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Adobe Fireworks CS3 Review

Simply put Adobe Fireworks is an intuitive and easy to use program to create graphics for small additions on websites to constructing entire website’s look and feel.  It has become a web graphics staple to all professionals in the field and is quite frankly easy to use for people who may not be ask professional.  That is, it as easy to learn as it is to use. 

There are quite a number of tools to create bitmap and vector graphics which you can combine for entire website designs, and lets you edit virtually everything you could want with the help of photo-editing tools and animation tools.  Fireworks can also export JavaScript that can control swapping images for rollovers and pop-up menus, as well as creating animated GIFs and can use XML files to import text into images. 

Being that Fireworks has been around for about a decade now, the latest updates seem to be pretty great and just what users wanted/needed.  One may now integrate into Photoshop and Illustrator, as well as Adobe Flex and Bridge.  There is improved bitmap scaling and layer management.  People are saying that it is still the best web graphics tool around, and has now made it easier for prototyping with its compatibility with other programs.

Fireworks Screenshot

Developer's Research Study

Adobe User Research is interested in how you work!

We are looking for developers who would be available to chat with our Adobe User Researcher and share a bit of their work. We are interested in discussing with you what your processes are, what your challenges are, and what you believe could help improve your work tools.

We are also interested in taking a look at some of your current projects and being able to see how exactly you develop your apps with your current tools. We would be doing his over Adobe Connect, so you would only be sharing your screen and wouldn't be required to send us anything.

If you are interested, please follow the link to our survey screener and tell us a little bit about yourself: http://www.adobe.com/go/RIAintegration_study/

One session would last for 60 minutes and for your time, we'll gladly compensate you in either $75 AMEX Gift Check or the equivalent in Adobe software. These sessions will be running throughout June and July.

Mike Brunt's Pre-CFUnited Blog

I will be presenting at CFUnited on Friday June 20, 2008, on the subject of High Availability (HA)-Clustering for ColdFusion/JRun applications and I intend to make this as practical as possible.   Having spent many years travelling the world helping to fix slow or unresponsive ColdFusion applications, I see HA as a natural progression to this and in fact Load-Balancing, which is a part of Clustering, has a direct impact on improving performance.

 

There is a point, often overlooked by even the manufacturers of clustering/load balancing equipment.  Clustering is the overall term which, in my opinion, applies whenever two items or more appear as one, to the users.  In our world, that typically means multiple web servers, with multiple application and database servers. 

 

With this aspect of Clustering there are two services which are a part of the Clustering; Fail-Over and Load-Balancing.  In my experience Fail-Over is always present, meaning if one member of the Cluster fails the remaining members ensure that continuity of service is maintained.  This is a prime function of a Cluster.

 

Load-Balancing is the apportioning of load around members of the Cluster, typically an even distribution of the load is what is required.  The most even distribution is via Round-Robin which means each single request moves around the Cluster members, like this (this example shows a 3 member Cluster):

 

·         USER 1 > REQUEST1 > CLUSTERMEMBER1

·         USER 2 > REQUEST1 > CLUSTERMEMBER1

·         USER 1 > REQUEST2 > CLUSTERMEMBER2

·         USER 2 > REQUEST2 > CLUSTERMEMBER2

·         USER 1 > REQUEST3> CLUSTERMEMBER3

·         USER 2 > REQUEST3> CLUSTERMEMBER3

·         USER 1 > REQUEST4 > CLUSTERMEMBER1

·         USER 2 > REQUEST4 > CLUSTERMEMBER1

 

This is the most evenly balanced Load Balancing algorithm and as I mentioned above is the Round-Robin algorithm.  Problems can occur with that algorithm if there are user specific items in memory on one of the Cluster members, for instance in memory session state variables.  If USER1 has logged in to CLUSTERMEMBER1 above and their details are in session variables on CLUSTERMEMBER1 when users next request takes them to CLUSTERMEMBER2 those in memory session state variables will not be there.  My preference for the optimal Load-Balancing algorithm is Round-Robin with Sticky Sessions.  In the case a user “sticks” to a Cluster member as follows:

 

·         USER 1 > REQUEST1 > CLUSTERMEMBER1

·         USER 2 > REQUEST1 > CLUSTERMEMBER2

·         USER 1 > REQUEST2 > CLUSTERMEMBER1

·         USER 2 > REQUEST2 > CLUSTERMEMBER2

·         USER 1 > REQUEST3> CLUSTERMEMBER1

·         USER 2 > REQUEST3> CLUSTERMEMBER2

·         USER 1 > REQUEST4 > CLUSTERMEMBER1

·         USER 2 > REQUEST4 > CLUSTERMEMBER2

 

This is not quite as evenly balanced as Round-Robin alone but unless there is a failure of one Cluster member the user will not lose their session state variables and the load balances across all Cluster members eventually.

 

This article serves as the first in a series of posts leading up to the CFUnited presentation and my next one will delve into differences between Hardware and Software Clustering.

 

 

Attention CFUnited Attendees: A District Live Music Guide

If you're in town for the conference and looking for some good live music, there's heaps of places to check out.  The easiest to find are jazz clubs or punk clubs, the two things DC historically does best.  I'll give you a quick summary of the DC scene.

The U St/African American Memorial/Cordozo metro stop is walking distance to a bunch of great venues, including Black Cat, a gritty punk venue (www.blackcatdc.com) which the week of the conference will have Dan Deacon on Wednesday, Grupo Fantasma and a Big 80's dance party on Saturday, and Cloak/Dagger on Sunday.  That metro stop is also RIGHT near the world famous 930 club (www.930.com) which sadly only has two shows listed right now for that weekend, those being Abba on wednesday and thursday, and Fish on Sunday.  That metro stop is right near the Velvet Lounge, a small punkish lounge, also, which always has great local music (www.velvetloungedc.com) as is the DC9 if you like really ratty really small dives.  Also, U stree is famous for it's excellent Jazz Clubs.  You can easily walk up and down just to find a place to sit up and sip, listening to good tunes.  Bohemian Caverns is DC's largest jazz club and has had the biggest names in jazz play there (Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, etc.) so that's definitely a safe bet (www.bohemiancaverns.com).  The other jazz bars on U street are Twins Jazz (www.twinsjazz.com) U-Topia (www.utopiandc.com) and a host of others.  Little farther down is Saint Ex Cafe, which is pretty small, and amazes me that they can fit even a drumset in there,

Adams Morgan area is not exactly next to a metro stop, but there are enough bars and clubs on the 3 or so blocks that incorporate it that it is easy to spend the whole night there.  In Adams Morgan, Asylum has live bands with no cover on Fridays (www.asylumdc.com), and Club Heaven (located right above Club Hell) has the city's best 80's dance party every Thursday. 

H Street, the so-called Atlas District, is just recently blowing up in NorthEast.  The Rock and Roll Hotel (not actually a hotel) (www.rockandrollhoteldc.com) is a quaint little place which hosts nationally famous indie rock acts and homegrown heroes.  The actual "venue" part of it is small, so make sure you get there early to see any of the bands, and don't forget to check out the upstairs bar with poster relics all over the walls and flying guitars above your head.  Shows playing during the conference haven't been posted yet.  Also on H Street is The Red and Black (www.redandblackbar.com) which is a small place which holds local artists in a New Orleans style setting.

This is just the tip of the iceberg, there's tons of places to go in the city without spending a lot of money.  This should get you started.

Maryland ColdFusion Lunch

Thank you to all of those who came out to the first Maryland ColdFusion Lunch! Because it was such a success, TeraTech will sponsor another one on Monday, April 28th, at 1:30.  It will be held at Cosi, located at 1700 Pennsylvania Avenue.  To get there, get off the Farragut West Metro stop and walk south on 17th street about four blocks; it will be on your right (*note: don’t be fooled by the Potbelly’s.  Keep walking South on 17th past that and you’ll be there).

For those not familiar, Maryland ColdFusion Lunch is an opportunity for people to meet up in an informal environment to network with other ColdFusion users.  TeraTech holds monthly meetings at our offices in Rockville every second Tuesday, but this is an effort to accommodate those who cannot make it that far on a Tuesday evenings.  As with our monthly meetings, these will be free (except for the cost of your own lunch).

