|By Joe Rinehart||
|April 13, 2005 12:00 AM EDT||
I saw a one-man band once, and it was quite a sight. He had a bass drum on his back, operated by a cog attached to one ankle, thumping as he stomped his foot. Shoestrings tied to the neck of his guitar would move drumsticks attached to a snare drum perched atop the bass drum.
Another string attached to his right elbow operated a cymbal clamped to the side of the snare drum. I spotted duct tape in more than one place. It was a little complicated, and changing anything was bound to affect everything else.
Does this sound like an application you may have worked on? I'll admit it: it sure sounds familiar to me.
Now, I've also seen some very good orchestras. The conductor runs the show. She doesn't necessarily know how to play the viola or the sousaphone, but she knows how to use her musicians, and trusts them to do their jobs.
I don't know about you, but I'd much rather be a conductor. My musicians could change how their instruments worked, but as long as they still played in tune, it wouldn't matter to me. More importantly, I can add new instruments without having to learn to play them or figuring out how to tie, clamp, tape, and/or tack weld them into place.
That's a powerful paradigm, and this power is what the Model-View-Controller (MVC) design pattern gives you.
What Is Model-View-Controller?According to James Dempsey's "Model-View-Controller Song," MVC is a way of organizing your code into "functional segments so your brain does not explode." MVC divides your application into three layers, each with a clearly defined task:
The Model contains all of the business logic and data in your application. It is not a stretch to say that your Model literally is your application. Typically, a Model consists entirely of objects or services such as CFCs, Java classes, and / or Web Services. A Model never has any knowledge of Views or Controllers.
A View is what the user sees, and is how the user interacts with your application. The View's job is to allow user input and display the "state of the Model," an Object-Oriented (OO) way of saying "your application's data." Most often, Views are traditional ColdFusion pages (.cfm). Other mediums such as Flash can also act as views. Because your Model isn't aware of the Views, you can interchange views without affecting your overall application.
The Controller is simply "glue" code that passes data back and forth between the View and the Model. The Controller takes data from the user, such as form data, and gives it to the Model for processing. The results are then given back to the View, which is shown to the user.
While some users of MVC may object to passing the data back through the Controller, it's a common way to implement the MVC pattern in a Web environment. In a desktop application, however, the View might be allowed to ask the Model for its state information directly. However, because of the nature of the Web, it's a lot easier to simply "push" the state information into the View through the Controller.
Why Use Model-View-Controller?I'm sure we've all heard talk about separating "business logic" from "presentation logic," and MVC does exactly that. By putting the Controller in between the Model (business logic) and View (presentation), we're insuring that they're not only separate, but highly reusable because they're not specific to a particular implementation. Additional Views can use the same Model without any modification. More importantly, the internal working of the Model can change without affecting the Views. This should sound familiar: we've arrived at the power described earlier when I said I'd rather be a conductor than a one-man band. Let's revisit what I said earlier, but change a few words:
"My components could change how their internals worked, but as long as they kept the same interface, it wouldn't matter to me. More importantly, I can add new components without having to learn how they work, just how to use them."
That's a very powerful statement to make about application design. Model-View-Controller utilizes Object-Oriented Design concepts known as "decoupling" and "separation of concerns" to achieve this power. In a "traditional" ColdFusion application, each page is responsible for a good deal: business logic, data access logic, presentation logic, and data validation. By isolating the business logic in the Model and the presentation logic in the View and having the two communicate through the Controller, we've "decoupled" the business layer from the presentation layer. Each of the three layers has a responsibility, or "concern" that is separate from the others. As long as the boundaries along which the layers communicate, or "interfaces," remain the same each layer can change its internal functionality without affecting other the other two.
Let's Code: An MVC ExampleBuilding an MVC application in ColdFusion isn't very hard. You'll just need a good understanding of ColdFusion Components (CFCs) and an open mind. If you're not up and running with ColdFusion Components, you may want to read Jeffry Houser's article entitled "ColdFusion Components" when you're through with this article (CFDJ vol. 6, issue 11).
