Archive for July, 2004 Feedback

Thanks for the feedback on the forums yesterday. I’m going to pass this information on to the forums team for them to consider in upcoming releases. The forums are an important part of the Macromedia community, and we want to make sure they are moving in the right direction. (Also, if you have some time, how about responding to the new forum poll over in the right-hand margin?)

Today I’m interested in, and specifically what you think of the flow and organization of the site. Are you easily able to find the information you’re after? Is it where you were expecting it to be? How often do you have to use the search feature to find what you are looking for? Tell us what we can do to improve the experience.

Flex 1.0 Updater 2 Is Live

Just wanted to mention that the Flex 1.0 Updater 2 just went live. Lots of good stuff, according to the release notes. If you use Flex, get this update!

Macromedia Forums

Just wondering how many of you out there use the Macromedia web-based forums on a regular basis. Any specific feedback you’d like to pass along?

How many of you are using NNTP rather than the web-based forums? Anything in particular about the NNTP hook you’d like to report?

And finally, what news readers do you like for both Windows and Mac? I’ve tried several for OS X, and I can’t find one I like. Rather than reading dozens of news reader reviews before trying another batch, I’d rather get some feedback from my readers since it’s obvious you have excellent taste!

Renaming Files As They Are Uploaded (how CFFILE actually works)

When receiving a file uploaded from a client, you can actually save it and rename it all in one step rather than two steps as the documentation implies.

The documentation states that the “destination” attribute of the CFFILE tag specifies the “pathname of the directory in which to upload the file.” This is misleading for two reasons:

  1. The file has actually already been uploaded by the time your CFFILE tag is encountered. The file has automatically been saved in ColdFusion’s temporary directory. Using the CFFILE tag with the action attribute set to “upload” is really just moving the file from one place to another. If no CFFILE tag is encountered, the file is simply deleted.
  2. You can actually specify a file name in addition to a directory in the destination attribute. Rather than this…

    <cffile action="upload" destination="/path/to/some/directory" ... />
    <cffile action="rename" ... />

    … you can just do this…

    <cffile action="upload" destination="" ... />

This moves the uploaded file from ColdFuson’s temporary directory into the specified directory, and renames it using a unique ID generated by ColdFusion, all in one step.

The State of Flash on Mobile Devices

Today, Macromedia is announcing the availability of Macromedia Flash lite 1.1 on KDDI handsets in conjunction with KDDI’s “au Service”. Flash Lite will power several applications in KDDI’s “au Service,” including the browser-based EZ Portal, screensavers, and portions of the phone’s user interface. Manufactures including SonyEricsson, Sanyo, and Kyocera will deliver Flash enabled handsets for the au Service in July.

But that’s not all. Macromedia is also announcing the availability of a Flash Lite 1.1 Content Development Kit (CDK) for au Service. Developers can use the kit to start creating and testing content for the upcoming platforms. The CDK also includes examples and tutorials.

But wait, there’s more! Macromedia has also just published several Developer Center articles on Flash Lite development:

So where does this announcement leave Flash on devices? In a pretty good position, I think. Check out the Macromedia Mobile and Device Developer Center for details on supported platforms, and tons of articles, tutorials and developer kits. And personally, I think this is just the beginning.

Cool Tool Friday: Picking Colors With Color Schemer

I got a request to talk abut Color Schemer in the next Cool Tool Friday, so I checked it out, and here’s what I think so far.

Very cool tool. And simple. Color Schemer is great for people like me who don’t have much design sense, or are too lazy to put much thought into design. I usually have to steal color schemes off of other sites on the web, or either hire a designer, or beg one to give me some free advice. Now I can try using Color Schemer to come up with complementary colors, and I can blame the application if they look like crap.

The application is small and efficient, which I really like. I usually prefer little apps that do one thing very well rather than big, bloated apps that try to do everything at once. Color Schemer just does one thing, and it seems to do it very well.

I also like the fact that part of using Color Schemer is understanding a little about color and design. Rather than just telling you what colors to use, you are encouraged to actually learn a little about color, color theory, and color combinations which you can do quickly and easily through the Color Schemer online tutorial.

I also like the little features that help integrate it with web development workflow, like being able to easily copy HEX colors to your clipboard, and the ability to save color schemes.

What don’t I like about it? Well, I’ve only been playing with it for about 45 minutes now, so I don’t have enough experience with it yet to say whether it really works or not. I haven’t used any of its recommended schemes to build a site with yet, so for all I know, it could turn out looking horrible, but I think as long as you pick reasonable colors to start with, it will pick reasonable colors to compliment them.

One thing I don’t understand about Windows applications is why you always have to install them. I know most people don’t give this a second thought, but since I’m also a Mac and Linux user, it really bugs me that I have to install even the smallest of applications on Windows. Why can’t I just download an EXE file, put it where I want, create shortcuts where and if I want. Then, I can just delete the application if I don’t want it anymore without having to go through all the trouble of uninstalling it, and further fragmenting my hard drive. This is obviously not specific to Color Schemer, but it bugs me nonetheless.

Another potential disadvantage that I can see so far is possibly the price. Color Schemer is $34.99 while Color Schemer Studio is $49.99. I don’t think that’s unreasonable, but it’s a little hard to swallow when you just need a few color suggestions every couple of months or so. (I would find it easier to pay for an RSS aggregator that I use several times a day, for instance.) Obviously the more you use it, the more it makes sense, but if you were the type of person who needed to pick out colors on a daily basis, you are probably more of a designer who wouldn’t use a tool like this at all. This is a very small point, though, since if it saves me from having to consult with a designer even once, it has probably paid for itself. I just feel like I’m constantly reaching for my credit card these days, and half the applications I open up are begging me to purchase them. I should probably just get over it, stop being cheap, and start supporting the hard-working developers building these cool tools.

Anyway, does anyone have any experience with this tool who would like to comment? How about similar tools? Anything for other platforms?

The Definitive Guide to the ColdFusion Classpath

Before you can load and use third-party Java classes from ColdFusion, you have to add them to the ColdFusion class path. Unfortunately, class paths are not much fun (learning to get your class path right is probably just as hard as learning to write Java in the first place), and on top of that, adding classes to ColdFusion’s class path is confusing because there are so many different ways of doing it. I finally decided to sit down and create the definitive guide to how it’s done to try to clarify the process.

First of all, there are different ways of doing it depending on how ColdFusion is deployed. The techniques below are broken down by deployment preference. Also note that there is a difference between adding class files to your class path, and adding jar files. I would recommend jarring up your class files to simplify the installation process, but you can deploy either jar files or class files. If you deploy the class files outside of a jar file, make sure you grab the entire directory structure representing your packages. In other words, if you have a class file called VeryCoolUtil.class in the package “com.macromedia.util”, make sure you deploy the entire directory structure (ie com/macromedia/util/VeryCoolUtil.class). If you decide to jar you class files up instead, you also need to make sure you jar up the entire directory structure representing your packages as opposed to just the class files.

ColdFuison Standalone

  1. The easiest way to add class or jar files to your class path is to simply drop them in the lib directory where they are automatically picked up. The directory is located at {cf_installation}/lib.
  2. You can also drop them in any of the Java extension directories. To find a list of the Java extension directories, open the ColdFusion administrator and click on “System Information”. Toward the bottom, you will see a system property called “Java Ext Dirs”. You can put jar and class files in any of those directories to have them picked up by the ColdFusion server.
  3. If you want more control over the order in which class files are loaded, you can add them to the ColdFusion server’s class path manually. In the ColdFusion administrator, click on “Java and JVM”, then add the absolute paths to your jar or class files in the “Class Path” field.
  4. Finally, you can manually add class and jar files to the server’s class path located in the jvm.config file. I’m not going to go into much detail about that since I recommend you use the admin interface rather than tweaking config files by hand.

J2EE Deployment

  1. The easiest way to add class or jar files to your class path is to simply drop them in the lib directory where they are automatically picked up. The directory is located at {cf_installation}/servers/lib. These class files will be available to all servers.
  2. You can also make your class files available only to the ColdFusion server by dropping them in “{cf_installation}/servers/default/cfmx/WEB-INF/lib”. (Note that putting them in {cf_installation}/servers/default/cfmx/WEB-INF/cfusion/lib will NOT work.)
  3. You can drop them in any of the Java extension directories. To find a list of the Java extension directories, open the ColdFusion administrator and click on “System Information”. Toward the bottom, you will see a system property called “Java Ext Dirs”. You can put jar and class files in any of those directories to have them picked up by the ColdFusion server.
  4. Another way to do it is to add classes through the JRun Management Console. Open up the console, and under the default server, click on settings, then add your classes to the class path list. (Note you can also click on “ColdFusion MX application” under the default server, then click on settings to make the same changes.)
  5. And finally, once again, you can edit the jvm.config file yourself, however again, I recommend you stick to using one of the methods above.

There are also ways to load your class files programatically in ColdFusion, or even to load them remotely, which you can find instructions on here. And finally, keep in mind that changes to you class path always require you to restart ColdFusion and/or JRun for them to be picked up.

My CFUN Presentation and Sample Files

Sorry for taking so long, but here is my CFUN presentation, and all the files for the sample Flash Video Archiver application. There are no instructions included (sorry, no time), but it’s very straightforward, so you shouldn’t have any trouble getting started. Here is everything you should need to know:

Continue reading…

Try Breeze For Free in July

No doubt you’ve heard about Breeze, and chance are, you have either seen a Breeze presentation, or even participated in a Breeze Live meeting. If you’re curious about how it works, you can get a free Breeze account during the month of July and check it out.

Cool Tool Friday: The Wayback Machine

I apologize in advance for the abbreviated post today — especially on Cool Tool Friday — but I’m about to get on a plane, so I only have a few minutes to get this up.

Anyway, check out the Wayback Machine, both for fun, and as a web development reference. From their website:

“Browse through 30 billion web pages archived from 1996 to a few months ago.”

Just type in a URL, choose one of the archived dates, and journey back through time. Very cool service. Those of you who are nostalgic for the old, pre-Dylan Macromedia website, knock yourselves out!