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.

Introducing Sencha

Great things are coming. Great things are here!

On June 14th, Ext JS LLC rebranded as part of their announced partnership with the principles of the JQTouch and Raphael projects, creating Sencha. The Ext JS library is still one of their major offerings, but they have also created Sencha Labs as a repository of various Open Source Projects under the MIT License (Like JQTouch, Raphael, and Ext Core). Great things were on the way!

Having David Kaneda (JQTouch) and Dmitry Baranovskiy (Raphael) join forces with the Ext JS crew is huge, and really plays well in understanding a series of recent blog posts around HTML5, CSS3, and what HTML5 means to developers today. But, it gets better.

This morning, Sencha launched their first joint product in public beta, Sencha Touch. Sencha Touch is a cross-platform mobile application framework built to leverage HTML5, CSS3, and JavaScript. It gives you the same sort of consistent API that you've come to expect from the Ext JS team, with a familiar syntax, great documentation, user forums for support, and many samples included with the download to help you learn. I've had the opportunity to preview this code for a while, and it is outstanding work. There will be some interesting apps to come out of this.

The future looks bright for Sencha, and I can't wait to see what they do next. Judging from their post on the rebranding, my prediction are changes to ExtDesigner (possibly to become SenchaDesigner), that would allow a developer to build both Ext JS and Sencha Touch interfaces from the same tool. My guess. (Man, that would be really cool.)

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.

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!

Can We Extend the ColdFusion Server

I love playing around with new toys. So, I'm ecstatic now that ColdFusion 9 has been officially released to the world, and even more so after what I'm about to tell you. Oh sure, I've been playing around with the betas, but mostly in testing the cfajax/ExtJs 3 upgrades (and I'll be posting more on that in the coming months). Time has been somewhat limited for me, so playtime has had to take a back burner. But, I wish I had gotten into this a bit sooner.

Yesterday I finally got around to working with some of the new cfscript implementations. I find these upgrades to be one of the key features for me personally. One, It's a faster coding style for me. Two, I was getting tired of bouncing between script and tags. Three, I really like the economy of code associated with script, finding it to be far less verbose. So, I'm lovin' the fact that I can write all of my CFC's, including my Application.cfc, in pure script. Now I can keep the tags with the display. But, as someone pointed out to me in a recent comment, there are still a few tags (anyone know which ones?) that haven't yet gotten script implementations. What can we do about that?

So, in diving right into playing with script enhancements, I ran into a few roadblocks. Minor errors, stemming from me not properly understanding the implementation. Now, the first place I went was to the documentation. Ray Camden keeps saying to me "Why don't people read the documentation?" I'm one of those that agrees with him. Yes, the documentation has some holes, and even bad examples, but you would be surpised what you can learn. (Read on, you'll see where I'm going with this!)

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Scripting a ColdFusion Application

With the release of ColdFusion 9 this past week, at MAX, we finally have full parity for cfscript with all of the cf tags. I personally prefer script when writing data access and business logic. For some it might not appear to be the sexiest feature, but I can see it making CFML much more appealing to developers from other languages.

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ColdFusion Ajax and ExtJs Presentation Update

I've been asked to present to the KCDevCore on ColdFusion 9 Ajax and ExtJs. This will be an updated version of my ColdFusion Ajax presentation, with new content to cover the updates and new components presented in ColdFusion 9 and ExtJs 3.0. By request, I'm going to try to keep the slides to a minimum and get down to some code.

That presentation will be next Tuesday, September 29th, at 7 PM CDT, and will be available via the KCDevCore Adobe Connect.

For those who don't know (where have you been?), ColdFusion 9 is now in public beta on Adobe Labs.

Mango Blog Releases 1.4

Mango Blog 1.4 has been released. Some nice fixes and improvements here, from searh to user permissions to Railo support and improvements for Plugin use and development (something I hope to dive into real soon).

For those who've never looked at it, Mango Blog is well worth the download. Especially as a code study. Very well structured application. To Laura, Seb, and anyone else contributing to Mango: Congrats on the new release. I look forward to working with it.

ColdFusion for the Redmond Crowd

Some time back I started receiving Visual Studio Magazine. I'm not sure why. I didn't request it, and lord knows I've tried to stay away long enough (since the VB6 days). But, being a developer with a background in linguistics, I began to read through the issues. C# looks interesting, and I'll probably play with it some, but for the most part all of it just reminds me why I'm a ColdFusion developer with skills in related web type languages (XHTML, CSS, JavaScript, etc).

Last week I received my August issue of VSM, and took a look when I got a chance. I got a number of surprises with this issue, the first one being the biggest. In the front of magazine is an 'Online Contents' section, where they list articles that are only available on the web from three Redmond Developer Network sites: Visual Studio Magazine, Redmond Developer News, and Application Development Trends. And, to my surprise, under the articles on ADT, the first heading read Adobe Releases First Beta of ColdFusion 9.

Now, here's a magazine dedicated to .NET development, pointing to sites dedicated to .NET development, highlighting an article about ColdFusion. Nice! This was obviously part of the interview blitz that Adam Lehman did just before the public release. The article talks about ColdFusion Builder, quotes the recent Gartner Report, and talks about the great new features in ColdFusion 9, with emphasis on Hibernate, full scripted dev support, as well as the Office and Sharpoint integration features (it also reminds readers about the .NET and Exchange integration features added in to CF 8.)

So, it was truly cool to see CF getting some love from the press. More so, being as the press targets a different developer market. But, it got cooler for Adobe with the rest of the issue. See, this issue of VSM was also the 2009 VSM Readers Choice Awards. Adobe took a few honors in several categories:

  • Help Authoring: Readers Choice Award Winner : RoboHelp and RoboHelp Server - Adobe Systems, Inc.
  • Web Design & Development Tools : Readers Choice Award Winner : Dreamweaver - Adobe Systems, Inc.
  • Web Design & Development Tools : Readers Choice Merit Award Winner : Creative Suite 4 - Adobe Systms, Inc.
  • Web & Mobile Development : Editors Choice Award Winner : Dreamweaver - Adobe Systems, Inc.

Great news for Adobe, and a nice shot over the MS bow. Looking over the other categories, I see potential with the release of ColdFusion 9. Here's some nice goals/targets for our favorite server:

  • Charting and Multimedia (should've been Flex hands down, but CF has it's own)
  • Data Editing, Reporting & Analysis Tools
  • Grid Components: Web (I can see it)
  • Imaging and Graphics
  • Middleware & Server Based Tools
  • PDF Tools
  • SharePoint Components & Tooling
  • Editors Choice: Most Valuable Tool
  • Editors Choice: Data Handling & Development

Thanks Adam, for pushing the tech press in areas that haven't historically gotten our message. Congrats to Adobe for it's new honors, and here's to hoping other dev communities begin to see, and recognize, the value of ColdFusion.

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