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

Test Driving ColdFusion 8

AJAX functionality combined with the simplicity of a tag-based language

(May 12, 2007) - You may have heard this before, but it's truer now than ever - it's a great time to be a ColdFusion developer. ColdFusion 8 is coming soon, and it will bring with it an array of new tags and features for developers who want to build sophisticated, feature-rich Web applications easily.

I've been busy experimenting with the ColdFusion 8 beta release from Adobe and let me assure you the software is going to have a huge impact on the RIA (rich internet application) universe and on Web application development in general. It's going to open up a world of new possibilities for every class of developer, from beginner to intermediate to master, while at the same time providing major enhancements to existing tags and features. In this article I'm going to highlight what I feel are two of ColdFusion 8's most exciting and compelling new features: AJAX components and the <CFFEED> tag. I hope that after reading this article you'll share my enthusiasm and optimism and will be looking forward to the official release of ColdFusion 8 as much as I am.

You Know It Don't Come Easy
AJAX stands for Asynchronous JavaScript and XML. It's a complex combination of HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and XML code that produces interactive and highly responsive interfaces for Web applications. If you've ever used Google Suggest in which a list of suggested search terms is displayed as you enter characters into a search box, then you've seen AJAX in action. The improved interactivity, responsiveness, and sophistication of AJAX interfaces are, in a word, remarkable. However, writing the necessary server and client-side code to make such sophisticated user interfaces possible is a difficult and time-consuming challenge, and that's putting it mildly. In fact, it's probably safe to say that only a small fraction of highly skilled developers is capable of creating an AJAX interface from scratch. However, all of this is about to change, at least for ColdFusion developers, because ColdFusion 8 will provide built-in tag-based support for AJAX components. Let me say that again: ColdFusion 8 will provide built-in tag-based support for AJAX components. This means that ColdFusion developers will be able to implement AJAX features in their applications using the CFML that we already know and love. This is very good news for those of us who don't relish the prospect of becoming intimately familiar with JavaScript, DHTML, and XML programming. For purposes of this article, the term "AJAX component" means a combination of ColdFusion tags and other markup needed to implement a specific AJAX user interface (UI). Don't confuse this term with ColdFusion components (CFCs), which enable developers to encapsulate data and business logic in separate, easily maintainable, and reusable files that have a .cfc extension.

Recently Ben Forta, Adobe's senior product evangelist for ColdFusion, posted a series of ColdFusion 8 AJAX tutorials on his Web site at www.forta.com/blog. The tutorials provide code examples and basic information on how to implement five different ColdFusion 8 AJAX components: Auto-Suggest, Live Data Grids, Partial Page Updates, Related Selects, and File System Tree Control. If you're interested in getting up to speed quickly on the AJAX features in ColdFusion 8, Ben's site is a great place to start.

After reviewing the five AJAX examples on Ben's site, I decided that my favorite (for now) is Auto-Suggest. This AJAX component augments the standard <CFINPUT> tag by adding a new auto-suggest attribute. The auto-suggest attribute accepts a comma-delimited list of values and can be populated using a database query, hard-coded values, or a CFC. In the latter case the rendered page uses ColdFusion-generated JavaScript to make asynchronous calls to a CFC that retrieves data from a database. The data is returned to the <CFINPUT> tag, which the auto-suggest attribute uses to display a list of suggested search terms. Regardless of the method used to populate the auto-suggest attribute, ColdFusion automatically generates the necessary JavaScript, CSS, and HTML code behind the scenes so that developers don't have to do it.

Of course, since this is ColdFusion I expected nothing less than this, i.e., powerful AJAX functionality combined with the simplicity of a tag-based language, and that's exactly what the Auto-Suggest AJAX component delivers. The code in Listing 1 is a simple example in which the auto-suggest attribute of the <CFINPUT> tag has been populated with hard-coded values. If you're running ColdFusion 8 yourself and want to get a firsthand look at this feature, you should be able to copy and paste the code from Listing 1 and save it as a new ColdFusion file. Figure 1 shows the suggested search terms displayed by the auto-suggest attribute as text is entered into the control.

