Friday, July 28, 2006

Should ColdFusion developers be more Java-like?

As the ColdFusion community is thinking about what we'd like in CF 8, it dawns on me that in some ways we're going through growing pains. In discussing and disagreeing with desired new features, we're asking, "What do I want to be when I grow up?" Should the ColdFusion community as a whole stay focused on web pages with interactivity, or should we start thinking and acting like application developers?

Personally, I answered that last question for myself last Summer after we hired a Java developer. Through discussions with him, I realized that I was building web based applications, but treating them as if they were web pages with interactivity. Because of this, most, if not all of my projects ended up being nightmares to maintain, often with quick-fix solutions tacked on later. At that time I decided that I needed to start thinking like, and ultimately become an application developer (since that was what I was in fact doing for a living.)

Where I work, we pretty much use ColdFusion for our websites. In the past we've used ASP, and Perl, but for the most part we're a CF shop. The reason for this and the main reason we stick with it is that using CF allows our web designers to work alongside of our developers using the same IDE (Dreamweaver), while all still being productive and focused on our individual strengths. Sure, our HTML folks have picked up a bit of CF here and there, much the same way that as a CF developer I know some HTML, but for the most part they are experts on graphics and HTML, whereas I'm expected to be the expert on CF. What this has meant is that when our designers need some complex capability, our developer's encapsulate it in a ColdFusion Tag and document it with a dreamweaver extension. The designers simply need to learn one new tag, and they're off to the races. (heck, Dreamweaver even lists out all the attributes for them.)

My point is that while, I don't want to see the ease of entry into ColdFusion change, I do think that those of us who write ColdFusion based web applications for a living need to keep up with and take advantage of the programming innovations and techniques that are in use in other languages such as Java. There are some that do so, but far too few of us. I've learned a great deal from our Java brethren in the past year, and I'm sure there are plenty of lessons to learn from those working in other languages as well. We need to seek out those opportunities and share them within the ColdFusion community.

Will this create a divide in our community? I really don't think so, rather I think that by learning from our Java brothers, we may find opportunities to share with them as well, and in the process perhaps broaden the appeal of CF. All I can say definitively, is that for my part, I've managed to show one Java developer the strengths of CF in such a way that he now prefers CFML to JSP for his web based applications.

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Thursday, July 27, 2006

Wishlists and Drugs

There has been an almost dizzying amount of blog posts lately about what folks desire to see in ColdFusion 8. Personally I think I've been reading too many of them for my own good, because sometime yesterday afternoon I got the following image stuck in my head.

Obviously between work, wishlist blog posts, and the new comic series over at Fusion Authority, I've gone and fried my brain. Don't get me wrong, I write OO CF code, and there is a reasonable chance that I would utilize interfaces if they were available in CF, but part of me hopes that CF 8 is more evolutionary than revolutionary. Realistically, most of my co-workers are still writing CF 5 style code, and despite my efforts I don't see that changing overly quickly.

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Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Getting Animated

In an attempt to provide some relief for my brain which is quickly frying due to: (in no particular order)

  • The extreme heat in the North East
  • Being short-staffed at work due to openings, illness, new babies, and vacations
  • Trying to learn too many new technologies at once

I've decided to animate my logo. While this may sounds like a simple task, I've decided to do an animated version of the wandering fishbowl using Action Script 2.0. The first question that probably popped into your mind is, "Why? Wouldn't just doing an animated .gif be easier?" The answer is, "Yes, it would be easier". But that's not really the point. The point of this blog is to give me a place to try things out that I've not done before. I started learning Action Script when ColdFusion MX 7 came out because I could forsee a time when Action Script skills would be as important for a CF developer as HTML skills are now. With the recent release of Flex 2, I'm more certain than ever that this will be the case.

Creating an AS version of the logo gives me an opportunity to continue to work on those skills without having to delve in to Flex 2 (yet). Beyond that, I'm thinking that ultimately I'm going to end up with smoother and more randomly animated image than I could using more traditional methods. Time will tell, and I'll post samples as they become available.

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Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Look and feel update

The first phase of the look and feel update has occured. There's a distinct lack of navigation at the moment, but hopefully by the time there are enough posts to justify navigation I'll have the problem fixed.

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Thursday, July 06, 2006

On the ColdFusion front

On the ColdFusion front I've been working on a project using Model-Glue:Unity. I must say that between Reactor and scaffolding, it's super quick and easy to get something up and running. I've been able to quickly show my client the prototype and incoporate feedback with minimal effort.

I've been reading a bit about Duck-typing as well, but I've not fully digested it yet, so I'll probably wait a bit before I put in my $.02. (although I did comment on one of Sean Corfield's blog entries.)

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Look and feel

Considering that one of the main reasons behind starting this blog was to explore some of the more presentation-end technologies that I'm not as up to speeed on as I'd like, such as XHTML and CSS, we should hopefully be seeing a new look for this site. Well, eventually.

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Taking a Java course

I've been wanting to learn some Java for a while, so when I learned about the free course being offered at http://www.javapassion.com, I signed up immediately. Truth be told, this is the main reason this blog has been so slow in getting off the ground. For the most part I'm finding it clear and fairly easy to follow, although I must say, I'm having my issues with the "this" scope. It doesn't seem to work the way that it does in either CoildFusion or Actionscript.

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Starting over

I had originally started this blog back in April, however, life as always got in the way. (The details of which are neither interesting nor relevant.) To make things simple, I decided to start over with this blog. Most likely you'll see a bunch of posts over the next week or so, followed by sporadic posting between now and September.

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