First, we need a problem to Model. For a fun example, I've chosen to Model translation of English phrases into Pig Latin. For our first attempt, I'm implementing a very simple version of Pig Latin - for any given word, move all consonants until the first vowel to the end of the word, and then add "ay." For example, "Model-View-Controller" becomes "odelMay iewVay ontrollerCay."
It's easy enough to encapsulate all the logic for this into a CFC. Listing 1 shows the entire model for our application, contained in PigLatinizer.cfc. You'll see that it has a single method ("Translate") that receives a string, and returns a translated string. At this point, we have a working "Model" of our "problem domain" - translating phrases into Pig Latin.
Now, we need a View to interact with our model. Listing 2 shows our basic translator form. It has a form field that collects a phrase to translate, a submit button, and will optionally show results of the latest translation.
Well, that was easy. We have a Model and View. Now we need a Controller to glue the two together. One approach many have taken is to simply add pseudo-Controller code to the top of their View pages, closely mimicking the standard self-posting form architecture ColdFusion developers have used for years. However, this places the Controller code in your View, eliminating any chance of re-use. Instead of doing this, we're going to use a CFC called PigLatinController. The source code for PigLatinController.cfc is shown in Listing 3. Examining the code reveals that it's pretty simple. There's an empty constructor ("Init") and a single method ("Translate"). While our constructor here remains empty, in the real world, this may be a place to insert information, such as datasource names or other configuration data, that the controller will need to pass along to the Model.
Examining the Translate method shows a controller in action. It first creates the needed portions of the model - in this case, simply an instance of PigLatinizer.cfc. It then passes data from the View (form.phrase) to the Translate method of the PigLatinizer. The user is then redirected to the view, with the resulting translation passed as a URL variable.
Now we have a Model, a View, and a Controller. What we're still lacking, however, is a way to have them all "talk." This is a where a framework is needed.
Building a Simple FrameworkWhile there are two popular frameworks available for what we need to do (Fusebox and Mach-II), we're going to build our own mini-framework using about ten lines of code. It's going to be bare-bones, but it should get the job done while also introducing the need for more robust, application-agnostic frameworks.
Listing 4 shows our Pig Latin's Application.cfm file, where lines 3 - 13 represent our framework. First, we see if the application is initialized. If it's not, we create an instance of our Controller, placing it into the application scope. Second, we examine the URL scope to see if a parameter named "method" exists. If it does, we CFInvoke that method of our controller.
Running Our ApplicationWe've now built a complete MVC application for translating phrases to Pig Latin. Let's step through two page requests, initial and form post, to trace how the pieces of MVC work together.
Initially, the user requests Index.cfm. ColdFusion processes the Application.cfm file. Our framework insures that an instance of PigLatinController (the Controller) exists in the application scope, and then looks for URL.Method. Because URL.Method doesn't exist, no action is taken. Index.cfm (the View) then presents the user with the appropriate form.
The user then enters a phrase and clicks the submit button, and our next request cycle begins.
Again, ColdFusion processes the Application.cfm file and insures that our Controller exists. This time, however, URL.Method is defined, and its value is "Translate." Our mini-framework recognizes this, and invokes the "Translate" method of the Controller.
Inside the Controller, the "Translate" method creates an instance of PigLatinizer (our Model). It passes the data from the View (form.phrase) into the Model's "Translate" method, and collects the result. The Controller then CFLocates the user back to Index.cfm, appending the result of the translation to the URL. Index.cfm, the View, shows the "state of the model" (the translated phrase), and dutifully re-displays the translation form.
