Click here to close now.

Welcome!

You will be redirected in 30 seconds or close now.

ColdFusion Authors: Yakov Fain, Maureen O'Gara, Nancy Y. Nee, Tad Anderson, Daniel Kaar

Related Topics: ColdFusion

ColdFusion: Article

ColdFusion + Model-View-Controller = CFMVC

Developing a new framework for a membership organization by tying together CF & MVC

In any membership organization with many in-house applications, the ability to share members' data among applications is vital. Previously, applications would duplicate functionality or make members leave one application to update their new address. This didn't work well for members, nor was it easy to maintain by developers.

Using a new framework, CFMVC, allowed us to make improvements. Our new membership system will allow our paper submission application to let members change their institution with the same front and back end code the membership application uses.

In developing a new framework we needed it to handle the integration of over twenty different databases and applications, work with multiple developers, have low processing and be straightforward. We achieved it by utilizing the benefits of ColdFusion and the Model-View-Controller (MVC) architecture.

ColdFusion

Though it's arguable whether or not ColdFusion is an object-oriented development environment, it does support many object-oriented features and has many constructs that allow developers to reuse code and functionality. ColdFusion Components (CFCs) are ideal for all data interactions and business logic while normal ColdFusion pages, User Defined Functions (UDFs) and Custom Tags are ideal for handling display portions.

All applications, regardless of size, contain the following pieces:

  • There will be some way of displaying information to a user - most likely, for ColdFusion developers, via a Web browser.
  • Another piece will process any changes the user makes generally by writing to a database.
  • A third piece will direct the user to a new item to be displayed.
Sound like the pieces of your applications? Now it's not just web applications that have these tiers, pretty much all applications contain them - even going back to the days when computers were the size of rooms and disco was cool for the first time.

Model-View-Controller

The Model-View-Controller (MVC) architecture was designed over 25 years ago by Trygve Reenskaug. Originally designed for Smalltalk programmers, it has been used in many languages from Visual Basic to Java, and is especially common among Object Oriented programmers. Companies embracing it include Apple and IBM.

MVC separates an application into the three pieces or tiers mentioned earlier. What exactly does MVC consist of?

  • The model layer handles all core data interaction whether with a database, XML files or any other data store along with other business interactions.
  • The view layer displays data to the user.
  • Any action the user takes goes through the controller layer, which calls the needed parts of the model layer before calling the next view layer to display.
Make sense? If not, bear with me and it soon will!

By combining ColdFusion's best practices and the proven architecture of MVC, a framework emerges that modulizes code and allows for it to be used in multiple applications. (Benoit Hediard also has a similar idea for merging together MVC and CF, see www.benorama.com.)

Tying Together CF and MVC

Where does ColdFusion code live and where does it use components, pages and custom tags?

Model
Most applications use at least one database. The model tier retrieves data from the database, stores this data, and provides functionality for interacting with the database. If your application uses text files or some other data storage mechanism, then your model tier will interact with that entity. My MVC implementation involved creating an entity CFC for each table in the database (for example, PeopleEntity.cfc) that handles select (get), update and insert statements (set) and delete if required. A utility CFC is used when returning multiple records, joining other tables and processing functions that require more than one entity, like adding a new member - which requires inserts into a members and an addresses table. All code in the model layer must be written so it can be reused in other applications and should not use session, application or request variables; rather, values should be passed in via attributes. Other CFCs, to be shared, are also added in the model layer for e-mail, SOAP calls, LDAP, and so on.

Each CFC should be a object and contain only functions (methods) that relate to it. Functions should either perform one action only or be a wrapper function and call other functions.

View
The view tier is where all display files reside. Custom tags are used extensively for presentation code and can be called from any application if needed. Like the model layer, they must not include session, application or request variables. For some presentation purposes UDFs may also be needed.

We did two things that are not part of MVC but were needed for ColdFusion implementation. First, all forms use the post method and custom tags that contain a form accept two attributes: formAction and formMethod, which are placed in the form to pass data to the correct controller. This allows for calls from anywhere and the capability to post to anywhere. Second, all applications have at least one applicationSkin file (see membershipSkin.cfm) in the view layer to allow for an application appearance to be set. Multiple skins can then be used if, say, an admin version is intended to look different to a normal version.

