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
"Once customers get a year into their IoT deployments, they start to realize that they may have been shortsighted in the ways they built out their deployment and the key thing I see a lot of people looking at is - how can I take equipment data, pull it back in an IoT solution and show it in a dashboard," stated Dave McCarthy, Director of Products at Bsquare Corporation, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
The cloud promises new levels of agility and cost-savings for Big Data, data warehousing and analytics. But it’s challenging to understand all the options – from IaaS and PaaS to newer services like HaaS (Hadoop as a Service) and BDaaS (Big Data as a Service). In her session at @BigDataExpo at @ThingsExpo, Hannah Smalltree, a director at Cazena, provided an educational overview of emerging “as-a-service” options for Big Data in the cloud. This is critical background for IT and data professionals...
Fact is, enterprises have significant legacy voice infrastructure that’s costly to replace with pure IP solutions. How can we bring this analog infrastructure into our shiny new cloud applications? There are proven methods to bind both legacy voice applications and traditional PSTN audio into cloud-based applications and services at a carrier scale. Some of the most successful implementations leverage WebRTC, WebSockets, SIP and other open source technologies. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Da...
As data explodes in quantity, importance and from new sources, the need for managing and protecting data residing across physical, virtual, and cloud environments grow with it. Managing data includes protecting it, indexing and classifying it for true, long-term management, compliance and E-Discovery. Commvault can ensure this with a single pane of glass solution – whether in a private cloud, a Service Provider delivered public cloud or a hybrid cloud environment – across the heterogeneous enter...
"IoT is going to be a huge industry with a lot of value for end users, for industries, for consumers, for manufacturers. How can we use cloud to effectively manage IoT applications," stated Ian Khan, Innovation & Marketing Manager at Solgeniakhela, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held November 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Today we can collect lots and lots of performance data. We build beautiful dashboards and even have fancy query languages to access and transform the data. Still performance data is a secret language only a couple of people understand. The more business becomes digital the more stakeholders are interested in this data including how it relates to business. Some of these people have never used a monitoring tool before. They have a question on their mind like “How is my application doing” but no id...
@GonzalezCarmen has been ranked the Number One Influencer and @ThingsExpo has been named the Number One Brand in the “M2M 2016: Top 100 Influencers and Brands” by Onalytica. Onalytica analyzed tweets over the last 6 months mentioning the keywords M2M OR “Machine to Machine.” They then identified the top 100 most influential brands and individuals leading the discussion on Twitter.
Information technology is an industry that has always experienced change, and the dramatic change sweeping across the industry today could not be truthfully described as the first time we've seen such widespread change impacting customer investments. However, the rate of the change, and the potential outcomes from today's digital transformation has the distinct potential to separate the industry into two camps: Organizations that see the change coming, embrace it, and successful leverage it; and...
The Internet of Things (IoT) promises to simplify and streamline our lives by automating routine tasks that distract us from our goals. This promise is based on the ubiquitous deployment of smart, connected devices that link everything from industrial control systems to automobiles to refrigerators. Unfortunately, comparatively few of the devices currently deployed have been developed with an eye toward security, and as the DDoS attacks of late October 2016 have demonstrated, this oversight can ...
Extracting business value from Internet of Things (IoT) data doesn’t happen overnight. There are several requirements that must be satisfied, including IoT device enablement, data analysis, real-time detection of complex events and automated orchestration of actions. Unfortunately, too many companies fall short in achieving their business goals by implementing incomplete solutions or not focusing on tangible use cases. In his general session at @ThingsExpo, Dave McCarthy, Director of Products...
Machine Learning helps make complex systems more efficient. By applying advanced Machine Learning techniques such as Cognitive Fingerprinting, wind project operators can utilize these tools to learn from collected data, detect regular patterns, and optimize their own operations. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Stuart Gillen, Director of Business Development at SparkCognition, discussed how research has demonstrated the value of Machine Learning in delivering next generation analytics to impr...
More and more brands have jumped on the IoT bandwagon. We have an excess of wearables – activity trackers, smartwatches, smart glasses and sneakers, and more that track seemingly endless datapoints. However, most consumers have no idea what “IoT” means. Creating more wearables that track data shouldn't be the aim of brands; delivering meaningful, tangible relevance to their users should be. We're in a period in which the IoT pendulum is still swinging. Initially, it swung toward "smart for smar...
20th Cloud Expo, taking place June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, 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 strategy.
Businesses and business units of all sizes can benefit from cloud computing, but many don't want the cost, performance and security concerns of public cloud nor the complexity of building their own private clouds. Today, some cloud vendors are using artificial intelligence (AI) to simplify cloud deployment and management. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Ajay Gulati, Co-founder and CEO of ZeroStack, will discuss how AI can simplify cloud operations. He will cover the following topics: why clou...
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place June 6-8, 2017 at the Javits Center in New York City, New York, is co-located with the 20th International Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. @ThingsExpo New York Call for Papers is now open.
"ReadyTalk is an audio and web video conferencing provider. We've really come to embrace WebRTC as the platform for our future of technology," explained Dan Cunningham, CTO of ReadyTalk, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at WebRTC Summit at 19th Cloud Expo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Successful digital transformation requires new organizational competencies and capabilities. Research tells us that the biggest impediment to successful transformation is human; consequently, the biggest enabler is a properly skilled and empowered workforce. In the digital age, new individual and collective competencies are required. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Bob Newhouse, CEO and founder of Agilitiv, drew together recent research and lessons learned from emerging and established compa...
Data is the fuel that drives the machine learning algorithmic engines and ultimately provides the business value. In his session at Cloud Expo, Ed Featherston, a director and senior enterprise architect at Collaborative Consulting, discussed the key considerations around quality, volume, timeliness, and pedigree that must be dealt with in order to properly fuel that engine.
Everyone knows that truly innovative companies learn as they go along, pushing boundaries in response to market changes and demands. What's more of a mystery is how to balance innovation on a fresh platform built from scratch with the legacy tech stack, product suite and customers that continue to serve as the business' foundation. In his General Session at 19th Cloud Expo, Michael Chambliss, Head of Engineering at ReadyTalk, discussed why and how ReadyTalk diverted from healthy revenue and mor...
We are always online. We access our data, our finances, work, and various services on the Internet. But we live in a congested world of information in which the roads were built two decades ago. The quest for better, faster Internet routing has been around for a decade, but nobody solved this problem. We’ve seen band-aid approaches like CDNs that attack a niche's slice of static content part of the Internet, but that’s it. It does not address the dynamic services-based Internet of today. It does...