Modifying Our ApplicationBecause we've placed the Controller between the Model and the View, changes to the Model won't affect the View, and vice versa. Realizing our implementation of Pig Latin isn't complete and that there are additional rules for handling words beginning with vowels, we need to modify our Model. Luckily, there's a freely available Java class that translates English into Pig Latin. We can modify our Model to use this class instead of its own internal logic (Listing 5 shows this modification). Because we're only changing its internals, and not altering its interface, the rest of our application will remain unaffected. By isolating our changes, and decoupling our business logic from our presentation logic, we've given ourselves a both more powerful and safer way to alter or scale our application.
The Need for FrameworksOur bare-bones framework is fine for our Pig-Latin translator, but I wouldn't want to develop an enterprise application with it. On a low level, the method of processing input in the controller then CFLocating would make it hard to return meaningful validation results - the URL string could become huge! On a higher level, what if one method of the Controller needed to call another method? It'd be easy to add the code to do so, but this may begin to fall outside of the "concern" of the controller (passing data between the View and the Model) and may begin to fall into the realm of business logic or application design. Frameworks such as Fusebox and Mach-II help out in this problem. By removing this control of "flow" from the Controller and letting you organize your application using XML, they both allow the Controller to assume its proper role of passing data. Frameworks have a number of other advantages, but that's another article.
SummaryModel-View-Controller is an elegant way to divide your application into logical layers. Each layer has a single job, and does it well. The Model represents your application's business logic. The View presents data from the Model, and accepts user input. The Controller serves to pass data between the View and the Model. Most importantly, the Controller serves to decouple the View from the Model, isolating what changes to bring unprecedented power to your application's design.
Further ReadingThis article provided a high-level introduction to Model-view-controller. Hopefully, it's gotten you interested in using MVC to simplify and enhance your application designs. However, it's glossed over a good deal of Object-Oriented concepts and terminology. There's a lot to learn about the theory of MVC and the various design patterns that are used inside of it (MVC is technically a "compound" pattern, made up of other design patterns).
If you're ready to jump into using MVC for ColdFusion applications, I'd begin by taking a look at the Fusebox (www.fusebox.org), Model-Glue (www.model-glue.com) and Mach-II (www.mach-ii.com) frameworks.".
|Derek 05/04/05 10:45:24 AM EDT|
Where is the sample code for this?
The Internet of Things promises to transform businesses (and lives), but navigating the business and technical path to success can be difficult to understand. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Sean Lorenz, Technical Product Manager for Xively at LogMeIn, demonstrated how to approach creating broadly successful connected customer solutions using real world business transformation studies including New England BioLabs and more.
May. 23, 2015 08:00 AM EDT Reads: 5,855
Since 2008 and for the first time in history, more than half of humans live in urban areas, urging cities to become “smart.” Today, cities can leverage the wide availability of smartphones combined with new technologies such as Beacons or NFC to connect their urban furniture and environment to create citizen-first services that improve transportation, way-finding and information delivery. In her session at @ThingsExpo, Laetitia Gazel-Anthoine, CEO of Connecthings, will focus on successful use cases.
May. 23, 2015 08:00 AM EDT Reads: 4,945
Sensor-enabled things are becoming more commonplace, precursors to a larger and more complex framework that most consider the ultimate promise of the IoT: things connecting, interacting, sharing, storing, and over time perhaps learning and predicting based on habits, behaviors, location, preferences, purchases and more. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Tom Wesselman, Director of Communications Ecosystem Architecture at Plantronics, will examine the still nascent IoT as it is coalescing, including what it is today, what it might ultimately be, the role of wearable tech, and technology gaps stil...
May. 23, 2015 06:00 AM EDT Reads: 4,378
One of the biggest impacts of the Internet of Things is and will continue to be on data; specifically data volume, management and usage. Companies are scrambling to adapt to this new and unpredictable data reality with legacy infrastructure that cannot handle the speed and volume of data. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Don DeLoach, CEO and president of Infobright, will discuss how companies need to rethink their data infrastructure to participate in the IoT, including: Data storage: Understanding the kinds of data: structured, unstructured, big/small? Analytics: What kinds and how responsiv...
