Archive for August, 2004

How to Log Out of an Application that Uses HTTP Authentication

I’m working on an application right now that uses the simple 401 (unauthorized) response code and “WWW-Authenticate” HTTP header to prompt the user for a username and password. This mostly works as expected, however I want the user to be able to log out of the application, which is not so easily done. The CFLOGOUT tag does not tell the browser to stop sending the Authentication header containing your credentials to protected pages, so the only way to be sure you are logged out is to end your session from the browser’s perspective, which means closing it. I’m experimenting with another technique, though, and I’d like to get some feedback.

The only people who log into this application I’m working on are system administrators, so the solution doesn’t have to look pretty as long as it works. The idea is to make the browser forget the user’s credentials by giving it new, false credentials to send, instead. The “logout” code I came up with looks like this:

<cffunction name="logout" ...>
<cflogout/>
<cfheader statuscode="401"/>
<cfheader name="WWW-Authenticate" value="Basic realm=""admin"""/>
<html>
<script language="javascript">
document.location = '../index.cfm';
</script>
</html>
<cfabort/>
</cffunction>

When the user clicks on the “Log Out” link, the function above is executed, and the user is prompted by the browser to enter a username and a password at which point he clicks on cancel, the browser forgets the previous (presumably correct) authentication information, and the user is redirected to an unprotected, public index page. All subsequent requests to the protected admin section of the application will send the wrong credentials, and cause the browser to prompt for new ones.

This seems to work well in the few browsers I’ve tested with, though, as I said, it’s not that pretty, and wouldn’t be a good solution for end users. For admins, though, it seems reasonable.

Does anyone else have a different way of tackling this problem?

Cool Tool Friday: TattleTale for Linux

If you’ve been following Mike Chambers’ weblog, you know that he recently released two beta versions of an application we’re calling “TattleTale”. TattleTale is an application which helps you keep up with Macromedia news by bringing it right to your desktop.

On Wednesday, Mike released a beta OS X version, and yesterday, he released a beta .NET version for Windows. I put together a cross-platform Java version for the Linux/Solaris users out there who were feeling left out. Since it’s Java, it actually runs on any platform with Java 1.4 or higher installed, and in fact, the screenshot is of it running on my Powerbook.

Continue reading…

ColdFusion 6.1 Updater Now Available

Well, you finally convinced us that there were too many hot fixes out there for you to keep track of, and we needed to roll them all into a 6.1 updater, so here you go. Now back to Blackstone.

A Glimpse of Life at Macromedia

I haven’t been posting much lately for two very good reasons. 1) I was at the main office in San Francisco all last week, attending meetings for almost the entire week (they only let us out to sleep, and use the rest rooms), and 2) because I’m really busy working on something that will be announced shortly. I did manage to take a few pictures while at the main office, however, so I thought I’d give the community a quick glimpse of the Macromedia workplace.

Do kids today even know who this guy is? Or even what claymation is, for that matter?

Quite possibly the coolest cube at all of Macromedia.

A plasma screen cycling through posts aggregated by MXNA, keeping the company up to speed on what’s happening in the community. Rumor has it the subliminal message “Obey the Customer” occasionally flashes by.

Myself, Mike Chambers, and Danny Dura risking life and limb to reach our next meeting on time. (If only Segways didn’t cost as much as I sold my last car for, I’d buy one in a heartbeat.)

Flex Builder (aka Brady) Goes Live

If you’re doing Flex development, you will be happy to hear that Flex Builder — the Flex IDE we’ve been calling “Brady” — is now live. There’s tons of information about Brady on the site, which I’ll link to below, but I’ll give you the lowdown here to save you a few clicks.

Flex Builder is an IDE for developing Flex applications. It doesn’t just do MXML syntax highlighting and provide things like tag insight, though; it’s actually very tightly integrated with the Flex server and really streamlines Flex application development.

As you might have guessed, Flex Builder is for Flex developers, and really specializes in and focuses on Flex application development. It’s not a general purpose IDE like Dreamweaver or Eclipse.

Flex Builder comes with Flex. The Flex Builder trial comes with the Flex trial, and five licenses of Flex Builder come with every Flex license. (If you already purchased Flex, don’t worry — you can still get your Flex Builder licenses. See links below.)

You don’t need Flex Builder to build Flex applications. You can keep using Dreamweaver, Eclipse, Emacs, Vim, or whatever you like to use. If you’re using WIndows for Flex development, though (Flex Builder is only available on Windows), you might want to give it a try. I saw a demo of it last week, and it will really make Flex developers’ lives easier.

That’s Flex Builder at a high level. For more information, see:

Where’s the Central Hotspot Finder?

