CFUnited Wrap Up Pt 1: CFEclipse

Well, I downloaded the CFEclipse beta plugin, and installed it into a fresh install of Eclipse 3.2. I opened my workbench, set up a project, opened my perspective and everything broke. CFEclipse has always been a great tool, but this beta is way too early, and should probably be scrapped to start over.

OK, jokes over. Mark Drew will quietly chuckle at this post, the last time I'll bring up this now old joke from the conference. The fact is, CFEclipse is the new phenom. Everybody loves it. Everybody was talking about it. Every session showing code examples was using it. And everyone from Ben Forta to Sean Corfield to Joe Rinehart (etc., etc....) was telling us "If you're not using it you should be".

Those of you who've been following this blog know that we spent quite a bit of time with Mark while in Bethesda. Aside for consuming fairly large amounts of alcohol, we also had the opportunity to give Mark some feedback on CFEclipse features, for which he was furiously taking notes for later updates. In Mark's (paraphrased) words, "This is great. I spend so much time working on CFEclipse (in Java) that sometimes I lose site of what features might be necessary from a (CF) development standpoint."

Needless to say, downloads of CFEclipse saw a sharp increase during and after the conference. In a small bit of irony, during the Flex sessions the presenters kept saying "use CFEclipse" for CFC editing, yet Flex 2.0 does not yet work on Eclipse 3.2 (several key features break, including the RDS support), yet the beta ("Beeta", as Mark would say) only works on Eclipse 3.2. I asked Mike Nimer about this during the Flex and ColdFusion Integration session, at which point he stated that an update to Flex would be "a priority." (Side Note: the Eclipse Callisto release, an update to 3.2 for the IDE, as well as several key related projects, came out two days after Ben's keynote announcement about the release of Flex 2.0)

The good news? For those who care to do so, Eclipse runs standalone, so you could run 3.1, with the current stable version of CFEclipse, if you wish to do Flex development, while also running 3.2 with the CFEclipse beta for straight CF development.

Some features of the beta? Language versioning per project for tag insight and code complete (courtesy of funding from NewAtlanta), Word Wrap (yeah!), and CF dev toolbars similar to those of Dreamweaver or Homesite (for those of you who like that sort of thing).

And, straight from the CFEclipse session, the one really cool feature that's been there that most never knew about? The scibble pad. Look it up, you won't regret it.

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?

CFUnited Begins

So, here we are, in the keynote for CFUnited, Day 1.

Last night Aaron West and I went to the MiniMax conference, put on by Adam Bell. Adam is an interesting character, and a lot of fun to speak with. He has a varied background from many different geographical areas, and currently works out of L.A. Aaron spoke on the CF Application framework, Simon Horwith on Flex, and many other great speakers doing quick, 15 minute presentations on various Adobe products.

This morning, after a late wake up, I met up with Aaron and headed for the conference center. While Aaron was registering (I registered last nigt) I stepped out for a smoke with Simon Horwith. He filled me in on the 'secret' he couldn't let out of the bag last night. Ben Forta is going to announce (in just a moment) what went live on the Adobe site at midnight, the final release of Flex 2.0. Exciting news!

Anyway, signing off for now. I want to listen to Ben's keynote. More as the day goes on...