This Week in ColdFusion Episode #4

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Skinny

I commute about 45 miles each way from Pennsylvania to the Baltimore burbs. Generally, I am not a fan of this commute. However, as one who likes turning the proverbial lemons into lemonade, I’ve found that podiobooks and podcasts are a great way to spend the 90+ minutes a day in the car. I try out all different kinds of podcasts, and more often than not I delete them from my iTunes after a few episodes. With the new TWiCF podcast, I think I’ve found a keeper.

Episode 4 of This Week in ColdFusion (TWiCF) was released on October 19. I had seen mention of this new CF podcast a few weeks back, and it came across my radar today, when I was in front of the computer with easy access to iTunes. So I subscribed and listened to this latest episode on commute home from work.

In short, I like it! It’s relatively quick paced, the guys have good podcast voices, and the content is fun and informative.

While listening, however, I wished I had a good way to take notes because I wanted to speak to a few items. Rather than hijack their comments thread, I figured I’d use this blog instead. Beats hearing about unit testing, don’t it?

Without further adieu, some points I’d like to make:

ColdFusion Builder Pricing

Where did Mike get that $250 number? I have it on good sources from my inside-Adobe operatives that the price is somewhere between “We ain’t telling you” and “STFU and quit asking”. (My quotes). So, please, don’t believe any numbers anyone says about CFB until you hear it from CFB’s PM, Adam Lehman.

Debugging in Eclipse

Let there be no question: you can use Eclipse, right now, for free, and do step debugging on your CFML. Provided you’re running CF8, all you need is the ColdFusion 8.01 Eclipse extensions. Once installed, it’s a matter of a 2-minute setup and then off you go. For an outstanding introduction to using the debugger, see Charlie Arehart’s CFMeetup presentation. While I’m at it… check UGTV often. It’s a veritable gold mine of CF content.

You can set “watchpoints” as well so you don’t have to scroll through gazillions of variables. I will say, though, that I personally hate being in a debugger. I figure if I’m in a step debugger, then either my app is to complicated or my unit tests are not helping me. Just sayin’ is all.

So, key words: CF8, Eclipse, Free, Easy.

Full CFScript and CFEclipse

The guys talked a bit about the enhanced cfscript support in CF9. In particular, the fact that you can write components without any tags at all:

component {
 public Order function init(required numeric id, array items = ArrayNew(1), String shippingMode="StandardShipping" ){
  StructAppend(variables,arguments);
  return this;
 }

 public void function dumpVars(){
  writeDump(variables);
 }
}

The problem in CFEclipse, as they mentioned, is that these files look like you’re editing in notepad when you open them in CFE. Good point, guys. I’ve emailed the CFE dev group to see what the level of effort would be to get the syntax highlighting working correctly.

Snippets WishList

One of the guys – I think it was Micky – mentioned a feature he’d like to see in Snippets, based on his work with Visual Studio. Essentially, he described the ability to type a trigger, and then have the cursor “follow” you as you “tab through” so you could type in what you wanted to type. I believe the Eclipse equivalent of this is functionality called “Templates”. Before I talk about templates and CFEclipse, though, let’s talk about what you get with the Snippets that already exist.

You can already get this behavior, or at least a “pretty good” version, in snippets as they’re currently implemented. I’ve found that for the (way too few) people who use snippets, this is something they don’t know about. I’m talking about “Variables”, and they are the cats pajamas. I wrote about this a while back, so I encourage you to spend 10 minutes sharpening the saw to save yourself hours cutting.

Now, onto Templates. Fortunately, Denny Valliant recently added an initial implementation of this feature into CFEclipse. Unfortunately, the CFEclipse team didn’t publicize it at all and so no one really knows about it. So it’s time to talk about them. Please read this post to learn about this sweet new feature with lots of potential for time-saving awesomeness.

The REST Discussion

I thoroughly enjoyed this part of the show. I’d like to see Brian give a presentation – with loads of examples, in particular from the Producer point of view – on designing and publishing REST-ful services. It’s easy to consume them… but how about architecting an application that produces the services? What strategies exist? What tools/frameworks? What big problems have you encountered? What if I want to do something more than just delete User 5? Instead I want to place an order for 13 copies of 5 different books and have them all mailed to my relatives in the 4 corners of the globe (OK, extreme, but you get the picture… simple scenarios = suck… I want more depth)?  What do you say, Brian?

Oh… and how do you unit test them? This is a blog with “unit” in its name, so I’d be remiss If I didn’t mention that.

What was Missing?

What was missing from the This Week in ColdFusion Podcast, Episode #4? Why… “this week in ColdFusion”, of course. I guess when I started listening, I was expecting more of a TWiT format, or perhaps at least more newscasty-ness to it. It is entitled, after all, “This week in…”. Consequently I expected more news items. I’d really like to have at least some time during the newscast devoted to keeping we CFMLers up to date on what’s happening in the community. News items, new projects, interesting blog posts, etc. Personally, I rely heavily on the Java Posse podcast to keep me up to date on all the things in the Java and Scala world that I don’t have time to investigate myself. Adding more news-i-ness into the TWiCF podcast would be a huge win for me.

Till Next Time…

Again, it’s encouraging to see another CF Podcast, especially one that appears to have a lot of promise. I hope Mike, Micky, and Brian can keep it up. I can only imagine how grueling it must be to produce a podcast, so kudos to all members of our community who devote their time to such endeavors.

I hope each episode is engaging enough to make me want to come home and write a review / response like this one.

Marc, out.

3 comments:

Micky Dionisio said...

Marc-

First off, thank you for the blog and for taking the time is listen to us.

I just took a look at your snippets post about using templates and this has probably been on of the most helpful discoveries I've found regarding using Eclipse in a loooong time. I just reconfigured all my snippets to use those templates and I'm FLYING through now.

Many many thanks for this. We are introducing a "Things we learned this week on TWiCF" segment and you can be sure your tip will be mentioned.

All the best,

Micky

Brian Carr said...

Marc, we're very happy to have you as a listener! I'm also glad that you enjoyed the ReST segment of the discussion. It's a difficult subject to tackle in audio format alone and convey all of the key concepts. I, like yourself, prefer visuals and tons of examples - interactivity certainly doesn't hurt either.

Big thanks for the kind words. The podcast is still in its infancy and evolves a little every week - so hit us up with feedback and keep us honest.

Marc Esher said...

hey, it's Micky and Brian! I wrote another comment on your twicf blog, a follow-up question about rest and CF. and I wrote a quicky response to Episode 3 today. I hope to see you guys at a conference this year. Start pestering your bosses now, gents.