|By Christian Cantrell||
|July 11, 2003 12:00 AM EDT||
What is the Macromedia DevNet Resource Kit, and how can I get it? As both a Macromedia DevNet Resource Kit (DRK) product manager, and the Macromedia Server Community Manager, I hear these questions often from both the online and offline ColdFusion communities. Starting with volume 3, the DRK has become extremely relevant to ColdFusion developers, and future volumes will be no exception.
The DRK is a developer resource that Macromedia releases quarterly containing components, extensions, utilities, sample applications, and reference materials for several Macromedia products. DRK volumes 1 and 2 heavily emphasized Macromedia Flash and Dreamweaver; however, the goal of DRK 3 was to provide the ColdFusion community with a comprehensive and diverse set of ColdFusion content, including ColdFusion components, user-defined functions, custom tags, sample applications, book chapters, and articles. And although I can't go into detail about future DRKs, I can say that DRK 3 is just the beginning.
ColdFusion content on DRK 3 is divided into three parts: custom tags and components, utilities, and sample applications. In this article, I discuss my favorite projects in each category.
Custom Tags and Components
DRK 3 contains several custom tags and components that are designed to be integrated into other ColdFusion projects or utilities. Rather than being standalone applications, they can be considered application building blocks.
The Calendar Component
The calendar component is a model of a single page in a calendar. All you have to do is set the month and the year, then call getPage to get back a two-dimensional array that models the columns and rows of a calendar page. The two-dimensional array will always have seven columns (for every day of the week) and the right number of rows for the specified month and year. The values of the elements in the two-dimensional array will either be the appropriate day of the month, or -1 when they fall outside of the month's range.
The calendar component is really designed to encapsulate the messy logic you need to render calendar pages in HTML. It has all the functions you need to quickly and easily add a calendar to your site.
The Init Custom Tag
The init tag is a sophisticated encapsulation technique many developers already use to initialize and configure their applications. Any code in the body of the init tag is only executed the first time the tag is encountered during the life span of the application, so it's a great place to put your applications' initialization routines, like defining application variables for data sources, parsing XML files, etc. It is thread-safe, but not entirely synchronized, so you can use it in your Application.cfm file without worrying about single-threading your application and dramatically slowing it down. The init tag also allows you to dynamically reevaluate any code in its body simply by passing a special query string parameter in to the page that contains the tag, so you can update your configuration without having to restart your server.
The Recordpager Custom Tag
The recordpager custom tag automatically generates linked page numbers to allow users to browse through multiple pages of records returned from a database query. It is used in circumstances where you want to limit the number of records to display on a single page, but still allow users to access the rest of the records on subsequent pages. The generated page numbers are linked to a page that you specify, or will automatically default to the current page since paging through record sets usually means making multiple requests to the same page. The recordpager tag will also automatically pass the specified page the record number that it should start with when displaying the next set of records, as well as optionally allow you to pass in a struct with name/value pairs that also need to be passed to other pages of query results. Finally, you can pass style class definitions in to the recordpager in order to adapt its look and feel to any application.
DRK 3 contains a set of ColdFusion projects that are considered utilities, which means they are more extensive than just single tags and components, but are still designed to be integrated into larger projects. Here are two of my favorites:
Data File Access (DFA)
DFA allows ColdFusion developers to interact with XML and comma-delimited files (CSVs) as though they were database tables. The easiest and most flexible way to store and retrieve data in an application is to use a database and SQL; however for smaller projects, creating an entire database can be more hassle than it's worth. With DFA, you get all the advantages of using SQL to both save and retrieve data, but the underlying data structure is either an XML or CSV file.
Let's say you decide to put together a quick survey to allow your co-workers to vote on their favorite activity for a company picnic. You want to be able to save and retrieve the results quickly using SQL, but you might not want to go through the hassle of setting up a database. Using DFA, you can use a simple XML or CSV file to store your data while still being able to leverage the convenience of SQL. DFA even comes with the dfaQuery tag, which works almost exactly like the cfquery tag you are already accustomed to using.