Long Live the Grid
The Live Data Grid, a k a the HTML data grid, is an equally compelling AJAX component in ColdFusion 8 because it can substitute for cumbersome HTML tables, can be customized, and has built-in support for record paging. Dropping an HTML data grid into your application means you'll have a convenient place to deposit data for display in your application. The HTML data grid can be "pre-populated" with data or it can load data as needed by invoking a CFC that executes a database query to retrieve data asynchronously.

In either case the resulting data grid is resizable and the colors, fonts, etc. are all customizable. A user can sort the records displayed in the grid simply by clicking on a grid column header. The HTML data grid seems like a solid alternative to ColdFusion's existing Flash and Java applet-based data grids. I found it handy because it's easy to simply drop the grid into a template and load it up with data from a query. This is a good way to rapidly prototype an application because you'll have something to show users almost immediately, without having to spend a lot of time and effort coding the UI.

For the first time, ColdFusion developers will be able to implement AJAX functionality in their applications without having to write a lot of messy and tedious JavaScript, XML, and CSS code. For beginners and less experienced developers the new AJAX components can be readily deployed in applications using familiar ColdFusion tags. This means that they won't need to possess advanced knowledge of JavaScript, XML, and CSS to make AJAX work. In fact, with ColdFusion 8 it's possible to produce some stunning AJAX-type effects in ColdFusion applications with only minimal time and effort and relatively little code.

Of course, Flash forms and Flex are still available to developers in ColdFusion 8. It's just that now we have a choice between these UI solutions and AJAX. ColdFusion developers will be able to choose between a Flash-based and AJAX-based solution for their applications. This is good news because there will undoubtedly be occasions when one approach is more suitable than the other. For example, the use of AJAX on a Web site may be prohibited due to accessibility concerns, so the developer could simply go with a Flash-based solution like Flex or Flash forms which tend to be more accessible-friendly than AJAX. On the other hand, if for some reason Flash is prohibited on a company intranet then the developer could use AJAX. With ColdFusion 8's AJAX components, developers will have yet another solid UI choice for their rich applications that can be implemented both quickly and easily.

News Flash: All You Need Is CFFEED
Another exciting new feature in ColdFusion 8, and one that I've been playing around with extensively, is the <CFFEED> tag. <CFFEED> is a powerful new tag that will let developers generate and consume RSS (Really Simple Syndication) and Atom news feeds in their ColdFusion applications. RSS is an XML-based format for sharing and distributing Web content, such as news headlines. The <CFFEED> tag will let developers easily integrate RSS news feeds into their applications, generate their own feeds, or build entire applications around news feeds. ColdFusion 8's <CFFEED> tag is best demonstrated with an example. Like the AJAX components in ColdFusion 8, the <CFFEED> tag is straightforward to use. Figure 2 shows a basic application that uses the <CFFEED> tag to retrieve a news feed and a simple HTML data grid to display it. Each row in the data grid serves as a link to the full news release available on EPA's Web site. The code behind this application is shown in Listing 2.

In Listing 2 the <CFFEED> tag is used to read EPA's "Air News Releases," an RSS 2.0 news feed that is then displayed in a simple ColdFusion 8 HTML data grid. A list of EPA news feeds is available at www.epa.gov/newsroom/rssfeeds.htm. Like most RSS feeds, EPA news feeds are comprised of XML or eXtensible Markup Language. XML is markup that contains and describes data. The EPA news feed XML is "consumed" by the <CFFEED> tag and converted into a ColdFusion query that can then be used just like any other ColdFusion query. This is significant because once you've used <CFFEED> to grab an RSS feed, you can do anything you want with the query result.

