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

Improve Your Code Readability With Fusedoc

Improve Your Code Readability With Fusedoc

I'm writing this prior to the turn of the new year, so I trust that somehow civilization bungled through and that you're not reading this by the light of your last candle, alert to the strange sounds outside your door that are growing ever nearer.

With the new year we're introducing a monthly column dedicated to all things Fusebox. First, I want to thank all of you who attended the Fusebox session at the ColdFusion Developer's Conference in Boston. Over 300 people attended the session ­ and some were turned away for lack of room. While I'd like to attribute that to my galvanic oratorial skills, I suspect that it had more to do with how important the quest is for a methodology that works well with ColdFusion.

Why do we need a methodology? Let me reiterate a little of my presentation at the conference and draw an analogy between the state of programming today and that of rifle making 200 years ago. An odd pairing? Well, consider the similarities:

  • Skilled craftspeople are needed to create the product.
  • Each product is the unique work of its creator.
  • There's a shortage of skilled workers.
  • The quality of finished goods varies widely.
  • Maintenance of our products requires the user to go back to the creator or to employ the skills of a highly paid master craftsperson.
  • There's no ability to interchange parts from one product to another.
  • Division of labor is very limited.
  • The efficiencies of scale are few: making 10 products takes 10 times as long as making one.

    Into this highly inefficient situation stepped an American genius: Eli Whitney. Whitney had already achieved great fame (but not wealth) with his cotton gin. Assessing the situation, Whitney decided that he was just the one to solve the "rifle crisis" and proposed to the new national government that he be awarded a contract to produce 10,000 rifles at a cost of just over $13 each.

    The idea was preposterous ­ but Whitney had already proved his ability to effect miracles. Thus the largest single financial transaction in the young nation's history was agreed upon. Whitney's plan for meeting the contract was to standardize parts so they could be reused among different rifles. The rest, of course, is history. (Perhaps, however, Whitney should be the patron saint of programmers, as he delivered late on the contract.)

    Today we face a "software crisis." According to one magazine, two thirds of corporate software projects are never deployed or are declared failures. I think you'll agree those numbers are stunning. But what else could we expect with the situation outlined above?

    In other issues of CFDJ I've argued that one of the great reasons for Allaire's huge success with ColdFusion is the degree to which it masks complexity from developers, letting them get code out of the programming shop and into use. What we've lacked is a methodology that would direct our programming efforts to produce maintainable, reusable code. I believe that Fusebox goes farther along that path toward radical simplicity in our development efforts.

    If we're to get beyond the practice of "one-off" software, in which each bit of code is written one piece at a time, we need to agree on certain standards. We need to document our code with the understanding that it will be fitted into other applications and maintained by different coders many times during its life. And, as we've just recently seen with the Y2K issue, there's no telling just how long that life may be.

    This is nothing new, of course; we know documentation is good practice. Why, then, is it so rare? Perhaps we feel something like Mark Twain did when he was asked by a reporter whether there was anything he feared. Twain mulled the question over before drawling, "A blank piece of paper." It's intimidating to think we have to engage in writing a novella with every code file. What exactly should we put in it? What format should it have?

    You may already have a standard for documentation. If not, I suggest one for you to evaluate. I call this Fusedoc ­ an appropriate name as the idea was borrowed from its cousin, Java, with its Javadoc specification. Fusedoc was written to work with Fusebox, but it can be used with any code files. It's usually the first step I take when helping a new company implement Fusebox as it's easy to adopt and provides immediate benefits.

    The Fusedoc format I took out of one of my fuses is given in Listing 1. One of these goes at the top of every code file.

    Here's how to read the Fusedoc:

    <!-- actValidateUser.cfm -->

    The name of the fuse is set in an HTML comment, so if we do a "View Source" from within a browser, we can immediately tell what files are in play.

    <!--- || I make sure that the username and password given to me are valid entries in the USERS table. If they are, I will return to...

    This is the "Responsibilities" section of the Fusedoc. I write this in the first person (as if the fuse were speaking) and try to provide enough information for another person to tell immediately what's happening with the fuse. My goal is to provide enough for a CF coder, armed with a copy of the data schema, to write this fuse without any knowledge of the application in which it'll be used. The double pipe symbols (||) will be used by our "magic box" to extract individual pieces of the Fusedoc.

    || [email protected]

    You may want to keep historical information here about revisions, testing, etc.

    ||
    --> userName: a STRING
    --> password: a STRING
    --> RFA.successfulValidation: a valid FUSEACTION
    --> RFA.failedValidation: a valid FUSEACTION
    <-- [badlogin]: "yes"> <->
    ++> dsn: an APPLICATION variable ODBC datasource
    +++

    These are the various arguments being passed into and out of the fuse. There is a key to the meaning of the prefixes:

    --> an incoming parameter: the text following the prefix provides more information about the parameter
    --> [square brackets indicate that this incoming variable is optional]
    <-- an outgoing parameter
    <-- [same explanation as the square brackets above] <->

    a parameter that will be received by and sent from the fuse without being changed
    ++> a global variable not explicitly passed into the fuse, such as server, application and session variables
    +++ any file that is required by this fuse. This may include files, fusefunctions, etc.

    || FUSEDOC--->

    This just ends the Fusedoc section.

