hand and have an interest in letting other potential buye...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Telecom Reseller has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 22nd International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. Telecom Reseller reports on Unified Communications, UCaaS, BPaaS for enterprise and SMBs. They report extensively on both customer premises based solutions such as IP-PBX as well as cloud based and hosted platforms.
It is of utmost importance for the future success of WebRTC to ensure that interoperability is operational between web browsers and any WebRTC-compliant client. To be guaranteed as operational and effective, interoperability must be tested extensively by establishing WebRTC data and media connections between different web browsers running on different devices and operating systems. In his session at WebRTC Summit at @ThingsExpo, Dr. Alex Gouaillard, CEO and Founder of CoSMo Software, presented ...