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
Real IoT production deployments running at scale are collecting sensor data from hundreds / thousands / millions of devices. The goal is to take business-critical actions on the real-time data and find insights from stored datasets. In his session at @ThingsExpo, John Walicki, Watson IoT Developer Advocate at IBM Cloud, will provide a fast-paced developer journey that follows the IoT sensor data from generation, to edge gateway, to edge analytics, to encryption, to the IBM Bluemix cloud, to Wa...
What is the best strategy for selecting the right offshore company for your business? In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Alan Winters, U.S. Head of Business Development at MobiDev, will discuss the things to look for - positive and negative - in evaluating your options. He will also discuss how to maximize productivity with your offshore developers. Before you start your search, clearly understand your business needs and how that impacts software choices.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Massive Networks, that helps your business operate seamlessly with fast, reliable, and secure internet and network solutions, has been named "Exhibitor" of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo ®, which will take place on Oct 31 - Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. As a premier telecommunications provider, Massive Networks is headquartered out of Louisville, Colorado. With years of experience under their belt, their team of...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Fusic will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Fusic Co. provides mocks as virtual IoT devices. You can customize mocks, and get any amount of data at any time in your test. For more information, visit https://fusic.co.jp/english/.
SYS-CON Events announced today that MIRAI Inc. will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. MIRAI Inc. are IT consultants from the public sector whose mission is to solve social issues by technology and innovation and to create a meaningful future for people.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Enroute Lab will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Enroute Lab is an industrial design, research and development company of unmanned robotic vehicle system. For more information, please visit http://elab.co.jp/.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Mobile Create USA will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Mobile Create USA Inc. is an MVNO-based business model that uses portable communication devices and cellular-based infrastructure in the development, sales, operation and mobile communications systems incorporating GPS capabi...
There is huge complexity in implementing a successful digital business that requires efficient on-premise and cloud back-end infrastructure, IT and Internet of Things (IoT) data, analytics, Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Digital Applications. In the data center alone, there are physical and virtual infrastructures, multiple operating systems, multiple applications and new and emerging business and technological paradigms such as cloud computing and XaaS. And then there are pe...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Interface Corporation will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Interface Corporation is a company developing, manufacturing and marketing high quality and wide variety of industrial computers and interface modules such as PCIs and PCI express. For more information, visit http://www.i...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Keisoku Research Consultant Co. will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Keisoku Research Consultant, Co. offers research and consulting in a wide range of civil engineering-related fields from information construction to preservation of cultural properties. For more information, vi...
SYS-CON Events announced today that SIGMA Corporation will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. uLaser flow inspection device from the Japanese top share to Global Standard! Then, make the best use of data to flip to next page. For more information, visit http://www.sigma-k.co.jp/en/.
SYS-CON Events announced today that B2Cloud will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. B2Cloud specializes in IoT devices for preventive and predictive maintenance in any kind of equipment retrieving data like Energy consumption, working time, temperature, humidity, pressure, etc.
Agile has finally jumped the technology shark, expanding outside the software world. Enterprises are now increasingly adopting Agile practices across their organizations in order to successfully navigate the disruptive waters that threaten to drown them. In our quest for establishing change as a core competency in our organizations, this business-centric notion of Agile is an essential component of Agile Digital Transformation. In the years since the publication of the Agile Manifesto, the conn...
While some developers care passionately about how data centers and clouds are architected, for most, it is only the end result that matters. To the majority of companies, technology exists to solve a business problem, and only delivers value when it is solving that problem. 2017 brings the mainstream adoption of containers for production workloads. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Ben McCormack, VP of Operations at Evernote, will discuss how data centers of the future will be managed, how th...
SYS-CON Events announced today that NetApp has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. NetApp is the data authority for hybrid cloud. NetApp provides a full range of hybrid cloud data services that simplify management of applications and data across cloud and on-premises environments to accelerate digital transformation. Together with their partners, NetApp em...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Nihon Micron will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Nihon Micron Co., Ltd. strives for technological innovation to establish high-density, high-precision processing technology for providing printed circuit board and metal mount RFID tags used for communication devices. For more inf...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Suzuki Inc. will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Suzuki Inc. is a semiconductor-related business, including sales of consuming parts, parts repair, and maintenance for semiconductor manufacturing machines, etc. It is also a health care business providing experimental research for...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Ryobi Systems will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Ryobi Systems Co., Ltd., as an information service company, specialized in business support for local governments and medical industry. We are challenging to achive the precision farming with AI. For more information, visit http:...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Daiya Industry will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Daiya Industry specializes in orthotic support systems and assistive devices with pneumatic artificial muscles in order to contribute to an extended healthy life expectancy. For more information, please visit https://www.daiyak...
In his session at @ThingsExpo, Greg Gorman is the Director, IoT Developer Ecosystem, Watson IoT, will provide a short tutorial on Node-RED, a Node.js-based programming tool for wiring together hardware devices, APIs and online services in new and interesting ways. It provides a browser-based editor that makes it easy to wire together flows using a wide range of nodes in the palette that can be deployed to its runtime in a single-click. There is a large library of contributed nodes that help so...