    I've found this system to be very workable; once used to it, programmers find it very helpful as it concisely communicates a good deal of information. Even pointy-haired managers and customers can look at the code and have a sense of what's going on.

    We can make it even more useful if we process this code through our "magic box" ­ a code file (fuseDocumentor.cfm) that parses the individual elements of the Fusedocs and outputs them on the screen. Fuse Documentor was written to be called as a custom tag. For parameters, it takesŠwell, let's just run the Fuse Documentor through itself to find out more about it (see Figure 1).

    If you want to see particulars on every file in a directory, you can write a little code that will loop through the directory and send each file to Fuse Documentor (see Listing 2). This will let you see very quickly what's going on in an entire code repository.

    Fusedoc is a small, lightweight system for seeing the structure of code. I've found it to be helpful in writing maintainable, reusable code. I hope you find it similarly helpful.

    You can download the Fuse Documentor file as well as a CF Studio template at www.TeamAllaire.com.

  • More Stories By Hal Helms

    Hal Helms is a well-known speaker/writer/strategist on software development issues. He holds training sessions on Java, ColdFusion, and software development processes. He authors a popular monthly newsletter series. For more information, contact him at hal (at) halhelms.com or see his website, www.halhelms.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
    Connected devices and the industrial internet are growing exponentially every year with Cisco expecting 50 billion devices to be in operation by 2020. In this period of growth, location-based insights are becoming invaluable to many businesses as they adopt new connected technologies. Knowing when and where these devices connect from is critical for a number of scenarios in supply chain management, disaster management, emergency response, M2M, location marketing and more. In his session at @Th...
    "Dice has been around for the last 20 years. We have been helping tech professionals find new jobs and career opportunities," explained Manish Dixit, VP of Product and Engineering at Dice, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 19th Cloud Expo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
    What happens when the different parts of a vehicle become smarter than the vehicle itself? As we move toward the era of smart everything, hundreds of entities in a vehicle that communicate with each other, the vehicle and external systems create a need for identity orchestration so that all entities work as a conglomerate. Much like an orchestra without a conductor, without the ability to secure, control, and connect the link between a vehicle’s head unit, devices, and systems and to manage the ...
    "We're a cybersecurity firm that specializes in engineering security solutions both at the software and hardware level. Security cannot be an after-the-fact afterthought, which is what it's become," stated Richard Blech, Chief Executive Officer at Secure Channels, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
    In addition to all the benefits, IoT is also bringing new kind of customer experience challenges - cars that unlock themselves, thermostats turning houses into saunas and baby video monitors broadcasting over the internet. This list can only increase because while IoT services should be intuitive and simple to use, the delivery ecosystem is a myriad of potential problems as IoT explodes complexity. So finding a performance issue is like finding the proverbial needle in the haystack.
    In his keynote at 18th Cloud Expo, Andrew Keys, Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise, provided an overview of the evolution of the Internet and the Database and the future of their combination – the Blockchain. Andrew Keys is Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise. He comes to ConsenSys Enterprise with capital markets, technology and entrepreneurial experience. Previously, he worked for UBS investment bank in equities analysis. Later, he was responsible for the creation and distribution of life sett...
    The WebRTC Summit New York, to be held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, announces that its Call for Papers is now 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 20th International Cloud Expo and @ThingsExpo. WebRTC is the future of browser-to-browser communications, and continues to make inroads into the traditional, difficult, plug-in web ...
    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.
    Internet-of-Things discussions can end up either going down the consumer gadget rabbit hole or focused on the sort of data logging that industrial manufacturers have been doing forever. However, in fact, companies today are already using IoT data both to optimize their operational technology and to improve the experience of customer interactions in novel ways. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Gordon Haff, Red Hat Technology Evangelist, will share examples from a wide range of industries – includin...
    WebRTC is the future of browser-to-browser communications, and continues to make inroads into the traditional, difficult, plug-in web communications world. The 6th WebRTC Summit continues our tradition of delivering the latest and greatest presentations within the world of WebRTC. Topics include voice calling, video chat, P2P file sharing, and use cases that have already leveraged the power and convenience of WebRTC.
    "We build IoT infrastructure products - when you have to integrate different devices, different systems and cloud you have to build an application to do that but we eliminate the need to build an application. Our products can integrate any device, any system, any cloud regardless of protocol," explained Peter Jung, Chief Product Officer at Pulzze Systems, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
    Data is the fuel that drives the machine learning algorithmic engines and ultimately provides the business value. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Ed Featherston, director/senior enterprise architect at Collaborative Consulting, will discuss the key considerations around quality, volume, timeliness, and pedigree that must be dealt with in order to properly fuel that engine.
    "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.
    IoT is rapidly changing the way enterprises are using data to improve business decision-making. In order to derive business value, organizations must unlock insights from the data gathered and then act on these. In their session at @ThingsExpo, Eric Hoffman, Vice President at EastBanc Technologies, and Peter Shashkin, Head of Development Department at EastBanc Technologies, discussed how one organization leveraged IoT, cloud technology and data analysis to improve customer experiences and effici...
    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...
    "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.
    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...
    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...
    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.