May. 23, 2015 06:00 AM EDT Reads: 4,474
Today’s enterprise is being driven by disruptive competitive and human capital requirements to provide enterprise application access through not only desktops, but also mobile devices. To retrofit existing programs across all these devices using traditional programming methods is very costly and time consuming – often prohibitively so. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jesse Shiah, CEO, President, and Co-Founder of AgilePoint Inc., discussed how you can create applications that run on all mobile devices as well as laptops and desktops using a visual drag-and-drop application – and eForms-buildi...
May. 23, 2015 06:00 AM EDT Reads: 5,436
17th Cloud Expo, taking place Nov 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, 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. Meanwhile, 94% of enterprises are using some form of XaaS – software, platform, and infrastructure as a service.
May. 23, 2015 05:00 AM EDT Reads: 2,411
Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs) are increasing at an unprecedented rate. The threat landscape of today is drastically different than just a few years ago. Attacks are much more organized and sophisticated. They are harder to detect and even harder to anticipate. In the foreseeable future it's going to get a whole lot harder. Everything you know today will change. Keeping up with this changing landscape is already a daunting task. Your organization needs to use the latest tools, methods and expertise to guard against those threats. But will that be enough? In the foreseeable future attacks w...
May. 23, 2015 05:00 AM EDT Reads: 5,685
Cloud is not a commodity. And no matter what you call it, computing doesn’t come out of the sky. It comes from physical hardware inside brick and mortar facilities connected by hundreds of miles of networking cable. And no two clouds are built the same way. SoftLayer gives you the highest performing cloud infrastructure available. One platform that takes data centers around the world that are full of the widest range of cloud computing options, and then integrates and automates everything. Join SoftLayer on June 9 at 16th Cloud Expo to learn about IBM Cloud's SoftLayer platform, explore se...
May. 23, 2015 04:45 AM EDT Reads: 3,110
15th Cloud Expo, which took place Nov. 4-6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, expanded the conference content of @ThingsExpo, Big Data Expo, and DevOps Summit to include two developer events. IBM held a Bluemix Developer Playground on November 5 and ElasticBox held a Hackathon on November 6. Both events took place on the expo floor. The Bluemix Developer Playground, for developers of all levels, highlighted the ease of use of Bluemix, its services and functionality and provide short-term introductory projects that developers can complete between sessions.
May. 23, 2015 04:00 AM EDT Reads: 6,245
The 3rd International @ThingsExpo, co-located with the 16th International Cloud Expo – to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY – is now accepting Hackathon proposals. Hackathon sponsorship benefits include general brand exposure and increasing engagement with the developer ecosystem. At Cloud Expo 2014 Silicon Valley, IBM held the Bluemix Developer Playground on November 5 and ElasticBox held the DevOps Hackathon on November 6. Both events took place on the expo floor. The Bluemix Developer Playground, for developers of all levels, highlighted the ease of use of...
May. 23, 2015 04:00 AM EDT Reads: 3,414
The explosion of connected devices / sensors is creating an ever-expanding set of new and valuable data. In parallel the emerging capability of Big Data technologies to store, access, analyze, and react to this data is producing changes in business models under the umbrella of the Internet of Things (IoT). In particular within the Insurance industry, IoT appears positioned to enable deep changes by altering relationships between insurers, distributors, and the insured. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Michael Sick, a Senior Manager and Big Data Architect within Ernst and Young's Financial Servi...
May. 23, 2015 04:00 AM EDT Reads: 4,820
In the consumer IoT, everything is new, and the IT world of bits and bytes holds sway. But industrial and commercial realms encompass operational technology (OT) that has been around for 25 or 50 years. This grittier, pre-IP, more hands-on world has much to gain from Industrial IoT (IIoT) applications and principles. But adding sensors and wireless connectivity won’t work in environments that demand unwavering reliability and performance. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Ron Sege, CEO of Echelon, will discuss how as enterprise IT embraces other IoT-related technology trends, enterprises with i...
