Making the View: Pt 3

For those of you coming in late, you may reference the related entries to catch up (quick reads, I promise).

Last time we began filling our template and creating our stylesheet. Just some basics, where we defined a primary content area.

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Development Tools

More than once I've had someone ask me what I've got in my tool box, what apps and utilities do I use for programming applications. I thought it would be a good idea to post these. Maybe someone will find something interesting, or useful. Maybe I'll look back on it in a dozen years and laugh. Here's the listing. How does yours compare?

  • Internet Explorer -
    Yes, I know. We hate it. But 88% of the users of the sites I develop use it, so I must test in it.
  • FireFox -
      Browser of choice (and champions), along with a few extensions:
    • All-In-One Sidebar
    • ColorZilla
    • DOM Inspector
    • FireBug
    • HTML Validator
    • Tabbrowser Preferences
    • View Formatted Source
    • View Source Chart
    • Web Developer
  • Eclipse + Callisto + CFEclipse
  • Photoshop CS2 or Fireworks (just depends)
  • Thunderbird (yes, email counts in development)
  • ColdFusion (6.1 converting to 7 at work, 7 on most side work)

But my most important tools? Books and Blogs. Here is some current reading:

Somewhere down the line I hope to throw the Flex Builder into that Eclipse. At work I use MSSQL, but on most side work I use MySQL. I use BlogCFC for this blog). I love Model-Glue, though I've worked with Mach-II, and I hope to look at Fusebox 5 real soon (never really liked the earlier implementations much, though).

Pretty simple. I throw some other things in when I need to. I like the "find" functionality of Dreamweaver better than that of CFEclipse (note to self: drop Mark a ticket in the bug tracker). I use Flash at the office, but mostly to troubleshoot issues (we have a bang up Flash designer who is also learning ColdFusion).

BlogCFC 5.1 Up and Running

Many thanks to Ray Camden, CFJediMaster, for once again making the contributions that he does to the ColdFusion community. This blog is now running on the newly released BlogCFC 5.1, which you can download from the project page on Ray's site. Thanks Ray!

Making the View: Pt 2

Ok, before we continue lets's pick apart our template a little.

view plain print about
1<!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-transitional.dtd">
2
3<html xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml">
4    <head>
5        <meta http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html; charset=iso-8859-1" />
6        <title>Untitled Document</title>
7    </head>
8    
9    <body>
10    
11    </body>
12</html>

We defined the doctype of our page as a transitional XHTML 1.0 document with english as the language. The doctype declaration is a required element of any well-formed XHTML page, and references the appropriate DTD (document type definition) for the content of the document.

From W3Schools:

DTD is used by SGML applications, such as HTML, to specify rules that apply to the markup of documents of a particular type, including a set of element and entity declarations.

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Making the View: Introduction

Years ago, when I returned to development after a short haiatus developing business automation systems, I began re-learning web development. Things had changed a little. HTML 2.0 was now HTML 4.0. New tags were available, old tags had been deprecated, JavaScript had matured, and this new thing called CSS was just beginning to catch on. And, oh yeah, I was also learning ColdFusion (4.0 at the time).

Over the years I've seen a trend. There are a lot of designers who've learned some development, but fewer developers have learned design.

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Day 3

OK, I guess I should start off by saying that most of the speakers have been great speakers, who are well versed in the materials they are presenting. My selection of sessions (being as I've never attended one of these affairs) has just been off the mark. I've taken several 'advanced' sessions that really weren't as advanced as I expected. I've heard about many great sessions here, such as the sessions from John Paul Ashenfelter on Agile development. But, I missed these by attending some sessions on Web Services and Object Persistence that I actually didn't really need to go to. Not to say I haven't learned anything, because I have, but not as much as I intended to.

Joe Rinehart's preso on MVC was fantastic, where he created a very simple blog app, db and all, from the ground up using Model-Glue Unity, in about 10 minutes flat. Really exciting stuff!

I also sat down for about an hour with Tim Buntel. For those who don't yet know, Adobe has lured Tim back to the fold as the Sr Marketing Manager for CF. This is huge for CF development, and he will be working hard to put out the word on the extreme value to CF as a platform. Adobe is putting some serious power behind our environment of choice, and Tim is just the right guy to give us the push at the enterprise level.

On another note, BlueDragon just finished their keynote, mapping out the last five years with BD, and showing off some of the new features of BD 7 (soon to be in beta). A huge thing for advanced developers will be the inclusion of the CFTHREAD/CFJOIN tags, which give us the ability to create simultaneously processing threads and act upon data that might be returned. I sat down for awhile with Vince afterwards to tell him that a lot of developers came out of the preso going 'we might need to give BD a closer look.' He also hinted at what may come with another BD release in 2007, and on how NewAtlanta is listening very carefully to the needs of CF developers. Definitely worth watching.

