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I just spent four hours debugging an error for a client. The client is an application service provider, and they developed an administrator for internal use. The administrator allows for the user to switch between sites, at whim. The "site switcher" is a drop menu, which loads up a different DNS depending on the selected site. A certain set of code was working for all sites except one. The application was not throwing errors, but nothing was getting displayed on the page. How do you find the problem? I'm going to step you through the process I took to solve the problem, and along the way, I hope you'll learn a technique or two that you can use in your own debugging adventures. Two Types of Errors There are really two types of errors that you'll encounter in your code: syntax errors and logic errors. Syntax errors are those ugly ColdFusion errors that you are used to... (more)

The Shape of i-Technology To Come: Predictions for 2006

According to SYS-CON Media's worldwide network of software development activists, evangelists and executives - including the creator of Ruby on Rails, David Heinemeier Hansson  - 2006 promises to be a vintage year for software development... Take Microsoft, for example: A new client OS is on the way, Microsoft Vista, due late in 2006, giving rise to the obvious question: will the new cool 3D user interface be enough to move user to upgrade? We’ll see. Maybe the new built-in security, performance features, and integrated search will be enough to convince users – after all, why go to the Web if built-in web-enabled services and integrated information search allow the Web to come to you? Or consider the world of PDA Devices. Everyone is looking for the next killer Palm or BlackBerry.  But are they looking in the right direction for the next killer PDA? What... (more)

Ubuntu 9.10 Will Feature Cloud Computing

Mark Shuttleworth, the founder and leader of Canonical Ltd., the authors and distributors of the Ubuntu distro of Linux, announced the code name of the new version Friday and noted that the Ubuntu team had several priorities, including the design of the system’s “look”, according to a CNET article. The most interesting of the priorities, perhaps, was the inclusion of cloud computing features as a basic part of the package, especially on the server side of the release. The statement released by Shuttleworth was very detailed, although somewhat metaphorical, in the area of cloud computing. The cloud computing section of the release reads as follows, in its entirety: "A good Koala knows how to see the wood for the trees, even when her head is in the clouds. Ubuntu aims to keep free software at the forefront of cloud computing by embracing the API’s of Amazon EC2, and m... (more)

Making the Case for CFML

Many BlueDragon customers tell us they're being asked to defend their choice of CFML (ColdFusion Markup Lanuage) over JavaServer Pages (JSP). They need help making the argument that CFML and J2EE work well together, and that perhaps CFML is a better choice for presentation layer technology than JSP for developing J2EE Web applications. They know instinctively it's the right choice, but aren't quite sure how to build the case. As more organizations are standardizing on J2EE (and .NET) the issue of defending CFML will only become more urgent. The good news is that you've made the right choice with CFML. In this edition of BluePrints, we'll talk about why CFML can be a better choice than JSP for J2EE Web applications (in a future column, we'll take a look at why CFML can be the right choice of presentation layer technology for ASP.NET applications). We'll see some of t... (more)

Growing a Business with BlueDragon Server

How many times have you heard the question: "Why use CFML when you can use PHP, ASP, or JSP, which are all free?" With BlueDragon Server, one of three editions of BlueDragon from New Atlanta Communications, you can finally answer that question. It's a free – yes, really free – server for CFML. And if you've wanted to build and distribute CFML applications as products, with a bundled implementation of a CFML server, you can do that with BlueDragon as well, and for far less than the cost of CF5 or CFMX. In this month's column, I'd like to identify some of the business opportunities in store for those who consider this relatively new alternative. When Is Free Really Free? In the December 2002 issue of CFDJ, Ben Forta wrote a helpful article, "But It's Free" (www.sys-con.com/coldfusion/article.cfm?id=541), making the case for why the many free alternatives really don't s... (more)

Creating a Remember Me Login

Many of my articles in this column have dealt with theoretical concepts and syntax of implementing those concepts in ColdFusion. In this article, I want to concentrate on the implementation steps you might take when building something. Most Web applications have a "sign me up" feature that allows users to register. Registered users often have access to additional information or features that anonymous users don't. I'm going to walk you through the process of creating a simple login form, including database authentication and a "remember me" checkbox. The Database Before you start coding this application, you'll need to create a database. Most login schemes include a username and password. You can put that information in a table called Users. The table will also need a unique identifier, called a primary key in database terms. Here is a sample of data from the tabl... (more)

