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

Using Syndicated Content in Spectra

Using Syndicated Content in Spectra

Managing and displaying content stored in the Spectra object store will be a major feature of any Spectra project. Content will come from a variety of places: self-service applications, system-generated messages and objects, and externally provided articles and data from a variety of content providers. The latter is called "syndicated content." This article demonstrates how one might automate the insertion of syndicated content from an outside news service.

Getting Started
There are two methods of getting syndicated content in Allaire Spectra: the hard way...and the easy way. The easy way is to transfer content over HTTP from one Spectra machine to another using the Syndication features of the COAPI (Content Object API) (see Figure 1, Scenario 3). This content syndication process gets a terrific write-up in chapter 14, "Syndication and Remote Access," of the Programming with Allaire Spectra manual.

Alternatively, content vendors wouldn't need their own Spectra servers, but would simply package the data in an XML format, WDDX, that Spectra understands (Figure 1, Scenario 2). Allaire will soon begin to promote WDDX, as implemented by the COAPI, for this purpose. Spectra users and content providers can also use XSL transformation engines to normalize XML data before or after syndication. Allaire may soon bundle Granularity Information Architecture's GIAXT XSL transformation engine (www.granularity.com) to provide such translation services.

In the meantime we'll need to process newsfeeds ourselves and programmatically funnel them into the object store through the COAPI (Figure 1, Scenario 1). It's not elegant, but it's easy to implement and works quite well.p> If you want real-time news from a variety of sources and you want it fast, one of the best places to start is Screaming Media (www.screamingmedia.net). Screaming Media is a nice solution because they aggregate content from hundreds of traditional and nontraditional sources, provide data in a consistent format, allow you to pay only for what you use and don't require impression-based royalties. For $2,500 up-front and $500/month (and up), Screaming Media will send piping-hot, filtered news to a proprietary Java component, Siteware, that sits on your server. Reuters, Wavo and iSyndicate provide a similar service and each has its own proprietary or third-party syndication components.

Installing the Siteware component first requires installing the Java 1.1.8 Run-time Environment (JRE) from http://java.sun.com. You then unzip some files and add a "siteware.bat" shortcut (on NT) to the start-up (C:\WINNT\Profiles\All Users\Start Menu\Programs\Startup) directory. This file includes the JDBC:OBDC driver that Siteware uses to communicate with MS SQL Server. Make sure you install this in the default directory.

When you order news from Screaming Media, you specify filters describing the type of news you want, industry segments, keywords and so forth. Each filter becomes a feed that has its own configuration files specifying field delimiter characters, escape character policies, headers and footers. Siteware "wakes up" every 15 minutes and pulls your feeds off the Screaming Media servers. It then processes the feeds in one of four ways as Hclient, DBClient, fClient or pClient.

If you're running MS SQL server or have access to a JDBC driver for your favorite database, using the DBClient database insertion method is a no-brainer (tell Screaming Media this is how you want Siteware set up). The Hclient method is quite interesting since it will write content into templates using variable substitution. Once we build our Screaming Media News object type, we could create a sample object and use it as a prototype template for use with this method. Since databases are more flexible than flat files, I've chosen to use DBClient for my own installation. fClient and pClient can also write out delimited text files but you need to parse them and process them yourself - no fun.

To store Screaming Media content temporarily, you'll need to create a table in your SQL database with the columns listed in Table 1.

I've set up a DSN in the ODBC administrator called "SyndicatedContent" that points to my "SyndicatedContent" database and defaults to the "ScreamingContent" table.

If you're getting sports scores from Screaming Media, you'll need to add additional fields to your ScreamingContent table or create a new table ("ScreamingSportsContent," perhaps!). For more information on sports scores, contact Screaming Media directly.

Screaming Media's technical staff will edit Siteware's configuration files to match the DSN and table names you've created. Extract the *.zip file they send you and run siteware.bat (located in the IMDSJServer/bin directory) from the command prompt. When you see two "SUCCESS" prompts and a blinking cursor beneath, Siteware has initialized successfully and has begun dumping content into your database. Look into your database table and you'll see the stories that meet your filter criteria.

The next step is moving the content from the syndication table into Spectra. The first thing we need to do is create a ScreamingNews object type that defines how the data will be stored in the Spectra database. This requires some "data modeling" in the Webtop. After logging in under the admin account, go to System Design > Site Object Designer > Property Definitions and create the properties in Table 2.

I've added the bCleaned property to those in the database as a flag to denote whether the default text has been reviewed to clean up any formatting inconsistencies from the feed. I also added properties that allow me to bind photographs to ScreamingNews objects. You can license photos from several places on the Internet including Reuters and the Associated Press. Spectra ships with a "core" system object type IMAGE (70E7DFB6-A67E-11D2-B3AC00C04FA35A23) that you can define as an embedded property in any object type. We'll embed an IMAGE property into the news article as well as provide a vertical alignment control variable and useimage flag.