Lindex (Lucene Indexing Engine)
One of the most powerful aspects of ColdFusion MX is that it is implemented almost entirely in Java. Writing utilities that leverage Java is less a matter of integrating ColdFusion MX and Java and more a matter of naturally using Java to extend ColdFusion. The fact that Java can be used so easily to extend ColdFusion means that developers can leverage all of the open-source Java projects out there, such as those being developed under the Apache Jakarta project.
DRK 3 contains a project called Lindex, which stands for Lucene Index. Lucene is an open-source Apache Jakarta project for creating and searching document collections. ColdFusion comes bundled with the Verity text search engine; however, the advantage of using Lindex to integrate Lucene into your applications is that since it is pure Java, it will run on any platform that ColdFusion MX runs on, including Macintosh OS X. That means you can develop and deploy your ColdFusion MX application on two separate platforms without having to worry about compatibility issues.
Lindex works almost identically to Verity in that you create collections which you then populate with text, HTML, PDF, and ColdFusion files. Lindex includes both a ColdFusion and a Java API, as well as an administrative interface very similar to the ColdFusion Verity interface.
DRK 3 contains two sample ColdFusion applications. You can use the ColdFusion sample applications on the DRK to learn best practices and see examples of development techniques and principles, or you can simply install them for your own use.
Macromedia XML News Aggregator
The Macromedia XML News Aggregator, or MXNA, is an extremely useful application for gathering, parsing, storing, and displaying RSS news feeds. RSS, or Really Simple Syndication, is an XML format that many news sites and weblogs publish in order to allow RSS aggregators to syndicate their content. For example, my weblog (www.macromedia.com/go/cantrell) does not just contain an HTML version of my posts, but it also produces an XML version, as well (www.macromedia.com/go/ccantrell_rss). Anyone is welcome to use my RSS feed to either aggregate the content of my weblog locally on their computer, or to republish the content of my XML feed anywhere they want.
MXNA is based on the source code for the Web site fullasagoog.com, which is a very popular aggregator of Macromedia MX - related weblogs. The MXNA source code on DRK 3 has a very different look than fullasagoog, however, and has a few extra features. You can see a production version of MXNA focusing on Macromedia MX technologies, technology news, and Web development in general, running at www.macromedia.com/go/weblogs.
If you go to Macromedia's version of MXNA, you will find that we are aggregating somewhere in the neighborhood of 150 feeds. Imagine trying to keep up with 150 news sites and weblogs which make anywhere between one and probably a dozen posts a day. MXNA allows you to visit a single site, browse by category, and quickly find posts that are relevant to you.
Running your own version of MXNA will allow you to customize both your feeds and your categories. At Macromedia, we run one external version of MXNA (at the URL above) and one internal version which we use to aggregate things like internal project status reports. With MXNA, you can easily set up your own personal RSS aggregator, or launch your own RSS portal.
RSS 1.0 XML Feed Creation and Management Application (RSSify)
RSSify is a Rich Internet Application, or RIA, which means the user interface is implemented in Macromedia Flash MX while the back end is implemented as a ColdFusion component. RSSify is an excellent example of integrating Macromedia Flash and ColdFusion using Macromedia Flash Remoting in order to achieve a richer, more efficient user experience.
RSSify provides users with a simple and intuitive interface for creating and managing RSS XML feeds. The interface allows users to import, save, load, delete, and author RSS feeds, as well as publish them to a server where they can be made accessible to the rest of the world. The Macromedia Flash interface handles the creation and formatting of the XML document while the ColdFusion back end handles the persistence and publishing of the feeds. RSSify is perfect when you need to generate an RSS news feed (to be aggregated by MXNA, for instance), but you don't already have an automated process for doing so.
To find out more about these and other ColdFusion projects on DRK 3, visit the DRK 3 home page at www.macromedia.com/go/drk3. To find out more about how you can get DRK 3 and future versions of the DRK, visit the Macromedia DevNet subscription page at www.macromedia.com/devnet/ subscriptions.