Many of you have noticed that the Central Hotspot Finder is no more, and have been asking where it went. The Hotspot Finder application was based on an agreement which stipulated a one year life-span. This was long enough to allow Central 1.0 early adopters time to get a feel for the application’s functionality and its excellent use of online/offline functionality. Since the agreement has now expired, the Hotspot Finder application has been removed from the Application Finder. We certainly recognize that the Hotspot Finder was a popular application, and we are currently looking into ways in which me might revive it in the future. Some of the features in the upcoming release of Central 1.5 may even inspire some cool new functionality.

Macromedia News on Your iPod: Day Two

We’ve really gotten a tremendous response from the community on Take-Away, the project Mike and I launched yesterday which allows you to read and listen to Macromedia news on your iPod. Thanks for all the great comments and suggestions!

I probably should have mentioned that Take-Away is still in “beta”. That’s just a fancy way of saying that while it should always be available, occasionally things might not work perfectly. In fact, I have spent my morning fixing the first two bugs found in production:

  1. The generated MP3 files were being generated at a speed which is not compatible with the MP3 decoder built into the Flash Player, so the feeds were being played at 2x speed. While that’s great for productivity, and didn’t do much for comprehension. I have Robert Hall to thank for getting me on the right track toward fixing this issue, and now, you can play the generated MXNA MP3 files through Flash (has anyone built anything that does this yet?).
  2. As you might imagine, I have to do a significant amount of processing of feeds and posts before converting them into sound, most of which is done through regular expressions. I use a regular expression to remove URLs so people don’t have to sit there and listen to these long, 200 character URLs being monotonously read to them, however it turns out my expression was overly greedy, and was sometimes eating pieces of other people posts along with the URL. That’s fixed now, too. (For those of you who had your posts verbally mangled, sorry!)

Let me know if you see any other issues, and keep the great comments and suggestions coming!

Cool Tool Tuesday: Macromedia News on Your iPod

We’re a little early for Cool Tool Friday, but I think this is a cool enough project that I’m bending the rules a bit. Mike Chambers and I just finished putting together and launching an application we’re calling Take-Away which not only lets you read MXNA aggregated news as notes on your iPod, but also lets you listen to it, as well. The application checks over 300 Macromedia-related weblogs for new posts every hour, and regenerates the appropriate MP3s and note files. If you drive to work, listen to Macromedia news on your stereo. If you ride a bus or a train, read the news. If you work from home, play with it just for fun. And if you don’t have an iPod, this is as good a reason as any to go get one!

See the Take-Away page for more information, and let me know if you have any suggestions for future versions.

I Need Some RSS Aggregator Feedback

As you probably know, Macromedia is pretty invested in RSS/weblogs/aggregators/etc. We’ve been blogging for well over two years, and we’re aggregating over 300 feeds with MXNA with about 35,000 Macromedia related posts archived. Developer Center content has been available as RSS for about year and a half, and now TechNotes, security bulletins and product update information is available through the Macromedia Product RSS Feeds.

But what I’m interested in today is aggregators, and other ways people access not just Macromedia news, but any kind of news. Aggregators have come a long over the last two years, and at this point, options abound. There are great online options, offline options, and even iPod options. What I want to know is:

  1. Do you use an aggregator? If so, which one? If not, why?
  2. What kinds of news and information do you aggregate?
  3. What do you like about your aggregator? What do you dislike? What could make it better?
  4. How many feeds are you aggregating?
  5. How often to you use your aggregator?
  6. Anything else interesting and aggregator-related you want to share?

Feel free to leave any type of comment you want, and/or take the survey on the right (you can reload the page to answer the poll multiple times). Thanks!

Cool Tool Friday: Firefox Search Engine Plugins

Having a search field embedded in your browser’s toolbar is nothing revolutionary anymore. I mean, come on, it’s August 2004 already — who actually goes to Google to use Google anymore? But extending your browser’s search functionality to tons of other searchable sites I think is still pretty cool, and worthy of a Cool Tool Friday quick mention.

If you use Firefox, choose the “Add engines…” item from the search plugins drop-down box, then go crazy installing search plugins. Having tons of search plugins installed saves you from having to actually go to a site before using it. Throughout the day, all those clicks you didn’t have do and pages you didn’t have to load can really add up, translating into more time working, which, of course, is what we all want, isn’t it?

I currently have plugins installed for Amazon, Dictionary.com, eBay, Froogle, Google, a few specialized dictionaries, macosxhints, Macromedia, Slashdot, and my favorite, TinyURL. Anyone have any indispensable search plugins they want to share?

Some additional resources: