CFQueryReader v2.1: Now with metaData support

The Sencha guys just keep upping the bar, and Ext JS 4.1 is no exception. I've been reading Loiane Groner's Ext JS 4 First Look, to review it, and continually find new, cool stuff. 4.1, however, takes it even further. While upgrading CFQueryReader, I was working with 4.1 RC2. And, while extending the base classes, I came across a new feature that wasn't fully documented yet: adding metaData to a server-side store response for changing configuration on the fly. Sometimes it would be nice to just...change up. Now that 4.1 is fully released, I had to make sure that this worked in CFQueryReader.

So, last night I sat down and hammered out this functionality. It took a lot more than I realised, and I learned a lot more about the Ext JS internal code, but I think CFQueryReader is better for it. Consider the following ColdFusion method:

view plain print about
1/**
2 *    FUNCTION getWithMeta
3 *    This function returns the ColdFusion Query object as part of a struct object.
4 *
5 *    @access remote
6 *    @returnType struct
7 *    @output false
8 */

9function getWithMeta(numeric pageIndex = 1, numeric pageSize = 50, string sort = "", string search = "") {
10    var retVal = {"success" = true, "pageIndex" = ARGUMENTS.pageIndex, "pageCount" = 0, "recordCount" = 0, "message" = "", "getEntries" = "", "metaData" = {"root" = "getEntries", "totalProperty" = "recordCount", "successProperty" = "success", "messageProperty" = "message", "idProperty" = "id", "fields" = []}};
11    StructAppend(LOCAL.retVal, GetEntries(argumentCollection: ARGUMENTS), true);
12    var colArr = ListToArray(LOCAL.retVal.getEntries.columnList);
13    LOCAL.retVal.metaData.fields = [
14        {"name" = "id", "type" = "string", "mapping" = JavaCast("int",0)},
15        {"name" = "title", "type" = "string", "mapping" = JavaCast("int",3)},
16        {"name" = "posted", "type" = "date", "mapping" = JavaCast("int",2)},
17        {"name" = "views", "type" = "int", "mapping" = JavaCast("int",1)}
18    ];
19    return LOCAL.retVal;
20}

I reused my getEntries method, to get my query. Here, I'm creating a metaData object, at the root of the return, to define the dataset. Configuration options that I normally define client side (root, totalProperty, etc) I put in to the metaData key. When the response is received by the client, the reader will pass this metaData in to our app, applying this configuration to our reader, store, model, and so on. In the above method, we let the metaData map our columns to fields, rather than doing it client side (CFQueryReader will automatically skip the column mapping if metaData.fields is present in the response.) Our client side store might now look like this:

view plain print about
1Ext.create('Ext.data.Store', {
2    storeId: 'entryStore',
3    model: 'Entry',
4    remoteSort: true,
5    proxy: {
6        type: 'ajax',
7        url: '/com/cc/Blog/Entries.cfc',
8        extraParams: {
9            returnFormat: 'json',
10            method: 'getWithMeta'
11        },
12        limitParam: 'pageSize',
13        pageParam: 'pageIndex',
14        sortParam: 'sort',
15        reader: {
16            type: 'cfquery'
17        }
18    },
19    autoLoad: true
20});

A full example of this, in action, can be seen on a demo page of the CFQueryReader site. The full source code, of the example, can be found in the CFQueryReader GitHub repository.

Ext JS 4.1 Grid: Part1: Basic Config

Many moons ago, I wrote a series on My First Ext JS Data Grid. It was very popular. In fact, it got me the gig co-authoring two books on Ext JS and spawned an open source project targeted at integrating Ext JS with ColdFusion. But, I did that series back in 2007, using Ext JS 1.1 (maybe?), and an update is long overdue.

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CFQueryReader 2.0: Site and Demo Updates

Note: I mistakenly posted this under the wrong title. I must get more sleep ;)

I finally got around to a major overhaul of the CFQueryReader site, including all new demos and documentation of the latest build for Ext JS 4.x.

The new demos for Ext JS 2.x and 3.x include links to legacy API's for both versions of the library. The 3.x version includes an example of using Ext Direct, and the new 4.x demo includes paging data grids.

(Big thanks to Loiane's Ext JS 4 First Look, which showed me very quickly how dead simple Ext JS grids and data stores have become.)

I have not yet tested CFQueryReader with Sencha Touch, but it should work. Any feedback just let me know.

2011 In Review, and the View for 2012

My, how time flies when you're having fun! It seems like only yesterday that I was welcoming in 2011, and now we're here a year later. So many things have happened in the last year, and rereading that post I see that I missed some things I should've done, but let's take a look in retrospect.

I wrote 27 blog posts in 2011. This is nothing, compared to guys like Ray Camden or Ben Nadel, but for me it was quite a bit, especially when you consider that between March and August I released only one post. Very early in the year, I began a series on creatingmany sites with one codebase. In the process, the series has evolved to contain a fairly detailed primer in ColdFusion application architecture (because of it's importance to this process), has currently spanned 8 separate posts, and was even referenced by Sean Corfield in his great presentations on the same topic. 2012 will see the completion of that CF app discussion, and gradually move it back to the MSOC topic itself, as there is still a ton to talk about there, and a lot of interest in the topic. I also began a series on the jqGrid JQuery plugin. jqGrid is another Data Grid visualization tool (I have now written about three, including Ext JS and DataTables), and is a clear choice for those who must use JQuery. (To be fair, JQueryUI is working on a grid component, but they are still behind the curve, and way behind Sencha.) Finally, one common thread seen in the majority of my posts, is how much I've embraced cfscript. I wrote a lot of things, on a variety of topics, but most of my code examples were pure scripted examples.

Now let's talk about some other departures from the norm for Cutter.

You did not see a lot of content around Ext JS. In fact, I stopped writing Ext JS books. This is not, in any way, a reflection on my feelings for Ext JS. I still believe that Sencha has built one of the best client-side libraries for web application development. In evaluating the overall ROI, I realized that I was writing more for the community than the money, and that my reach was greater through my blog, while giving me flexibility on when and what I deliver from a content standpoint. That said, I didn't have a single project this year that used Ext JS, so had very little time to experiment and write about it. This year, I'm going to expand on a personal project, and get back to some great Ext JS content for my readers.

You, also, did not see me speak at any conferences this past year. Nor at any user group meetings. This wasn't because I didn't want to, but because of some more personal reasons. I'm not going to go in depth here, other than to say that I've had some long standing health issues that required me to have some surgery done on my mouth. (Mark Drew is making a joke right now...) Aside from the fact that this has been very costly (chewing up any conference/travel budget), it also meant that my speech has been affected for a good part of the year. Thankfully this experience is (mostly) over now, and I hope to get back to presenting sometime this year. Any user group looking for a speaker this year, please contact me through the Contact link on this blog.

One group I am hoping to speak to this year is the Northeast Florida CFUG. I have to call Mike back, but he's looking to get things kicked off again, and I want to help it be successful. If you're in or around the Jacksonville area, make sure to keep an eye on the site for upcoming events.

One other thing I'm looking to do is to migrate all of my projects into GitHub. I've been using Git at work, and I am loving it, and I think combining GitHub with RIAForge is a great way to promote the terrific technologies we work with every day. I will make the time, I promise.

This comes to the final discussion of this post, Adobe. I again had the pleasure of being an Adobe Community Professional this past year. Due to my health issues, I didn't get to do everything I would've wanted to this year, but I've tried to be a good supporter. There are some fabulous things coming in ColdFusion Zeus and, by extension, to ColdFusion Builder as well. There has been a lot of hub-bub over Adobe's communications flubs regarding Flash, mobile, and Flex. I've avoided much of the discussion, other than to say "be patient and watch". Flash isn't going away, and neither is Flex. HTML 5 is a beautiful thing, if you aren't developing desktop browser applications (i.e. You're only writing for mobile/tablet development). There, that is my whole contribution to that discussion. Give it a rest.

