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).

Out With The Old, In With The New: 2009 - 2010

Wow! Where has all the time gone? This morning I'm looking back on 2009, and it has flown by. We've watched our banks collapse, and our government bail them out. We've watched the housing market go to pot, and friends and family have lost their homes. We've seen congress attempt to pump life into a social health care program, and watched it divide a nation. We've seen the auto industry grind to a halt, and seen iconic brands completely shut their doors. It's been a depressing year.

I think many of us have had a hard time keeping a positive attitude this past year. I know that the early part of the second half of this year I saw my own morale hit lows, the uncertainty making me moody and impatient. I was waiting for something (anything) positive to happen. You can see it on this blog as well, when you see that the last post made was in October, and I never even touted the release of ColdFusion 9 (which is well worth blogging about). But, things have changed.

A few months back, I had a personal epiphany. I reminded myself that change is only affected through action. My inaction was pulling me down, not really adversely affecting my work or family (yet), but not doing anything to improve my conditions either. So, I woke up. I decided that I would be my own positive force for change. I apologized to those I worked with, and vowed to find my inner motivation, to move forward with purpose, and challenged them all to do the same.

In that time, my shift in thought, word, and action has brought about personal change and growth. I have consciously worked to change my own personal perspective of each situation, to take on each new challenge as an opportunity, and to give more of myself to others with a servant's heart. I have, once again, realized that happiness begins with a decision; knowing that the only person's thoughts and actions that I can control are my own. I can influence others, through my words and actions, but I can not control them. If I maintain a path of right thinking and right feeling and right doing, then that influence can be a positive influence, and I will be happier for doing what is right.

So, where have I been? Well, I took the time to read some fiction. I generally read one fiction title a year, but this time I read fourteen (in a row). I also took in some self-help and leadership titles that I've been putting on hold for a while. I did some work on my open source CFQueryReader project, put in a topic for cf.Objective() 2010, and committed to updating Learning Ext JS for a 2nd Edition around the changes in the ExtJs 3.x releases (with more ColdFusion examples).

At work, we've undertaken a key rewrite of our most important front-end application, which has been exciting, challenging, and rewarding. We have several high priority projects that we are completing prior to a major conference in February. Currently, we're hiring for several positions, with a very active interview process. And, most recently, my boss decided to pursue other interests, and I have taken on the interim Development Manager position. This alone has been a major transition, with many extreme shifts in my basic duties and responsibilities, but has been very exciting and rewarding as well. It helps to have such an outstanding team, within Development, as well as so many great people who work with us day to day.

Last night, my wife and daughter having fallen asleep already, I was standing on our back deck at the stroke of Midnight. All around the neighborhood I could hear cheers and singing, while fireworks were going off left and right. I stood there, staring up in the darkness, and said a prayer The Father. I prayed for the strength and wisdom to approach the coming challenges of this new year. I prayed for the vision to see each new opportunity, and the will and courage to act when necessary (and the understanding on when not too). I prayed for patience and guidance, in discovering what new paths I am meant to walk upon. I prayed for the health and well being of my family and friends, that they might continually have love, life, and prosperity. And I prayed that everyone would endeavor to improve their own understanding, of themselves and their fellow man, so that we might all create a better world in 2010. If everyone endeavors to become better, and do what they can to make life better for those around them, then we can make this world a better place.

Happy New Year everyone! May 2010 be your year of greatness!

Cleaning RSS

So, it appears that my RSS feed is 'dirty', and that is why my posts haven't been appearing on ColdFusion Bloggers. I've been going back and forth with the W3C Validator for a while now, so hopefully this message will finally break the barrier.

Update 09.04.08 5:30AM Central: So, still not aggregating.

Caught By The Bug

The dreaded BlogCFC curse. After 30 days without a post you see the message 'Sorry, no post' (more or less).

I'm busy. Way busy. Several side projects, fun at work with servers, and a few hush-hush things...I'm beat. I can't go into a ton of particulars on anything, but there are things coming. I am working on a custom asset manager written in ColdFusion and Ext, that I'll be open sourcing, but it's taken a side burner for now. Ext is a blast, and I hope to continue to create and release Ext custom components, but I will always be using ColdFusion for my server-side code examples.

Speaking of code, I still owe everyone my sample code from my WebManiacs Presentation. With all this activity, I am way behind the eight ball on rolling some of this up. I hope to get it out sometime within the week. I'm also hoping to get a chance, soon, to re-record the presentation. I had done it once before WebManiacs, for the Nashville ColdFusion User Group, but the recording was a wash. We'll try to get that scheduled soon, and get it out there for everyone.

And, speaking of NCFUG, Mark Mandel is presenting Thursday night, July 31st on Transfer. Details can be found on the NCFUG Meeting page.

