ColdFusion job opening

I work at Idaho Power (an Electric utility that serves most of southern Idaho.) Our public websites are ColdFusion based, and we have need of a ColdFusion developer! This is a temporary job, so if you are the type that looks for term specific gigs, this job is for you. You would be expected to work here at company headquarters in downtown Boise. The term ends about April of 2013. Boise is a beautiful city, and there are lots of things to do here.

I can't post a direct link to the job, but here's how to find it. Go to the Idaho Power careers site. From that page click on the Information Technology link, and then you'll see the job posting which has this title: "Application Development Analyst Entry – Web (Temporary) (1493)"

Beware of Over Simplification in UI Design

One of the trends I've noticed in the software world is a drive towards simple User Interfaces. I think in general this is a good thing, as often times UIs are cluttered with too many options, which can overwhelm and confuse the user. Apple and Google are famous for their clean simple UIs. But I wonder if you can take UI simplification too far?

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ColdFusion Builder 2 Extension for CFQuickDocs

ColdFusion Builder 2 is not officially out yet, but that hasn't stopped people like Brian Swartzfager from releasing cool extensions for it. This is partially because Adobe dramatically improved CFB Extensions in version 2.

Brian had built and released a CFQuickDocs CFB extension before, but it's now been updated, taking advantage of some of the new features in CFB 2. Check out his post to see all the details. I particularly like how it auto-detects your ColdFusion version (based on your project details) and then when you lookup docs it uses the appropriate CFQuickDocs doc library.

Yet another programming language popularity list

When discussing programming language popularity, most people point to the tiobe index. But personally I think there are some serious flaws to their method, the main thing being that they arbitrarily decide which languages to track and which to ignore. I've been playing around on stackoverflow lately and noticed today that if you hover on a tag, the site tells you how many followers that tag has. You can also see how many questions are asked under a partucilar language tag. So I decided to create a list of popular languages (or dev environments) on their site and how many followers and questions each languauge has. I included ColdFusion at the bottom for reference.

Name
Questions
Followers
C#
149,600
23,015
Java
100,276
19,136
PHP
89,720
17,279
Javascript
77,954
13,432
jQuery
66,446
13,618
iPhone
64,943
11,086
ASP.Net
64,426
12,812
C++
59,445
13,983
Python
49,209
16.142
Android
43,304
9,983
...
...
...
ColdFusion
1,906
1,202

Is this scientific? No, but it's interesting. That said, I do think it's more scientific that tiobe's, which is based on a secret search results based algorithm. This at least is based on data from a real programmer Q&A community, and a very popular one at that.

Reset ColdFusion Server Manager password

ColdFusion 9 offers a new tool for server administrators that is especially useful if you manage multiple ColdFusion servers in your company. Where I work we have 14 ColdFusion servers (mixture of dev/test/prod, Intranet/Internet). ColdFusion Server Manager is an AIR app that runs on your PC. You can perform most of the ColdFusion Administrator tasks from this one app, and in some cases apply changes across multiple servers at once. More details on Ben Forta's blog.

When you first run the Server Manager, you are asked to create a master password. This password is only for this tool on your PC. It does not affect the servers themselves. But what if you want to change the password? I couldn't find an easy way.

The only way I could find to do it is to mistype your password, and then the Server Manager offers you an option to reset your password. It gives you a scary message: "This will also reset all your server passwords." I was afraid that this would reset the CF Admin passwords on each server. But really it only affects the saved password you had entered inside of Server Manager. When you reset this master password, it will also delete all of your locally saved server passwords. This makes sense, because without this security measure if someone managed to get access to your PC, they could just reset your master password and then use Server Manager to cause all kinds of trouble.

Applying style when using the cfwindow tag (not JavaScript)

Since I struggled with this one, and I had to do a lot of googling to figure it out, I thought I'd share to help others that might run into the same problem. ColdFusion's cfwindow tag allows you to apply styles to the window header and body, but the way to do this was not immediately obvious to me. The docs say that you can use a "CSS style specification" in the bodyStyle attribute. So my assumption was that you'd insert a class or id from your css stylesheet. I tried both and neither worked. Most of the articles I found from Googling dealt with applying style when you dynamically create CFWindows using JavaScript. But in my case I am just using the CFWindow tag.