2012 will be a fantastic year. Set yourself some clear, definable goals. Break them down, step by step, and write the steps down on paper. Each successive step, print out in large letters and place it somewhere where you will see it each and every day. Set yourself up to succeed, and you will. Have a great year, everyone, and I can't wait to hear what you have planned for 2012.

New Job, New Home, A Lot of Work

It's been a very busy year, up til now. Work ramped up in February, contracting me for additional hours for a month and a half straight, after which I've worked on a sting of side projects. This helped me finance a move to Jacksonville, Florida. My new (daytime) job is full-time telecommute, which allows me to put my desk anywhere. Teresa wanted to get back to sunshine and beaches, being tired of the cold and snow of Tennessee winters, and chose Jacksonville for it's location and proximity to family and friends. Jacksonville is a great area, and we nailed a terrific place in Fleming Island. I like it because there's lots of tech (user groups and such), and it's not far from other tech centers (Orlando, Tampa, Atlanta, etc). It doesn't hurt that I can maintain a year around tan or that the beach is a short drive away.

A lot of work has come my way, often tacking an additional 40 to 60 hours a week on top of my normal day job schedule. Often I'll take a project that takes a week or two, then take a few weeks off to spend with the family (and catch up on my reading). I have a list of posts I need to write, due to exposure to some projects I hadn't previously been exposed to. Part of that already started with some exposure to the DataTables JQuery plugin, but I'm also lining up posts for jqGrid, jsTree, and the cfUniForm project. Evernote is filling up with little tidbits. The most difficult piece is coming up with the time to write examples. I'm particular about writing well formed code and documentation, which is why my posts sometimes get spaced out a bit.

One of the things I have discovered, in my exposure to these other projects, is how much I miss working with Ext JS day-to-day. JQuery UI is a good project, but lacks the maturity of Ext JS, and is missing too many key components for writing web applications (Data Stores, Grid, Tree, Menus, Tooltips, etc). My exposure to those other projects was an attempt to fill needs for which Ext JS would have been better suited, while locked into using JQuery UI. The JQuery UI team is working on closing that gap, but there is a lot of catch up necessary to match the breadth and power of Ext JS.

Speaking of Ext JS, Packt Publishing asked me to write the next Ext JS book on my own. While very flattered, I had to carefully weigh what that commitment would mean. Ultimately, I could not justify committing seven and a half months to writing the book with all of the other responsibilities I have right now. I will write a few articles for Packt (as part of my contract on the last book), but feel like I can continue to create blog content that would be more timely (no six month editorial process) and have a greater reach, and do so as my schedule permits without being a burden on my family. Sencha has already announced What to Expect in Ext JS 4.1, and recently put Ext Designer 1.2 in Beta, so there's a lot to talk about here.

Last, but definitely not least, I'm following all the buzz about the upcoming ColdFusion "Zeus". A quick Google Search already brings up a ton of info that Adobe has put out regarding the next version of the ColdFusion server platform, and it looks to once again be a significant release. Some of the big things already mentioned have been the move from JRun to Tomcat, the retirement of Verity in favor of Solr, the upgrade to Axis 2, and the inclusion of closures in CFML. That's just some of what's coming, as Adobe appears to be giving more and more detail during the various conferences through the year (and you never know the whole story until it's released).

New Book: Learning Ext JS 3.2

I've been pretty busy this year, starting with my new position at work. And, having worked on major side projects the last three years running, I also took my after work time to spend some overdue quality time with my family. But, I did make time to work with Shea, Colin, and new author Nigel White, to work on the second edition of our Ext JS book, now titled Learning Ext JS 3.2. Released last Monday by Packt Publishing, our latest book brings Ext JS developers up to date in working with the 3.x framework, updating the content to cover many changes to the library as well as introducing several new chapters on key bits about Menus and Buttons, Plugins, Charting, and Ext.Direct.