That's all for now. I'll try not to let it go so long between posts this month.

Why Can't I Comment?...

I've been so head down, on several projects professional and personal, that I only just noticed a few weeks worth of error messages in Cutter's Crossing's email box. A very odd error about missing a captcha-hash-variable kinda thing (don't have one handy). So, I get my next door co-worker to pull up my blog and ask him to post a comment, any comment. Low and behold, in place of the captcha there was a broken image icon. That wonderful clear box with the red X going through it, that we all know and love. Simply reinitializing BlogCFC took care of the issue, but I realize I've missed out on valuable feedback.

If you're reading this, and you tried to comment earlier, please try again, and I'm sorry for the trouble. I'll try to keep a more vigilant eye.

In the meantime, I'm looking for some really outstanding (public) examples of a drag-and-drop page content editor interface. Some experimenting with some of the Ext (2.1) sample code says I should be able to do it, but I'm looking to see some clear cut, and tested, solutions. BTW, if you haven't looked at the extended examples that they put out with the 2.1 update, then you should. There's some very nice stuff in there, particularly dealing with layouts.

Find This Character, Please!

OK, if I had hair I would have pulled it out by now. For several months I've been getting this error from BlogCFC, but I can't track the true source to remove the offender:

Script Name: /rss.cfm?mode=full&mode2=cat&catid=9856ECF2-3048-71C2-17879EB46D54D46F Detail: An invalid XML character (Unicode: 0x19) was found in the element content of the document.

I can't find this character anywhere. No clues at all. But, it's playing havoc with some RSS readers, apparently, and loading my inbox. So, anybody have some suggestions how I might find this?

The Year In Review

2007, The Year Of The Scorpio, was a fantastic year to be a ColdFusion developer. The release of ColdFusion 8 marked a new age in web application development, with so many new features and enhancements that should see some truly outstanding next generation applications in the years to come. As a community, the CF crowd has really been flourishing, with new releases in several major frameworks, the introduction of the RIAForge open source repository for Adobe related technologies, widely publicized adjunct technologies like Flex 3 and AIR approaching final release (spawning a new conference in 2008, showcasing all three technologies together), and the premier of our own developer's social networking site, ColdFusion Community. We saw the loss of the CFDJ albatross, while the Fusion Authority Quarterly, introduced at CFUnited 2006, has truly come out as an excellent ColdFusion developer's resource. And we can't forget our very own, ColdFusion specific, blog aggregator, ColdFusion Bloggers, introducing us to so many other great developers willing to share their knowledge and experiences, like the creative, and very colorful, examples provided by Ben Nadel.

I've always felt that a day without learning is a day that your dead from the neck up.I spent quite a bit of time this year learning new things, and sharing most. I've been slowly picking up Flex, put a little research into AIR, adopted JQuery heavily, run series of posts on developing on Apache and utilizing the outstanding components of the ExtJS library (the most trafficed posts on this blog). I tried to share some of the things I had learned about the new functionality of ColdFusion 8, started posting some General Coding Guidelines I've been writing for our company, and even got some first hand experience looking at the Current ColdFusion Job Market.

I look forward to sharing more in the year to come. I always look for, and appreciate, all of the feedback you readers send my way. I think the future for ColdFusion is extremely bright, and I can't wait to see what 2008 holds for us all.

2007 CFeMmys Voting Begins

The voting has begun on the 2007 CFeMmys. Todd Sharp began the CFeMmys last year, for the ColdFusion community to vote, and recognize, those who made contributions throughout the year. Somehow, someone made a mistake, and submitted Cutter's Crossing in the 'Best Blog' category. While I won't turn down any votes, it's a bit humbling to be included in such prestigious company (man, that's twice in two weeks!)

So, don't forget to head over and vote! Voting is through this Friday at noon. The competition has nothing to worry about, I couldn't bribe anyone even if I wanted too;) Best of luck to all the nominees!

Back In Business

Alright, now I can get busy again. It's taken me some time, but I was finally able to find the personal bandwidth to set my home network back up. That means that I can now reconnect to my home server, with all of my sample code, playpens, Flex learning projects, etc., and that CFEclipse once again has something to connect to.

The weeks ahead are going to be fun, with a company holiday party, my daughter's impending sixth birthday, and the holiday itself, but I have a few things to put out here in the blogosphere for all the world to see. I have a cool extension to the ExtJS RowExpander plugin for the 2.0 DataGrid implementation, that needs a public sample before it's posted. A lot of folks have been asking for sample code for the cell renderer and cell click I mentioned in a recent post. And I still have to re-record a certain CF8 Ajax preso (hopefully this week).

So, I'm going to get back to work now to put together some code and some posts. Let me know what you're questions, comments, and war stories are.

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