May. 23, 2015 03:00 AM EDT Reads: 4,286
Enthusiasm for the Internet of Things has reached an all-time high. In 2013 alone, venture capitalists spent more than $1 billion dollars investing in the IoT space. With "smart" appliances and devices, IoT covers wearable smart devices, cloud services to hardware companies. Nest, a Google company, detects temperatures inside homes and automatically adjusts it by tracking its user's habit. These technologies are quickly developing and with it come challenges such as bridging infrastructure gaps, abiding by privacy concerns and making the concept a reality. These challenges can't be addressed w...
May. 23, 2015 02:45 AM EDT Reads: 6,684
We’re no longer looking to the future for the IoT wave. It’s no longer a distant dream but a reality that has arrived. It’s now time to make sure the industry is in alignment to meet the IoT growing pains – cooperate and collaborate as well as innovate. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jim Hunter, Chief Scientist & Technology Evangelist at Greenwave Systems, will examine the key ingredients to IoT success and identify solutions to challenges the industry is facing. The deep industry expertise behind this presentation will provide attendees with a leading edge view of rapidly emerging IoT oppor...
May. 23, 2015 02:30 AM EDT Reads: 4,928
The industrial software market has treated data with the mentality of “collect everything now, worry about how to use it later.” We now find ourselves buried in data, with the pervasive connectivity of the (Industrial) Internet of Things only piling on more numbers. There’s too much data and not enough information. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Bob Gates, Global Marketing Director, GE’s Intelligent Platforms business, to discuss how realizing the power of IoT, software developers are now focused on understanding how industrial data can create intelligence for industrial operations. Imagine ...
May. 23, 2015 02:00 AM EDT Reads: 5,186
SYS-CON Events announced today that Liaison Technologies, a leading provider of data management and integration cloud services and solutions, has been named "Silver Sponsor" of SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. Liaison Technologies is a recognized market leader in providing cloud-enabled data integration and data management solutions to break down complex information barriers, enabling enterprises to make smarter decisions, faster.
May. 23, 2015 01:30 AM EDT Reads: 5,314
The 17th International Cloud Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. 17th International Cloud Expo, to be held November 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, brings together Cloud Computing, APM, APIs, Microservices, Security, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps and WebRTC to one location. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to plant your flag in this fast-expanding business opportunity. Submit your speaking proposal today!
May. 23, 2015 01:15 AM EDT Reads: 4,268
Collecting data in the field and configuring multitudes of unique devices is a time-consuming, labor-intensive process that can stretch IT resources. Horan & Bird [H&B], Australia’s fifth-largest Solar Panel Installer, wanted to automate sensor data collection and monitoring from its solar panels and integrate the data with its business and marketing systems. After data was collected and structured, two major areas needed to be addressed: improving developer workflows and extending access to a business application to multiple users (multi-tenancy). Docker, a container technology, was used to ...
May. 23, 2015 01:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,989
Hadoop as a Service (as offered by handful of niche vendors now) is a cloud computing solution that makes medium and large-scale data processing accessible, easy, fast and inexpensive. In his session at Big Data Expo, Kumar Ramamurthy, Vice President and Chief Technologist, EIM & Big Data, at Virtusa, will discuss how this is achieved by eliminating the operational challenges of running Hadoop, so one can focus on business growth. The fragmented Hadoop distribution world and various PaaS solutions that provide a Hadoop flavor either make choices for customers very flexible in the name of opti...
May. 23, 2015 12:30 AM EDT Reads: 3,758
For years, we’ve relied too heavily on individual network functions or simplistic cloud controllers. However, they are no longer enough for today’s modern cloud data center. Businesses need a comprehensive platform architecture in order to deliver a complete networking suite for IoT environment based on OpenStack. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Dhiraj Sehgal from PLUMgrid will discuss what a holistic networking solution should really entail, and how to build a complete platform that is scalable, secure, agile and automated.
May. 23, 2015 12:00 AM EDT Reads: 4,268