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 Fusebox How-To

A Fusebox How-To

I recently received an inquiry from a developer about my Guru-on-Call service (www.TeamAllaire.com/hal). He requested help in identifying the fuses he would need for his application.

After reading my first two Fusebox articles in last year's CFDJ (Vol. 1, issues 3 and 4), he wrote, "I understand what you are explaining but implementing it is a little harder than I thought."

I wonder if others may be having this same problem - understanding the theory but a little hung up on the details. In this article I'm going to walk through developing a Fusebox application so you can see the theory put into reality. I'm assuming you've already read enough about the Fusebox methodology to understand how it works. If you need a refresher on this, check out the back issues of CFDJ online for the two articles I wrote with Steve Nelson and Gabe Roffman, or see the sidebar for a quick recap of Fusebox rules.

I find the hardest part of a large Web application is not the actual coding - thanks to Fusebox - but determining what the actual job requirements are. I'm not alone in this; it's a common complaint of developers. Over the years I've tried, in a variety of ways, to nail down customers so they wouldn't keep changing their minds. One day it occurred to me that the reason customers wouldn't stop making changes is because they couldn't. They couldn't tell me the "requirements" until they saw them reflected in the application.

If this is true, it's my job to make sure the users can see the application - and prod, poke and punch it - until they're sure that what they see is what they want. Only then do I begin the actual coding. I place great emphasis on a simulated application that looks like the real thing to the users. When they click buttons, things happen. Links are live. Forms accept inputs. And while it looks like a real application, it's a completely different matter under the hood. There's no database hooked up to the application. There are no persistent variables, perhaps no variables at all. Any use of code (CFML or otherwise) is there only to present a convincing simulation. We haven't begun coding yet; we're doing this because experience has shown that it's the only way to find out what kind of application we should build.

This methodology takes some of the stress off skilled programmers. In practice I find that over half the work required in developing an application can be done without involving programmers - a welcome discovery as they're hard to find. This prototype is handled by people skilled in interface design and graphical arts who create essentially static Web pages that mimic their real counterparts.

It's during this process that questions, comments and concerns surface. I needed a way to capture and contain this information in a central location where all those involved in the development of the application could communicate and contribute. Over time we've developed a method that effectively lets us define and refine what the application should be, do and look like.

This method relies on some ColdFusion code running alongside the designer's prototype work. Since designers typically aren't coders, we ask only that they save the Web files with a .cfm extension and append the following code onto each of these pages:

<cfinclude template="devnotes/index.cfm"> At runtime this code calls a small Fusebox application at the bottom of the page that produces something similar to Figure 1.

This allows us to preserve the history of the development of the application while providing a map for its continued evolution. I'm going to show you how I approached building this Fusebox-based mini-app, which I hope will make the process of creating a Fusebox application clearer than a mere reading of the rules.

I start off application development - even of small apps - by creating "use cases" to identify requirements for the application. These are natural language statements that require no technical background and are ideal for communicating between client and developer. At this point, use cases form the basis of our understanding of what the application should do. A sample use case might look like this:

"User should be able to log onto the system and be validated as either a user or administrator."

While use cases are wonderful for determining requirements for the application and for communicating with clients, they're too general to be of much use to developers. For this I rely on the skill of interface designers who understand how to translate the client's requirements into actual pages that show how they'll do it. This is the prototype I spoke of above. It's an iterative process; at each step we hopefully come closer to finding exactly what the client needs. Once all participants have agreed that the application is fully defined, we arrive at a prototype freeze. Now it's my job to match the use cases (as interpreted in the prototype) with one or more fuseactions.

Fuseactions, remember, define what the application is actively involved in; at any point there's only one fuseaction operating. A fuseaction is a request for action that's sent only to the fusebox (usually named index.cfm). It's fundamental to Fusebox that all requests for action go through the fusebox, not to individual fuses. Without this we're on a slippery slope where one fuse calls another and that fuse calls yet another until we end up with a tangled mess of intricate dependencies between fuses, defeating our goals of readability and reusability.

Once the request for action (the fuseaction) is sent to the fusebox, the fusebox calls on fuses to carry out the action. So the development process goes like this: use case ...> prototype ...> fuseaction(s) ...> fuse(s). By creating a table that shows the associations between use cases, fuses and fuseactions, I can see how complete my application architecture is. Table 1 is the table for this application.

As Dennis Miller says, "I don't want to get off on a rant here...," but let me say a word about naming fuses. The Fusebox.org site suggests naming prefixes for fuses based on the fuse's job: dsp_fusename for display-type fuses and so forth. I've heard heated debate over the "correct" naming scheme and I think this misses the key point - Fusebox is a development methodology, not a naming convention. My position is, if you find the naming scheme to be helpful, by all means use it. If you have another naming scheme - possibly already a standard within your company - then use that. The power of Fusebox doesn't depend on how a fuse is named, but on its clarity, conciseness and precision.

This method relies on some ColdFusion code running alongside the designer's prototype work. Since designers typically aren't coders, we ask only that they save the Web files with a .cfm extension and append the following code onto each of these pages:

<cfinclude template="devnotes/index.cfm">

At runtime this code calls a small Fusebox application at the bottom of the page that produces something similar to Figure 1.

This allows us to preserve the history of the development of the application while providing a map for its continued evolution. I'm going to show you how I approached building this Fusebox-based mini-app, which I hope will make the process of creating a Fusebox application clearer than a mere reading of the rules.

I start off application development - even of small apps - by creating "use cases" to identify requirements for the application. These are natural language statements that require no technical background and are ideal for communicating between client and developer. At this point, use cases form the basis of our understanding of what the application should do. A sample use case might look like this:

"User should be able to log onto the system and be validated as either a user or administrator."

While use cases are wonderful for determining requirements for the application and for communicating with clients, they're too general to be of much use to developers. For this I rely on the skill of interface designers who understand how to translate the client's requirements into actual pages that show how they'll do it. This is the prototype I spoke of above. It's an iterative process; at each step we hopefully come closer to finding exactly what the client needs. Once all participants have agreed that the application is fully defined, we arrive at a prototype freeze. Now it's my job to match the use cases (as interpreted in the prototype) with one or more fuseactions.

Fuseactions, remember, define what the application is actively involved in; at any point there's only one fuseaction operating. A fuseaction is a request for action that's sent only to the fusebox (usually named index.cfm). It's fundamental to Fusebox that all requests for action go through the fusebox, not to individual fuses. Without this we're on a slippery slope where one fuse calls another and that fuse calls yet another until we end up with a tangled mess of intricate dependencies between fuses, defeating our goals of readability and reusability.

Once the request for action (the fuseaction) is sent to the fusebox, the fusebox calls on fuses to carry out the action. So the development process goes like this: use case ...> prototype ...> fuseaction(s) ...> fuse(s). By creating a table that shows the associations between use cases, fuses and fuseactions, I can see how complete my application architecture is. Table 1 is the table for this application.

As Dennis Miller says, "I don't want to get off on a rant here...," but let me say a word about naming fuses. The Fusebox.org site suggests naming prefixes for fuses based on the fuse's job: dsp_fusename for display-type fuses and so forth. I've heard heated debate over the "correct" naming scheme and I think this misses the key point - Fusebox is a development methodology, not a naming convention. My position is, if you find the naming scheme to be helpful, by all means use it. If you have another naming scheme - possibly already a standard within your company - then use that. The power of Fusebox doesn't depend on how a fuse is named, but on its clarity, conciseness and precision.

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
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.
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 imp...
Whether your IoT service is connecting cars, homes, appliances, wearable, cameras or other devices, one question hangs in the balance – how do you actually make money from this service? The ability to turn your IoT service into profit requires the ability to create a monetization strategy that is flexible, scalable and working for you in real-time. It must be a transparent, smoothly implemented strategy that all stakeholders – from customers to the board – will be able to understand and comprehe...
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...
The cloud market growth today is largely in public clouds. While there is a lot of spend in IT departments in virtualization, these aren’t yet translating into a true “cloud” experience within the enterprise. What is stopping the growth of the “private cloud” market? In his general session at 18th Cloud Expo, Nara Rajagopalan, CEO of Accelerite, explored the challenges in deploying, managing, and getting adoption for a private cloud within an enterprise. What are the key differences between wh...
Ask someone to architect an Internet of Things (IoT) solution and you are guaranteed to see a reference to the cloud. This would lead you to believe that IoT requires the cloud to exist. However, there are many IoT use cases where the cloud is not feasible or desirable. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Dave McCarthy, Director of Products at Bsquare Corporation, will discuss the strategies that exist to extend intelligence directly to IoT devices and sensors, freeing them from the constraints of ...
The IoT is changing the way enterprises conduct business. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Eric Hoffman, Vice President at EastBanc Technologies, discussed how businesses can gain an edge over competitors by empowering consumers to take control through IoT. He cited examples such as a Washington, D.C.-based sports club that leveraged IoT and the cloud to develop a comprehensive booking system. He also highlighted how IoT can revitalize and restore outdated business models, making them profitable ...
IoT offers a value of almost $4 trillion to the manufacturing industry through platforms that can improve margins, optimize operations & drive high performance work teams. By using IoT technologies as a foundation, manufacturing customers are integrating worker safety with manufacturing systems, driving deep collaboration and utilizing analytics to exponentially increased per-unit margins. However, as Benoit Lheureux, the VP for Research at Gartner points out, “IoT project implementers often ...
When people aren’t talking about VMs and containers, they’re talking about serverless architecture. Serverless is about no maintenance. It means you are not worried about low-level infrastructural and operational details. An event-driven serverless platform is a great use case for IoT. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Animesh Singh, an STSM and Lead for IBM Cloud Platform and Infrastructure, will detail how to build a distributed serverless, polyglot, microservices framework using open source tec...
The idea of comparing data in motion (at the sensor level) to data at rest (in a Big Data server warehouse) with predictive analytics in the cloud is very appealing to the industrial IoT sector. The problem Big Data vendors have, however, is access to that data in motion at the sensor location. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Scott Allen, CMO of FreeWave, discussed how as IoT is increasingly adopted by industrial markets, there is going to be an increased demand for sensor data from the outermos...
CenturyLink has announced that application server solutions from GENBAND are now available as part of CenturyLink’s Networx contracts. The General Services Administration (GSA)’s Networx program includes the largest telecommunications contract vehicles ever awarded by the federal government. CenturyLink recently secured an extension through spring 2020 of its offerings available to federal government agencies via GSA’s Networx Universal and Enterprise contracts. GENBAND’s EXPERiUS™ Application...
A strange thing is happening along the way to the Internet of Things, namely far too many devices to work with and manage. It has become clear that we'll need much higher efficiency user experiences that can allow us to more easily and scalably work with the thousands of devices that will soon be in each of our lives. Enter the conversational interface revolution, combining bots we can literally talk with, gesture to, and even direct with our thoughts, with embedded artificial intelligence, wh...
"delaPlex is a software development company. We do team-based outsourcing development," explained Mark Rivers, COO and Co-founder of delaPlex Software, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
"We work in the area of Big Data analytics and Big Data analytics is a very crowded space - you have Hadoop, ETL, warehousing, visualization and there's a lot of effort trying to get these tools to talk to each other," explained Mukund Deshpande, head of the Analytics practice at Accelerite, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
Cloud Expo, Inc. has announced today that Andi Mann returns to 'DevOps at Cloud Expo 2016' as Conference Chair The @DevOpsSummit at Cloud Expo will take place on November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. "DevOps is set to be one of the most profound disruptions to hit IT in decades," said Andi Mann. "It is a natural extension of cloud computing, and I have seen both firsthand and in independent research the fantastic results DevOps delivers. So I am excited t...
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 profession...
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...
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...
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 effi...
Basho Technologies has announced the latest release of Basho Riak TS, version 1.3. Riak TS is an enterprise-grade NoSQL database optimized for Internet of Things (IoT). The open source version enables developers to download the software for free and use it in production as well as make contributions to the code and develop applications around Riak TS. Enhancements to Riak TS make it quick, easy and cost-effective to spin up an instance to test new ideas and build IoT applications. In addition to...