I discovered that you are supposed to actually just hard code CSS in those style attributes. You can't reference a predefined CSS class or id. At least, it wouldn't work for me, if you know differently let me know in the comments.

So, this does NOT work:

"previewPopup" headerStyle="myCSSclass" />

But this DOES work:

"previewPopup" headerStyle="background-color:##ffffff" />

Video for Everybody

As more and more people are using devices where Flash is not available, as a web developer you might be concerned about this trend (especially since Steve Jobs has waged a war against Flash). I found an awesome tool to help us solve this problem. It's a tool called Video for Everybody, which is basically some code you can use in your pages to display a video that will work in ANY device (as long as it can play videos, that is). You have to encode your videos in both MP4 and OGG format. Once you've done that, you use this code and it will do one of the following, depending on what the user's browser supports:

  1. Display HTML5 video
  2. Display Flash video
  3. Display an image with download links for the two video formats

So this way you can support all of your user's video capabilities with very little pain. And for the standard's conscious among us, it tries to use HTML5 whenever it can.

Good spam fighting idea

If you are dealing with a lot of spam (who isn't?) and you find that lots of spam is getting through your filters, I just saw a cool idea for this problem. As you may know, I am the author of CFFormProtect. While I find that this works 99% of the time, there is the occasional spam that slips through. I was on a site recently that didn't have a Captcha to protect their comment form, but when I submitted my post their spam filter somehow flagged my as a spammer, and then they asked me to fill out a captcha. I think this is a great idea.

If you are familiar with CFFormProtect, you will know that it has a weighting system to flag spam. Posts aren't blocked for any one problem, but rather CFFP takes up to 8 different tests, and if the posts fails x amount of those, it is blocked. So taking the idea I talked about in the first paragraph, maybe you allow posts through that pass 90% of the tests. A post that only passes 70% of the tests might be asked to do some additional validation (maybe a captcha, or moderation, or an email verification). Anything less than 70% is automatically flagged as spam. These numbers are just an example, your mileage will vary. What do you think of that idea?

The best CF 10 wishlist

I saw Jason Delmore's new wish list last night, and I think it's the best ever. For one reason. He states that Adobe should release a free version. And he uses all the same reasons I've always used. You might be saying, "What's the big deal? Another CFer saying we need a free version...we've heard it before." But this is different. Jason Delmore is the former Product Manager for ColdFusion, and when he talks more people listen than when the average joe CFer says "please release a free version". As far as I know this is the first time a big name in our community has publicly come out in support of a free version (correct me if I'm wrong). People like Sean Corfield and Ray Camden either don't think we need a free version, or if they do they don't talk about it publicly.

By the way, I like most of the other 9 things on Jason's list as well. But this free version topic is BIG, in my opinion. I hope Adobe listens.

To be clear...it's not that I personally want to benefit from this free version. If I wanted that, I'd just use Railo or OpenBD. The problem is that the rest of the web development community is not aware of the free alternatives. The majority of them won't become aware of them UNLESS they first join our community by trying Adobe CF. And they won't even give Adobe a second look because of the huge price tag. I realize there are other reasons that might hold them back, but in my opinion the price tag is the biggest reason that hobbyists continue to ignore CF.

CFFormProtect 2.1 released

CFFormProtect 2.1 has been released. This new version doesn't have a lot of major new features, mostly bug fixes. One new feature, you can now specify a different config file than the default in the initialization of the CFC. Also, you can how put multiple copies of CFFP into one page (helpful if you have many forms on one page). You can find the new version at the project page.

There were a lot of people that contributed bug fixes and patches, and I don't want to name you all. You know who you are, and thank you. Feel free to drop a comment here to take credit for your work. :)

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