For example, if you were interested in only a subset of the data retrieved by <CFFEED> you could query it again using ColdFusion's Query of Queries (QoQ) feature. This is precisely what I did in the example. After retrieving the EPA news feed with <CFFEED>, I queried the resulting query (using QoQ) and extracted just the records that I was interested in, i.e., records having EPA in the title. Remember how I said earlier that ColdFusion 8's HTML data grid provides a convenient destination for query data that you want to display? In this example the final filtered record set that I named "getFilteredRSS" is easily displayed in a simple ColdFusion 8 HTML data grid.

More Stories By Michael Markowski

Michael Markowski works for the Air Protection Division at the Environmental Protection Agency and is a Macromedia/Adobe Certified Professional.

Comments (2) View Comments

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.

Most Recent Comments
Rich 11/04/07 08:33:09 AM EST

Interesting article on CF8 although not a good example from the link to the EPA site! All I got when trying was this:

The XML page cannot be displayed
Cannot view XML input using XSL style sheet. Please correct the error and then click the Refresh button, or try again later.


An invalid character was found in text content. Error processing resource 'http://yosemite.epa.gov/opa/admpress.nsf/RSSByCa...

No. 07-OPA198 CHICAGO (Oct. 25, 2007) - U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently named the Tri-Cities Wastewater Treatm...

navot 10/05/07 05:13:01 PM EDT

I would like to draw your attention to another alternative which is a paradigm shift for AJAX front ends. One should be aware that I am not, and do not pretend to be objective, never the less I believe that one can judge for himself. Visual WebGui is an open source rapid application development framework for graphic user interfaces of IT web applications. VWG replaces the obsolete paradigms of ASP.NET in both design-time and run-time which were designed for developing sites, with WinForms methodologies, which were designed for developing applications. Thus enabling designer that was designed for application interfaces (WinForms designer) instead of a word documents (ASP.NET designer). This provides the developer with an extremely efficient way to design interfaces using drag and drop instead of hand coding HTML Worth a look at www.visualwebgui.com

@ThingsExpo Stories
DX World EXPO, LLC, a Lighthouse Point, Florida-based startup trade show producer and the creator of "DXWorldEXPO® - Digital Transformation Conference & Expo" has announced its executive management team. The team is headed by Levent Selamoglu, who has been named CEO. "Now is the time for a truly global DX event, to bring together the leading minds from the technology world in a conversation about Digital Transformation," he said in making the announcement.
"Space Monkey by Vivent Smart Home is a product that is a distributed cloud-based edge storage network. Vivent Smart Home, our parent company, is a smart home provider that places a lot of hard drives across homes in North America," explained JT Olds, Director of Engineering, and Brandon Crowfeather, Product Manager, at Vivint Smart Home, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Conference Guru has been named “Media Sponsor” of the 22nd International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. A valuable conference experience generates new contacts, sales leads, potential strategic partners and potential investors; helps gather competitive intelligence and even provides inspiration for new products and services. Conference Guru works with conference organizers to pass great deals to gre...
The Internet of Things will challenge the status quo of how IT and development organizations operate. Or will it? Certainly the fog layer of IoT requires special insights about data ontology, security and transactional integrity. But the developmental challenges are the same: People, Process and Platform. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Craig Sproule, CEO of Metavine, demonstrated how to move beyond today's coding paradigm and shared the must-have mindsets for removing complexity from the develop...
In his Opening Keynote at 21st Cloud Expo, John Considine, General Manager of IBM Cloud Infrastructure, led attendees through the exciting evolution of the cloud. He looked at this major disruption from the perspective of technology, business models, and what this means for enterprises of all sizes. John Considine is General Manager of Cloud Infrastructure Services at IBM. In that role he is responsible for leading IBM’s public cloud infrastructure including strategy, development, and offering m...
"Evatronix provides design services to companies that need to integrate the IoT technology in their products but they don't necessarily have the expertise, knowledge and design team to do so," explained Adam Morawiec, VP of Business Development at Evatronix, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
To get the most out of their data, successful companies are not focusing on queries and data lakes, they are actively integrating analytics into their operations with a data-first application development approach. Real-time adjustments to improve revenues, reduce costs, or mitigate risk rely on applications that minimize latency on a variety of data sources. In his session at @BigDataExpo, Jack Norris, Senior Vice President, Data and Applications at MapR Technologies, reviewed best practices to ...
Widespread fragmentation is stalling the growth of the IIoT and making it difficult for partners to work together. The number of software platforms, apps, hardware and connectivity standards is creating paralysis among businesses that are afraid of being locked into a solution. EdgeX Foundry is unifying the community around a common IoT edge framework and an ecosystem of interoperable components.
Large industrial manufacturing organizations are adopting the agile principles of cloud software companies. The industrial manufacturing development process has not scaled over time. Now that design CAD teams are geographically distributed, centralizing their work is key. With large multi-gigabyte projects, outdated tools have stifled industrial team agility, time-to-market milestones, and impacted P&L stakeholders.
"Akvelon is a software development company and we also provide consultancy services to folks who are looking to scale or accelerate their engineering roadmaps," explained Jeremiah Mothersell, Marketing Manager at Akvelon, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
"IBM is really all in on blockchain. We take a look at sort of the history of blockchain ledger technologies. It started out with bitcoin, Ethereum, and IBM evaluated these particular blockchain technologies and found they were anonymous and permissionless and that many companies were looking for permissioned blockchain," stated René Bostic, Technical VP of the IBM Cloud Unit in North America, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Conventi...
In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Carl J. Levine, Senior Technical Evangelist for NS1, will objectively discuss how DNS is used to solve Digital Transformation challenges in large SaaS applications, CDNs, AdTech platforms, and other demanding use cases. Carl J. Levine is the Senior Technical Evangelist for NS1. A veteran of the Internet Infrastructure space, he has over a decade of experience with startups, networking protocols and Internet infrastructure, combined with the unique ability to it...
22nd International Cloud Expo, taking place June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and co-located with the 1st DXWorld Expo 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 ...
"Cloud Academy is an enterprise training platform for the cloud, specifically public clouds. We offer guided learning experiences on AWS, Azure, Google Cloud and all the surrounding methodologies and technologies that you need to know and your teams need to know in order to leverage the full benefits of the cloud," explained Alex Brower, VP of Marketing at Cloud Academy, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clar...
Gemini is Yahoo’s native and search advertising platform. To ensure the quality of a complex distributed system that spans multiple products and components and across various desktop websites and mobile app and web experiences – both Yahoo owned and operated and third-party syndication (supply), with complex interaction with more than a billion users and numerous advertisers globally (demand) – it becomes imperative to automate a set of end-to-end tests 24x7 to detect bugs and regression. In th...
"MobiDev is a software development company and we do complex, custom software development for everybody from entrepreneurs to large enterprises," explained Alan Winters, U.S. Head of Business Development at MobiDev, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Coca-Cola’s Google powered digital signage system lays the groundwork for a more valuable connection between Coke and its customers. Digital signs pair software with high-resolution displays so that a message can be changed instantly based on what the operator wants to communicate or sell. In their Day 3 Keynote at 21st Cloud Expo, Greg Chambers, Global Group Director, Digital Innovation, Coca-Cola, and Vidya Nagarajan, a Senior Product Manager at Google, discussed how from store operations and ...
"There's plenty of bandwidth out there but it's never in the right place. So what Cedexis does is uses data to work out the best pathways to get data from the origin to the person who wants to get it," explained Simon Jones, Evangelist and Head of Marketing at Cedexis, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
SYS-CON Events announced today that CrowdReviews.com has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 22nd International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 5–7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. CrowdReviews.com is a transparent online platform for determining which products and services are the best based on the opinion of the crowd. The crowd consists of Internet users that have experienced products and services first-hand and have an interest in letting other potential buye...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Telecom Reseller has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 22nd International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. Telecom Reseller reports on Unified Communications, UCaaS, BPaaS for enterprise and SMBs. They report extensively on both customer premises based solutions such as IP-PBX as well as cloud based and hosted platforms.