Using the ColdFusion Report Builder – Part 2: Creating Charts in Reports

A coworker of mine, Jim Bambrough just had his second article published on the Adobe DevNet website. The new article, Using the ColdFusion Report Builder – Part 2: Creating Charts in Reports is a follow on to his earlier article Using the ColdFusion Report Builder—Part 1: Creating Reports and Subreports which I previously blogged about.

Jim's a talented developer and very knowledgable on the subject of reporting. His articles are a good read for anyone building reports using the ColdFusion Report Builder.

A Word on the ColdFusion Cookbook Philosophy

We've had several people ask about the criteria for what gets published and what doesn't over at the ColdFusion Cookbook project. The main point people have been asking about revolves around when should users look in the docs vs. google vs. the cookbook site, etc.

One email we received this morning had a lot of positive feedback on the site, but also went on to say that the sender felt that some of the entries were for things that were too basic, such as how to use the now() function, and that developers would do better to look these types of problems up in the docs or via other means.

I'd like to share the response I sent back, as I think it does a good job of explaining what the site is about, and the approach that's being taken.

"I think the difference here is in the approach. The CF Docs do exactly as you describe - how to use the now() function. The approach we're taking with the cookbook isn't how to use the various functions, but rather how to solve specific problems - which is exactly your point. In this case, it's how do I get the current date/time. While it's true the answer is simple, you wouldn't believe how many times I used to answer that question back on the old Allaire forums.

Just about everything in the cookbook so far can be found by searching the docs, adobe forums, or by using google. The real value here is that the cookbook is a central clearing house for this type of information that has the opportunity to synthesize answers to the questions that developers ask, whether they are absolute beginners, or gurus. I'd much rather come search the cookbook site First for a solution to a specific problem than go to these other sites knowing that the quality of information on the cookbook site and the resulting discussion probably provides a better answer than a relatively static documentation set can."

I'd be interested in what others think as we want to make this the best community resource for ColdFusion developers to find information on specific problems (easy and hard) as well as act as a forum to discuss approaches to those problems.

Mystic - ColdFusion Update to Support Flex 2.0 Now in Beta

By now, you've probably heard that Adobe released a public beta of the upcoming Flex 2 platform. What you may not know, however, is that there's also an update to ColdFusion MX 7 (Mystic) in beta as well.

This new version contains enhancements designed to support advanced Flex integration from within ColdFusion. Enhancements include an update to Flash remoting to support ActionScript 3 as well as an event gateway for communication with thenew Flex messaging service.

Adobe states that "ColdFusion simply provides the easiest way to create a publish/subscribe messaging system with Flex." I haven't had a chance to play with the Mystic/Flex 2.0 combo yet, but I'm really looking forward to the possibilities.

cfPetMarket Launched

There's a new ColdFusion resource in town. Today marked the official launch of cfPetMarket, a site based on the CF Petmarket reference application. The site's purpose is to showcase various methodologies and frameworks for building ColdFusion applications, and it does an excellent job to be sure.

What's really cool about the site is that it's already populated with versions of the reference application built in most of the major ColdFusion frameworks/methodologies. This is useful as both a comparison and a learning tool.

The site was developed by Simon Horwith and launched in conjunction with a special focus edition of the ColdFusion Developers Journal focused on frameworks and methodologies.

The ColdFusion Scheduler - What's Missing?

I use the ColdFusion scheduling service quite a bit. For one of our applications, we have over 500 scheduled tasks that execute daily, controlling the generation and distribution of reports. Because of the frequency with which I use the scheduler, I've compiled a list over the years of features I'd love to see added to the current implementation:

  • Ability to sort tasks in the ColdFusion Administrator view - by task name and by interval, both ascending and descending
  • Ability to put a scheduled task on hold. Currently there's no way to temporarily disable the execution of a schedule task without deleting it (or changing the execution URL to a non existent page).
  • Addition of weekday and weekend only durations. Currently, you can schedule a task to execute daily every n hours/minutes/seconds, but there's no way to specify you want this to occur only Monday through Friday (business days) or only on Saturday and Sunday. Sure you can code this into the pages you are executing, but that code has to be used with each task. It's much better if this can be made part of the scheduler.
  • Task execution redundancy. Currently, if a scheduled task fails to execute (for instance if the server is being rebooted during execution time), there's no mechanism in place to automatically attempt to re-run a task. I've built this type of redundancy into several applications I've written that have scheduled tasks, but again, it has to be done on a per application/per server basis.
  • Better reporting on task execution. I'd love to see a new column on the ColdFusion Administrator page for scheduled tasks that shows the last date/time the task was successfully executed as well as the next date/time the task was scheduled to execute. This would be invaluable for monitoring and troubleshooting.

I know that this list is by no means exhaustive. What would you like to see added to the ColdFusion scheduler?

Programming ColdFusion MX Wins Readers' Choice Award

The results of the 2005 MX Developer’s Journal / ColdFusion Developer’s Journal Readers’ Choice Awards are in, and it looks like my book Programming ColdFusion MX (O'Reilly) has been named First Runner Up in the best book category. Thanks to everyone who voted!

New Stats in blogCFC 4.03

In case you missed the announcement, Ray Camden released version 4.03 of blogCFC. Included in the point release is an updated stats template I worked on that has the addition of a linked table of contents as well as stats about TrackBacks.

Who's Making Use of Event Gateways in ColdFusion MX 7?

It's been a while since the release of ColdFusion MX 7.x and that got me wondering how many people out there are taking advantage of the new Event Gateway featueres and more specificly, what sorts of things people are using the gateways for.

I've seen a few public examples such as Ben Forta's IM Bot and Sean Corfield's IRC Bot and JMS Gateway, but I'm wondering what other types of gateways people have built and what they're using them for. There really hasn't been as much buzz out in the blogosphere or on the ColdFusion related mailing lists as I'd expected and I'm wondering why.

So, if you're doing something interesting with Event Gateways in ColdFusion MX 7.x, drop me a comment an let me know.

JTOpen 5.0 Released

For anyone out there using ColdFusion MX with DB2 running on an AS400, iSeries, or i5, you may be interested to know that JTOpen 5.0 has just been released. JTOpen is the open source JDBC driver and toolkit from IBM for working with both DB2 and OS/i5 / OS/400. You can download JTOpen 5.0 from Sourceforge.

Realtime JVM Memory Monitoring with Orbwave Memory Explorer

Steve Brownlee over at Magic Happens Here has an interesting post on a new ColdFusion/Ajax application he's developed for monitoring JVM memory in realtime called Orbwave Memory Explorer.

It looks like more folks are releasing monitoring tools for ColdFusion these days. In addition to the Orbwave Memory Explorer, you also have Ray Camden's Starfish Profiler, SeeFusion, and FusionReactor to name a few.