Controller
The controller tier is on the web root and has no pretense of being reused. Indeed they should only be used by the application. There are two types of controller files: view-controller and model-controller. View-controller files call code in the view tier and sometimes add customization themselves. Model-controller, as the name suggests, handle all interaction with the model layer but it's important to remember that code here is not intended for reuse and extra features for this application can be added for example an e-mail or calling a web service.

As part of the ColdFusion implementation, view-controller files are standard cfm files that call custom tags. Model-controller files are CFCs, are accessed remotely but as are below an Application.cfm (or Application.cfc) file fit into whatever security system an application deploys. Once a model-controller file has finished processing, it uses cflocation to call the next view-controller file to ensure that data is processed only once if a user reloads.

If you have trouble separating your files into their appropriate areas of the MVC framework, the code in that file is probably doing too much. Try breaking it down into smaller parts.

Folder Structure

Where does all this code sit? As controller files are used only by the application they all belong in the application web root, i.e. webroot/membership/. View-controller files, one for each area of the application, sit in this folder (see Figure 1). This allows for freedom in naming and short URL's. Features that apply to that area only, such as navigation, can also be added easily. Model-controller files are all placed in a controller folder i.e. webroot/membership/controller/.

The rest of our code, in the model and view tiers, is intended to be shared. Below the webroot we set up a folder called cfshare and within that a CFC, tag, and UDF folder (see Figure 2). A merging of ColdFusion, MVC and our desire to share code amongst applications led to such a folder set up. All model files are CFCs leading to a natural home for them, so beneath the CFC folder an additional folder is created for each application to store Entity, Utility and other components.

A similar set-up occurs for view files, all of which are custom tags. Likewise within the tag folder is an additional folder for each application. For the times when UDFs are used they follow the exact same structure under the UDF folder.

To make accessing easier in our code, a ColdFusion mapping is set up to the cfshare folder. Once achieved to access the peopleEntity in the model tier simply call the component:


<cfinvoke component="cfshare.cfc.membership.peopleEntity" method="init"></cfinvoke>

And to access the applicationSkin (using CFMX 6.1):


<cfimport prefix="/cfshare/tag/membership/ " taglib="view">
<view:membershipSkin>
</view:membershipSkin>

Or for 6 and backwards:


<cf_membershipSkin>
</cf_membershipSkin>

Code

Let's look at two code examples, which can be downloaded from www.sys-con.com/coldfusion/sourcec.cfm; first the display page for a member to join and second the processing of the collected data.

Code Example One: index.cfm
The first example uses a view-controller called index.cfm.

We start by importing a taglib and giving the prefix of view to enable the calling of custom tags (such a method shows future developers exactly where the custom tag is). Then we param the URL display to a default value of "join". Next we open up the membershipSkin call inside of which is a cfswitch statement which will call the desired display. The default value of join is picked and the "people" custom tag is called with some variables passed in. The cfswitch statement and membershipSkin custom tags are then closed.

Let's step back and look at the people custom tag. First it performs a check to see if it has already been called and if so exits, to prevent duplicate output. Then it calls the peopleEntity cfc and outputs a simple form to allow for the collecting or editing of data. The three attributes it accepts are important: nextAction and nextMethod work in tandem - nextAction contains the path to the processing controller ("controller/membershipController.cfc" in this case) and nextMethod is the name of the function that will be called in the controller file. Passing in a value of -1 for peopleID allows for blank values to be created, but if a value of a real member had been passed in then those values would have been displayed.

Code Example Two: process-controller
How does this get processed? This is an example of a process-controller with the membershipController.cfc being called.

The nextMethod attribute in the people custom tag was set to a hidden field called method which when passed to a cfc remotely will trigger that a function of the provided name. For this example it is join. The access attribute in join function is set to remote to allow for it to be called over the web. The function creates an object to the peopleEntity in the model layer and then calls the set function with the passed in values. The peopleEntity then either runs an update if a valid peopleID is passed or an insert. Just like that, we have a new member! The join function then uses cflocation to relocate the user to the next page.

Summary

The CFMVC framework discussed above is based on a proven, successful architecture in MVC and has a low processing overhead for ColdFusion. The effect of splitting an application into tiers - model, view and controller - allows us to write applications that can share both data and functionality easily. But the benefits will also extend to completely standalone applications.

More Stories By Sam Farmer

Sam Farmer has been working with ColdFusion since version 3.1 and is currently a senior developer and architect for the American Society for Engineering Education in Washington, DC.