BTW, Mark Drew is the bomb! Not only is he a riot, but he's a great guy to just bounce things off of. He attended the Ducktyping session that Sean Corfield took over for Hal Helms. Before walking in he was trying to get his head even wrapped around the concept. Being from a Java dev background, which is strictly typed, the idea of not typing anything seemed not only odd but totally wrong. After the session he seemed a lot more open to the concept. Not really a good practice for a newbie, but definitely something to be considered from an advanced development standpoint. Something that came up in Charlie Arehart's Web Services Tips and Tricks session was 'Is there a way to introspect Web Services from within CFEclipse?' I asked Mark on the next break and the answer is 'yes'. Look for me to blog on this more in depth in the future.

Yesterday Emmet McGovern, Aaron West and I sat down with Ray Camden for lunch. A great guy, who's very laid back and easy to talk to, he is also very open to suggestions on the apps he's put out. He and Emmet got to know each other well about a year back when Emmet had a rather large Soundings implementation that was having issues. A company was running a 73 question survey that had 500,000 entries in four days. They went to run the Excel reports and Ray had to come in and save the day (you may remember the week or so of Soundings updates back then...) Great guy, easy to talk to, and immensely helpful to our community as a whole.

Anyway, there will be lots more to come as I begin to break down everything I've taken in over the last few days, but for now I'll sign off and try to pay attention to this CFAJAX session.

Day 2

Well, yesterday was interesting. First, my three hour Flex Coding Kitchen session was, unfortunately, a waste of time. General consensus from the crowd is that we could have learned more from five minutes with the online documentation.

Speaking of online, the conference center's wireless access was pretty blown after 11 am.

The session on usability was cool, but my sessions on ansynchronus gateways and beginning web services were a little lower level than I really expected.

On the high side, the Celebrity Death Match between Simon Horwith and Hal Helms was outstanding. At least from what I heard. I was out on the deck outside the bar with Emmet McGovern (Full City Media) with a Captain and Coke just shootin' the breeze. Once the 'match' got out, we were joined by Aaron West, Michael and Judith Dinowitz stopped by, and we got down to serious drinking with Mark Drew (CFEclipse), who is a riot. Really glad he had the chance to come across the pond and join us yanks.

Anyway, I need to pay more attention to this session on MVC from Joe Rinehart, so I'm going to sign off for now. Hopefully I'll be able to connect later...

CFUnited: Flex 101

Welcome from the ColdFusion/Flex Coding Kitchen. Idiot-boy (me) forgot to pack the powercord for my laptop when I transferred things into my new CFUnited backpack. The good news? Forty minutes into the 3-hour session and they are still covering the install for all of the various components that are needed (I did this in advance since I signed up for the class a month ago).

We know now, from Ben Forta's keynote, that Flex Builder 2.0, Flash Player 9, and all of the other nifty stuff involved (i.e.: CF 7.0.2 updater, etc.) were officially released at midnight last night.

OK, one hour in and we're now starting some training. Our presenter is showcasing an example of an online MP3 player designed in Flex. This leads into discussion on the Eclipse based Flex Builder IDE, showing the basics of the design view.

This example app is using web services calls to a CF component. He's done this to show that weeb services calls are possible for data access (through PHP, ASP, etc), though it's possible (even preferrable) to access the CFC through Flash Remoting or Flash Data Services. Ben had stated, in the keynote, several advantages to integrating CF and Flex, including using FDS for real-time data record state management within multiple concurrent transactions. This functionality is only available with ColdFusion.

Now going through creating an app from scratch, utilizing Flex's wizards to 'create' the initial application. This wizard will generate your beginning data access objects for the tables of the db specified, with CRUD methods and all. You can set up pages (views) with reference to tables, query objects, foreign keyed data, etc. Some confusion among other attendees about the difference between the query builder and the form designer, which appear very similar and give you a great deal of flexability for quickly designing your views, even around complex data sets. It'll even set up a basic (no true starting functionality) authentication set up on specified page views when you ask for it. He hit 'Finish', watched the files auto-generate, hit 'Run', and...BAM! There it was! Basic, but functional. Next he adjusted the login/logout methods in the auto-generated CFC, recompiled, and BAM! There it was. So simple. I can't tell you how smokin' this is.

Wonder what we could have gotten through if everyone had started prepared?

Can You Believe These Guys?

You know, some things really get to me (I'm watching my language here). Maybe they shouldn't, but they do. Take the following line from a recent posting to a job posting mailing list for ColdFusion professionals:

Bachelor of Science in Computer Science from an accredited University.
Note: Individuals who do not meet this requirement need not apply.

Well, if that isn't an intensely narrow view of 'qualified'. I'm not knocking higher ed, in fact I have a little, but the last time I checked experience is, and always will be, the best teacher.

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CF's Built-In Server and Virtual Directories

OK. So I'm running CF on it's built-in server on my development system. On production I have a Virtual Directory setup with my hosting provider. This virtual directory houses many different things, all of which I need easy access to from either HTML pages or CF, so a CF mapping isn't an option.

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