Note: Portions of this article were originally published on the Macromedia DevNet Resource Kit, Volume 3.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Interoute, owner-operator of one of Europe's largest networks and a global cloud services platform, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2015 at the Javits Center in New York, New York. Interoute is the owner-operator of one of Europe's largest networks and a global cloud services platform which encompasses 12 data centers, 14 virtual data centers and 31 colocation centers, with connections to 195 ad...
Feb. 6, 2016 05:00 AM EST Reads: 310
Most people haven’t heard the word, “gamification,” even though they probably, and perhaps unwittingly, participate in it every day. Gamification is “the process of adding games or game-like elements to something (as a task) so as to encourage participation.” Further, gamification is about bringing game mechanics – rules, constructs, processes, and methods – into the real world in an effort to engage people. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Robert Endo, owner and engagement manager of Intrepid D...
Feb. 5, 2016 09:00 PM EST Reads: 752
With an estimated 50 billion devices connected to the Internet by 2020, several industries will begin to expand their capabilities for retaining end point data at the edge to better utilize the range of data types and sheer volume of M2M data generated by the Internet of Things. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Don DeLoach, CEO and President of Infobright, will discuss the infrastructures businesses will need to implement to handle this explosion of data by providing specific use cases for filte...
Feb. 5, 2016 03:00 PM EST
SYS-CON Events announced today that Fusion, a leading provider of cloud services, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Fusion, a leading provider of integrated cloud solutions to small, medium and large businesses, is the industry's single source for the cloud. Fusion's advanced, proprietary cloud service platform enables the integration of leading edge solutions in the cloud, including clou...
Feb. 5, 2016 02:30 PM EST Reads: 692
SYS-CON Events announced today that Commvault, a global leader in enterprise data protection and information management, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7–9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Commvault is a leading provider of data protection and information management...
Feb. 5, 2016 01:30 PM EST Reads: 329
SYS-CON Events announced today that Alert Logic, Inc., the leading provider of Security-as-a-Service solutions for the cloud, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Alert Logic, Inc., provides Security-as-a-Service for on-premises, cloud, and hybrid infrastructures, delivering deep security insight and continuous protection for customers at a lower cost than traditional security solutions. Ful...
Feb. 5, 2016 01:15 PM EST Reads: 320
SYS-CON Events announced today that VAI, a leading ERP software provider, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. VAI (Vormittag Associates, Inc.) is a leading independent mid-market ERP software developer renowned for its flexible solutions and ability to automate critical business functions for the distribution, manufacturing, specialty retail and service sectors. An IBM Premier Business Part...
Feb. 5, 2016 12:00 PM EST Reads: 517
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, will provide an educational overview of emerging “as-a-service” options for Big Data in the cloud. This is critical background for IT and data profes...
Feb. 5, 2016 12:00 PM EST
Fortunately, meaningful and tangible business cases for IoT are plentiful in a broad array of industries and vertical markets. These range from simple warranty cost reduction for capital intensive assets, to minimizing downtime for vital business tools, to creating feedback loops improving product design, to improving and enhancing enterprise customer experiences. All of these business cases, which will be briefly explored in this session, hinge on cost effectively extracting relevant data from ...
Feb. 5, 2016 10:15 AM EST
As enterprises work to take advantage of Big Data technologies, they frequently become distracted by product-level decisions. In most new Big Data builds this approach is completely counter-productive: it presupposes tools that may not be a fit for development teams, forces IT to take on the burden of evaluating and maintaining unfamiliar technology, and represents a major up-front expense. In his session at @BigDataExpo at @ThingsExpo, Andrew Warfield, CTO and Co-Founder of Coho Data, will dis...
Feb. 5, 2016 10:00 AM EST
With the Apple Watch making its way onto wrists all over the world, it’s only a matter of time before it becomes a staple in the workplace. In fact, Forrester reported that 68 percent of technology and business decision-makers characterize wearables as a top priority for 2015. Recognizing their business value early on, FinancialForce.com was the first to bring ERP to wearables, helping streamline communication across front and back office functions. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Kevin Roberts...