Comments (4) 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
David Hardwick 05/12/05 12:00:44 PM EDT

Hello,

Have you investigated the other MVC frameworks before coming up with your own? Mach-II and Tartan for example? I'm using Mach-II on a project right now, and it is very solid. I've worked with Java-based MVC frameworks prior to this project, and I am very impressed with the thought that went into this architecture.

While it is admirable that you put together your own MVC framework, I would rather the CF community do a better job than say the PHP community in putting our efforts behind one or two horses instead of fragmenting our time across multiple 're-inventing the wheel' efforts.

Sridhar Loka 05/12/05 11:53:07 AM EDT

I have implemented MVC architecture for ColdFusion application using different approach.
For controller I have used a CF file which reads an XML config file based on the user submission from View layer. Every form must call this controller file in action=controller.cfm?action=login&subaction=admin. In XML config file controller reads like login.cfm. So login.cfm will be included in controller file.
Only CFCs are used to perform database transactions. File naming conventions are used from fusebox methodology.

Jim Davis 05/12/05 07:20:35 AM EDT

I like this approach and its clear division between layers. Will definitely keep it in mind when picking a methodology for a new project.

Brian Kotek 05/11/05 07:04:17 PM EDT

While it is always great to spread the word about best practices and patterns like MVC, I have to point out that using MVC with ColdFusion has been around for years. There are several widely-used frameworks with established communities that support MVC development. Fusebox 4, Mach-II, and Model-Glue are among the most popular. These have the added benefit of a built-in system to handle content elements and layouts without having to resort to custom tags. I would urge anyone interested in this topic to investigate these popular frameworks.