Once the properties are created, you can actually create the object type itself (you must follow this sequence). Go to the Type Designer, create a new object type called "ScreamingNews" and map in the property definitions as indicated. Then add the method handlers given in Table 3.

Note that we didn't include "create", "edit" and "delete" methods as they are implicit and use the default handlers. If you write any of them yourself, write the edit handler - the default is quite ugly. There's no special "create" or "delete" functionality required, so there's no need to declare these methods and write your own handlers. Beware of the embedded image object - implementing embedded objects in handlers is an "advanced" skill.

This is public news, so there aren't any permissions on this object type. Applying permissions in Spectra slow down the application considerably - less so for object types than for objects themselves. Caching permissions in the CF administrator is virtually essential.

The last step in getting the data into the object store is to build the handler, syndicate_import.cfm, that manages the process (see Listing 1). This handler is nothing more than a simple query against your syndicated content database, and a loop that copies the data into the Spectra object store and then updates the foreign key in the syndicated content database. It then calls a cleanup routine to mark articles older than 30 days as "inactive" and "archived" since it's illegal for you to keep them around. Note that we've created but not coded syndicate_push and syndicate_pull. These method handlers are used at a later time to manage syndication directly between Spectra servers in the organization or with partners (you'll need to discuss licensing with Screaming Media, of course).

You can test the handler in Listing 1 by calling it from a dummy page with the following code:

<cfa_contentobject
datasource="#request.cfa.objectstore.dsn#"
objectid="Put a test object ID in here"
method="syndicate_import"
bsecure="No"
babortonunauthorizedaccess="No"
blogging="No"
busecache="No"
>

The syndication stream invoker (which we'll call next) doesn't care that syndicate_import doesn't require an ObjectID; however, CFA_ContentObject does care so we need to provide a dummy ObjectID in our testing code.

Once you see that this handler is working properly, you need to set up a schedule in Webtop to call it every few minutes. In System Design > Programming Objects > Syndication Streams you can easily add an event to run the syndicate_import method every 15 minutes or at whatever polling interval you've established in Siteware (see Figure 2).

While Screaming Media does channel its content providers' various feed formats into the fields listed above, providers format their stories differently so it's strongly suggested that you edit each article within Spectra prior to posting it on your site. You can see the results of your hard work in the Webtop object finder (see Figure 3).

Sample handler code and the content object types I created above are available in their entirety on the CFDJ Web site and may be installed all at once using the Spectra object type package install function. You'll also want to check the Allaire Tag Gallery and/or the Screaming Media Web site for the latest code as Screaming Media, along with other content providers, has become increasingly interested in the Spectra platform as a turnkey content subscriber and publishing solution.

Conclusion and Next Steps
In this article I've described some of the "heavy lifting" you'll need to perform to get syndicated content into your Spectra object store. Since object type definitions and properly coded handlers are reusable, you won't need to start from scratch; use and modify the source code provided here at your discretion.

It won't be long before syndicated content providers are cognizant of the huge installed base of Spectra servers. When that occurs, they may give you the ability to pull content directly into your Spectra servers by providing it over HTTP in the appropriate format. When this happens, you'll download and install an object type definition file from the content provider and set up a syndication stream handler that polls their database every so often for your content. Alternatively, they could push content directly to Spectra through the remote method invoker interface after you provide them with the appropriate username and password, your IP address and any other default values you care about (e.g., don't publish this article until I see it first!). In these scenarios you may use a syndicate_pull or syndicate_push method handler rather than the kludgy but functional syndicate_import routine provided here.

As a premium service, content providers may also map their metadata keywords to ones you provide, actually marking up the content with metadata before sending it over. They might even write Spectra news-viewer applications that use the content object types they provide. What better way to get you started with their content fast!

Syndicating graphics is going to be a bit more difficult, but easier with ColdFusion 4.5's new facilities for Base 64 encoding. For now, write or use default handlers that bind your downloaded graphics separately to articles you've syndicated and are ready to publish.

In the next article we'll explore how the Spectra syndication API allows transparent syndication of content and applications between Spectra servers.

More Stories By Anthony Krinsky

Anthony Krinsky is an intranet and extranet
application developer with Interactive Documents (www.interactivedocuments.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
DX World EXPO, LLC, a Lighthouse Point, Florida-based startup trade show producer and the creator of "DXWorldEXPO® - Digital Transformation Conference & Expo" has announced its executive management team. The team is headed by Levent Selamoglu, who has been named CEO. "Now is the time for a truly global DX event, to bring together the leading minds from the technology world in a conversation about Digital Transformation," he said in making the announcement.
"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.