If you are interested in having a lunch, but are not close to the location we chose this time, please let us know, and we'll work with you to get a lunch set up near where you work.  All questions, comments, concerns and suggestions should likewise be directed to Matt Weiss, Matt@teratech.com.  Hope to see you all there!

MDCFUG Lunch

We want to improve MDCFUG by making more social events. In addition to the user group meetings held at TeraTech every second Tuesday of the month, we want to accommodate people who cannot make it to Rockville due to where they live, or are simply too tired to do so in the evenings.  TeraTech will begin hosting informal lunches during the work week, just as a way to relax and network with other people in the field.

The first of these ColdFusion lunches will be held at the Cosi at 17th and Pennsylvania in NW Washington, DC (about three blocks south of the Farragut West Metro stop on the Blue/Orange line) at 1:30 pm on Monday, March 31st.  The only cost is that of your own respective lunch, and it is a great chance to talk shop with like-minded folks.  Would you like a ColdFusion Lunch closer to you?  Let me know where you work and we can work something out.  Contact Matt (Matt (at) TeraTech.com) for all inquiries and comments. I'm looking forward to seeing all of you there!

Adobe Dreamweaver CS3 Review

This new Adobe Dreamweaver CS3 has a lot of nice features that help web developers create websites easily and efficently. It offers a lot of templates. I can simply use one of them and create a website without typing codes. One of the great things I have noticed is when the Dreamweaver insert CSS tags, not only does it create codes for those specific tags, but it also provides detailed descriptions. I really like this feature because it is very helpful in understanding the function of the tags. The "tag hints" are very nice too, especially when I create CSS tags. It is sometimes hard to remember certain properties for CSS, but Dreamweaver lists all the properties for me so that I don’t need to grab a book to find the ones I need.

Another feature where I can collapse certain area of codes is helpful and much appreciated. By selecting the area and clicking the "Collapse Full Tag" icon in the tool bar, I can hide unnecessary lines of codes and work on the part I need, allowing me to edit codes quickly and conveniently. Moreover, even though I close the Dreamweaver application, it will remember where I left off, thus know the codes I previously collapsed. This is very nice.

The "snippets" feature is useful and time saving for developers because Dreamweaver provides the option to apply predefined ones or gives the option to create my own "snippets."

Finally, I love the "Spry" tools. It is so easy to add nice visual effects to your website and this feature definitely helps attract people. Wow! You can simply click on an icon from the Spry menu and add menu bars, tabbed panels, or accordions in a second. I don’t have to work hard to create the effects, since Dreamweaver does all the work for me. No one will know I just click a few times here and there to create his or her website; unless, of course, he or she knows about this great Dreamweaver application. It just gets better and better! I'm spoiled! This is one of the best tools and a must-have for web developers.

One note: I do wish Dreamweaver could allow me to save or import the "snippets" I created as a file so that I can have them as a backup in case I need to reinstall OS or share with other developers. It does not have an option that simply allows me to do that without digging through a folder the Dreamweaver saves them. Hopefully, Adobe will add this functionality to the next version of Dreamweaver.

Spry Tool

October meeting URL

The URL of this month's acrobat connect meeting is:

http://adobechats.adobe.acrobat.com/mdcfug/

6:30pm – "ColdFusion 8 and PDF Integration" with Oğuz Demirkapı

8:00pm – "Spiral Web - The Future of Web Society" with Michael Smith

(Times are Eastern Daylight Savings Time)

MDCFUG August Meeting Photos

We have uploaded MDCFUG August meeting photos into TeraTech's Flickr account.

You can see reach the photos via http://www.flickr.com/photos/teratech/

August meeting URL

The URL of this month's acrobat connect meeting is:

http://adobechats.adobe.acrobat.com/mdcfug/

6:30 PM: "Application and Credit Card Payment Integration", with Montreal

8:00 PM:  "What's New in CF8 Administrator", with Ajay Sathuluri

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