Sencha (formerly Ext LLC) released Ext JS 3.3 on the same day that Learning Ext JS 3.2 shipped from Packt. There are several new and exciting features added in 3.3, but the core content of the book still aligns with the core of the framework itself, giving developers the tools and information they need to get off the ground running. There were several important changes to the framework between the last book (finalized just before the release of 2.2) and this one, and it was important to get that information out to those ready to learn. In the new chapter about Ext.Direct, I dissect the ColdFusion Server-side Stack, written by Sencha's Aaron Conran, to give the bare bones info needed for writing one's own server-side data marshalling services, going through the pieces step-by-step. Changes to the Data package were just one of the reasons to write this book. I know that Colin, Nigel, Shea, and myself, hope that everyone enjoys our latest work.

My CF + ExtJs Preso for cf.Objective() 2010

ColdFusion + ExtJsAttached to this is my slide deck and sample code from my ColdFusion + ExtJs presentation here at cf.Objective() 2010. Overall it seemed to go really well, despite the typical technical difficulties, and though Ray said I needed to be a little more introductory (Thanks Ray. I appreciate the feedback.) I heavily commented the JavaScript in my source code, so hopefully that will help to fill in the gaps for people. If anyone has any questions, feel free to use the contact link at the bottom of the page.

I want to shout out to Aaron Conran of ExtJs, for providing me with a license for their new ExtDesigner to giveaway in my presentation. I pinged him last minute on this, and he really came through (Hope you like it Lance. Drop me your info to give back to Aaron.) For those who haven't checked it out yet, it's a fantastic tool, really well done, and more than worth the small price tag on it.

On a side note, I'm using a "work-in-progress" version of CFQueryReader in this sample. I'm in the process of refactoring to support some advanced features of Ext.Direct, and the new version will only be compatible with 3.2 and above. When I put it into SVN I'll add some notes on which revision is the cutoff for previous versions of ExtJs.

Update: I've added notes to the readme.txt file of the sample download with instructions on how to make the examples work in ColdFusion 8 as well.

I Am Speaking at cf.Objective() 2010

I'll be speaking on building applications with ColdFusion and ExtJs at cf.Objective 2010. I was very honored to be asked to submit a topic alongside so many fantastic speakers and developers. I'll post more as the details are refined.

CFQueryReader v1.2 - Critical Update Supporting ExtJS 3.x

I have updated CFQueryReader, addressing issues that had arisen with new builds of ExtJs 3.x. This new build should cover sporadic issues with loading a new Ext.data.Store. There is also a simple example of using Aaron Conran's DirectCFM Ext.Direct ColdFusion API stack.

The CFQueryReader Example Site has been updated as well. You can update CFQueryReader from RIAForge.

Ext Js 3.0 is Finally Released!

Yes, Ext Js 3.0 has finally arrived! This long awaited update to the popular library has finally hit the download page as a production ready build (though the Release Candidates have been pretty stable as it is). There are many great enhancements to Ext, including an even more consistent underlying model (how could it get more consistent?), and some exciting new data marshalling features.

A quick perusal of the updated Samples & Demos page gives us immediate insight into some of the new features that are available:

There's a lot more that you'll have to dig to see, like improved browser support, a better container model, and (experimental) ARIA support (for accessabiltiy). Some of the greatest enhancements come in the way of the data marshalling capabilities added via the new Ext Direct. With Direct, Ext is providing the remoting specifications so that anyone can write data marshalling services around their favorite backend language. Ext has even published Example Server Side Stacks as a jumping off point to beginning with data marshalling via Direct. [Side Note: Aaron Conran, the team lead on the Ext Js team, is a long time ColdFusion guy, and he wrote the example CF stack.) By configuring your Direct API, you can utilize data readers and writers (they're new!) easily, even passing multiple requests within a single Ajax request. [Another Side Note: CFQueryReader is fully functional with and without Direct.]

One of the nicest features of this release is the backwards compatability. There are little to few changes that most will have to make, to upgrade their applications from 2.x to 3.0. And, it was announced, on a recent User Group Tour stop, that Adobe is including Ext Js 3.0 in ColdFusion 9. This opens up the possability of some very nice, new CFAjax components to come.

All in all a fantastic release. I've had the opportunity to play with 3.0 for a while now, watching the SVN updates daily, and my hat's off to the Ext Js crew for another excellent release.

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