BlueDragon 6.1

If you haven't heard of BlueDragon, you're either new to the ColdFusion/CFML community or you've been under a rock somewhere. Back in September 2002, New Atlanta forever changed the CF landscape when it introduced BlueDragon 3.0. As a quick overview, BlueDragon is a family of server products that allows you to deploy CFML applications as an alternative to using Macromedia's ColdFusion MX. For more background, I refer you to the original product review I did for ColdFusion Developer's Journal, www.sys-con.com/coldfusion/articleprint.cfm?id=546. For this article, I am going to focus on what's new (and improved) with BlueDragon 6.1, which was released in June of this year. To paraphrase Steve Ballmer's now famous rant, BlueDragon 6.1 is all about "Compatibility, compatibility, compatibility, compatibility!" For the 3.0 release, BlueDragon was targeted at ColdFusion 5 l... (more)

ColdFusion Everywhere PART 1

Think about the last time you bought a car. Did you walk around the vehicle, look under the hood and sit in the driver's seat to get a feel for it? You probably took it for a test-drive before making the final decision. If you're a developer producing the next "killer app," it's only reasonable for your customers to want to test-drive your application as well. Have you ever wanted to demo your application but thought... It's too difficult to put together a general-purpose demo. Even if you did publish a "live" demo site, it would be open to wrong-headed visitors entering offensive data, corrupting the demo for others. If you don't allow data entry, you limit the effectiveness of the demo. You could allow users to download your application (in some protected time-limited format), but they would need to install it and all the prerequisite programs (CFML server, databa... (more)

Deploying Applications with ColdFusion MX 7

The release of ColdFusion MX 7 provides developers with several options for deploying their CFML applications. While the current option of using ColdFusion Archives (CAR files) has worked to this point, a fundamental problem still remains that the source code needed to be included. However, the two new options available in this release, sourceless and EAR/WAR file deployment, truly give developers the flexibility to deploy their code while optionally preserving their valuable intellectual property. (It is important to note that New Atlanta's BlueDragon Server line has supported sourceless deployment of CFML source code since the introduction of their 6.1 product line in June 2004. All references to sourceless and EAR/WAR deployments as "new features" apply solely to Macromedia ColdFusion MX 7.) Coupled with the streamlined ability to add new ColdFusion instances to a... (more)

Consuming Amazon.com E-Commerce

One of the most popular articles I've ever written was on Amazon.com Web services. The article was written for the Macromedia Developer Center and is located at www.macromedia.com/devnet/coldfusion/articles/wsamazon.html. This article is a bit dated. A few days before it was published, Amazon.com released version 1 of their SOAP Web services. In this issue on exchanging data, I thought it'd be great to write an article on version 4 of Amazon.com's SOAP interface, released in September. They are now called "Amazon.com E-Commerce Services." After two days of much frustration, I was unable to successfully invoke the SOAP Web services from ColdFusion or BlueDragon; I kept getting semantic errors when compiling the WSDL. However, you can still use Amazon.com Web services without SOAP, using REST instead, which is a SOAP alternative. In this article, I'll introduce you to... (more)

AJAX and Microsoft's Atlas To Dominate the Shape of i-Technology

According to SYS-CON's worldwide network of software development activists, evangelists, analysts and executives, 2006 promises to be a vintage year for software development...with IE7, Atlas, and AJAX featuring prominently. Take Microsoft, for example: A new client OS is on the way, Microsoft Vista, due late in 2006, giving rise to the obvious question: Will the new cool 3D user interface be enough to move the user to upgrade? We'll see. Maybe the new built-in security, performance features, and integrated search will be enough to convince users - after all, why go to the Web if built-in Web-enabled services and integrated information search allow the Web to come to you? Or consider the world of PDA devices. Everyone is looking for the next killer Palm or BlackBerry, but are they looking in the right direction for the next killer PDA? What about unexpected places -... (more)