Regards,

Brian

@ThingsExpo Stories
GENBAND has announced that SageNet is leveraging the Nuvia platform to deliver Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) to its large base of retail and enterprise customers. Nuvia’s cloud-based solution provides SageNet’s customers with a full suite of business communications and collaboration tools. Two large national SageNet retail customers have recently signed up to deploy the Nuvia platform and the company will continue to sell the service to new and existing customers. Nuvia’s capabilities include HD voice, video, multimedia messaging, mobility, conferencing, Web collaboration, deskt...
The WebRTC Summit 2014 New York, to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York, NY, announces that its Call for Papers is open. Topics include all aspects of improving IT delivery by eliminating waste through automated business models leveraging cloud technologies. WebRTC Summit is co-located with 16th International Cloud Expo, @ThingsExpo, Big Data Expo, and DevOps Summit.
SYS-CON Media announced today that @WebRTCSummit Blog, the largest WebRTC resource in the world, has been launched. @WebRTCSummit Blog offers top articles, news stories, and blog posts from the world's well-known experts and guarantees better exposure for its authors than any other publication. @WebRTCSummit Blog can be bookmarked ▸ Here @WebRTCSummit conference site can be bookmarked ▸ Here
SYS-CON Events announced today that Cisco, the worldwide leader in IT that transforms how people connect, communicate and collaborate, has been named “Gold 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 City, NY. Cisco makes amazing things happen by connecting the unconnected. Cisco has shaped the future of the Internet by becoming the worldwide leader in transforming how people connect, communicate and collaborate. Cisco and our partners are building the platform for the Internet of Everything by connecting the...
Temasys has announced senior management additions to its team. Joining are David Holloway as Vice President of Commercial and Nadine Yap as Vice President of Product. Over the past 12 months Temasys has doubled in size as it adds new customers and expands the development of its Skylink platform. Skylink leads the charge to move WebRTC, traditionally seen as a desktop, browser based technology, to become a ubiquitous web communications technology on web and mobile, as well as Internet of Things compatible devices.
SYS-CON Events announced today that robomq.io will exhibit at SYS-CON's @ThingsExpo, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. robomq.io is an interoperable and composable platform that connects any device to any application. It helps systems integrators and the solution providers build new and innovative products and service for industries requiring monitoring or intelligence from devices and sensors.
Wearable technology was dominant at this year’s International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) , and MWC was no exception to this trend. New versions of favorites, such as the Samsung Gear (three new products were released: the Gear 2, the Gear 2 Neo and the Gear Fit), shared the limelight with new wearables like Pebble Time Steel (the new premium version of the company’s previously released smartwatch) and the LG Watch Urbane. The most dramatic difference at MWC was an emphasis on presenting wearables as fashion accessories and moving away from the original clunky technology associated with t...
Docker is an excellent platform for organizations interested in running microservices. It offers portability and consistency between development and production environments, quick provisioning times, and a simple way to isolate services. In his session at DevOps Summit at 16th Cloud Expo, Shannon Williams, co-founder of Rancher Labs, will walk through these and other benefits of using Docker to run microservices, and provide an overview of RancherOS, a minimalist distribution of Linux designed expressly to run Docker. He will also discuss Rancher, an orchestration and service discovery platf...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Akana, formerly SOA Software, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo® New York, which will take place June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Akana’s comprehensive suite of API Management, API Security, Integrated SOA Governance, and Cloud Integration solutions helps businesses accelerate digital transformation by securely extending their reach across multiple channels – mobile, cloud and Internet of Things. Akana enables enterprises to share data as APIs, connect and integrate applications, drive part...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Vitria Technology, Inc. will exhibit at SYS-CON’s @ThingsExpo, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Vitria will showcase the company’s new IoT Analytics Platform through live demonstrations at booth #330. Vitria’s IoT Analytics Platform, fully integrated and powered by an operational intelligence engine, enables customers to rapidly build and operationalize advanced analytics to deliver timely business outcomes for use cases across the industrial, enterprise, and consumer segments.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Solgenia will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and the 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Solgenia is the global market leader in Cloud Collaboration and Cloud Infrastructure software solutions. Designed to “Bridge the Gap” between Personal and Professional Social, Mobile and Cloud user experiences, our solutions help large and medium-sized organizations dr...
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.
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...
@ThingsExpo has been named the Top 5 Most Influential M2M Brand by Onalytica in the ‘Machine to Machine: Top 100 Influencers and Brands.' Onalytica analyzed the online debate on M2M by looking at over 85,000 tweets to provide the most influential individuals and brands that drive the discussion. According to Onalytica the "analysis showed a very engaged community with a lot of interactive tweets. The M2M discussion seems to be more fragmented and driven by some of the major brands present in the M2M space. This really allows some room for influential individuals to create more high value inter...
The world's leading Cloud event, Cloud Expo has launched Microservices Journal on the SYS-CON.com portal, featuring over 19,000 original articles, news stories, features, and blog entries. DevOps Journal is focused on this critical enterprise IT topic in the world of cloud computing. Microservices Journal offers top articles, news stories, and blog posts from the world's well-known experts and guarantees better exposure for its authors than any other publication. Follow new article posts on Twitter at @MicroservicesE
SYS-CON Events announced today the IoT Bootcamp – Jumpstart Your IoT Strategy, being held June 9–10, 2015, in conjunction with 16th Cloud Expo and Internet of @ThingsExpo at the Javits Center in New York City. This is your chance to jumpstart your IoT strategy. Combined with real-world scenarios and use cases, the IoT Bootcamp is not just based on presentations but includes hands-on demos and walkthroughs. We will introduce you to a variety of Do-It-Yourself IoT platforms including Arduino, Raspberry Pi, BeagleBone, Spark and Intel Edison. You will also get an overview of cloud technologies s...
SYS-CON Events announced today that SafeLogic has been named “Bag Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo® New York, which will take place June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. SafeLogic provides security products for applications in mobile and server/appliance environments. SafeLogic’s flagship product CryptoComply is a FIPS 140-2 validated cryptographic engine designed to secure data on servers, workstations, appliances, mobile devices, and in the Cloud.
Containers and microservices have become topics of intense interest throughout the cloud developer and enterprise IT communities. Accordingly, attendees at the upcoming 16th Cloud Expo at the Javits Center in New York June 9-11 will find fresh new content in a new track called PaaS | Containers & Microservices Containers are not being considered for the first time by the cloud community, but a current era of re-consideration has pushed them to the top of the cloud agenda. With the launch of Docker's initial release in March of 2013, interest was revved up several notches. Then late last...
SOA Software has changed its name to Akana. With roots in Web Services and SOA Governance, Akana has established itself as a leader in API Management and is expanding into cloud integration as an alternative to the traditional heavyweight enterprise service bus (ESB). The company recently announced that it achieved more than 90% year-over-year growth. As Akana, the company now addresses the evolution and diversification of SOA, unifying security, management, and DevOps across SOA, APIs, microservices, and more.
After making a doctor’s appointment via your mobile device, you receive a calendar invite. The day of your appointment, you get a reminder with the doctor’s location and contact information. As you enter the doctor’s exam room, the medical team is equipped with the latest tablet containing your medical history – he or she makes real time updates to your medical file. At the end of your visit, you receive an electronic prescription to your preferred pharmacy and can schedule your next appointment.