Feb. 5, 2016 09:30 AM EST Reads: 302
Eighty percent of a data scientist’s time is spent gathering and cleaning up data, and 80% of all data is unstructured and almost never analyzed. Cognitive computing, in combination with Big Data, is changing the equation by creating data reservoirs and using natural language processing to enable analysis of unstructured data sources. This is impacting every aspect of the analytics profession from how data is mined (and by whom) to how it is delivered. This is not some futuristic vision: it's ha...
Feb. 2, 2016 02:00 PM EST Reads: 392
WebRTC has had a real tough three or four years, and so have those working with it. Only a few short years ago, the development world were excited about WebRTC and proclaiming how awesome it was. You might have played with the technology a couple of years ago, only to find the extra infrastructure requirements were painful to implement and poorly documented. This probably left a bitter taste in your mouth, especially when things went wrong.
Feb. 2, 2016 04:30 AM EST Reads: 822
Learn how IoT, cloud, social networks and last but not least, humans, can be integrated into a seamless integration of cooperative organisms both cybernetic and biological. This has been enabled by recent advances in IoT device capabilities, messaging frameworks, presence and collaboration services, where devices can share information and make independent and human assisted decisions based upon social status from other entities. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Michael Heydt, founder of Seamless...
Feb. 1, 2016 05:00 AM EST Reads: 908
The IoT's basic concept of collecting data from as many sources possible to drive better decision making, create process innovation and realize additional revenue has been in use at large enterprises with deep pockets for decades. So what has changed? In his session at @ThingsExpo, Prasanna Sivaramakrishnan, Solutions Architect at Red Hat, discussed the impact commodity hardware, ubiquitous connectivity, and innovations in open source software are having on the connected universe of people, thi...
Jan. 31, 2016 09:00 PM EST Reads: 705
WebRTC: together these advances have created a perfect storm of technologies that are disrupting and transforming classic communications models and ecosystems. In his session at WebRTC Summit, Cary Bran, VP of Innovation and New Ventures at Plantronics and PLT Labs, provided an overview of this technological shift, including associated business and consumer communications impacts, and opportunities it may enable, complement or entirely transform.
Jan. 31, 2016 07:15 PM EST Reads: 1,124
There are so many tools and techniques for data analytics that even for a data scientist the choices, possible systems, and even the types of data can be daunting. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Harrold, Global CTO for Big Data Solutions for EMC Corporation, showed how to perform a simple, but meaningful analysis of social sentiment data using freely available tools that take only minutes to download and install. Participants received the download information, scripts, and complete end-t...
Jan. 31, 2016 10:00 AM EST Reads: 1,184
For manufacturers, the Internet of Things (IoT) represents a jumping-off point for innovation, jobs, and revenue creation. But to adequately seize the opportunity, manufacturers must design devices that are interconnected, can continually sense their environment and process huge amounts of data. As a first step, manufacturers must embrace a new product development ecosystem in order to support these products.
Jan. 31, 2016 10:00 AM EST Reads: 779
Manufacturing connected IoT versions of traditional products requires more than multiple deep technology skills. It also requires a shift in mindset, to realize that connected, sensor-enabled “things” act more like services than what we usually think of as products. In his session at @ThingsExpo, David Friedman, CEO and co-founder of Ayla Networks, discussed how when sensors start generating detailed real-world data about products and how they’re being used, smart manufacturers can use the dat...
Jan. 30, 2016 07:45 PM EST Reads: 741
When it comes to IoT in the enterprise, namely the commercial building and hospitality markets, a benefit not getting the attention it deserves is energy efficiency, and IoT’s direct impact on a cleaner, greener environment when installed in smart buildings. Until now clean technology was offered piecemeal and led with point solutions that require significant systems integration to orchestrate and deploy. There didn't exist a 'top down' approach that can manage and monitor the way a Smart Buildi...
Jan. 30, 2016 03:45 PM EST Reads: 1,246