Archive for September, 2003

OT – New Hardware From Apple

I try to keep my weblog pretty relevant, but sometimes I can’t resist the occasional off-topic post, especially when it has to do with Apple. In case you haven’t heard, Apple released a new line of PowerBooks this morning, along with new iPods (20GB and 40GB) and a new wireless (Bluetooth) keyboard and mouse.

The PowerBooks are what really caught my eye. They have finally released an updated 15″ model with all of the benefits of the new 17″ and 12″ models. 15″ PowerBook users can now get built-in Bluetooth, a backlit keyboard, FireWire 800, USB 2.0, and an improved form-factor that shifts all the ports to the side rather than the back. Of course, you can also get a 1.25GHz PowerPC chip, which is a pretty significant (and much-needed) speed boost.

I’m a 15″ fan myself. I like the 12″ model, but the resolution is only 1024×768, which is fine for traveling, but seems a little small for everyday use. The 17″ model is very impressive and would be great for everyday use, but seems a little big for traveling (you are hard-pressed to open up anything larger than a Gameboy Advance on a JetBlue flight). Anyway, they are all cool, and all tempting since I’m using an “old” 15″ PowerBook, which, until this morning, was top of the line. It’s amazing how quickly the world can change overnight.

What’s your development machine of choice?

Tabs or Spaces?

Which do you use when coding, and why? I’ve always considered spaces to be “correct”, but I can’t really say why. Tabs certainly seem simpler: one character rather than four, even if you have your IDE configured to insert spaces for tabs. File size is another issue. Files are obviously smaller when you use tabs rather than spaces. In fact, I found they are significantly smaller. I took a ColdFusion page of what I consider to be average size (10,038 bytes), and when I replaced every occurrence of four consecutive spaces with a single tab, the file was only 6,855 bytes (it still had some unnecessary spaces in it, too, so I could probably have even gotten rid of another 100 bytes if I wanted to screw around with some regular expressions). But why does file size really matter? Although it could have a minuscule affect on the amount of time it takes to compile a CFML page, it wouldn’t affect runtime speed. Perhaps having smaller files would help your IDE to perform better, or at the very least, use less RAM. And reducing the size of source files by 1/3 might also make checking large amounts of code out from a remote CVS server much faster. What are your thoughts on the matter?

What Are You Into?

Here’s another very cool Flash app on Macromedia’s site called “INTO”. Basically, it allow people to express what they are passionate about using images, audio and video (which means you will want to be on broadband when you check it out). You can hear about the guy who started ofoto (who also worked on the Newton), someone who has been collecting “water warfare” equipment since 1996, and the singer from the band Stereogram.

Macromedia Product Decision Tool

Macromedia recently launched a very cool little app called the “Product Decision Tool” which helps customers who are new to Macromedia software find products that are right for them. I’m pointing it out not because I think anyone who reads this post needs help picking out Macromedia products (though if you do, it works quite well), but to point out what I think is an excellent use of Flash. Why do I think it works so well?

  1. It doesn’t try to be an entire application. Although you can certainly build entire applications in Flash, sometimes you just need to embed a little extra functionality that you can’t get with any other technology. Basically, an applet.
  2. It isn’t something that could be done better in HTML, DHTML or JavaScript. There is no other technology on the web that can give you an experience like this.
  3. It fits perfectly in the page. Flash application developers have to be careful about the use of scrollbars. I hate having to switch back and forth between my browser’s scrollbar and a Flash scrollbar. Well designed apps either fit on the page, or take scrollbar use into consideration so that users don’t have to alternate between the two.
  4. It integrates perfectly into the page. Not only does it just fit well, but it integrates well with the content.
  5. It looks great.

Anyone have examples of Flash apps like this you or someone you know built?

SYS-CON Media Launches MX Developer’s Journal

SYS-CON Media launched the brand new MX Developer’s Journal (or MXDJ) today in conjunction with the Macromedia MX 2004 product launch. MXDJ is a resource dedicated to developers who use multiple MX products like Macromedia Flash, Flash Pro, Dreamweaver, Fireworks, FreeHand, ColdFusion and Director. Apparently it is to be distributed to 2 million Macromedia MX developers. Check out the announcement on SYS-CON’s site.

How many Developer Journal fans are there out there, and which ones do you like?

Binary Deployment of ColdFusion Applications

I saw some talk on the BACFUG list today about binary deployment of ColdFusion applications. I know this has been discussed at length in the past, but I would like to get some fresh feedback about what people are looking for. Specifically:

  1. Are you just looking for a convenient way to deploy your ColdFusion applications?
  2. Are you looking for a secure way to distribute your applications (which implies encryption or obfuscation in addition to compilation)?
  3. Would it be enough to just deploy Java byte code, even though Java byte code can easily be decompiled (in other words, is it just the CFML that you want to protect, or the CFML and the Java source code)?
  4. In what circumstances would you find this feature useful, and do you think your clients would go for it?

Thanks for the input!

Leveraging Java in Your ColdFusion Applications

There are four basic ways to use Java with ColdFusion:

  1. CFX tags
  2. JSP tags
  3. Using CFOBJECT or createObject() to accesses custom classes in your classpath
  4. Direct embedding (usually using CFScript)

CFX tags have a very straightforward interface. You simply implement a function called processRequest contained in the interface com.allaire.cfx.CustomTag, and work with the Request and Response objects that get passed in. CFX tags are the easiest way to implement ColdFusion tags in Java. The JSP custom tag interface is much more complex and flexible, allowing you to respond to very specific tag parsing events, nest tags, and work with body content. Using the CFOBJECT tag or createObject function is as easy or difficult or as the APIs you are accessing, while the simplest way to work with Java in ColdFusion is probably to embed it directly, typically using CFScript.

How often do you find yourself using Java in your ColdFusion applications? What do you typically use it for, or what have you used it for in the past? Finally, which of the techniques above do you typically use, and why?

Rob Burgess to do the Seybold 2003 Keynote

I just found out that Rob Burgess (Macromedia’s CEO) will be doing the Seybold 2003 keynote at the Moscone Center in San Francisco. If you are in the Bay Area and you are interested in hearing Rob talk about “Making the Digital Experience Better”, you can download a free pass from Macromedia’s website. If only I could download a free plane ticket, I would be there.

Using Macromedia Pollster with SQL Server

Paul Newman recently published an article on Community MX on how to get Macromedia Pollster from DRK 4 working with SQL Sever. The application was designed to run on PostgreSQL and Access (MySQL doesn’t support all the SQL operations the application needs), but with Paul’s SQL script and a few code changes, it runs just fine on SQL Server. He also provides instructions on how to replace the application’s basic HTTP authentication with a login form which gets around problems with some configurations of Windows and IIS.

Thanks, Paul. This is great information.

MX 2004 Public Product Previews

If you are interested in finding out what Dreamweaver MX 2004, Flash MX 2004, Fireworks MX 2004 and the all-new Flash Professional MX 2004 can do, hook up with your local Macromedia user group today and watch the very first MX 2004 public product demonstrations over Breeze Live. All the details are on Macromedia’s website, including times and information on user groups near you.