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Scotch on the Road Manchester report [sotr09]

Keynote - Adobe

ColdFusion 8

Many awards - great media coverage too
talks up Gartner review saying that CF use should be expanded, was previously 'contain' and don't use for new projects.
Evans Data Corporation's developer poll - numbers flat in '04 and '05, up tick '06 to over 600k, steady increase till '07, then CF8 comes out in '08 and now over 778k developers. Tripling in 3 years ! ColdFusion is not dead :-)
Also showed www.coldfusionbox.eu - an AIR application for latest CF news in Europe. The US doesn't have this !

ColdFusion 9

  • make even easier to work with air/flex or even javascript, air app to manage multiple servers.
  • exposed service layer means less work to 'just' use CFMAIL. Over SOAP and Flex AMF.
  • libraries for Flex to hook into them.
  • as3 data persistence layer with on / off-line sync automagically.
  • pdf updates - optimise PDF (reduces size by removing meta data, font, JavaScript etc). Can also extract text/graphics from them
  • AIR based server manager can apply settings from one server to a group of other ones

Bolt ColdFusion IDE

brings productivity tools and language changes.

  • local scope is explicit -  local.varNmae like session etc. Can still 'var' but anywhere
  • implicit getters and setters that work with cfproperty.
  • import / new CFSCRIPT object syntax looks like ActionScript
  • onServerStart()
  • cftransaction nested
  • try and catch get finally
  • new cfscript funcs, because "can do everything in cfscript, we are fully commited to full language support". can def. CFC entirely in script.
  • ORM via Hibernate
  • projects that live on remote FTP sites (just like Dreamweaver :-) )
  • can extend with CFML, don't need to know Java or Eclipse internals

Better ColdFusion integration in Flash Builder 4 means you can jump start from a CFC to a data grid much quicker.
Can also hook Flex or AIR to the new exposed service layer using 'cf:Mail' MXML tag. Also generates Flex service code for any CFC.
Takes ~5 minutes to do both. Cool.

FusionAnalytics - David Stockton

Great times for ColdFusion, with two open source engines, standards committee and 3rd party tools.
Dont wait for the crash - do proactive monitoring. If you don't know normal levels, how do you know what is wrong ?

FusionReactor can monitor AMF, all 3 cfml engines.
Can redirect to other url on error or unresponsive ColdFusion.
The over view screen has more on it than Adobe's built in monitor.
You can enable stack traces without a performance hit.
You should look at doing monthly/quarterly server performance reviews, targeting slow pages or slow query and doing something like fixing the "top 3 slowest requests".
Follow this with an annual full team review (dev, support, IT managers, service owners).

FusionAnalyics looks at the logs for you and finds performance 'hot spots' and 'resource trends'.
This helps with "continuous application improvement".
Can monitor and track internal and external SLAs (for services you use, and ones you offer)
Can add parsers for own logs really easily.
Use APML (looks like MXML) to define views, data providers etc., and then write new providers in CFML.
In alpha (still, was first shown at Scotch last year !) but due for release "summer this year".
It has own server log store so can still rotate them on server.
The AIR client talks to a server. Has very slick graph zooming for time filtering, per application / virtual host break downs, much better than Adobe's built in system.
Can filter by most things, drill down to summary for an individual user.
Shows how to find requests in progress during alert periods (i.e. tasks when CPU at 100%), then drill down from each request to the SQL for each request etc. very deep zoom !
Because separate to live server, can see what happened before a restart.
FusionReactor is £169 for one instance.

ColdSpring - Tom Chiverton

Clearly the best talk :-)
Get the slides and demo files from my talk here.

Flash Catalyst - Serge Jasper

Once CS4 or later art is imported, can give wireframe to customer as a SWF
and the whole project to developer with all MXML, graphics code etc.
This is quick, like Flash Builder 4 makes links to ColdFusion, but for drawing MXML apps.
The pop up panel ('HUD') is a great little wizard, knows what you are up to - auto-convert a bunch of art assets to a working scrollbar, asks you for some minimal guidance (what is track, what is knob) and that's it.
Ditto for text labels, when converting text to repeated item in a data list, auto generates editable dummy data !

Demo of import from Flash Catalyst into Flash Builder, and it all still functions.
The runtime dummy data has become just an ArrayCollection. Now can connect up to ColdFusion, drag and drop from services explorer. With result type introspection to create AS VO this takes no time.

Demos more wizards for generating 'details' grid from a list click handler. Slick.
But requires CS4.

LiveCycle Data Devices - Adobe

A bit painful, as the examples didn't work out. one reason we've not deployed it yet !
A bit code light too, and speaking to people after the talk, very few people have the need for this. Basic polling will work for most peoples needs, and doesn't have problems with reconnecting.

CF and PDF - Andy Allan

Paper form-based workflow is 'the' problem in enterprise

  • no visibilty of state of process to end user
  • physically moving paper - lost, next person in different country

PDF forms can be filled in off-line. submitted (later) to ColdFusion, which has a 'pdf.' scope.
PDF form can be digitally signed, unlike html form. Can also be encrypted so cant be changed.
Create forms with LiveCycle designer (windows only), but free in CS4 ot Acrobat professional.
Also only works with Adobe ColdFusion at the moment.
You can pre-fill some parts of a PDF form with ColdFusion.
Drop down boxes in form can come from CFC.
PDF can do price*quantity, add VAT etc. for you, live. Code for that in LiveCycle, as it has it's own javascript engine. Also dynamic add/remove table rows.
Req. adobe plug-in in browser.
CFPDF can make a PDF form read only, but still allow digital signature of it.
Non-Adobe PDF viewers might not honour the security in the form - this is OK internally.

Bolt Extensions - Adobe

Bolt can be extended with CFML, which is not Java - this is handy as we all know CFML !
You can extend the RDS, project and outline right click menus.
Works by sending and receiving XML to and from Eclipse.
The Eclipse GUI shown to user is defined in ide_config.xml in each plugin.
If you need more complex GUI, you can also respond with HTML, Flash or Eclipse SWT (if you're mad),

Summary

As always, Kev, Andy and the rest of the team did a fab job sorting out Scotch.
Yeah, the seats got uncomfortable after 50 minutes, but that's how long each talk was and then there was a good break to walk around, chat to people or get a drink.

The talks were a great mix of management-level, inspirational and technical and covered a good mix of technologies (though I ended up being the sole person using Railo, this wasn't the plan :-) ).

Did I mention drinks ? They were fab. The bar staff were great to us - even when it started getting a bit late and we were still in danger of not drinking the bar dry.

Looking forward to the next one already !

Comments

Thanks for the write-up - I didn't make as many notes as I wanted to so this will be useful! Some of the upcoming features look really promising, but I was a bit dissappointed that you were the only speaker using Railo.

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