Upcoming Book: Learning ExtJS

I've been rather quiet for quite a while now. I have a rather large side project I've been working on, written entirely with an ExtJS front-end and ColdFusion on the back-end. I'm hoping to get that into a QA phase in the next week or two. I also just celebrated my 39th birthday, my 8th wedding anniversary, my daughter is the rock star of the 1st grade (pulling straight A pluses in every category), and the holiday's are coming.

On top of everything else, I'm putting the final touches on Learning Ext JS, to go to press at the end of the week/beginning of next, and due out in December. I've stayed relatively quiet on this, as I wanted to wait until PackT, my publisher, officially released information on the book. Let me start by saying that a few years ago I never would have thought I'd be doing this much client-side development again. And I definitely wouldn't have imagined me contributing to a book about client-side development.

I began looking at ExtJS quite a while back, while contemplating how to "jazz up" and modernize some dated interfaces I was supporting. I thought that ExtJS was an exceptionally well thought out library of rich, consistant components and functionality. While I use JQuery almost exclusively for DOM queries and manipulation, I really didn't find enough consistency in the visual plugins at the time (this has improved with the latest round of the JQuery UI plugins). I began to learn of the real power of ExtJS, and became an even bigger fan when it was announced that Adobe was including it in Scorpio, the codename for ColdFusion 8, Adobe's first implementation of the ColdFusion web application platform since it's acquisition with the Macromedia merger. Sweet! A total win-win for me.

Back in June, PackT contacted me. It seems they had started to develop a book, but the primary author, Shea Frederick, had gotten bogged down in other commitments before being able to complete the project. Some Googling on their part led them to Colin Ramsay and myself, through Cutter's Crossing. So they contacted me to find out if I was interested. The timing on this was awful. I was just starting the previously mentioned side project, my daughter was on her very first summer vacation, and just a lot of things going on. But it was too good to pass up. Aside from the fame and glory (yeah, right!), I knew that there weren't any other books out there on ExtJS, and it would be an excellent book to get out there for all the people trying to learn this exciting library. After talking the pros and cons with Aaron West, and getting sign off from my family, I finally contacted the Jedi himself, Ray Camden, to get some info on the writing process. We talked about time (a lot), commitment (more), and fame (maybe a little) and fortune (nearly none). I finally went ahead and said I would do it.

So, here it is almost six months later. I took on the final three chapters of the book: working with data stores (think like browser cached data table sets), extending Ext objects to build your own custom components, and the book wrap-up, which covers all the little stuff many people miss because they aren't typically visible. Only one chapter has any server-side code (the data stores). PackT originally wanted to convert my ColdFusion examples to PHP, to conform with the rest of the book. This morning the publisher told me that they want to keep my ColdFusion examples, to show that the ExtJS library can work with any server-side technology.

So, they're taking pre-order now, just in time for the holidays. Let me know what you think.

Our 44th...

To all of my friends, family, and colleagues who voted for our new President Elect, Congratulations. It is my sincerest hope, wish, and prayer, that in the coming four years I never have to say "I told you so."

RIA Survey

Kristen Schofield is asking for help from developers, by filling out a brief survey on Rich Internet Application development. So, if you're doing RIA development with ColdFusion, Flex, JavaScript, or any other technology, please take a few minutes to fill out her survey.

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.

Google Chrome: First Look

So, Google Chrome is now available for download. First impressions: it's smokin' fast. I just rolled through our admin panels lightening quick, our sites are faster than ever, and the ExtJS samples render with no issues (the Web Desktop even smokes). Very nice work, so far.

ColdFusion For Educational Use

Adobe has posted the site for registering ColdFusion 8 For Education. This is an exciting development within the ColdFusion community, that will hopefully help to propogate ColdFusion, both as a platform as well as CFML as a language.

ExtJS 2.2 Released

As many of my readers already know, I am a huge fan of ExtJS, the wildly popular JavaScript cross-browser component and Ajax library. ExtJS 1.1 is the underlying library used by ColdFusion 8 in it's new Ajax controls, so I latched on to the concept of rapid application prototyping and then extending it through custom ExtJS development.

Well, Monday the ExtJS team released 2.2. Much more than a minor dot release, 2.2 addresses several bug fixes, nice increases in perfomance, better support for Firefox 3, and several new components and examples.

Some of the new components include CheckBoxGroups and RadioGroups for forms, a new History object for managing the back button (a common issue in RIAs), a new FileUploadField, and even an XMLTreeLoader to automatically create Tree components from an XML Document. There are several new examples, to show developers how to use these new components, better information on how to implement Drag and Drop, and more.

ExtJS 2.2 is fully backwards compatible with the 2.1 release. I tested several applications last night, seeing definite speed increases. Really well done. (There also appears to be some speed improvements when implementing ExtJS within Adobe AIR applications as well, from my testing.)

I'll have a lot more info on ExtJS coming in the near future, so watch this space;)

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.

Build Applications That Scale

For over two months now, we've been preparing to migrate our services to a new datacenter. This has been, without a doubt, the most important project within the history of our company, for a number of reasons. We sell, host, and support websites for a single vertical market. A few thousand sites, all operating off a single shared framework/codebase. This is up from the few hundred sites we were hosting when I joined the company almost three years back. Our sites have been a testament to the power of the ColdFusion server platform, and I thought it important to share with you all the importance of our move, the challenges we overcame, and the benefits we've incurred.

I want to give you a little background here, so that you'll have an understanding on the history and growth of our application, and how critical it is to think in terms of scale. In talking with several developers, while at WebManiacs, I was surprised to find out just how many had come across similar issues at one time or another.

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WebManiacs Follow-Up

After WebManiacs, I thought it would be good to jot down some thoughts on conferences, and ColdFusion development in general. I was asked to speak at WebManiacs, which was my first conference speaking engagement, and although my session was somewhat small (last session that day), I had a great group who seemed to really enjoy my presentation, with a lot of questions, comments, and discussion afterwards. All in all a lot of fun. That being said, the conference was... lacking a little. Now, in all fairness, it was the first of it's kind, the first for FigLeaf (of this size), and a learning experience for everyone involved.

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